While returning from a mission to collect Vajra corpses, Alto thinks back to his time with the shadowy Mr. Birler, a full size Zentradi who has a dream of connecting the furthest points of the galaxy. Mr. Birler seems sure that somehow the discover of the Vajra will help him do that. On the bridge of the Macross Quarter, the bridge bunnies are impressed by Alto’s combat performance but also wonder why he, and other SMS crew members, are being continually tasked with killing and retrieving Vajra corpses. 

Back at Mihoshi Academy, Michael notes that Alto has had more of a bad attitude than he normally does. It seems that Alto’s secretive meeting some days ago has left him unhappy. Things get worse when Ranka comes to class for the first time in a while. Instead of coming alone, she has Brera following her closely as her bodyguard. Later, in class, Alto tries to force Brera to leave only to be pinned to the floor by the cyborg. 

After class, Ranka meets up with Grace who has been assigned as her new manager. Grace gives Ranka a rearranged version of Aimo to practice singing. This new version is dark and weighty and is a far cry from Ranka’s more airy version. The lyrics, too, are about Frontier declaring victory instead of the far more peaceful things Ranka usually sings about. Ranka tries singing the new version at a recording studio Grace brings her to, but it’s obvious that Ranka just can’t get into it. Even Brera notices and comments on how out of it she sounds. 

In the meantime, Sheryl is still stuck in bed at the hospital. She appears to be slowly becoming more and more bitter, going so far as to think that flowers delivered to her are not real gifts of sympathy. This also appears to be the first time Sheryl has seen that Grace has become Ranka’s manager. Apparently, Grace never informed Sheryl of that fact. 

Alto finds passed out SherylThat evening, Alto stumbles across Sheryl on his way back to his room on Macross Quarter. She is slumped on a fountain bench near the large domed window that she, Alto, and Ranka met at before, and she is not doing well at all. It seems her fever and weakness have returned in full force. It’s all Sheryl can do to explain that she doesn’t want to keep being locked away in hospitals and hotels. 

When Sheryl next wakes, she finds herself unexpectedly in Alto’s room on the Macross Quarter. She initially freaks out, but then thanks Alto for worrying about her. It’s then that Alto notices that the main stone of Sheryl’s earring appears to be made of the same purple fold quartz as Mr. Birler large ring. Alto leans in close to get a better look only for Michael to walk in on him and Sheryl at just the wrong moment. Worse, Cathy calls on a wall monitor on the other side of the room (with only one brief ring before she starts a two way video conference?!) to alert Alto and Michael of a secret mission involving Ranka’s singing. 

In Leon’s office, Ozma voices his fury at the Frontier government experimenting to see if Ranka’s singing really does affect the Vajra. Leon calmly tells Ozma that his objections won’t make any difference. Later, in space, Alto and Michael discuss the upcoming experiment while Ozma helps secure Ranka in Canaria König Monster. He switches his and Ranka’s suits to a private channel and asks Ranka if she really wanted to do this. Ranka seems reluctant, but she confirms that she agreed to perform this test. Soon, Brera and a few other Valkyries from what’s left of the Galaxy’s forces join the SMS test group, much to Alto’s great annoyance. 

Back on the Macross Quarter, Sheryl uses her charm to sneak onto the Quarter’s bridge where she request permission to watch the test. Captain Wilder ask her if she wants to see out of curiosity. Sheryl instead replies that she wants to see the test out of a sense of stubbornness or pride. It seems clear that Sheryl is skeptical that Ranka can have an affect on the Vajra, but Sheryl also seems unhappy with the idea that Ranka’s voice potentially might have a beneficial affect that hers doesn’t. Over at Frontier’s military command, President Glass also seems skeptical, but Leon convinces him to let the test proceed. 

Ozma and the other members of the SMS arrive at an asteroid being used as a hive by the Vajra and proceed to launch an attack. The Vajra pour out and move to counterattack, but then Grace has Ranka begin singing the new, altered version of Aimo. To most everyone’s surprise, the Vajra all but cease their attacks and movements! Alto, however, recognizes that Ranka’s original song has been significantly altered. 

With the Vajra all but immobilized, Brera and the SMS pilots begin eliminating the swarm. Things go well for a while until the shock of seeing a Vajra killed nearby causes Ranka to stop singing. One of the red Vajra recovers and launches an attack on Ranka’s ship. Alto moves to assist, but is cut off by a heavy beam attack from Brera. Brera takes a defensive position, then tells Alto that he is not worthy to protect Ranka. 

As the battle ends, President Glass changes his tune. Now, he is thrilled that Frontier finally has a real edge on the Vajra. Most of the SMS members are exuberant as well. They heap praise on a still reluctant Ranka while comparing her to past legendary singers like Lynn Minmay and Basara Nikki who both helped end previous space wars with their songs. Despite all the encouraging words, Ranka privately wonders if using her voice for warfare is really the right thing to do.

