Did Macross Frontier Open a Frontier for the Macross Franchise?

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This post serves as the culmination of the episodic feature series on Macross Frontier here on We Remember Love.

What would constitute a ‘Frontier?’ The answers should be at least relative to the Macross Franchise.

  • Appeal to a new generation of fans.
  • New plot direction.
  • New world-building elements.
  • New animation/production methods.
  • New elements (characters or character types/mecha and related technology/weapons).

This post will attempt too answer this question, and will serve to communicate my thoughts on the show and what it means in the larger context of the Macross franchise…

…or at least what it all means to me, a pre-Robotech Macross lifelong fan (not that I wasn’t a fan of Robotech during its time). So how does Frontier do at opening frontiers?

Parameters of a ‘Frontier’ Met? Remarks
New plot-direction and/or premise No Expeditionary fleet runs into alien threat – already done in Macross 7, which also had the internal problem within NUNS subplot (even if very, very minor). Idols still sing, and now more magical than Sara Nome in Macross Zero (well maybe not more magical). Robots still transform, most of them still have pilots. Evil tech mind control already a sub-plot in Macross Plus.
New world-building elements ‘Qualified’ yes ‘New’ aliens, with a new kind of intelligence. Complex artificial ecosystem – then when threatened turned humans into xenophobic predators. Ambiguity between ‘disease’ and ‘power.’
New animation/production methods No At least, none in a significant (much less groundbreaking) way. The use of CGI was pioneered by the franchise 15 years prior (1994) with Macross Plus; and the peak in quality (and extent of use) was reached in 2002’s Macross Zero.
Novel developments of in-universe technology/character types ‘Qualified’ yes Some refinements were done, but most of the changes were manifested as mass production: unpiloted mecha, reaction weapons, dimension eaters. Among characters, the Minmay prototype got two versions; but the real new stuff is with Klan Klan – the ultimate fanservice character (see ep 20, 21).
Appeal to a new generation of fans Yes This is probably the most important, though I won’t quantify this here. The core audience is still the long-time fans of the franchise, but it would be a mistake if the audience isn’t grown. Ratings, merchandise sales, music sales, concerts, news and informal journal (blogs) coverage all indicate presence of fans who discovered Macross through Frontier.

It is rather underwhelming. I’m sure there are grey areas that make the ‘no’ answers a bit problematic, but it is very lack of slam dunks that make it underwhelming. Mind you this is not a review of the show. I’m not here to tell you if it is good or bad. To save you the time, in no uncertain terms: watch the show.

What follows is a more involved look at what I think the show did and didn’t do. Feel free to skip to the postscript and comments, if you feel you want to discuss my findings above, especially if Macross Frontier is the first or only Macross show you’ve seen so far.

But if you can, do read on, and feel my charging heart of love for the show and the franchise.

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Macross Frontier Refined in communicating certain themes, and featuring certain elements.

Ecological conservation, IN SPACE

When do the gun-toting, love-confessing characters take time to smell the flowers, literally or figuratively? Rarely. But Shoji Kawamori’s realms of Mayan or Zola are places where characters can go to feel a “comfortable wind” against their faces. And that translates to us.

Even if the “save the whales” thing is a little silly, tell me you didn’t desperately clench your teeth when Mayan Island came under attack by missile-spamming Valkyries. Sometimes it’s best to show a message, not tell it, and though it might still get preachy, the impact of the no-nukes/pacifist message is stronger for being visually presented.

–otou-san, on the ecological themes of Macross.

Otou-san rarely gives Frontier credit, but among the shows he mentioned it satisfies the near-literal pausing to smell the flowers. The show put in a commendable effort in world-building, standing on the shoulders of Gundam’s space colony work. This is delightfully showcased in epsode 05, where Alto and Sheryl go out on a ‘date’ and thereby get to explore the Frontier Colony itself.

But Frontier doesn’t stop at ecotourism, the fragile balance is highlighted through the consequences of warfare (ep 15). In lieu of humans as collateral damage in war as well as the psychological fallout of such (a theme explored often enough in media), Frontier spotlights the ecological impact. This time, it’s no parable about keeping a natural environment pure (as in the case of say, Macross Dynamite 7, Macross Zero, or the film Avatar); the environment is entirely constructed by humans.

Something we fashion with our own hands is something we are responsible for. Interestingly, part of the conflict involves how the Vajra are viewed as ecological rivals to be exterminated and their home world to be wrested from them within the context of natural selection, as the Vajra did cause critical damage to the artificial human ecosystem of the Frontier Colony.

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Minmay as character (iterations from the archetype)

Ranka and Sheryl are versions of Lynn Minmay of SDFM, and play very similar roles. The original Macross love triangle became a competition between an ‘ordinary’ woman vs. a pop idol. Misa was the heroine of the story, but Minmay was undoubtedly the star of the whole show. Isamu Alva Dyson became the overwhelming favorite vs. Guld Goa Bowman in Macross Plus, and Basara is indeed the star of Macross 7 even if Gamlin Kizaki was the most admirable hero.

This time, there will be TWO stars in the story, and Macross Frontier was very successful in making this happen. However, it remained consistent in how one of the characters ended up being less mature, a loser, or was left holding the retard stick, relative to the other. Minmay, Guld, Basara, and now Ranka are perfect examples of this. While Basara wasn’t competing, and Ranka’s loss was bailed out by the narrative – both happily swung the retard stick (like Minmay before them).

Sheryl on the other hand, is a revelation. Sheryl had the career dedication of Misa, the courage and resolve of Gamlin, and the sexual dangerousness of Isamu. When the narrative needed a hero, Sheryl stepped up. If she needed to confront her demons, she did so using her own powers. She never needed to be slapped (had she known she could be cured, do people actually believe she’d be depressed?), which is why Ranka slapping her in the finale is one of the worse missteps sacrificed in the altar of narrative symmetry.

Sheryl also shares some characteristics with Millya Fallnya Jenius, haughty but capable; tsun-tsun but dere-dere. Both aren’t just lovable, they are admirable.

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Zentraedi Integration

The New UN Spacy continues to be portrayed as a degenerate xenophobic organization, now with more internal corruption! This is not a new thing by all means, as the arrogance in how the SDF Macross was refused to disembark its civilian population in the original series attests, which continued to farcical proportions in the ‘unaired’ episode part of Macross 7 Encore: Fleet of the Strongest Women. In that episode, Earth command disregards the actions of 7’s commanding officer and insists that Exsedol Folmo open fire with Battle 7’s main gun at the rogue Meltran fleet even if it compromises the work and the lives of both military and civilian commanding officers of the fleet/colony.

In Frontier we see the Zentraedi part of the colony become the first choice for scuttling during the crisis situation (ep 21). Grace thought less than nothing of the Zentraedi garrison in Gallia IV when she detonated a Dimension Eater on the planet. I like this broad-level depiction of the troubles with integration, because on the individual level, it’s very positive.

Elmo Kirdanik represents the ‘anything can happen here’ ethos of democratic capitalism, that a wholly militarized society cannot accomodate. He discovers Ranka and becomes her agent, loses her to big business/big government, but bounces back with Sheryl – only more awesome for doing philanthropic work. On the other hand, we also have Richard Bilrer, owner of the SMS. To date, he is the most successful known Zentraedi, who went beyond mere integration because he is so rich that he can ‘afford’ to have Howard Hughes types of eccentricities.

It is Bilrer who nurtures a benevolent and progressive use for the fold crystals (uniting the galaxy; ep 16), in turn nuanced by a covert goal of finding Minmay again, who is lost with the first expeditionary fleet.

macross frontier 15 sheryl alto ranka sing off 03

Taking a Step Backward

Critical lens towards the idol industry/phenomenon

From the rather subversive approach in SDFM, where the seedy underbelly of the idol industry is portrayed – and the innocent perfection of the idol celebrity is turned on its head, we have a very optimistic and somewhat naive portrayal of the same. Not completely optimistic and naive, after all Sheryl for all her belief in her own powers is a manufactured idol, created by Grace.

