We start this episode with a Zentradi Commander and his assistant trying to deal with the 33rd fleet’s threat of rebellion. The look of these two Zentradi is interesting because they have a resemblance to the Zentradi commander and assistant who were first humanities enemies and eventually its allies in SDF Macross and Do You Remember Love?. The leader of the rebelling group also bears a very strong resemblance to one of the worst individual enemies humanity had to face back during Space War 1. It’s interesting that a good song would still be able to calm the unhappy faction down even at this stage, or so the commander thinks. 

We finally get to see Alto experience flying in a real atmosphere. Orbital reentry is his first experience and is something he would never really have to deal with while operating with the Frontier fleet. Things look like they are going great. Alto is overjoyed to be flying in his endless sky, and the unhappy Zentradi are immediately enamored as Sheryl steps out of her plane… only to stumble and collapse after just a few steps! The two Zentradi factions open fire on each other with Alto, Sheryl, Grace and the other humans quickly getting captured by the rebelling Zentradi. 

Back on Frontier, we see that Ranka finally took a day off and has come to Mihoshi Academy to spend some time with her friends. Nanase almost freaks out when she sees the green creature that has befriended Ranka, but Ranka manages to keep her calm. Apparently, bringing unknown lifeforms onto Frontier is against the law. Ranka, Nanase, Luca, and Michael hang out for a while until Luca gets notification of Alto and Sheryl’s capture. We soon find out from Frontier’s government and from the Macross Quarter’s crew that a series of fold faults delay communications with Gallia 4 by almost two hours and that any rescue attempt would take around seven days to arrive. The crisis would be long over by then. Ozma, Cathy, and even Captain Wilder suspect that things have gone just a bit too easily for the rebelling Zentradi, almost as if their request for a concert was part of some larger plan. 

On Gallia 4, the rogue Zentradi are busy loading up the base’s supply of reaction warheads. Nearby, Sheryl struggles against her illness while Alto resolves to do something about the situation. Using his relatively small size, Alto manages to sneak back to his Valkyrie, but the leader of the rebelling Zentradi appears to be notified of Alto’s intentions and holds him at gunpoint and jokingly demands that Alto try singing to him. 

Just then, from out of nowhere, Michael descends from the sky with Ranka in the backseat of his Valkyrie. We learn that Luca’s family’s company has been working on a prototype fold booster that cuts through fold faults making fold travel somewhere between twice and ten times faster than it has been up until now. Ranka demands to go and help save Alto and the others… and it works. With large speakers strapped under his Valkyries’ wings and a holoprojector broadcasting a huge view of Ranka to the base, Ranka’s latest song, Interstellar Flight, quickly pacifies most of the rebelling Zentradi. Even Alto is enamored by Ranka’s singing. Only the rebelling Zentradi leader continues fighting. He boards a Queadluun and attempts to target Ranka but is stopped by Alto. The two have a brief dogfight, but Alto quickly comes out the victor. Still trapped in her bed, Sheryl is obviously distraught that her sickness and inability to sing led to this whole situation even as grace declares Ranka to be amazing. 

After the crisis is over, Ranka is finally able to wish Alto a happy birthday and the two of them go flying among Gallia 4’s cloudy skies where Alto declares Ranka’s rescue to be the best birthday present ever. Back on the ground, Sheryl appears to have recovered somewhat and watches the two of them from the roof of a building, clearly wishing she was the one up there with Alto.

Up among the clouds, Alto and Ranka catch each other’s reflections staring out into the sky and they can’t help but share a moment of joyful laughter at everything that has happened. But then, we see a closeup of some monstrous looking eye, and Alto’s Valkyrie suffers some sort of system failure from which he is barely able to recover from before crash landing near a set of cliffs. While Alto is busy checking his fighter, Ranka walks to the edge of a cliff and is shocked to see something she never expected. She calls out to Alto and when he joins her he confirms it. They are looking at the ruins of an early generation Macross-class warship which has crash landed on Gallia 4 in its robot form! 

Specific Scenes I Loved: 

  • Alto getting to experience atmospheric friction for the first time. This must be one of the things he’s dreamed of. The music in this reentry scene is just so delightfully upbeat as well. It’s a short scene, but it’s a very good one! 
  • Ranka descending from the skies and demanding that “Everyone! Embrace each other! To the ends of the universe!” Watching a music idol’s songs pacify a group of waring Zentradi is one of the most Macross things you can see. It’s pretty fun that these Zentradi had been anticipating watching Ranka’s upcoming concert and part of the reason they are so quick to lay down their arms is because they now get to see her in person! 
  • Alto and Ranka flying among the clouds in that stunningly beautiful sky! Up until now, Alto’s dreams of the sky have always seemed a bit small minded. But seeing it like this, I think maybe he was right to wish to fly in a truly endless sky! For more beautiful sky be sure and stick around for the credits. Alto’s Valkyrie among the sunset clouds is almost like a soothing screensaver it’s so relaxing. 
  • That shot of Sheryl look out to see Alto and Ranka’s jet trail. This is something of a mirror of Ranka looking up and seeing Alto’s contrail as he carried Sheryl through the Frontier’s sunset at the end of High School Queen. 

