Macross Delta – 02

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Delta quickly wraps up last week’s cliffhanger with Mirage swooping in to rescue Hayate & Freyja’s falling, crippled variable fighter and the Aerial Knights retreating, having collected the data they were after.

The remainder of the episode sets out to establish more of the world, context for Freyja’s ability, character relationships and how Hayate & Freyja ultimately join Walkure.

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From mer-cats to gilled street kids with webbed fingers selling organic fish cellphone bracelets, the world around Macross Elysion, Delta Platoon’s HQ, is a fantastical buffet of extraneous but enjoyable details.

It’s all lovingly rendered but Hayate literally grabs Freyja and runs her out of the scene because they have so little narrative purpose, beyond a minor nod to Ranka Lee’s squeezable organic cell phone in Macross Frontier. Even the brief scene in the Aerial Knight’s mountain castle, which includes a column-like pipe organ in the background, only repeats information we’ve already been told.

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As to the joining Walkure part, Freyja is given an audition, which she fails and Hayate is outright offered a piloting position by Delta Platoon Arad Molders. Later, on her way back to the city, Freyja’s tram suddenly halts and one of the passengers goes var-mad. Freyja is knocked to the ground but she sings her way to safety and passes Walkure’s final, secret audition test.

Delta deserves serious credit for its solid sound design.  Music cues are tight. We can feel Freyja’s frustration in the droning elevator-pop of the tram ride and feel her surprise as that music cuts off with the lights and is replaced by something more ominous. Subtle too, that omens music is fun-house style goofy, which softly hints that not all is as it seems to the viewer.

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As to the character relationships, Mirage and Hayate are immediately set up as rivals (and, probably, long term love interests) due to Hayate’s natural skills and matter of fact criticism of the military and rules following. It doesn’t help that Mirage was out of sync during combat too and they both know it.

More broadly, we see Arad’s fatherly relations with with his pilots and other admin, as well as how most people are scared of Elysion’s Captain Ernest Johnson, who is probably Zentradi but looks like an adult version of Teen Titans’ Beast Boy. We also see the Aerial Knights have a lot of internal conflict, which will no doubt be their undoing.

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Stray details and speculation: The Aerial Knights’ SV-262 Draken III’s appeal to be capable of docking with a Ghost on the end of each wing. This not only looks pretty cool, but could imply reliance on artificial intelligence to bolster their numbers. (AI is also generally outlawed in the Macross universe, following Sharon Apple’s rampage in Plus and whatever the heck the androids of Macross Galaxy were up to in Frontier)

Also worth noting the Aerial Knight’s resemblance to the pre-space era earth villains in Macross Zero. The fighters look similar, also had purple, and the characters had feudal sounding titles and ranks…

Also also, Walkure’s VF-31 “Siegfrieds” are named after a dragon slayer, which is important because “Draken” means dragon in swedish.

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Delta’s strength is that it is very well produced: tremendous precision went into its sound design, visual styling, animation and world building. It somehow even keeps its 17+ characters recognizable and coherent.

Delta’s weakness is it has 17+ characters to show us, tons of world building to get through, and some technobabble about singing/fold-space potential, and even more alien races than Macross has ever tackled before.

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It does a good job balancing that all out, but there is so much packed into this episode, I found it hard to absorb in one sitting. More critically, despite the extraneous detail scenes that serve as points of ‘rest,’ the shows maximum level of information density stops individual elements from standing out.

It’s like playing a game for the first time with 2 years worth of DLC turned on from the very beginning!

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2 thoughts on “Macross Delta – 02”

  1. Delta deserves serious credit for its solid sound design. Music cues are tight. We can feel Freyja’s frustration in the droning elevator-pop of the tram ride and feel her surprise as that music cuts off with the lights and is replaced by something more ominous. Subtle too, that omens music is fun-house style goofy, which softly hints that not all is as it seems to the viewer.

    That shouldn’t be a surprise, since music (and not just the singing) is one of Macross’ major themes.

    And I actually love how they did the world-building here, despite how brief it was. Love how they expanded more on the Macross-verse.

    How Freya ended up passing the Walkure auditions was kinda predictable. You have to wonder why Mikumo and her crew didn’t even bother testing the other three who supposedly have the same fold waves potential or whatever in the same manner.

    And as for the obligatory love triangle, I guess, based on the OP, it’s going to be Freyja-Hayate-Mirage. Well, at least it wouldn’t be a repeat of the Ranka-Alto-Sheryl triangle. And I can see an interesting route here. Both Hayate and Mirage seem to share a passion for flying or probably piloting mecha, while Freyja and her energetic personality seems to be the trigger for Hayate to finally discover that passion. Im interested as to how it goes.

    Still, they also seem to be hinting that Mikumo isn’t just going to be a mentor figure towards Freyja.. I really have that feeling that both are somehow related to each other.

  2. Nice review, Oji-san! I too enjoyed fun little details like the squeeze-phone and the structure on the seafaring planet that looked exactly like the Frontier city-ship. Dug the Zentradi captain too, along with the general Star Wars/Futurama-style species diversity.

    I’m also liking how the “triangle” of Hayate/Freyja/Mirage is working out. Hayate so far is treating Freyja like a sister—protecting her but also messing with her in a sibling-esque way. They go their separate ways when Hayate talks with Arad and Freyja does her audition thing, but I liked the timing of Freyja’s singing with Hayate’s leap of faith: both were going out on an edge and seeing if they could fly.

    Meanwhile, Mirage is all tsuntsun and Hayate is no more friendly. The chemistry is there, though. I’m interested to see if they’ll continue to snipe each other at every turn, or if their rapport softens into something more classically romantic.

    I’ll also admit to being completely taken in by Freyja failing (so quickly, too), and felt really bad for her. So I was genuinely surprised when the Walkure members revealed it was all a simulation to evaluate her singing abilities. How’s this for a strange reference: Freyja’s ordeal reminded me of Wesley Crusher’s psych test in TNG’s “Coming of Age”, which first aired 28 years ago.

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