Grace and Leon are still in communication, but I get the feeling that Leon doesn’t really trust Grace anymore. We learn that Frontier is all but dying due to the damage sustained by the Vajra in their last attack. Leon, however, thinks the three month estimate until Frontier is out of resources is more than enough time for his plan. 

Out on patrol, it looks like Luca’s L.A.I. has once again implemented better weapons to fight against the Vajra. Alto and his two new subordinates are able to take out a trio of red Vajra with hardly any troubles. It looks like Luca and Alto are developing a closer friendship in their combined desire to destroy the Vajra threat and rescue Ranka. 

We see that Sheryl is singing again, though this time her concert is a more intimate affair with a slow, weighty song instead of the more upbeat pop presence she had before. Sheryl is singing for charity these days, and has taken on Elmo as her manager. And there’s something else about Sheryl’s singing: She is now creating fold waves when she sings! Soon, Leon and Luca send for her.

Bobby finds Ozma and Cathy still hiding out in the ruins of Frontier. Back on Macross Quarter, they reveal what they know about Leon and his assassination of Cathy’s father. Ozma learns that Ranka has run away with the Vajra, while Captain Wilder tells of how the SMS is to be disbanded and merged into the New UN Spacey. 

At Leon’s office, Luca explains the science of the V-type infection to Sheryl. Fold microbes living in her brain are slowly poisoning her. Sheryl more or less knows this already from what Grace told her back at the hospital, so she asks if Luca is having fun using big words to tell her that she is going to die. Leon breaks it to Sheryl that because of the late stage of her infection, her voice can now disrupt the Vajra like Ranka’s has been able to!

Later, across Frontier, we see that Cathy and Ozma have sent messages to all of the remaining SMS staff. Apparently, something big is happening. Alto gets the message too, but he is more concerned about Sheryl’s wellbeing at the moment. Sheryl is still trying to put on a strong face for Alto, and is still acting as if she is going to be ok, but Alto knows the truth now thanks to Klan. He encourages Sheryl to stop singing, but now that Sheryl has realized that singing is all she has, she insists on doing it. But, she also admits that she is scared and lonely. In response, Alto promises to stay by her side until her final moments.

Somewhere out in space, Ranka and Brera are still searching for other Vajra. Ranka implies that she felt Alto and Sheryl’s feelings all the way back on Frontier. She then tells Brera that Ai-kun has told her the final step to get back to its world. 

Back on Frontier, Leon is giving his official inauguration speech as the 5th president of the Frontier fleet. Remember, up until now he had just been acting as Frontier’s president. Here he actually, officially accepts the role. He talks about fulfilling Frontier’s mission to find a new habitable world. As he is doing so, he sends his security team to eliminate Grace, which they do in a hail of gunfire! Leon continues to lay out his plan, that for Frontier to find a planet and find peace, the Vajra must be eliminated. Frighteningly, the crowds watching Leon’s speech cheer in agreement. Leon concludes his speech by introducing Sheryl as Frontier’s new hope of defeating the Vajra. 

On Macross Quarter, around 70% of the ship’s crew joins with Captain Wilder in order to go pirate. They steal the Quarter to oppose Leon’s violent plans. Leon sends a group of N.U.N.S fighters with orders to bring them back. The group includes Alto and Luca. A tense battle breaks out between N.U.N.S. and SMS, where Luca is nearly shot down. Alto and Ozma square off in a one on one dogfight where Alto demands to know why Ozma and SMS are abandoning Frontier. The two exchange nearly deadly fire, but ultimately Ozma comes out on top by disabling Alto’s Valkyrie. Ozma tells Alto that he and Ranka have chosen their own paths before asking Alto what path he plans to choose. 

The episode ends with Macross Quarter folding away, but there is an important scene after the credits where Ranka and Brera find the Vajra homeward… and so does Grace O’ Connor! Apparently it was Leon’s security team, not Grace, that went down in that earlier blaze of gunfire!  

Specific Scenes I Loved: 

  • That early look at the sheer state of devastation the Vajra attack left parts of Frontier in. 
  • Sheryl’s new song “Yousei” which roughly translates to “Fairy”. 
  • Bobby moving to comfort Cathy after she gives her report about her father’s assassination. 
  • Sheryl’s scene where Luca and Leon tell her about her new ability to generate fold waves. She is so subdued at the beginning, and then leans back uncaringly/acceptingly as they explain to her that she is going to die. But then, she is intensely interested as Leon informs her that she is now Humanity’s last hope. 
  • Alto and Sheryl’s night scene. These two have the best emotional conversations. 
  • Sheryl appearing on the side of the building as she sings at Leon’s inauguration. 
  • Ozma’s speech about being a man rather than an adult. 

Episode Impressions: 

I’ll make this section easy. I like this episode so much because it rewards Sheryl for completing her character transformation. She’s gone from an outwardly prissy intergalactic superstar, to a jealous, bed-ridden idol on the decline who found that someone else’s voice held power she could never have, to a crushed, discarded girl who knew she didn’t have long to live. But then, she began to rebuild her self worth as she lied to  selflessly protect Alto from her fate. Later, as everything went to hell, she realized that there was still value in her singing even in the midst of despair. Now, after going through everything from having her home fleet destroyed, to having her career that she strongly believed in ripped away from her, she finds out that her singing, the thing she holds most dear, actually can make a real difference. 