Episode Impressions: 

I like this episode because of the way it starts paying off some of the plot we’ve had building for a while. Alto and his love of the sky. Ranka’s singing career being about more than her just being personally popular. The existence of fold faults and how they make interstellar travel more difficult. There’s a lot of little payoffs here. 

At the same time, there are some big new questions. Like: Why is Grace cooperating with the rebelling Zentradi. What does she have to gain from it? And, just what was it that downed Alto’s Valkyrie? It’s pretty scary when something can disable an advanced, top of the line military prototype like that. 

It was also interesting to see Sheryl have to deal with not being the top, most popular person around. You have to feel bad for her for pushing herself to go on this concert partially as a gift to Alto, but at the same time… she brought some of this on herself with her stubbornness. That longing look she gives from the rooftop at the end isn’t just a romantic/love triangle look. I think it is as much about as her having failed as a professional. Or, it’s about her confidence as The Sheryl Nome having failed her for once. That one little moment where she tugs at her sheets as Grace comments on how amazing Ranka is says a lot, I think. I’m even a little worried that Sheryl may tumble down into jealousy as Ranka’s career continues to heat up…

This is another episode with strong ties back to SDF Macross. The Zentradi ship commander bears a strong resemblance to Britai Kridanik, the Zentradi commander tasked with capturing the Macross in the original show. The advisor in this episode bears a strong resemblance to Exsedol Folmo, commander’s Britai’s assistant. And the belligerent Zentradi leader in this episode looks and acts a lot like Kamjin Kravshera, who was a semi-rogue Zentradi ship captain who often disobeyed direct orders not to damage the Macross. Kamjin eventually lead a post Space War 1 rebellion of dissatisfied Zentradi. This group bombed a major earth city some two years after the war ended but most were eventually killed when Kamjin crashed his badly damaged ship into the Macross where it had settled as the center of Macross City in Alaska. 

That Grace continues to be seemingly tied to this series of terrible events is unsettling, but what is her end goal? Even if the rouge Zentradi had succeeded… then what? 

Moment to Moment Notes:

4:10 – Alto finally getting the chance to fly in a real atmosphere for the first time. If he was correct in that the sky of Frontier’s Island 1 ends at 2,000 meters, a planet would have between 25x and 50x more atmosphere to fly through based on our present day definitions of where space begins.

8:03 – This is very similar to the demands of the rioting Zentradi after Space War 1. 

11:15 – The yellow triangle symbol on those weapons has long been the symbol for Reactive Weapons in the Macross universe. They are basically nuclear weapons without the direct, real world politics of calling them nuclear weapons. (Technically, they are antimatter weapons. Shōji Kawamori once commented in an interview he choose to skip nuclear weapons and went straight to antimatter weapons because nobody in the real world is protesting antimatter weapons… yet.) 

11:52 – Someone alerted the belligerent Zentradi commander that Alto was sneaking to his plane. Besides maybe Sheryl, Grace is the only person that knew… And this whole rebellion appears to still be part of an unfolding plan. Things are getting more and more rotten and Grace continues to be the prime suspect! 

14:10 – This is a new song by Ranka called Seikan Hikou, meaning Interstellar Flight.

14:17 – Also, Macross 7 sound boosters? In Macross 7, Basara and company had similar speakers strapped to their Valkyries and used their songs to drive back their enemies without harming them.

19:45 – This is one of the most beautiful scenes in Macross Frontier. I enjoy watching the credits of this episode just for the extended shot of Alto’s Valkyrie flying among the sunset clouds. 

20:53 – Sheryl watching Alto’s contrail here is similar to Ranka watching Alto and Sheryl’s contrail back when Alto flew Sheryl out over the sunset back at the end of High School Queen. 

22:20 – This ship resembles the original SDF Macross, but the two are not actually the same ship. We’ll find that out next episode. The song playing over the end credits is “Ai Oboete Imasu ka?” Or “Do You Remember Love?” It was first introduced with the movie of the same name and was the most important song Lynn Minmay sang in that broadcasting it out to the waring Zentradi fleets helped turn many of them to humanity’s side thus ending the war. Playing it now in Frontier after having just seen a depilated Macross-class ship is heavily nostalgic. In universe, the song is some 500,000 years old, having started as just another pop song written by the Protoculture race before their civil war and extinction. 

Next Episode: Memory of Global

It looks like Alto and Brera fight each other once more, but what was that large alien creature near the end of the preview? Could it be a Vajra that disabled Alto’s Valkyrie? “Memory of Global” might be an important clue to this episode since the Macross’ captain in SDF Macross was Bruno J. Global.