Ranka’s story is far more friendly despite how she was undermined by Grace (and Leon) eventually. In any case, there is a simplistic dichotomy: Grace is technology-enhanced, manufactured, artificial, and evil; Elmo represents being natural, valuing effort, love and culture, and (therefore) good. Compare this to SDFM’s Minmay wherein the flaws (evils, imperfections) existed within the industry itself, and in the idol herself.

The technology and artifice as evil, as manifested by a pop idol is duly portrayed in dark and effective ways via Sharon Apple (vs. Myung Fang-Lone) in 1994’s Macross Plus.

macross frontier  14 vf-171 nightmare 8 large type anti-ship reaction missiles itano circus knight class vajra carrier

Variable Damage

As far as I can tell, Macross as a franchise has fared best when it came to consistency of weapons damage, something that bugs the hell out of me (especially in Gundam, whose beam spam in its alternate continuities is/are deuxes ex machinas in themselves; but also in UC – contrast the nuke in Stardust Memory vs. those in Char’s Counterattack). I credit this to Macross’ avoidance of beam weapons in lieu of kinetic or explosive ones.

But even when Macross uses it (e.g. Macross grade cannons), I’m not certain it’s free of suspicion. But when the reaction weapon damage (loose equivalents with nuclear missiles) started getting dodgy: Alto’s damage is far greater and covers vast amounts of space, while NUNS personnel need several to destroy one Vajra carrier (ep 14). This blows.

Limitations not overcome

There are many interesting things within Macross Frontier. The more attention I pay, the richer the rewards. This show has shown me an ability to be dark and cruel (ep 20), painstaking with its world-building (eps 03, 15), a renewed (or newfound) interest in strategy and tactics (eps 07, 16, 24), and an ability to forward and complete many plot threads at once (eps 09, 20).

I am fairly confident, in my review of related commentary on the show, that very few (if any at all) took note of the above. Why? This is due to two kinds of superficialities.

The first kind is the color palette. It’s too bright and flashy. Never mind the events that take place within the Macross Frontier Colony, but the space battles. ed Strictly in the context of use of colors related to special effects (lasers, contrails, booster flames), if Mobile Suit Gundam is the equivalent of the Tim Burton Batman movies, and Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory (along with is the equivalent of the Christopher Nolan-directed Batman films, then Macross Frontier would be the Joel Schumacher edition. Seriously, there’s so much neon.

What this does is take the grimness out of the violence. It makes the life and death part of battles out of the forefront, replacing it with excitement and visual spectacle. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, and this is common to most contemporary robot shows (Gurren Lagann, Code Geass, Gundam 00). However, there is a cost. It costs the shows dramatic gravitas.

I have high expectations for Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn to overcome this ‘handicap,’ as I expect narratives set in the Universal Century continuity of the Gundam franchise to keep the tradition of portraying war as serious business; graphically violent, beyond an unambitious visual spectacle, despite its use of the flashy effects I’m resigned to expect from something like Gundam 00.

If there is a show/franchise that overcomes this, it’s Neon Genesis Evangelion. The animation in Rebuild can get bright colors, but the effect is weird and alien – and in keeping with its unnerving effect, as opposed to the rather cheerful fighting in Macross Frontier (in the context of colors).

The second kind is the narrative focus.

From “the word of God:”

[it depicts] a love triangle against the backdrop of great battles

–Kawamori Shoji (The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Series Staff. Macross Official Website. Series Section. 04-09-09)

image The series creator was talking about the originating narrative at this point, but there is no reason to think that Macross Frontier is any different. This isn’t Legend of the Galactic Heroes wherein you find love stories amidst a narrative of war; here the love story is paramount. The war narrative is background, the robot battles are fanservice. The many wonderful details and touches I’ve discovered blogging this show sit at the back of the bus. They’re like Easter Eggs for fans willing to hunt for them.

The cost is how these are obscured from casual and non-partisan viewers. I don’t blame people from missing out on the environmental disaster as an essay of dread in a nifty piece of ecological world-building (as reported by Leon in episode 15). The flashy recap episode dynamics highlighted by Sheryl in concert (‘Welcome to My Fanclub’s Night), then the Sheryl vs. Ranka sing-off for Alto’s love will make people forget just about anything else in an episode.

This I think, is representative of the issue. The original series, particularly the Robotech incarnation somehow made viewers think that Macross isn’t so much about a love triangle; that the love triangle (and pop music – especially in the Robotech version of the Macross saga) are sub-plots to an alien vs. human space war. The expectations were then set for future installments. It is no surprise how fans introduced to the franchise (and perhaps to anime in general) via Robotech reject Macross 7, and Macross Frontier; which are shows that are actually more consistent with the silliness of the core conceit of the franchise.

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…and this is why the TV series fails…

It fails due to the ambiguity of the love triangle resolution, for all its importance over all other narratives and elements in the show. As much as I want to take the textual evidence in episodes 23-24 in favor of Sheryl x Alto, the withholding of the declarations of love and terms of engagement, then the whole business of Ranka and Sheryl being Alto’s “wings,” then Ranka’s promise to Sheryl that she will do her best to fight her for Alto, then ultimately, Alto’s seeming indifference to both of them relative to the resolution of his own dream to fly free in a natural atmosphere… the triangle remains intact in a state of romantic tension.

The narrative actually forced the re-introduction of the romantic tension at the very end precisely when it was supposed to conclude it, rendering a lot of the build-up (towards Alto x Sheryl) impotent.

Why? Or at least, what does this tell me? Ranka is nothing without the triangle. Ranka as a character cannot stand on her own narrative. Sheryl lives, and is free to love. Alto has his Sky, and Sheryl waiting for him. Ranka has reconstruction – the rehabilitation of her relationship with the Frontier population (she is branded as a traitor), the connection with the Vajra… all are interesting narratives and in my mind very necessary ones to complete the characterization of Ranka. But no, the overarching narrative doesn’t see past her as a point in the love triangle. She is nothing without it, so it seems.

Ranka is the character whose story till has legs. Alto got his sky, Sheryl is no longer dying from the V-Type disease. They can now make babies like the Jeniuses. Ranka has a redemption story all in front of her, and yet instead it won’t happen unless in the context of the re-balanced love triangle. What would be ideal in my mind if the story would continue, is for Ranka to move on and be the focal point of a new love triangle involving new characters – more like Myung and less like Mylene.

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And finally, my personal stand

Despite what would seem to be damning observations and conclusions, Macross Frontier will forever be awesome to me.

I cannot experience Macross Frontier outside my own context. I am a lifelong fan of Macross, having loved it as long as it has been in existence (28 years now). I’ve seen all the animated installments, canon and otherwise. After my initial disappointment with Macross Zero (now reversed), this show was my long-awaited gift. After watching Frontier for the nth time in the service of this blogging endeavor, I’ve never failed to enjoy myself with it. It reminded me why I love Macross so much, and why I love anime so much.

It introduced me to a character as remarkable as Sheryl, the Perfect Version Minmay (but it should go without saying that to me, Minmay will never be replaced) and a character as irrationally adorable as Ranka. It gave me an amazing musical score that reminded me of how much I love Kanno Yoko, who also gave me an improbable abundance of pop songs that are I find so improbably catchy. It made me remember love, and is the inspiration for this blog and my pursuit of this hobby.

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Postscript

Alto is better for Sheryl as a man, as he is better for Ranka as a brother. Sure, Brera beats him there, but Alto never wins against Brera, ever.

