Back when we first started this blog, I wrote a post giving my impressions on the first few episodes of the newest installment in that other giant-robots-in-space franchise, Macross Frontier. At the time, I expressed my concerns about the show’s over-reliance on jerking off existing fans by deliberately and repeatedly aping the events, situations, and character personalities of previous series, while also jerking off new fans with the now-depressingly-usual array of creepily-sexualized moé characters and brilliantly witty boy-accidentally-gropes-girl humor. Would it ever cease to rely purely on pandering to one group or another and find a voice of its own?
Well, it turns out that Moécross Frontier did have a few ideas it didn’t rip off entirely from previous installments. Too bad they weren’t good ones!
To be sure, it still relies on pandering to the audience. In fact, it does so with such panache it’s nearly respectable. We’ll start with the franchise fanboy pandering: the “Roy Fokker” archetype character, Ozma Lee. He’s always listening to songs from Macross 7, the most hot-blooded and joyfully goofy Macross ever gets. In episode 17, he does just about everything a character can possibly do to mark themselves for death in a cheesy sci-fi TV cartoon – especially if Roy Fokker did it. He promises his girlfriend he’ll be right back to eat her pineapple dish, he tries to sneak into the enemy base alone and barely-armed, he has repeatedly flashbacks about the day he took in his adopted little sister, he gets injured during the fight and the mechanics find blood all over his seat, and he passes out from blood loss right beside his girlfriend. Why, that’s just about exactly how Roy Fokker died, except for the little sister part.
Then we fade from black and he’s alive in the hospital. Glasses-Wearing Ace quips: “If he’d died, it would’ve been incredibly emotional, huh?” Too bad that’s the only time the show plays with viewers’ expectations.
Meanwhile, the “oh dear, her naughty bits” jokes continue! The Glasses-Wearing Ace quips that anything he does with his love interest, the deus ex machina. Some of them I’m willing to ignore – the power of pop music to reach the hearts of even the most alien of enemies is well established in Macross, so I’m not going to complain about that. I am going to complain about the super-convenient way they undo most of the character drama, though.
Our heroes use Newtype Magic to restore the love triangle to its prior state by removing mind control and curing terminal diseases, the anti-hero gets whacked on the head enough times to make him team up with the heroes for good, and many shots from the opening sequence are reused in montage in what’s either a starling level of foresight or just a convenient cash-saver. A whole bunch of aliens warp in around our heroes, other colony fleets and the Earth, but as soon as the True Villain gets blown away in dramatic fashion by the hero, the aliens all just start chilling out or somethin’. Everyone celebrates because nobody important died except the one guy we killed a month ago to make the audience think the stakes were higher and the pop singers battling for our girly hero’s heart vow to best each other in music and romance!
Happy endings are fine. Open endings are fine. The power of love and insipid pop music saving the day is great! But for a show that has relied so heavily on angsty character drama and relationship issues to end with everything set back to where it was half a season ago, if resolved at all, is a true shame. Hikaru Ichijo made up his fucking mind, you hear?
Screw it. I’m gonna go watch something intelligent, like Riding Bean.