Macross Frontier – Dokun, dokun, dokun!

ranka

(Spoiler free through the songs section.)

It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve watched an action/drama with a solid story, good characters and bombastic action, that had me voraciously inhaling episode after episode. I’d held off on picking Macross Frontier up last spring when it came out, because I wanted to watch some of the earlier Macrosses first… So much for that plan.

Several months later, I still hadn’t watched any of them. And I kept hearing good stuff about MF, so I figured I’d take the plunge anyway.

It was definitely worth it. From the spectacular battle animations in the first episode (even though later episodes would feature some laughably bad animation), to Ranka’s living hairmuffs, it sucked me in from start. In retrospect, I wished I’d at least watched the Do You Remember Love? movie first, because I never quite understood what deculture and protoculture were, and I know some winks to past events flew over my head (Bird Human, Watashi no Kare wa Pilot, Lynn Minmay’s pic, the original Macross, etc.), but I still had a lot of fun watching it.

Favorite songs

MF is the only show in which I’ve heard more about the music than the story, characters or the animation. So I ended up checking out some of the songs before watching the show (Diamond Crevasse, Northern Cross, Lion, Seikan Hikou, all the singles basically), and I thought they were pretty good, but not great, and I couldn’t quite understand the acclaim (and sales). But after watching the show and how all the songs fit in. I get it. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a show in which the music was so well intertwined with the plot. The scenes build up the power of the songs, and the songs build up the power of the scenes. It all works so perfectly (well, except for the Northern Cross ED which looked more like it belonged in a bad Bond movie).

What ‘bout my Star

A little too much nonsensical engrish, but I love the dueling voices and the great prechorus/chorus. Oh, and this scene was so cheesy, but incredibly awesome because it was cheesy. The two biggest idols in the universe are singing for Alto and the big pansy ends up with nothing to show for it. *shakes head in abject dejection*

Anata no Oto

Dokun, dokun, dokun! If hope, happiness and love were all wrapped up into a neat, moe ball, I think it’d sound like Anata no Oto.

This was Ranka’s love song to Alto, who was too dense to notice until Michel spelled it out for him. I swear I’m not picking Ranka songs because I was a Ranka-fan. At least that’s not my main reason. I generally liked Megumi Nakajima’s vocals better than Aya Endo’s May’n’s (Sheryl), because they sound cleaner and fuller. Aya’s singing voice is solid too, and actually she had the tougher songs to sing, but her voice sounds a bit more processed and a little more strained.

Ao no Ether

A slower, sad song that Ranka sings towards the end of the show as one of the EDs.

Lion

The second (real) OP, and my favorite of the bunch. I love the keyboard and chimes(?) intro, and it’s one of Sheryl’s song that tones down on the vocal effects. The video provides some nice foreshadowing of the hectic, seizure-friendly, fanservice-tastic final battle, and also features Sheryl’s “hopes and dreams” falling out of her dress.

Triangler

Loved the duo version that Ranka and Sheryl did at the close of the show, the lyrics sum up the love triangle aspect perfectly.

Ninjiin Loves You Yeah!

This song/video just cracks me up. It’s so catchy in a quirky way and highlights Ranka at her Ranka-best. Do you think the weight on that carrot helmet is balanced? I’m sort of amazed she can keep her head up.

Ranka vs. Sheryl

rankaxsheryl

Honestly, I liked both of the girls. I just liked Ranka more.

Sheryl was the mature woman, independent and realistic, while arguably even more insecure than Ranka was. Sheryl challenged Alto to grow, but it was always within her shadow.

Ranka was the idealistic, cute, upbeat, girl next door (a nice counterbalance to Alto’s broodiness), who was confused and lacking self-confidence about who she was (sort of reminded me of a more genki Eureka). She challenged Alto to grow, but it she who stayed within his shadow.

The writers definitely did a better job developing Sheryl (rise > fall > resurrection gives you a more fertile ground for character development vs. nobody > becomes somebody > becomes queen of alien species), and they sort of botched opportunities to build up Ranka’s character towards the end. But ultimately, I rooted for Ranka, because for Ranka, Alto was her end. Ranka needed Alto more. While for Sheryl, Alto was a means to her end (which I think was self-confidence/self-sufficiency). She was more or less a self-made woman – done by herself, for herself – while everything Ranka did and became was more or less for Alto. I can’t picture Ranka living without Alto (unless she’s sacrificing him to save him, like she does when she visits the Vajra homeland); I can picture Sheryl moving beyond him.

Alto vs. Michel

Michel would’ve been the better lead character than Alto. I didn’t dislike Alto. Actually I liked him for the most part, and he wasn’t a bad lead, but he wasn’t as good as Michel. Alto wasn’t dynamic, his character didn’t change much. He came in as an indecisive hardhead, and he left an indecisive hardhead. Meanwhile, Michel had some character growth and generally was just about as badass as Alto.

I also can’t believe they didn’t resolve the love triangle. I know, I know, they’ll do that in the movie. But Michel went out of his way to tell Alto to make a decision and not be a coward and Alto had several episodes after that to make a decision and he still didn’t. Peh. Weak. I hope Kawamori screws Alto over and goes down the Sheryl x Ranka route. Opportunity only knocks for so long.

19 Replies to “Macross Frontier – Dokun, dokun, dokun!”

  1. You overlooked the fact that Sheryl’s seiyuu Aya Endo is not the singing voice for Sheryl. Her vocals are made by the awesome May’n. I loved most of the songs in the show and I keep listening to them in my car.

  2. I’m surprised that you didn’t put Diamond Crevasse up there. The scene where it plays near the end of the series was powerful.