The thing is, Sheryl is in such a different place than she was at the beginning of the series. If Sheryl Nome, the “Galatic Fairy” we saw in Episode 1, had found out her voice was the key to humanity’s survival she might have just taken it for granted. What’s the first thing that this Sheryl in Episode 22 says upon finding out that she actually is Frontier’s last hope? She worriedly asks if Ranka is on the verge of death like she is! Sure, part of her question is that she already knows she is going to die soon so there’s no point in worrying about herself, but I think there’s still a lot to be said that the first thing that Sheryl voices is concern for Ranka. 

I also love the scene between Alto and Sheryl that night. The best part is where Alto yells at her to stop from outside the room. Listen to Sheryl’s voice and inflection just before that. She is almost “Sheryl Nome” again. Her voice is sweet and upbeat as she thanks Alto for helping her find her singing, and then she lies about just hanging around the Saotome mansion until she gets better as if everything is just fine with her. But when Alto yells for her to stop, without saying exactly what it is he is asking her to stop, it’s telling that she immediately knows that he knows everything about her sickness. Any time two characters can communicate without using words like this says something about the strength of the relationship they’ve developed. And the strength of the many past scenes that set it all up.

It’s also interesting that, for a moment, Alto actually doesn’t get it. He’s still one step behind, almost as if he is still thinking about their last conversation by the koi pond. He’s telling her that it’s ok not to sing. Sheryl, though, has gone through a long journey that has taught her just how important her singing is to her. Fortunately, Alto catches up quickly. There was a lot of debate in the Macross community about who would win the love triangle between Sheryl, Alto, and Ranka. I think that contest, if it ever really existed, ends in this scene where Alto pledges to stay by Sheryl’s side until she dies. 

The last big set piece of this episode, the SMS crew abandoning Frontier, confused me the first time around. I got why Alto and Luca choose to stay with Frontier. The people they loved were there. But Captain Wilder and the crew of the Macross Quarter leaving felt like a bit too much of a betrayal to me. It was only later that I realized that they were leaving because the man who had lied and murdered his way to the top was now trying to bring them under his direct command. Ozma says as much to Alto during their duel, but I don’t think I really understood it on my first viewing. Are they completely justified? No… I don’t think so. We learn at the first of the episode that Frontier’s ecosystem is fatally damaged, and there must still be hundreds of thousands of people left that the SMS does abandon. I do think their reasoning is a lot better than Ranka’s however. 

This episode is fairly straight forward. The one big key moment is at the very end where Grace and her co-conspirators recognize that they have arrived at the Vajra homeworld. We might not entirely understand how the Vajra are organized, but Grace’s comment about finding their one true queen is important. 

There’s a blink and you missed scene intercut with Luca and Leon telling Sheryl about her new ability to generate fold waves. For just a second we jump back to Alto and Klan. I think this scene is meant to show that Klan tells Alto everything about Sheryl’s illness. That’s how he knows about it when he meets Sheryl at his family’s home. 

Moment to Moment Notes: 

0:42 – I like how the rounds of devastating attacks the Frontier fleet has suffered have now actually had a real and terminal impact on the fleet as a whole. 

6:31 – Ozma picks up what looks to be a Ranka doll. That doll looks very similar to the Lynn Minmay dolls that played a roll in SDF Macross. 

6:55 – Lynn Minmay also did charity concerts at a variety of the small cities that began to pop up around the Earth after it was devastated in Space War 1. Unfortunately, Minmay’s manager was not nearly as selfless as Elmo is in Frontier. Minmay’s manager was himself a movie star and had this opinion that both he and Minmay deserved to be paid well for the services they provided… even though Humanity had been reduced to somewhere under 1,000,000 individuals worldwide. Minmay and her manager eventually parted ways over disagreements on what the entertainment they could provide was actually worth in terms of money vs happiness. 

7:55 – Remember when Cathy and Bobby were so at odds with each other back in episode 7? It’s nice to see that those two have worked together long enough that now Bobby is able to comfort Cathy as she breaks down again at the thought of her father’s murder. 

8:35 – In SDF Macross, Captain Global was constantly trying to light his pipe and being told not to by his bridge crew. Seems like nobody tells Macross Quarter’s Captain Wilder what to do. 

10:36 – So now Sheryl gets her chance again, but I feel she is in a much better / more mature place than Ranka was. Sheryl now knowns the pain of loss and the value in comforting people whereas Ranka ran away for her own more selfish reasons… 

15:10 – So Ranka can communicate with Ai-kun now? How did it tell her where to go? Did it point out a star or something? 

18:27 – Sherly’s song “Northern Cross” is upbeat… but the lyrics aren’t exactly a celebration. It’s really another one of her “you died and if I can’t be with you I don’t want to live either” songs… 

19:07 – Notice that Alto and Luca are not flying their normal VF-25s and have instead downgraded to whatever the rest of Frontier’s military uses. 

20:57 – Ozma’s quote about being a man is funny and nostalgic to me since his voice actor played Kamina in the anime Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Kamina was ALL ABOUT manly spirit and accomplishing the impossible by believing in one’s self. He’d give long, silly, deeply inspiring speeches about both, and is one of my favorite characters in all of anime. So to hear Ozma talk about the distinction of being an adult vs being a man brings back fun memories of Kamina. 

22:57 – There is a little bit of the episode left after the main credits. Stick around for that. 

Next Episode: True Begin

Hard to tell exactly what’s coming next. It does seem important that Brera is having to fight again. We don’t really see who or what he is fighting against, though.