Further Reading

Extensive discussion (mostly c/o Magnus) regarding the resolution of the love triangle [->]
Macross Frontier actually won the film/TV category of Japan’s Nebula Awards (Imagine that!) [->]
Reviews! Positive: Crusader, Martin
Reviews! Not as positive: psgels, Kabitzin, otou-san
I didn’t want to speculate on the film version, already shown last year; but here’s a review (11-15%suki 03/10/2010)

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in analysis, comparative, fanboy, Macross, Macross Frontier and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

53 Responses to Did Macross Frontier Open a Frontier for the Macross Franchise?

  1. RyanA says:

    Ah good stuff, and it’s intriguing for myself being very shallow in the context of Macross as a franchise. I feel Frontier has given the franchise more intrigue down the line for viewers like myself; the feeling was fresh, the concept is clear and evocative. If I were given the options of a new Macross series or a new Gundam series, I would undoubtedly be more enthused over Macross.

    What I cannot conclude, however, is if Frontier put the foot in the door for viewers to engage the history of the franchise.

    • I’m glad you had the experience that you did, and wholeheartedly recommend going further into the franchise, starting with Super Dimension Fortress Macross. I’ve seldom met people who were incredibly disappointed in it, so I have little doubt that it’ll have value for you. Macross: Do You Remember Love? is a more accessible second series, but I truly recommend both.

  2. Martin says:

    The love trianlge resolution (or lack of) was the only real let-down in Frontier for me. “…the triangle remains intact in a state of romantic tension.” hits the nail on the head. Sure, the animation quality was inconsistent but it was entertaining throughout and the soundtrack was superb.

    I haven’t seen Macross 7 yet though, so I still view my impression of the franchise as a whole as incomplete. Until that situation changes (in the next few weeks hopefully) I’m afraid I can’t really comment much further. Another Macross post is always welcome – it’s one of my ‘mainstays’ that maintains my enthusiasm as a fan. That and the Type Moon stuff…another bunch of titles that appease the fans with a new product every few years!

    • You’ve mentioned something that distinguishes the experience of being a fan of a franchise, from being just a fan of a medium in general. There’s something very exciting about waiting for new installments every few years, that’s very different from say, anticipating the new work of individual directors, auteurs, or even production groups. The distinguishing factor is that there is an expectation of continuity in the new release.

      While there can be a similar expectation in terms of thematic continuity (e.g. Miyazaki and the conservation of environment), but I think there’s something extra exciting in imagining the world of Nusicaa, Laputa, and Mononoke as possibly existing in the same universe or continuity.

      It’s something I definitely enjoy about being a fan of Gundam and especially Macross. I hope you have a blast with Macross 7.

  3. Bruno J Global says:

    I’m not sure if it’s “plot direction,” but as I mentioned in ep 13, it’s the first time that Macross has included a conspiracy as an anime sub-plot. As far as I know, the other conspiracy in Macross is found in the game VF-X. Anyway, the formula of love triangles, music and transformable mecha has been successful, so I don’t think they’d veer away from that.

    For world-building, while the Vajra is indeed the more noticeable new species introduced in the franchise, cybernetics, while an already existing technology since SDFM, is seen to reach great heights by the time of Frontier, when integrated with an emerging fold quartz breakthrough, it offers near immortality and near absolute power to those willing to grasp it. While such high technology was in the hand of the villain, I think it’s not so much an anti-technology Aesop, but more a reminder that even with such astounding capabilities, going against the Gospel of Love, Music and Culture will lead to sure downfall. Case in point, the AI that powered the villain in Plus is now reconciled with the right side of history and fought alongside the good guys in the final battle against Grace and the Galaxy Conspiracy. Brera, who is a cyborg like Grace, has also decided, upon knowing the whole truth, to go also with the right side of history. I believe a future new installation of the Macross franchise will show such reconciliation with cybernetics, that Grace is not the be-all end-all of cybernetics, just as Sharon is not to AI.

    Slightly off-topic, I have this crazy idea about an astounding homage to Macross inspired by the 1:1 replica of Gundam:
    http://forums.animesuki.com/showpost.php?p=3191934&postcount=2325
    What do you think?

    • I wish I didn’t overlook this. Indeed it’s one new thing in Macross. Although conflict within the UN SPACY isn’t new, never has it existed on the level of conspiracy especially in collusion with outside entities — which would characterize Leon and Macross Galaxy/Grace.

      LOL even the Macross Quarter is way too big for a 1:1 replica. We’re better off with Skull Leader, though it wouldn’t be the titular mecha of a mecha anime.

  4. sadakups says:

    Oh god. Don’t get me started with the love-triangle non-resolution. Alto saying that Ranka and Sheryl are both of his wings is the most bullshit line I’ve ever heard in an anime.

    To be honest though, Frontier was my first Macross experience, and I admit looking on all sides of the net just to look for the old ones. It’s like how Gundam Wing started it for Gundam.

    • I don’t think it’s bullshit. The reason it’s problematic is only in the context of how it re-establishes the romantic tension in conjunction with Ranka’s challenge later on in the finale. If that challenge wasn’t made and a clearer Sheryl end was portrayed, the line itself isn’t a problem.

      Go watch SDFM then DYRL?; you won’t regret it.

  5. Rakuen says:

    I’m going to post this at the risk of not reading anything of the meat of the review, because I will watch this series eventually, my spare time be damned.

    I’m going to try and expand on the importance of increasing the fanbase.. Let’s face it, anime franchises need new blood in order to survive. Doing otherwise leads to a vicious cycle yielding slowly diminishing returns. It’s great to give the fans exactly what they want, but keeping the same exact fanbase will drop you from profit to break even to deficit at some indeterminate points on an imaginary line graph.

    Thus, they modify the franchise. It becomes flashier. They start altering the franchise by slowly adding, removing, or changing elements. The end goal is to increase the fanbase. Once they’ve accomplished that objective, they can then move on to really defining a “new frontier.”

    A lot of this process is tuning things to appeal to both old and new fans alike, with a requirement of at least breaking even on fans lost versus fans gained. On the one hand, this process could be successful and push into new ground. On the other hand, it has a chance of backfiring horribly and relegating the entry in the franchise to “One Hit Wonder” status. In the best case scenario, the new fans abandon ship while the old fans stay aboard and you’re right back where you started. In the worst case, you capsize yourself by losing the new fans and alienating the old ones. You can’t figure out which camp it belongs to until you get the next entry in the franchise.

    The bottom line of what I’m getting at is that a new frontier is not defined by one entry in a franchise, but by two. You need one to start the shift, and a second to show it can follow through. Increasing the fanbase and improving the quality of animation/effects falls firmly in the first entry, while the other aspects find their start in that first entry, but are ultimately fulfilled in the second (and hopefully later) entries.

    Either that, or I’m incredibly tired and pedantic as sin. The world may never know…

    • Mmmm very good. This is a lot to think about. I think the bets are made on the theatrical editions of this series, in two parts. The possibility of those editions are thus:

        1. Fix problems that plagued the show (i.e. love triangle resolution, Ranka story arc, etc.)
        2. Even out and improve production values
        3. Make an even more accessible entry point for new fans (stronger and with more improvements)

      The cost of which are continuity breaks that will have to be sorted out by the older, more hardcore fans like myself. Historically, this worked with STUPENDOUS success with SDFM, and DYRL? and with more moderate success with Macross Plus and its own movie edition. Now I’m getting excited even further. HURRR

  6. Magnus says:

    Well, I still maintain that the triangle was not reset in the finale. Superficially, yes, Alto said “You are both my wings” and Ranka issued her challenge. So if you don’t go any deeper than that, the triangle appears to be reset.

    But it falls apart as soon one does probe a little deeper. For instance, look at the scene of “You are both my wings” again. See how exactly Alto does address the two of them, how he first looks at Sheryl says “You…”, then thinks better of it and addresses both of them with a restarted “You are both my wings”. Look at the close-up focus of Ranka having that strangely detached/disappointed expression for a second. There’s more under the hood there than meets the eye.

    I won’t repeat all the rest I already posted ( and to which you very kindly linked as further reading. Thanks! ), but I sustain my position that further inspection of the end of the dynamics of the relationships makes any possibility of a future romantic Alto/Ranka relationship almost 100% unlikely.