    I always thought that Ranka’s growth near the end was that she did move past Alto, in order to go make peace with the Vajra. Her challenge to Sheryl at the end was about starting over and doing things right.

    Michael would make for a better lead, but secondary characters almost always are better written than primary ones; probably because they aren’t as forced to “be something”.

    1. i originally had diamond crevasse at #5, then ended up bumping it out to try to keep the list short… otherwise i would’ve been tempted to include almost all the songs 🙂

      you know, that’s a good point. and as i was writing this up, i thought about how the 2 major events in ranka’s life (stardom and particularly the vajra sacrifice) lead her away from alto, while the major events in sheryl’s life lead her to alto. it’s ironic. but i reconciled that by thinking that without alto, ranka wouldn’t have taken those steps, and I think she only did for alto. there’s a little bit of semantics there and my wording “ranka cant live without alto” might’ve been a bit strong, but it’s an example how much she was willing to sacrifice for him. maybe their relationship was an ill-fated one.

  3. Hmm, it’s interesting that you saw the love triangle the exact opposite of how I did. I felt that Ranka needed Alto less. (I also felt she had less chemistry with him, but that’s another subject.) She had Brera, Ozma, Nanase, and all of her other friends. Sheryl really only had Alto and singing. Besides, if Alto would not listen to Ranka’s song (ep. 21), she deserves someone who would.

    1. There’s probably some credit due to the MF writers. If you’re able to create a love triangle in which two different shipper fanbases can view the triangle the way they want (I actually thought she had more chemistry with him), you’ve probably done a good job.

  4. I just have a few questions on your viewpoint of the two female leads.

    It seems to me that a large number of western fans are AxR orientated whereas here in China, Japan and Korea (Thailand too, actually) around 80% or more are Sheryl fans. I can’t quite grasp the scale in the America’s and Europe. Ranka seems to be very popular in the Facebook group and on myanimelist, but the scale topples the other way on fanfiction.net and deviantart.

    Are there more Ranka supporters or Sheryl supporters in your side of the world?

    Another thing is, do you like Ranka more as a character, a singer, or as Alto’s partner? I’ve heard SO many comments on English boards and forums ranting about how Sheryl (May’n)’s voice is strained and digitally enhanced while Ranka’s is pure and light.

    In Sheryl’s defence, Asian boards reply that May’n has a stronger voice, harder parts in songs and her voice was enhanced so it didn’t differ from Sheryl’s seiyuu too much. Megumi’s voice is generally thought to be flat, childish and just-another-j-poppy-idol.

    Is it actually true that the population of Ranka fans in the western fandom is larger? And if so, why is it that 90% of western fans choose Megumi over May’n?

    BTW, I’m not meaning to offend your love for Ranka in any way. Even though I prefer Sheryl, I have a certain amount of respect for the fans on the other side. The shipping war is going strong.

    1. Hey Cocoa, I don’t think I can speak to the western fans as a whole, but from what I’ve read, I think it’s a fairly even split between Sheryl and Ranka. If anything, I might’ve noticed a little more support on the Sheryl side.

      I like Ranka more as a character and as Alto’s partner. I like Ranka because I think her innocent personality provides a good contrast to Alto’s more jaded personality. It’s sort of like opposites attract in this case. Although, I can certainly see the other point of view for Sheryl, as she’s a little more similar to Alto and probably the more traditional fit.

      As far as singing goes I like Megumi, exactly like you mentioned, because she does sound pure and light. Again, it’s a matter of tastes, but I prefer someone who sounds more natural, but with a more limited range than someone who has tougher parts, but sounds strained or unnatural in singing them. But you make a good point, because May’n’s singing voice is a little more unique, but I wouldn’t dismiss Megumi. I especially like her speaking voice and think that the cute, but not super-high pitch voice she used was somewhat unique as far as seiyuus go.

      Sheryl grew on me, but Ranka captivated me from the start. Unfortunately, she seemed to regress as the show progressed, while Sheryl’s character continued to have good development. But for me, Sheryl was never able to jump past Ranka though.

      Good observations though!

  5. I think that’s the first decent discussion I’ve had with a Ranka fan without it blowing up into a shipping/flame war!

    Thank you for replying to my post so soon!

  6. actually May’n performs better in the Macross Frontier Galaxy Tour Final – in Budokan..
    Megumi-chans voice has hard time keeping it up in some of the duets…

    but that doesnt mean im not a fan of them both :3

    cant wait for the movie xD

    1. There was actually this huge scandal about Megumi having to record one of the songs tens of times over because she couldn’t hit high note. And if you listen carefully, you will notice that in Triangler and Lion duet version, May’n has all the hard parts. The extremities in the song and the harmony was all handled by her. In comparison, Megumi only had the normal verse parts.

      Also, in the budoukan live, Megumi ran wildly off-key during a duet. The operator had to turn down her mike, but it’s still audible. There’s a video of the clip on nico and I think youtube too.

      1. Oh, I’ll have to search for that video just for curiosity. 😀

        I’m not surprised to hear that May’n performs better live. She’s had so much more experience and apparently does have much more range than Megumi. But what I like about Megumi’s voice is the natural sound of it. Nothing against May’n, especially since it’s more of a luck of nature thing than due to any training, but Megumi’s voice sounds so smooth and calming, whereas May’n has that more wild and untamed style to it.

  7. macross fronter is the best….i mean not the best of all but 4rm the best animes ever.Also shugo chara,toradora,kanon,deathnote and shaman king :emotion: that i had finished seeing them all which is 2 sad 4 me ;-(

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