After the previous episode’s cliffhanger, we pick up the action once more as Alto, Ranka’s brother Ozma, and Alto’s friend Michael battle against the Vajra that have invaded Island 1. Alto proves to be a surprisingly skilled pilot as he manages to keep Ranka safe even as the two of them face a variety of dangerous situations beyond even the attacking Vajra. Back on the ground after the battle concludes, Ranka attempts to express her thanks, but Alto is more concerned with the gruesome scene he witnessed earlier. 

The next day, as life for most of the residents of Island 1 slowly begins to return to normal, Alto is instead whisked aways from his school classroom by Lieutenant Glass for blood tests and questioning over his part in the battle. Just as it appears Alto will have no choice but to join the military, Ozma appears to pull him out of the fire. Ozma brings Alto back to SMS headquarters as the various SMS crew members want to hear how Giliam died. Alto doesn’t get the chance to relate that story, however, as a few Vajra that hid on the underside of one of the ships in the Frontier fleet make themselves known and begin a new attack. 

Meanwhile, as all this has been occurring, Ranka too had to have some health tests due to her close contact with the Vajra. On her way back home, Ranka gets flagged down by a disguised Sheryl. The famous idol has become lost on Island 1 as she searches for one of her earrings that fell when Alto caught her during her concert the previous day. Sheryl lets Ranka lead her around the city until nightfall where the two of them watch as Valkyries launch from SMS headquarters. In a very poignant moment, Sheryl finally reveals her true identity to an awestruck Ranka. Just then, Alto stumbles across the two girls both of whom are looking to talk to him, but before Ranka gets the chance to express her thanks and before Sheryl gets to ask about her earring, a flight of Vajra begin their attack nearby! 

Specific Scenes I Loved: 

  • Alto and Ranka reaching for each other in midair. This scene is highly reminiscent of a scene from SDF Macross and was a huge bit of nostalgia when it occurred. It was also just beautifully animated!
  • Ozma punching Alto when the later all but demanded to be given a military Valkyrie to fly when the Vajra reengaged the Frontier fleet. Sure, Alto seems to be a pretty good pilot, but as far as we know he has not had any formal combat training so it just makes sense that military veteran Ozma would have him thrown out rather than handing the skilled amateur the keys to a powerful weapon of war. 
  • Sheryl and Ranka’s time together. Sure, Sheryl spends most of that time fishing compliments out of her unaware fan, but she pays Ranka some compliments as well. The moment that Sheryl joins in with Ranka’s singing is just a spectacular, emotional scene. The look on Ranka’s face and the tears in her eyes as she realizes she’s just spent much of the afternoon with her hero is so, so good. 

Episode Impressions: 

This episode was somehow maybe even more exciting than the series opener! The first half of the episode is exhilarating. Alto’s piloting within the confines of the city streets was spectacular. It was also nice how the episode did a good job of highlighting some of the aftermath of the Vajra attack. That Alto was affected by Giliam’s gruesome death instead of just having that moment forgotten was a great touch of storytelling. 

The second half of the episode slowed down a good bit, but the shift from fast paced combat to character moments was well done. Ozma seems pretty practical and level-headed about things even if he is keeping his real job a secret from his sister. That Cathy (Lieutenant Glass) and Ozma seem to know each other seems like it might prove interesting. It was nice seeing Sheryl out on her own. She was a good deal less haughty and reserved once she got away from her handler and escorts. She does maybe bask in Ranka’s admirations a bit too long, though. But that final scene where she reveals her identity made whatever else she’d done worth it. 

It’s also nice to see an enemy that is kinda smart. Instead of straight up retreating, the Vajra managed to hide themselves and relaunched their attack. We still don’t know what they’re after, though. We haven’t even seen anything from the Vajra’s point of view yet. Maybe that will change next episode. In both SDF Macross and Macross 7 we saw a lot from the enemy’s point of view, so, if nothing else, it’s interesting we haven’t gotten that yet in Frontier. 

