Where last episode ended on a multipart cliffhanger, this episode begins by showing us all the pieces that were left hanging. Most of the scenes are unchanged from episode 19, but this time we do see that Alto and Sheryl’s closeness was less a passionate embrace and more Alto catching Sheryl as she had yet another dizzy spell. The jump from Ranka’s disbelief to the opening credits is still pretty dramatic, though. 

Ranka tries to run away from her shock and embarrassment at seeing Alto and Sheryl near each other, but trips and falls. Her hurt feelings and pained thoughts call out to the Vajra we saw hidden away in the previous episode and soon there are multiple small, 2nd stage Vajra in the skies over Mihoshi Academy. Ironically, one of the first Vajra to appear kills the gunman Leon sent to assassinate President Glass. Leon finds out about his failed plot a few moments later when the President calls him and informs him about the new Vajra attack. This gives Cathy and Ozma a chance to flee from the guards that Leon calls to his office. 

Within a few minutes, there is a small swarm of Vajra spreading out across Island 1. Alto goes to Ranka and implores her to sing so they can stop the Vajra, but Ranka at first refuses. Ranka’s conflicting emotions well up and tears fall from her eyes as she tries to explain that she doesn’t want to be a tool to fight the Vajra. It’s only when Sheryl walks over and calmly slaps some sense into Ranka that the younger girl begins to collect herself. Ranka tries singing Grace’s arrangement of Aimo, but once again her negative emotions call out and an entire huge swarm of 2nd stage Vajra flood Island 1’s skies!

Over at his office, Leon demands to know if this new attack was Grace’s doing. She denies it, but says it wasn’t outside the real of possibility. Leon, however, sees the new threat as his opportunity to continue his plan. Outside Frontier, a new group of Vajra fold in and begin to attack Frontier’s defenses with the Macross Quarter attempting to hold the line against them. 

Back near Mihoshi Academy, Alto, Ranka, and Sheryl along with Michael, Klan, Luca, and Nanase come up with a plan to head to SMS headquarters where they can pickup more weapons and a fold amplifier to hopefully let Ranka’s voice calm the Vajra. But then, Nanase is injured in a nearby blast that separates her and Sheryl from the others. In a touching moment of heroism, Sheryl indicates her willingness to stay behind and take care of Nanase while the others continue on. Ranka, who now appears to be in emotional shock, has to be lead by Alto away from the scene of destruction before them. 

Later, as President Glass makes his way from Island 1 to the still docked Battle Frontier, he is met by Leon Mishima. Leon gives President Glass one final bow then he and and his guards open fire on the President and his protection detail. Some minutes later, Cathy and Ozma travel down the same emergency access way only to find Cathy’s father dead on the ground with multiple fresh gunshot wounds. 

At SMS headquarters, Klan comes up with a plan to fit herself with spare weapons meant for a Valkyrie. She and the others push deeper inside only to be forced to guard their rear against encroaching Vajra. As Klan undresses in preparation of macroizing, she finally openly admits her love to Michael and kisses him. Michael and Alto once again hold a hallway against the Vajra while Klan transitions from her small size to her full size in a tank behind them. 

Elsewhere, Sheryl has managed to bring a still unconscious Nanase to a large emergency shelter. The people inside are becoming increasingly frantic and the power goes out and explosions rock the floor beneath their feet. Sheryl instinctively reaches for her earring and thinks back to what Alto told her earlier. That she can’t help but sing because of how her songs have touched so many people. Sheryl retrieves her remaining earring from her pocket and thinks to herself that if Ranka is to be Frontier’s voice of hope, then at least she herself can help calm the people around her who are slipping into despair. Sheryl stands up in the dim emergency lights and begins singing Diamond Crevasse, diverting the refugees attention away from the sounds of battle around them.

Back at SMS headquarters, a few Vajra manage to burst in through the ceiling and begin to attack Klan’s macroization tank. Michael takes flight in an attempt to stop them but is stabbed by one of the Vajra. He kills it with sustained gunfire, but it then explodes, tearing a small hole in the exterior wall. Michael has just enough time to return Klan’s earlier proclamation of love before he is sucked out into the vacuum of space! All Klan can do is watch helplessly as the man she has loved for years meets his end defending her.

The episode ends with a sparkling tear streaming down Sheryl’s face as she continues to sing. 

Specific Scenes I Loved: 

  • Ranka’s turmoil as her feelings for Alto are smothered by her heartbreak at seeing him with Sheryl. 
  • Sheryl’s slap followed by the comforting hug and honest, regretful acknowledgment that only Ranka’s singing can help save everyone. 
  • Sheryl demanding to know just who Alto thinks she is when she insists on staying behind to take care of Nanase. The answer, of course, is that she is THE Sheryl Nome. It’s nice to see Sheryl with some of her confidence back.
  • Leon’s ultimate betrayal of President Howard Glass. 
  • Sheryl’s realization that her singing still has a use even if her voice doesn’t have the magic qualities that put a stop to the Vajra. “Ranka, if you are the songstress of hope, then I will sing in the midst of despair” is one of the most powerful moments in all of Macross Frontier. 
  • Michael’s tragic death, but also that one quick moment where we see that Klan is pushing so hard against the walls of her tank that she cracks them one step further! 
  • Sheryl’s final tear that transitions to a solitary light that quickly goes out in space.

Episode Impressions: 

Episode 20. Wow. We knew that lot of things were being set up last episode to go off with a bang in this one, but I didn’t expect it go like this! 