    As such, I would say that the show didn’t fail per se. The ending did great damage to what otherwise was a fantastic show, but, unlike some other shows like Buffy, it didn’t damage my enthusiasm to rewatch Macross Frontier. It left important plot elements unfinished, but not in a way that it did negate what happened before on the show. One can make very. very reasonable predictions of how things will proceed after the credits rolled.

    On another note, I am a bit surprised that you didn’t spend some time on the quality of the Vajra as antagonists. If there is a third problem I have with the show besides Ranka and the wishy-washy “please them all, upset no-one” ending, it is that the Vajra utterly failed to be anything else than faceless boogeymen. Even the Protodevlin, while often annoying, had some interesting parts to them. The Vajra not being the real enemy felt tacked on at the end, and while they only wanted to get to Ranka, they did blow up rather a large amount of people. Macross Galaxy and especially Grace were much better antagonists, but while we explored Graces past and motivations extensively, the people behind the involvement of Macross Galaxy and their reasons were left largely in the dark. I think further exploring the growing divide between organic and cybernetic humans would be the best plot for the next Macross series, but I would have liked to see it set up more in Frontier. Eh, my dream is we’ll get a true sequel to Frontier where Alto and Sheryl are a bit more in the background and Ranka may get her redemption as a character.

    • The thing is, the idea that the love triangle is actually resolved, is the thesis with the burden of proof. The notion that it isn’t resolved isn’t the one that has to be proven.

      The very notion that the novelization makes the Alto x Sheryl relationship perfectly clear, how the film will make the resolution perfectly clear, how meta-textual versions and or installments of the franchise make the resolution or refer to it as perfectly clear one way or another (IMO should be Sheryl) underscores the failure in the TV series to resolve the triangle in a satisfying way.

      Throughout my episodic posts I’ve made comments how the triangle should’ve been resolved here (I think at lest twice in the latter episodes), as the events you used to attempt to invalidate the exchanges in the finale between the triangle members transpired. If Macross Frontier was any better than it is, then it would have. But it didn’t and we’re left with those exchanges that cannot be waved off by a pro-Sheryl x Alto biased reading (not invalidating yours, as it is something I actually favor).

      Sheryl accepts Ranka’s challenge.

      She takes Ranka seriously (as a rival in song and love), and this is a prompt for us to take Ranka’s challenge seriously. Sheryl x Alto fans need only to remember your arguments and proofs to realize that this is a fight that Ranka can’t and perhaps shouldn’t win. But yes, it’s a fight. It’s wing vs. wing combat.

      I think it’s an important failure, but something fans like us shouldn’t have too much of a problem with.

      You’re right about my overlooking the Vajra. While I’m okay with the fact that they weren’t the real enemy — or rather how us and them shouldn’t really be enemies, there was very little about them outside of whatever Ranka tells us in the end.

      It would be great how if at some point, the gravity of the transgressions done to each other are accounted for: before the massacre in Frontier by the Vajra, Brera destroyed an entire nursery — and even if Brera didn’t destroy it, the SMS would’ve. The vajra have a lot of grievances — the experimentation by the research fleet and the Galaxy, the hostile takeover by Galaxy, and ultimately the planetary occupation by Frontier. The Vajra were driven off the planet.

      I think there’s a lot more to this, and I may write a post on this sometime in the future.

      • Magnus says:

        And, once again, it is in the way how you view the scene in question. There are lots of reasons why Sheryl didn’t need and indeed could not reject the “challenge”.

        a.) Everybody is celebrating. Telling Ranka off in that moment would have been in very bad taste.
        b.) Who knows how the Vajra will react if Ranka throws another tantrum?
        c.) Sheryl knows quite well how ridiculous the challenge is. She also is aware that Ranka doesn’t have a clue of all that happened while she was away.
        d.) It’s very obvious that Sheryl isn’t concerned in the least by Rankas challenge. Taken aback a bit, yes, due to the weird timing and the brazeness of it, after Ranka just got rescued from a bad fate.

        All in all, the clue is in looking deeper at the situation than just what is being said on screen. Sheryl simply accepting the challenge isn’t a revalidation of the triangle, it is her saving the happy moment from possibly veering into another attack of “Ranka histrionics”. Sheryl knows that later there will be a chance to let Ranka down more gently than is possible at that particular moment. Yeah, this is not exactly as validated as my other analysis, but I think fitting with Sheryls personality.

        I’d like to see you writing about the Vajra as antagonists. While I see them mainly as having been used, I must still admit to some rancor that they were left off the hook so easily. They initiated the attack on Frontier, not vice versa.

        • Chan says:

          the problem is that Sheryl was shown to have doubts on whether or not Alto sincerely loved her in episode 23 and 24. Alto never got the chance to straighten things out before he was interrupted and called out. Though Alto did get upset with Sheryl when she implied that they shouldn’t stay together, because Alto was only doing it because she was sick. So there is room to say that Sheryl doesn’t know whether or not Alto really does love her. So she is very sincere in the last scene when she accepts Ranka’s challenge.

          The real problem Ranka’s challenge is that like what she episode 21 she doesn’t take Alto’s feelings into consideration, nor does she actually very sensitive towards the feelings of others. Also if the novel is anything to go by Alto likens Ranka like a little girl, not his peer. In other words there is very high chance that Ranka’s challenge is pointless, especially when one considers the how neither of them are on even ground in either love or song.

          The relationship between Alto and Sheryl has also progressed to the point where Ranka would have to be uncharacteristically bold, even more selfish than she already is, and fully willing to look like a home wrecker in the eyes of the public who believe that Sheryl and Alto are dating. The problem with that is Ranka isn’t bold enough to do something like that, and the re precautions of it wouldn’t be very pretty. So while they tried to restart the love triangle it ultimately fails due to a healthy chunk of fridge logic.

          • Hmmm I didn’t even pick up on these. Lots to think about here, though it leads to similar ends.

          • Magnus says:

            Oh, that Sheryl had doubts before the battle is a given. The whole epic scene in the make-up room doesn’t make sense otherwise. And I must admit that your argumentation makes sense in that way, so maybe Sheryl was more sincere in her acceptance of Rankas challenge than I thought. Well done. 🙂

            But, as the rest of your post lays out, and I’ve argued before here and on AnimeSuki, Ranka still doesn’t stand a chance, due to a variety of factors, not the least that Alto and Sheryl have both moved on way past her in terms of adulthood and Alto won’t find much in common with Ranka romantically. But that Ranka doesn’t have the personality to actively try to be a home-wrecker is the next big point on my list.

            So, even if Sheryl may think at that moment that Ranka is a serious contender, this will dissipate soon. Hell, one can argue that Sheryl just got another leg up through Rankas challenge, because now she knows that Ranka is coming ( or believes she is coming ^^ ) for Alto and can forestall her more effectively.

  7. Chan says:

    Once again interesting an interesting read.

    I do believe that whenever a show tries to change itself for a new generation it also stands the chance to lose their older fans, and in some cases there are shows that don’t really have to change their formula, not only because what they came up with was timeless, but also because their series might not be as aged as they think. There is also a problem with following new trends in that it dates a work, if by looking at it you can tell exactly when the work was made it might not make it as enjoyable to future generations, especially after the trends change. There are certain characterizations that one can get away with depending on the type of series it is.

    For instance while the inclusion of Klan Klan’s character who was both the loli-moe type character and also the mature female character was a twist on a old trope, and she also validated the previous installments of Macross in regards to the Meltrandi and can be seen as the end product of that Meltrandi that have been fully integrated into society. Yet Klan Klan’s appearance and tsundere attitude in her macronized form also follows today’s trends, but everything else about her is not dated.

    The same can be said about Sheryl as well, Sheryl is pretty much a normal young woman. I have seen a little bit of Sheryl in many strong and proud females who have ever survived a brush with death (read: cancer). Or even her haughty personality and ego in people who have come from nothing and worked their asses off to become successful. Sheryl may in fact appeal to a lot of people especially women (she has a lot of female fans both on both sides of the Pacific) because of this, because some women recognize that strength or her struggles and they like her because she overcame it. Sheryl could be a person you know, and that appealed to the new generation who wanted someone they could identify with.

