(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.
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.
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.
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
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.