Macross Delta – 01

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Note: This is a repost of my January review of the preview special, updated with the rest of the episode that more recently aired.

Cute, quirky, idealistic heroine whom the serious male protag helps out? Check. Rather than Ranka Lee, we have Freyja Wion. She’s also voiced by a first-time seiyu (Suzuki Minori), who does a pretty good job balancing goofiness, earnestness, vulnerability and determination.

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If you’re not put off by Freyja’s bubbly enthusiasm, you’ll want to root for her almost immediately. She’s on the run from an arranged marriage to audition for Walkure, a “Tactical Sound Unit” that uses music to fight the Var, which unlike the Vajra aren’t a primal alien race, but a disease that infects everyone, potentially making anybody a weapon in its arsenal.

While there’s a lot of terminology right out of the gate, Delta doesn’t drown you in it, and also assumes this isn’t your first Macross rodeo (my other exposure to the franchise is the excellent 25th anniversary series Macross Frontier). Like that show, the world is lush and detailed, only the visuals here in 2016 are even more smooth and refined, particularly where CGI is concerned.

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The male protag, Hayate Immelmann (probably named for the turn), is initially put off by Freyja’s weirdness, but ends up rescuing her, though having been someone who’s dreamed big in the past and gotten nowhere, he remains skeptical of her lofty aspirations.

Something tells me his attitude will have changed when this episode concludes in April. He even seems to come under a little bit of a spell from her overflowing charisma—until she loses her foothold and he has to catch her in an awkward position that has him at gunpoint for suspected perversion by Mirage, a soldier in Delta Platoon, Walkure’s escort unit.

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The misunderstanding is corrected just in time for a city-wide Var Alert. The Var infect the local Zentradi base (as in Frontier, the green-skinned giants are normally allies of the humans here), and Freyja and Hayate become naught but two more ants on a massive battlefield, running for their lives.

Then we’re introduced to the four members of Walkure who run towards the danger, transforming into their magical songstress forms: You have the Sheryl Nome-esque star Mikumo, the tomboyish Reina, the girly Makina, and the sporty leader, Kaname.

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Working in concert with the Delta Platoon, they neutralize the effects of the Var with their music, as the battle on the ground is essentially one big music video. This is a departure from Frontier in that the effects of the singing on the enemy aren’t known until later in the show. Here, Walkure is an active participant in the combat, and also in protecting the hordes of citizens with swarms of multidrones.

As one would expect of an experienced and practiced pop music group, Walkure knows exactly what to do and carry it out swiftly and efficiently, but also with an ample helping of style. So confident is Mikumo in her powers of charm, she gets right in a Var-infected Zentradi pilot’s face and cures him on the spot, getting him to exclaim that iconic line, “Deculture!”

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But that’s not all for enemies. In orbit, the planet’s space fleet is attacked by the Aerial Knights, a group of badass male warriors who look to be the Walkure Girls’ rivals and foils. When they engage the Delta Platoon on the surface, they learn they’re more than a match.

Be it the Huge Capital Ship Getting Blow’d Up Real Good in orbit or the Zig-Zagging Dogfight in the skies, Delta doesn’t separate itself much from Frontier in these areas, but it does distinguish itself in sheer quality and refinement. There’s nary a frame out of place, and as previously stated, the CGI is far better integrated into the regular animation than the older work. The plane, ship, cockpit, and HUD designs are also new and very cool-looking, all with a welcome nod to the past.

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With all the big battles and explosions going on, the episode could be excused for completely forgetting about Freyja and Hayate, but when the Knights push Walkure and Delta into a corner, we come back to them, trying not to get caught in the crossfire. Then Mikumo emerges from the pile of wreckage, ready to rumble anew, and changes the tune—literally—to a more aggressive but still upbeat song.

Freyja’s little heart-shaped stone on her head starts to glow (as it did when Hayate fell on her), and she can’t resist singing along and running towards the battle rather than away. It’s an inspiring sight for young Hayate, seeing her risk her life with a smile on her face and a song in her heart, without a care in the world that things won’t work out.

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So…what does the newly-aired episode add to the preview? Nothing that changes my original score of an 8. Right after Freyja runs off, Hayate commandeers a partially-wrecked mech to back her up. As Walkure detects Freyja adding her voice to theirs (and it’s a nice voice), Hayate takes out baddies with the grace of a dancer.

Eventually, he gets lost in the song, and he and Freyja spend a little time in Glowing Naked Blue Sky Land before enemy fire snaps Hayate out of it, and the two start plummeting to the Earth. With their fates uncertain (though not really; they’ll be fine) the episode really just replaced one ellipsis with another, only now Walkure and Delta Platoon have seen a little of what these two crazy kids can do.

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Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

7 thoughts on “Macross Delta – 01”

  1. Happy to see you’re going to be covering this! Old school Macross fan here going back to when I was blown away by Robotech as a kid in the 80s, so I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts.

    And I thoroughly enjoyed this first episode. I’m already looking forward to next Sunday.

  2. Okay, I’ll also be repeating what I said about the preview episode. This was just downright fun.

    But now that I have watched the full episode, I actually some interesting things. For one, that Lady M the guys a the Delta Platoon HQ mentioned. Knowing Macross’ penchant for having characters from the original series appear i8n various role, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is also the case with Lady M. Wild guess is that she’s Millia Fallyna Jenius, which would explain Mirage’s identity. An even wilder guess is that she is, in fact, the long lost Lyn Minmay. I am definitely intrigued here.

    Also, I have a feeling that Mikumo and Freyja are somewhat related to each other. Maybe Mikumo is the “Lulu” (if the subs are to be trusted) Freyja keeps on mentioning.

    And of course, there is the obligatory Macross love triangle. Obviously, it is likely Freyja-Hayate-Mikumo (ala Ranka-Alto-Sheryl), but it also seems that Mirage might also be involved, seeing that she actually gets to interact with Hayate and Freyja earlier than Mikumo.

  3. Just a quick note but I’m pretty sure Kaname is the leader of Walkure, at least she is referred to as such. It does seem Mikumo is the “star” of the group though.

  4. I enjoyed the upbeat vibe and rendering style but the cast and the technobabble’y nature of Var makes me nervous. I have also watched all of Macross since Robotech in the 80s and loved all of it… except Macross 8/ Dynamite.

    In those cases, I found the characters somehow more generic/contemporary anime archetypes than feeling specific to Macross. M8/MD also put the musicians more directly on the battlefield in a quirky over the top way that didn’t gel with the military sf themes that draw me to the franchise.

    Have to wait and see — Macross Plus did a great job exploring villains outside convention, and Frontier made good new enemies — but this giant boy v girl cast with over the top charm vs relatable drama may not do it for me ;-)

    1. I’ll just say this:

      So far, Hayate ain’t no Saotome Alto, Freyja ain’t no Ranka Lee, and Mikumo ain’t no Sheryl Nome.

      One episode in, Frontier’s main triangle handily beats Delta’s.

      1. Another edge for frontier: while it also had a moderately large cast, they all felt purposeful. At least, I didn’t feel like there were an arbitrary number of them. Delta introduced the outsider protagonists, 4 idols, 4(?) pilots that support the idols, the command crew of their base ship, and 8(?) villain pilots and hinted at 1 villain idol. I honestly could not identify most of those 18’ish characters visually, let alone have a sense for their personalities and traits.

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