    Alto is one where made a mistake. There is such a thing as being too reserved, thing is to make a character likable they have to be somewhat accessible to the average viewer. The time they spent showing him yelling battle cries in the cockpit is the time he should have spent showing us his inner thoughts. Actions speak louder than words true, but words are also very important, we wouldn’t have the skill to communicate with one another if it wasn’t needed after all. The inability to show his inner thoughts (which they novel rectifies) makes him seem wishy washy and frankly inaccessible. Its sad because if the novel is anything to go by Alto is more interesting than the anime and his issues far more complicated than shown by the anime. Alto has a bit of an identity crisis in terms of being a male this was revealed in the novel, and when one stops to think about it was shown in the anime in the form of Alto being upset about being mistaken for a woman but it was never elaborated on. To go into context for this when Alto at one point in time in the novel Alto refers to himself using different pronouns: Ore- masculine male way to refer to himself, then Boku- more polite way to refer to himself, Watashi- gender neutral way to refer to himself. He does this in his own mind when referring to himself. With this it makes more sense why Alto would want to get away from his home, not only because he wanted to be a pilot but also because he realized that he was going through a gender identity crisis. His relationship with Sheryl later on helps him get over this. The fact that Alto has also played a female for most of his pre- and post- pubescent life is also why he knows the female psyche better than most males. He is also pretty good at telling what a girl’s personality is from talking to them (he pretty much defines Ranka’s character to the audience with frightening accuracy in the novel even though they haven’t known each other for very long at that time). Alto could have been the male version of Klan Klan made for fanservice but much more than meets the eye, instead though Kawamori went the symbolism route which alienated Alto’s personality from the audience. The series would have been a lot more interesting if Alto got more focus, it should be known that even though Alto is the main male of the series he is not the main focus.

    Bobby was just an amusing character. Elmo was also very interesting and like Klan represented the successful integration of the Zentradi race into human society. Ozma was a character that could also speak to the new generation in his status of young unprepared surrogate parent. He with his guilt as a reasoning spoiled Ranka, and shielded her from the harsh realities, while making her the center of his world. Him doing this destroyed his relationship with Cathy who he had planned to marry. The problem with him making Ranka his entire world was that Ranka became used to being the center of attention for everyone, and in a way expected it from others. Its sad that Ozma worked his ass off to provide for her only to have Ranka step all over his hard work. Its sad because Ozma marrying Cathy would had not only made him a happier man it would have also would mean that Ozma wouldn’t be able to spoil Ranka as much. Cathy was the typical character who was stuck in a relationship with a guy she didn’t really love it was really the typical story I’d seen in many movies (minus the my fiance assassinated my father part of course).

    Grace was interesting and the more I learn about her the more interesting she is. Her worth as a villain is only proved in terms of her duping Leon, infecting Sheryl with the V-type virus, raising her into a pop sensation, then dropping her for someone better (its worse if you’ve listened to the audio drama or read the manga special about it http://community.livejournal.com/macross_f/218292.html). A lot of what happened to her she blames on the Mei family (and the Nome family simply because of association) because she tried to convince Ranshe Mei to learn how to control the Vajra, not only to save Ranshe’s life but also because of the possibilities it offered in terms of communication with loved ones and then Ranshe lets Ranka sing which then enrages the Vajra and gets their fleet destroyed on the same day mind you. She’s a bit like Alto though in that her story is never told in the anime, but in the novels and the CD dramas. It does make you think negatively about the Mei family because its members have made others suffer so much for their own bad decisions. The more you find out about why she has her vendetta the less sympathetic you are towards Ranka. She is the personification of hell hath no fury. This is a new type of villain for the Macross series, which would have been much better for the series had we known more about her, it doesn’t stop her from appealing to fans both new and old though.

    Ranka is a character that would have been better off in another series, or playing another role. The problem with her in this series was that the society she lives in makes no room for being childish and immature especially during dire situations. It doesn’t help matters that she doesn’t behave like a normal teenager (or look like one) in her world, and her selfish personality which rears its ugly head at the worst of times where a normal person would be more worried about their loved ones rather than their own feelings. In other words she is trope http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SpoiledSweet- Spoiled Sweet minus the fact wealthy parents. She is a sweet girl as long as things are going her way. She’s not used to being told “no” has has a total disregard for the rules which maintain life in Frontier. What’s ironic about her is that her disgretions would not be so obvious if she wasn’t the main focus, and therefore the main character (she has the most screen time, and the appears in the most advertisements), she is the first person people see before they watch Frontier. She would be better off not in the one sided love triangle with her resembling a younger sister who has a crush on her older sister’s boyfriend. It also doesn’t help that the writers chose to use Alto to validate her character, made even worse by the fact that Alto only pays attention to her when she asks for advice or needs to be saved. She was actually made to appeal to the same people that make up most of Sheryl and Klan Klan’s fandom but alas not many people bought into it. She is the opposite of the other characters in that the more you find out about her the less interesting she seems. She was inaccessible to both new and old fans.

    Frontier would have been better had Kawamori just remembered that Mecha pronz and awesome songs are nice, but Macross isn’t about that. That’s my personal view on Macross Frontier

    • Thank you for your kind words, and for sharing your very insightful analysis.

      Alto is one where made a mistake. There is such a thing as being too reserved, thing is to make a character likable they have to be somewhat accessible to the average viewer. The time they spent showing him yelling battle cries in the cockpit is the time he should have spent showing us his inner thoughts. Actions speak louder than words true, but words are also very important, we wouldn’t have the skill to communicate with one another if it wasn’t needed after all. The inability to show his inner thoughts (which they novel rectifies) makes him seem wishy washy and frankly inaccessible. Its sad because if the novel is anything to go by Alto is more interesting than the anime and his issues far more complicated than shown by the anime.

      Fridge logic, but quite valid. The thing is, I found alto to be quite an interesting character mostly also due to Crusader’s analysis. But what you say here shows me how much more could’ve been done, and if these had been done we would’ve had perhaps one of the more memorable protagonists in mecha anime in the decade. After all I don’t think people remember Alto the same way they remember Lelouch from Code Geass, Renton from Eureka SeveN, Simon from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Sousuke from Full Metal Panic!, Ayato from RahXephon or even Setsuna or Kira from Gundam 00 and Gundam SeeD respectively (though there’s a lot more hate for those two). I think this is quite a shame.

      Re Grace:

      A lot of what happened to her she blames on the Mei family (and the Nome family simply because of association) because she tried to convince Ranshe Mei to learn how to control the Vajra, not only to save Ranshe’s life but also because of the possibilities it offered in terms of communication with loved ones and then Ranshe lets Ranka sing which then enrages the Vajra and gets their fleet destroyed on the same day mind you. She’s a bit like Alto though in that her story is never told in the anime, but in the novels and the CD dramas. It does make you think negatively about the Mei family because its members have made others suffer so much for their own bad decisions. The more you find out about why she has her vendetta the less sympathetic you are towards Ranka. She is the personification of hell hath no fury. This is a new type of villain for the Macross series, which would have been much better for the series had we known more about her, it doesn’t stop her from appealing to fans both new and old though.

      Good stuff, and it is indeed a shame that this wasn’t available to us via the TV series proper. It is getting to me more, how frustrating this is for me to know.

      Re Ranka:

      The problem with her in this series was that the society she lives in makes no room for being childish and immature especially during dire situations. It doesn’t help matters that she doesn’t behave like a normal teenager (or look like one) in her world, and her selfish personality which rears its ugly head at the worst of times where a normal person would be more worried about their loved ones rather than their own feelings. In other words she is trope http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SpoiledSweet- Spoiled Sweet minus the fact wealthy parents. She is a sweet girl as long as things are going her way. She’s not used to being told “no” has has a total disregard for the rules which maintain life in Frontier. What’s ironic about her is that her disgretions would not be so obvious if she wasn’t the main focus, and therefore the main character (she has the most screen time, and the appears in the most advertisements), she is the first person people see before they watch Frontier.