Take note of the way the primary red Vajra seemed to look away from Ozma and be distracted directly after Ranka did her scream in the cockpit with Alto. It was almost like the Vajra was either distracted or maybe even concerned for Ranka. 

Sheryl’s missing earring may seem like a small distraction, but it will drive a fair amount of plot and interaction over the next few episodes and is not just a one episode ploy that will instantly be forgotten.  

Moment To Moment Notes:

0:46 -The view of things outside of Island 1’s dome is pretty neat. 

4:16 – Picking up the girl and running away is another one of those tropes that happens a few times across Macross shows. This time, it is a pretty direct homage to similar events in SDF Macross. 

4:22 – With a couple of notable exceptions (for instance, in Macross Plus) Valkyries have always been directly controlled by their pilots. I can’t ever recall talk of neural implants or the like. It would seem impossibly hard to pilot a giant robot that is also sometimes an airplane with just hand and foot controls… but whatever. It looks cool! 

4:46 – I feel really sorry for that guy in the car! 😛

5:14 –  At first I was wondering how much Alto was going to owe for blasting out a couple of hundred windows on that building… but then the Vajra slammed completely through it and crashed out through the roof… so, never mind. 

5:25 – Having the arms shot off a Valkyrie and having to catch a girl is also something of a Macross trope. Again, this scene is a close homage to the original SDF Macross. Back then, Hikaru flew downward and scooped a plummeting Lynn Minmay into the cockpit of his borrowed fighter. So… similar scene here in Frontier, but opposite direction of movement. The animation here in Frontier is really good. 

7:45 – Those Vajra sure are tough. And sure, gun pods and missiles don’t tend to kill them, but a charged knife does? Heh. Why not?! 

8:31 – There was an instance in the original Macross where a Zentradi commander was blown out into space, but instead of dying, he walked along the outside of his ship and reengaged the good guys’ Valkyries after making his way back inside of an airlock. Though most Zentradi are several generations removed, their ancestor were specifically designed for combat. Apparently, that included some resilience to vacuum. That’s what Alto means when he says Ranka is tougher than she looks thanks to her Zentradi heritage.

8:45 – If it seems like Ranka’s hair sometimes moves on its own… that’s because it does. Apparently it has something to do with being part Zentradi. We haven’t seen this type of movable hair before in Macross…

14:43 – The music Ozma is listening to is “Totsugeki Love Heart” (Charge Love Heart) by Fire Bomber, the band who stared in Macross 7. 

15:47 – I like that Sheryl’s cell phone has a holographic “talking” indicator when she speaks. Also, look closely at her replay of the concert and you’ll see her earring go flying off towards Alto. That’s why she is so interested in finding him! 

16:24 – Look closely at what’s on that crate. In the lower left, among Gilliam’s things, is Sheryl’s earring. 

16:45 – Sheryl dressing in big sunglasses and a floppy hat so as to conceal her identity is similar to what Lynn Minmay did so she could sneak away from her life as an idol and spend an afternoon with Hikaru in SDF Macross. 

16:50 – These roaming vending machines have been the bane of people’s existence since the original Macross! They’re always interrupting conversations or bothering people. 😛 

18:23 – Female officers on the bridge of Macross class ships is a long held (anime) tradition. They are affectionately referred to as “bridge bunnies” by Macross fans. Over the course of each Macross show, the various bridge bunnies have gotten sometimes more and sometimes less individual character development. Frontier’s get about as much attention as any. They have names and even personalities, but will rarely be seen off their bridge.

Next Episode: On Your Marks

Looks like we’ll see some more combat next episode. Also, looks like we’ll get to see Ranka sing but it’s unclear if that brief glimpse was in the current day or part of a flashback. The most interesting part to me was where Alto stomps on the “in case of emergency” button and he, Sheryl, and a possibly injured Ranka jump down into something. An emergency shelter to protect them from the Vajra attack, maybe?