Specific Scenes I Loved: 

  • Ranka’s cellphone once again showing how versatile it is by it reaching out, grabbing, and then “eating” a music cd in order to play it.
  • Ranka singing the new version of Aimo without enthusiasm. They did a good job of making her singing flat and a bit monotone in order to show how unsure she was of the new arrangement. 
  • The brief battle sequence set to the new version of Aimo. There may not be a single frame of new animation in it, but there’s this great edge of uncertainty with the new song and its far more forceful lyrics. Everything just feels wrong even as we watch our heroes easily destroy Vajra who were previously able to destroy entire warships with a single shot.  

Episode Impressions: 

The Good: 

This episode answers more questions about why Leon and Grace have been looking for or keeping an eye on Ranka. We now know that there is something special about her voice that can help Frontier in its battles against the Vajra. It was also good to see that the show has not forgotten Sheryl and is slowly continuing her subplot of becoming more jealous and perhaps even bitter at Ranka’s success. 

The new version of Ranka’s Aimo is actually a little scary when you read the lyrics. We have Ranka singing things like “Now tolls the bells of victory, For this place is my new planet.”

The Bad: 

It seems like this meeting between Alto and Mr. Birler was important but it is being stretched out across multiple flashbacks across multiple episodes. So far, I don’t think we’ve really seen anything to make Alto so upset. 

It may take a bit more of a logical leap than we’ve yet been given the information for, but one possible reason that Alto is upset with Mr. Birler is that SMS might be being ordered to kill Vajra in order to mine fold quartz from their bodies. It appears to be the same purple crystals that Grace requested from Leon, and now Mr. Birler is showing off a (gigantic, Zentradi-sized!) ring of it while talking about uniting distant points across the galaxy. 

Ranka singing having an actual affect on the Vajra. We saw her song distract the Vajra a bit during the big battle in episode 14, and even saw her emotional outburst distract the very first Vajra to attack the Frontier way back in episode 2. But, it’s nice to have some confirmation and see the show appearing to finally pick a direction and provide details of the power of Ranka’s songs. 

Moment to Moment Notes: 

4:11 – So far, we haven’t seen any other Protoculture-derived races aside from Humanity and the Zentradi in Frontier. The spin offs of Macross 7 had the Zolans, who were largely humanoid. The next series, Macross Delta, changes that with aquatic humanoids and cat-people humanoids. 

6:22 – In the Macross universe, they have things like anti-gravity and faster than light engines and yet Grace hands Ranka a mini-CD… 

6:45 – Pay attention to the rearrangement of Ranka’s “Aimo”. Grace changed it from a gentle, peaceful song into one about conquest and victory. 

7:00 – One of the things I enjoy about Macross Frontier is that the damage from the various battles doesn’t just magically go away. 

7:23 – In the previous episode, it was announced that Island 15 would be frozen and that Island 14, the one the news says Ranka visited and held a mini concert on, would have its resources extracted and would then be discarded. Maybe that plan changed or the writers got the two mixed up in this episode? 

8:26 – I like how stale Ranka’s singing feels here since she is totally not into this new arrangement or the new lyrics of her song. 

11:44 – Sheryl’s foot kicking into frame always makes me laugh. She must have launched her punches and then leaned way back to deliver that kick! 

12:22 – Are Sheryl’s earrings made out of Fold Quartz? If so… what are the implications? 

13:51 – The “Minmay Attack” refers to broadcasting Lynn Minmay’s singing to the Zentradi fleet in SDF Macross. Doing so lead to less productive ship operations and eventually lead many Zentradi ships to switch to Humanity’s side while a few other Zentradi ships suffered mutinies as the rank and file onboard rebelled wanting to leave a life of constant warfare in favor of a life where music, song, entertainment, love, and culture were all possible. 

13:58 – The Protodeviln were the main antagonist in Macross 7. They were beings from another dimension who had taken control of Zentradi and other Protoculture creations. They were eventually “defeated” when Basara Nikki showed them that they could generate their own life giving energy through song rather than having to steal it from other living beings.

15:04 – Who the heck painted a Ranka pinup on the side of the Konig Monster, and how has Ozma not found them and strangled them to death yet? 

16:45 – In Macross 7, Basara, one of the protagonists and the lead vocalist of the band Fire Bomber, would fly out in a custom Valkyrie and fire speakers from a gun into enemy fighters so that the pilots could hear his singing. 

21:42 – Minmay helped defeat the Zentradi some 50 years before. Basara helped defeat the Protodeviln more than a decade prior to the Vajra attack on the Frontier fleet. 

Next Episode: Goodbye Sister

Looks like we are getting some more flashbacks. This time about the early days after Ozma adopted Ranka. It also looked like there may be another battle coming up. Maybe Ranka’s voice will make it go much more smoothly?