      I agree with the spirit of your argument, but there are things to disagree with. Minmay and Mylene displayed incredibly immature behavior. Minmay actually said “I don’t care if everybody else dies and you (Hikaru) and I are the only one left” in DYRL? just before the great battle with the Bodolle Zer fleet. Mylene Jenius was a lot more willful and petulant, and younger then Ranka (Mylene was 14 when she joined Fire Bomber). There is a context for Ranka’s kind of lead character in the Macross continuity. However, Macross Frontier did the equivalent of the Minmay petulance through Ranka (remember that when Minmay did that little number the Earth was already toasty from the Zentraedi barrage) and her subsequent redemption via Ai oboete imasu ka?.

      However, Ranka had the horrible misfortune of another version of Minmay, a perfect version of Minmay — as opposed to a non-idol rival like Misa. Sheryl being the direct comparison is a terrible match-up for Ranka. Sheryl is also an idol and operates on the same plane and does the same things. Ranka was supposed to be the “little engine that could” to Sheryl’s Galactic Fairy diva personality. But what happened? Sheryl actually got to play the underdog who did the right thing, while Ranka played the idol of mass-destruction and acted immature and responsible.

      The all-too-neat wrap-up in the finale granted by Ranka’s god-like powers and Vajra insight doesn’t help. That’s the one that feels tacked on.

      • Chan says:

        Fridge logic, but quite valid. The thing is, I found alto to be quite an interesting character mostly also due to Crusader’s analysis. But what you say here shows me how much more could’ve been done, and if these had been done we would’ve had perhaps one of the more memorable protagonists in mecha anime in the decade. After all I don’t think people remember Alto the same way they remember Lelouch from Code Geass, Renton from Eureka SeveN, Simon from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Sousuke from Full Metal Panic!, Ayato from RahXephon or even Setsuna or Kira from Gundam 00 and Gundam SeeD respectively (though there’s a lot more hate for those two). I think this is quite a shame.

        That’s the thing there are so many aspects to Alto’s personality very few of which the average viewer is able to recognize, due to his complexity and his reserved personality. To the viewers who know what to look for he is very interesting but to those who don’t aka new fans he isn’t very compelling to them because of his reserved personality he doesn’t stand out.

        Grace is an interesting character by herself, but her history also adds a layer of depth that the viewers of the anime are not held privy to.

        I agree with the spirit of your argument, but there are things to disagree with. Minmay and Mylene displayed incredibly immature behavior. Minmay actually said “I don’t care if everybody else dies and you (Hikaru) and I are the only one left” in DYRL? just before the great battle with the Bodolle Zer fleet. Mylene Jenius was a lot more willful and petulant, and younger then Ranka (Mylene was 14 when she joined Fire Bomber). There is a context for Ranka’s kind of lead character in the Macross continuity. However, Macross Frontier did the equivalent of the Minmay petulance through Ranka (remember that when Minmay did that little number the Earth was already toasty from the Zentraedi barrage) and her subsequent redemption via Ai oboete imasu ka?.

        However, Ranka had the horrible misfortune of another version of Minmay, a perfect version of Minmay — as opposed to a non-idol rival like Misa. Sheryl being the direct comparison is a terrible match-up for Ranka. Sheryl is also an idol and operates on the same plane and does the same things. Ranka was supposed to be the “little engine that could” to Sheryl’s Galactic Fairy diva personality. But what happened? Sheryl actually got to play the underdog who did the right thing, while Ranka played the idol of mass-destruction and acted immature and responsible.

        The all-too-neat wrap-up in the finale granted by Ranka’s god-like powers and Vajra insight doesn’t help. That’s the one that feels tacked on.

        The thing with Minmei and Mylene is that they had to chance to realize that they made mistakes, that they were actually in the wrong. Also their laspes in judgment didn’t lead to the deaths of what could have very well have been hundreds of pepole, in fact they never went that far. And even then I could point out that Mylene and Minmei were from different societies than Ranka. Mylene was also very mature for her age, and could be responsible when it was necessary, Minmei also was more responsible than Ranka. Who can forget that fight Minmei had with Kaifun where he left her to walk to the next town over which was probably at least 100 miles away, and Minmei walked to the next town over and performed in the concert there, as was asked of her even though she had no desire to perform. Compare that to Ranka who ditched a parade held in her honor to search for her pet.

        Sheryl is more of a mixture of Misa, and Minmei with a dash of Claudia. In Macross Frontier Sheryl’s role changes depending on the situation and the characters she is interacting with. With Ranka she is the wise elder sister character, with Alto she is the normal woman, on stage she is pop-idol to her fans. Its quite a lot of roles and yet she pulled them all of.

        It would have been better had Kawamori tried to establish Ranka’s character in a way that didn’t pertain to others, if Kawamori had her realize that she nearly killed Alto and several other pilots from Frontier while under Grace’s influence. It would have been nice if they had let her acknowledge her mistakes and seek to recitfy them. It would have made the last scene far more poignant had they had Ranka say to Sheryl “I’ve really caused a lot of trouble for you and everyone, I’m sorry. I don’t know how to make it up to you and Alto for what you’ve done but I want to start over I want to learn to live on my own strength. Sheryl-san, Alto-kun thank you” or something like that would have made the ending for her much more forgivable it would have shown that Ranka realizes that she needs to grow up.

        • Yes it is damning that Ranka was never shown how she is wrong in any way. There was nothing to forgive, nothing to redeem. It’s really quite preposterous.

          As far as the show is concerned, Ranka did *not* betray Frontier — as can be seen in the reactions of the Frontier command when Alto revealed that the Giant Ranka projection is actually Battle Galaxy, and that Ranka was actually held captive inside.

          In light of this, there was no treachery or wrongdoing.

          • Chan says:

            The idea of Ranka betraying Frontier depends on your point of view. It is still true that she refused to sing at the funeral, and it is also true that she ran off to bring Ai-kun back to his home(that’s the reason she gave) without telling others what was going on, and leaving Frontier in a very bad position at the worst of times. It doesn’t help matters that she volunteered to help Frontier before when they asked her (she could have said no) and yet ran out on them when they needed her most. So in a way she did betray Frontier, or rather she betrayed the trust they had in her.

          • Remember that Alto was actually faced with the prospect of having to kill Ranka. Of all the transgressions, or sins, betrayal is considered the worst of all. Dante’s 9th circle of hell is reserved for the betrayers. High Treason is the gravest offense against the state. Betrayal of one’s lord requires ritual suicide as redress.

            We as viewers have the luxury of reflexive consideration, but the citizens of Frontier did not. Alto himself had to be prepared for the worst.

          • Chan says:

            True betrayal is a heavy sin, which Ranka has committed (even though she didn’t do it malicious intent). People put their trust in her, when she had promised to help them, but ran away for vague reasons after the going got rough (which she also unwillingly played a part in). Alto was ready to kill Ranka based off of the fact that she left Frontier with Brera and Ai-kun for vague reasons, however there is no guarantee that if he knew the extent of what we the viewers know that he would have forgiven her. The same holds true for the citizens of Frontier as well, remember the whole reason why they get attacked by the Vajra in the first place is because Ranka won’t stop singing Aimo, which also destroyed the 117th fleet.

            Although seeing a character witnessing events from the perspective of the audience would have stopped tragedies in a lot of series from happening (eg: Lelouch) there is also times when its the opposite. When the character in question has committed much more transgressions than what was originally known and if the other characters were able to watch the series from the perspective of the audience they would have a much more negative opinion on that character (eg: Ougi). In Ranka’s case she has more transgressions than what is known by the general populace, transgressions that if she had acted responsibly might have prevented the deaths of hundreds.

            It doesn’t help matters that Ranka knows all of her own transgressions and yet does not acknowledge them. If the citizens of Frontier especially Alto knew of that what would he think of her?