I feel sorry for Ranka. Seeing Alto and Sheryl together at just the wrong moment broke the joyful enthusiasm that carried her through her best concert yet. Yes, she initially refused to help all the people around her who were suffering and dying, but I think her refusal was a very well earned, emotional character moment. She is not some superhero, but is instead a teenage girl who has been thrust into an incredibly traumatic series of events. For the rest of the episode, especially after her song fails, she is just straight up in shock and is barely even able to function without someone to lead her to safety. 

And then there’s Sheryl, who was basically left an empty shell after Grace’s revelations that she was a failed experiment who would soon die. To her credit, Sheryl tried to shield Alto from her impending death by lying to him. But then, here in this episode, we finally get to see Sheryl’s absolute true character. When push comes to shove, she reverts to being Sheryl Nome, the Galatic Fairy who guides fate with her own hands. Her scene telling Alto to go put a stop to the Vajra attack is just great because she leaves the “I’m Sheryl, Sheryl Nome.” part unspoken. Both she and Alto know it is implied, which speaks some to the closeness of their relationship at this stage. 

Sheryl finding a new reason to sing. Grace’s words hit Sheryl hard. They took singing to entertain away from her. There was probably even a good bit of truth to the idea that Grace’s manipulations had a lot to do with Sheryl’s rise to stardom. But, in that emergency shelter, we see that Sheryl really did earn a name for herself. That in the midst of despair, her songs were able to bring a desperate, worried crowd to awed silence. Ultimately, we see that Sheryl really is more than just Grace’s failed experiment. 

Finally, there’s Klan and Michael. The two of them hid their true feeling from each other for too long. Both knew the danger inherit in their line of work, but both used it as an excuse to not be honest with each other. Maybe a bit more Michael than Klan, but they still both shared some of the blame. It will be interesting to see how Klan reacts to Michael dying right before her eyes. Given that she sees herself as a true Zentradi, I think the aftermath will be quite spectacular! 

We’ve now seen that Ranka’s singing works both ways. It can confuse and weaken the Vajra when she is in control of her emotions and intentions, but it can also inspire the Vajra to increased aggression, as well. 

Leon’s distrust of Grace and Grace’s teasing offer of help are the first signs that their alliance is starting to fracture. I think it’s time to take bets on which one of them will come out on top. 

Sheryl finding a new reason to sing will become even more significant in the coming episodes. 

Grace’s ability to control Brera’s is similarly not something that should be overlooked. 

Moment to Moment Notes: 

4:15 – I feel sorry for that girl that gets bled on.

6:45 – Sheryl’s slap here has a very similar context to a well delivered slap Hikaru delivered to Lynn Minmay in “Do You Remember Love?”. Minmay had run away after ending up on the losing end of a love triangle, but her voice and songs were the only hope the Macross and Earth had of gaining enough Zentradi allies to survive the overwhelming Zentradi forces bearing down on them. But, despite Hikaru pleading with her to sing, Minmay babbled and cried over how she wished it was just the two of them and how she wished everyone would die except her and Hikaru so they could be together. The battle the Macross was about to engage in would decide if Humanity was to survive or be driven to extinction, so the shocking slap back to reality she received from Hakaru was well deserved. Just like Ranka’s was here. 

7:38 – For a moment here, I wondered if maybe Sheryl might become Ranka’s manager.

9:21 – Interesting that Leon doesn’t fully trust Grace. 

11:16 – I love Sheryl starting to reassert herself. 

12:50 – Apparently, Grace has the ability to take control of Brera if she deems it necessary. 

13:11 – Thise scene of Brera controlling his fighter with his thoughts is very similar to Guld Goa Bowman controlling the prototype YF-21 with his thoughts in Macross Plus. Ultimately, the YF-21’s fighter/brain interface was never put into production because it required too good of a pilot and demanded too much undivided concentration… stray thoughts could all too easily be transferred into actual commands. It looks like the Galaxy fleet solved those issues in their VF-27 line of fighters. 

14:07 – Annie can’t even be said to be a secondary character. I don’t think she ever had any lines, but we did see her around as part of the SMS crews from time to time. Her death was a nice touch to show that the Vajra’s attacks were having a real impact on characters that we knew.

17:26 – Eddie is Canaria’s son. You’ll see his picture in her bomber later. 

17:42 – Sheryl’s realization of what her role can be and her finding a reason to sing once again is one of my favorite moments in Macross Frontier. She started as a haughty, overconfident character, showed her softer and more playful sides when she could be free of the over the top image most people held of her, was laid her low by her sickness and by Grace’s betrayal, but now she has been brought her back around to singing once more. 

18:24 – That little smile on Sheryl’s face is just perfect. 

20:26 – That exploding Vajra is a foreshadow of what is to come… 

22:19 – Sheryl’s tear becoming Michael’s extinguished Light is a nice ending touch…

23:21 – …as is that final, post credits shot of Michael’s broken glasses left behind on the floor. 

Next Episode: Azure Ether 

It looks like the Frontier fleet survives the unexpected Vajra resurgence, but at a terrible cost. We see a brief scene of Sheryl in a dressing room which implies she will continue singing. Ranka looks almost happy as Alto makes her a new paper airplane, so maybe she springs back from her emotional trauma? And then there’s those two dramatic images of Klan, first in her small form cradling Michael’s helmet, and then in what I can only assume is her large form as she unleashes Zentradi hell upon the Vajra. Just look at the fury in her eyes!