          • Well, I’m not sure if Ranka is aware that the things she did are wrong, that she needs any redemption at all. With what we have to go by, there isn’t a thought in her head that isn’t either about the Vajra, Brera, Sheryl, and Alto. I don’t remember her even giving a thought about Ozma which is really quite remarkable.

            We can either look at this as further proof of Ranka’s failure, or how the show lacked the time and space to make this work.

          • Chan says:

            Which is a character is so unrealistic. The average teenage girl does worry about her family and friends especially in times of crisis. I don’t think that she is aware of her transgressions either, and that’s what makes her so frustrating, especially compared to Minmei who acknowledged her mistakes. She does what she wants because she thinks that she can (and gets away with it due to plot convenience) without a care for the problems her actions cause. It is because of that why I’m not too sure that if the characteres knew what we the viewers knew that they would forgive her, because they actually the lose of their loved ones because of her behavior. It also doesn’t help matters that she doesn’t take notice to it, instead only caring about herself.

            A second half of the series focusing on Ranka realizing her transgressions, and coming to an understanding that the world doesn’t revolve around her would have made for an interesting character driven second half. Remember Minmei needed a time skip to grow up, and Ranka is way behind Minmei in terms of maturity at the same point.

    • RyanA says:

      Alto is more interesting than the anime and his issues far more complicated than shown by the anime.

      Alto’s is a complicated situation when one considers it, but I think the anime’s failure is that it wasn’t extrapolated enough in front of the viewer. The details were seeded into our consciousness and for some they might have bloomed into sympathy, but for others they might have been easily disregarded. Alto’s character didn’t have a deep enough layer as presented, but I think it’s hard to argue for this layer in the alloted 25-26 episodes because there was a significant amount of exposition, chemistry, and relations already going on; events were constantly occurring.

      • Indeed. As much as it’s easy to find interesting things about him, it’s just as easy to dismiss them. In any case, I count myself among the happy people who get the caliber of character Alto is and the effort of characterization made for him.

    • Magnus says:

      In regards to Alto, I loved his character, since here we had a very subtle interpretation of someone going through a crisis of identity and growing up in the process to be a better person. Many current anime seem to feel the need to beat us over the head with how many problems the main protagonist has, which results in the dreaded “cursed with awesome” mecha pilot, who struggles against his destiny until reluctantly accepting his responsibilities. Alto jumped at having the chance to help others, risking his life for his friends and home, while rationalizing this for a long time as protecting Ranka.

      OTOH, while I and others got what this character was about and how much of an admirable person he was under his sometimes irascible exterior shell, for many others it flew over their head and I had to defend Alto many a time on AnimeSuki, mostly about the topics which you mentioned. So there is something to be said for making a personal story more obvious, although for me it was just the right kind of storytelling for a character such as him.

      And, Chan, you don’t know how envious ( in a nice way ) I am that you can read the novels. Sigh.I wish someone would fan-translate them, I’d love to get into the head of Alto and have more a more detailed retelling of the story. Even if it ends just the way it did in the series. :p

      Also, about Grace, most of her villainy seemed to be well-implied in the series itself. The side materials did certify and expand on many of the speculations and extrapolations other posters and I had one about the topic on AnimeSuki or the things Crusader wrote. But, again, I agree with you that it would have been even better if the series itself would have spelled out her dark deeds a little more in detail.

      • Chan says:

        I didn’t get to read the novels I just lurk around Live Journal, sometimes if you search the various RPers journals you get to see some of their notes and research on the characters they’re roleplaying (if they don’t friend lock it). I remember one Alto Rper had a lot of information from the novels ( in fact he/she based a lot of Alto’s character ticks from the novels, which allowed us to take a peek into Alto’s mind). Hail to the Macross Rpers!!!

        Thing is I also appreciate the fact that Alto isn’t a loud character but that doesn’ t mean that we should have no idea on what goes on in that pretty head of his. In his case even a little exposition would have made him more accessible to a larger range of fans, and without making him too loud.

  8. Pingback: Chan on the Characters of Macross Frontier « The Ghosts of Discussions

  9. Caithyra says:

    Heh, after finishing the whole of Frontier, I had these thoughts:
    “Ranka is a horrible main character.” “Why didn’t they resolve the main storyline? Isn’t the Love Triangle one of the biggest plots in the story?” “Sheryl RULEZ!” “Ranka was sooo spoiled by characters and creators alike, how the heck did they expect her to grow?”

    Meh, if they wanted symmetry they should have done this:
    4 Seasons of 25 episodes, so that they can go properly into the back-story and motivations of each character. Particularly Leon, Grace, Richard and Frontier’s military gets their own sub-story for each season (Frontier’s military in 1st, Leon 2nd, Richard 3rd and Grace in 4th).

    Followed by 4 movies which aren’t retellings:

    First movie would be the challenge of Ranka Lee, as she is faced with her big brother (Ozma) marrying Cathy and therefore not worshipping her as before, while the population of Frontier wanting justice for her betrayal, as well as Alto choosing Sheryl causing her to snap and send the Vajra into a killing frenzy, with the climax being a heart-warming hug between Ranka and the people who are closest to her, telling her that even if she must now stand on her own legs, she’ll never be alone.

    Second movie would be about Sheryl finding out about her Nome ancestry by finding the remains of the Bird Human on Vajra planet. Unfortunately her song causes the Bird Human activate, while the climax is Sheryl, through the Vajra network to the memory of the Bird Human, sings a duet with the memory of Sara Nome. A bunch of other things happen as well.

    Third movie would be about Brera’s struggle to live in a colony that dislikes cyber-surgery, as well as how the military takes advantage of him as a weapon and his desire to be by Ranka’s side, and to have family and friends again. Ends with Brera being adopted into the Lee family, taken in by the SMS, and reconciling his cyborg-ness by defending Vajra planet from a rivalling Queen Vajra, with Alto as his wingman (mirroring Brera assisting Alto in the series).

    Fourth movie would be all about Alto, except that unlike the series, we now are completely privy to his thoughts and motivations. Possibly he’s struggling with proposing to Sheryl (as this movie would be set a few years after the series), and gets called to battle on his wedding day. Sheryl and Alto ends up being married with his valkyrie in the background on Macross Quarter by Captain Wilder.

    Then, following that, 4 OVAs, each 4 episodes in length:
    1st OVA is about Alto’s past as a Kabuki actor and how he enters Mihoshi’s flight program and befriends Michael and Luca.
    2nd OVA is about Sheryl’s past and her rise to idolhood.
    3rd OVA is about Brera’s past, and how he became Grace’s pet cyborg.
    4th OVA is about Ranka’s future, having grown up and matured, as well as having paid for her actions and become the pop star she wanted to be, and how she made peace with everything that’s happened.

    Then, after that there would be a 25-minute music video medley of every.single.song up to that point.

    There! 4 animated canons to satisfy both the fans with the story and the creators need for symmetry. But that’s my wishful thinking of what I would have done as a tribute and on unlimited funds (I’d also have Sheryl and Ranka sing covers of Minmay, Mylene, Sharon and Sara in every finale of the seasons as a treat to long-time fans).

    At least it would be better symmetry than slapping Sheryl. >_>

    Anyway, Frontier is still my favourite Macross (hell, I’m now buying a PS3 with the right region for the hybrid movie disc, bye bye money!), but they really, really dropped the ball when they didn’t resolve the love triangle (wouldn’t have taken much, they could just have Alto picking up Sheryl instead of Ranka challenging Sheryl).

    I wonder if Frontier didn’t bite off more than it could chew. It wanted to be a tribute to previous Macross, yet it wanted to be a “Frontier”. It wanted to show the differences between natural vs mechanical, it wanted to have a large political plot, it wanted to have the love triangle, and showcasing aliens who think in a totally alien way, and it wanted a subtle protagonist. All that in 25 episodes filled with music and mecha battles and silent, non-communicative antagonists. The result being that the series can’t dive deeper in any particular issue, because it must be ready to jump to the next one at any moment. But if you scratch it like a scratch-card, you find some surprising things.

    The first kind is the color palette. It’s too bright and flashy. Never mind the events that take place within the Macross Frontier Colony, but the space battles. ed Strictly in the context of use of colors related to special effects (lasers, contrails, booster flames), if Mobile Suit Gundam is the equivalent of the Tim Burton Batman movies, and Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory (along with is the equivalent of the Christopher Nolan-directed Batman films, then Macross Frontier would be the Joel Schumacher edition. Seriously, there’s so much neon.

    You know, if it wasn’t for the flashy palette, I wouldn’t have discovered Macross at all. I was just minding my own business one day and then ran across a very flashy picture of Sheryl and started watching the series because I liked the brightness of the colours.

    I wonder though if Frontier was made to lure more female fans into the franchise. Most young girls (who are, frankly, peppered with sexist ideas everyday about how girls should be passive for their prince, and how innocence and purity are valued, and how they are special little princesses that the world loves, no matter how spoilt they are) likes Ranka above Sheryl (the names I’ve heard many young girls call Sheryl, including slut, whore and bitch, are all based on sexist ideas about how females should be demure and princesses-in-ivory-towers-damsels-in-distress who have no sexual appetites at all), while Sheryl has a giant following of older girls and women. Similarly, when you look at anime aimed at women and girls you have bishounen (Alto [as feminine type], Michael [as flirty type], Luca [as a shota], Ozma [as older man type], Brera [as cyborg servant type]), and bright colours (Look at Neo Angelique Abyss for example, it’s filled with bright colours and the above character types, despite being about an apocalyptic world, and say what you want about Angelique, but it’s a successful franchise on it’s own, and together with La Corda d’Oro and Harukanaru Toki no Naka de under the Neo Romance label, pretty much rules the roost reverse harems).

    Basically with me, it was the pretty, pretty colours that made me enter the Macross fandom (and I stayed for Sheryl, songs and mecha action. And, lately for the creepy Sharon Apple concerts in Plus).

    So, I guess Frontier tried to be many, many things, and failed in some of its core elements.

    Er, sorry about the rambling musings. *Goes off to continue on her Macross/Jem and the Holograms fan art medley.*

    • No, thank you for sharing your ideas on Macross. You are quite welcome here.

      Well, my criticism of the color palette isn’t that it’s bad, it’s that it obscures (along with other bright and loud things) a lot of the subtlety and nuance that is indeed present in the work (as I’ve endeavored to present them not only in this post but in many of the posts I’ve done for this show). The bright and flashy colors are there for a reason and that is primarily to attract viewers (like yourself). Why alienate large demographics with Grimdark colors that may only appeal to much older fans, or long-time skeptics with a taste for such? It’s an easy choice to make and they’re successful with you.

      As for your re-formatting of the Macross Frontier narrative. I would watch all of it, and probably blog most of it. I may complain about the excess here and there, but ultimately as a fanboy I can appreciate how more is more.

      • Magnus says:

        For me overtly serious shows, with this “grimdark” palette you are mentioning, are an actual turn-off. I much prefer shows which show the characters enjoying ( or trying to ) the world they are living in and also futuristic worlds you would actually like to live in. Which is another reason why Macross Frontier was so good for me. For much of the early episodes I constantly went “wow” at the technological gadgets they were using, which were fantastic but not too fantastic. The hologram-telephones the crew were using especially tickled my bone.

        @Caithyra: Your words in Kawamoris ear. I’d love to see sequels and prequels to the show, but I fear Kawamori is more known for moving on to newer stories. Which is a damned shame, because Frontiers method of just inferring a detailed backstory for many secondary ( and even primary ) characters lends itself very much to spin-offs and stand-alones.

        • Caithyra says:

          @Caithyra: Your words in Kawamoris ear. I’d love to see sequels and prequels to the show, but I fear Kawamori is more known for moving on to newer stories. Which is a damned shame, because Frontiers method of just inferring a detailed backstory for many secondary ( and even primary ) characters lends itself very much to spin-offs and stand-alones.

          Thank you. I’m especially keen on prequels, especially one that follows Alto from his mother, to the stage, to becoming one of (according to the manga at least) Mihoshi’s best flight students.

          Especially the sensation his Sakura-hime causes, and, I think either novels or manga have gone into this, at least rumours said they did, Michael watching Alto’s Sakura-hime, and perhaps being the one who introduces him to Mihoshi’s flight programme.

          Because for all the hinting, talking about and Sakura-hime on repeat scenes in the series, we were never really treated with the entire picture (show, not tell, as every fiction writer EVER keeps saying).

          Hilarious optional series ending: Ranka and Sheryl’s songs are not enough, hence Alto ends up re-enacting Sakura-hime with his valkyrie, deculturing the Vajra swarm, Humantradi fleets and AIs alike (what? The fanboying everyone who’s seen Sakura-hime shows Alto sets him up as the ultimate deculture weapon, plus it would be fit the set up of Ranzo and Yasaburo watching the battle).

        • That’s ok, I was more concerned with mecha fans in general especially older fans such as myself who have a taste for such grimdark fare. In any case, this is quite good news in that if indeed it means bringing newer fans into the fold.

          • Magnus says:

            Well, me having started enjoying RoboTech and BattleTech since the end of the eighties doesn’t make me a “new” fan per se, but I got to Macross through Frontier. ^^

            But it is more a personal issue. If I want to see grimdark things, I just need to read the political news. For my entertainment, I prefer something more escapistic than further depressing stuff about bleak futures.

  10. vendredi says:

    I suspect Kawamori may have saved some thunder for the movie version of Macross Frontier, if DYRL is any example… given the fact that this is a 25th anniversary series I’m sure it was made with a movie in mind at some point. Then again, it’s not too far-fetched to lowball the whole thing and just do a straight recap.

    • It’s a strategy that I’m not sure I like as much as he would want me to (as we imagine it). Nonetheless as a series that stands alone it’s difficult to assign it as much merit as I’d like, especially since I love it so damn much.

  11. deepstriker says:

    If ghostlightning ‘gateway gundam’ is 00, frontier is my ‘gateway macross’

  12. Pingback: Macross Frontier: The False Songstress & a Tradition of Retelling | We Remember Love

  13. Main R.U.D says:

    I’ve watch the series since the first one appear in the 80’s, I grew up with it, I still hope it will continue as long as it can go, the theme was classic but it’s alive than other like it,
    Every series of Macross do have to compete against the first series since it was the big bang of everything, The crew may find it hard to make it better as the older version was perfect, SDFM was a legend, even how many series came after it the legend will still be remembered..

    • It’s a competition that is difficult to win, and I’m glad it’s there because I want them to keep trying. Beautiful failures are still beautiful to me. As I said when it comes to Macross, I believe in more is more.

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  16. After watching all 25 episodes, suffice to say that… I couldn’t get the images off my head, the OP from the first few episodes still stuck like an earworm, and… damn, it was EPIC.

    I’m blaming you, pre, and that cover of Cut Magazine (Japanese, June 2011) for motivating me to download and watch. Thanks to everyone involved. xD

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed Macross Frontier. To me it’s a superior TV anime relative to all other Mecha (TV) shows in the past decade outside of Eureka SeveN and TTGL.

      • Now it’s my turn to pester my college classmate on Facebook to watch the show (back in the 80s he once used to watch the original series on TV and collected VF figures). xD

        OBTW, Ranka knows Deculture. 🙂

  17. For me it was my first Mecha anime, as well as first Macross anime. Since I never really got around to watching either before, and it succeeded in radically changing my view point on mecha. (That first Macross Quarter transformation mmmm..)

    I also absolutelly fell in love with Sheryl. She is amazing. She really stands on her own as a character who isn’t afraid to be herself, and she is one of the Idols of my life. (idol in the more traditonal sense rather than the pop culture sense) I tear up everytime I watch her songs.

    Overall there are definitelly many faults with the series, but these two things overshadow them. So Macross Frontier will always stand as a shining jewel in my heart.

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