Written September 13, 2010
(10) I've spent so long staring at the forest that is the ROBOTECH universe that I've missed a whole lot of trees. I think I've caught a lot of them on this viewing, including the forehead-slappingly obvious point that right before an episode entitled "Wedding Bells," Kyle does his half-assed psuedo-proposal to Minmei in front of all those TV cameras. (That stretch there where he silently stares at her is so ripe for interpretation. My favorite take? The one where Mister Media Manipulator Chessmaster is staring at Minmei thinking, "Check.") It'd be a great fake-out ... except that the next episode preview pretty much tells you that Max is marrying Miriya.
Which, mind you, I'd known forever when I first watched this episode -- I'd already read the novels, though I'm not sure if I'd seen the comic adaptation as well at this point. It's about a fifty-fifty shot; I'd accumulated a lot of ROBOTECH comics before I had the opportunity -- via VHS, LaserDisc, or Cartoon Network -- to watch all the TV episodes of The Macross Saga. Whatever the case may be, from whatever all I'd read I knew this was a big deal story, a turning-point, especially for a character I'd grown to love -- Max, of course; even when I was a middle school brat, I didn't get what all the fuss about Miriya was all about. So I was really looking forward to seeing the TV episode, actually watching play out what I'd imagined moving in my head.
You can imagine my disappointment when it turned out to be one of the most laughable bad animation episodes of the whole lot.
(9) Right as the episode title comes up, the narrator makes a little laugh that's really, really creepy. Go ahead, run it back and play it a few times. Done that? Good. Now it's going to haunt you in your nightmares.
Speaking of the stuff of nightmares, remember what I was saying about what a nice character design Miriya has last time? Yeah, under the pen and ink of the fine folks at Anime Friend, or whatever other Korean animation sweatshop churned this one out, not so nice. As she hides out, waiting for the time to strike, her eyes are wide and her pupils are tiny, giving her a terrifying, mad look. Also, these guys don't do lips, so she just looks wrong.
Miriya runs at Max with a knife, and Max takes the time to go, "Hey, glad you could make it!" before realizing SHE IS COMING AT HIM WITH A KNIFE.
When she introduces herself to Max, she clearly says: "I am Quadrano leader Miriya Parina." Breaking this down: "Quadrano" is, as I'm sure most of you've figured out by now, an early romanization of the name of her powered armor suit, the Queadluun-Rau. The way the term's thrown around in ROBOTECH, it's been taken to be the name of the group she led -- the lighter green version of the Nousjadeul-Ger Powered Armor toy from Matchbox was (incorrectly) labeled "Zentraedi Powered Armor - Quadrono Battalion," and Robotech.com has her down as the "leader of the Quadrano Squadron." Which is fine, what's done is done. "Miriya" is a perfectly acceptable way of romanizing her first name from Japanese; I like the "y" in there, personally. As for that last name, "Fallyna" is the character's last name in MACROSS, and the shortest distance between that and what we have here is sloppy handwriting or a bad typewriter turning what was transliterated as "Farina" (an acceptable match) into "Parina." Perhaps the same thing happened when James Luceno or Brian Daley was taking notes for the novelization while watching the TV series and didn't jot down the bar on that "a," turning it into an "o." However that happened, it resulted in a decade's worth of ROBOTECH novels, comics, and other source materials calling her "Miriya Parino." (I think the Comico adaptations gave it as Parina, but quite often they did their own thing, or held fast to the TV series while sprinkling in non-contradictory stuff from the novels.)
Regardless, she very clearly says "Miriya Parina," which is why ever since I've gone with that.
(8) Oh, look at it -- it looks like one of those one dollar Korean knockoff robot cartoon DVDs I and my friends picked up at Wal-Mart a few years back, the ones that ripped off Inferno's design from TRANSFORMERS and stole music from XABUNGLE. When Max trips over a rock, a little comic strip "ow" star comes off his leg. That wouldn't happen in a non-cheap-Korean-studio episode of ROBOTECH.
It's a shame, because there are some great lines in here: I love the uneasy way Cam Clarke gives the line, "Well, there goes our first ... date." And later, Miriya: "You may be a great man, but what is a man compared to a Zentraedi!" But there are other times where it seems the actors are playing down to the crappy animation, that the lame animation is leaving them uninspired and causing them to give terribly awkward or equally lame line readings.
Could the knife duel have been cool under steadier hands? I'm not sure. It comes off as really dumb, but if Max gave a few quick flicks of the wrist with the same tricky skills he uses piloting a Veritech, resulting in the same dramatic shot of the knife flying from Miriya's hands, I suppose that could have worked.
And then we get the cheesy weirdness. Miriya, having lost a THIRD time to Max, asks him to end her life, and Max's reason for not killing her is ... "You're so -- so beautiful." I can deal with flying Dana in her nightgown in the ROBOTECH opening sequence. But the power of love -- or, I'd wager more likely here, lust -- causing them to fly around and fall in love? Oh dear. I suppose if it had been painted up all fancy with airbrush effects, or a series of really nice paintings fading into one another, that might have worked. But it just looks like Miriya starts flying around the park like Peter Pan, and Max follows behind as her Wendy. Or vice versa, whichever way works for you.
(7) This is actually a pretty cool shot.
So let me get this straight. Max defeats Miriya the second time at the arcade. This is the first time he's actually met her, but he has seen her around, and every time he sees her he's all like, "Wow, she's hot." He asks her to meet him in the park. That night at the park, she comes at him with a knife, reveals that she's a Zentraedi warrior, reveals she's the one he fought one-on-one in the battle where Roy Fokker was killed, they have a really stupid knife fight, and he beats her a third time. Miriya asks him to kill her and end her shame, but he's all like, "You're too pretty to die," he spares her life, and, like magic, they fall in love, kiss, and he asks her to marry him. He then, of course, has to explain the concept to her. She, being a silly alien, doesn't fully grasp the concept, but says yes anyway.
Seriously, Robotech Masters does the human-alien love story thing so much better. But then, it seeds the relationship in early.
When Rick, who is not TOTALLY stupid, hears that Max is planning on getting married, he spits out his coffee and tells him that is "the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard." And this is coming from a man who was nearly crushed to death by a tuna fish in space, so you KNOW this is just off-the-wall bonkers. When Max tells Rick that Miriya is a Zentraedi, well good grief, Rick nearly turns red in the face, hearing that Max has decided not only to marry a girl he's just met and knows nothing about, but an alien at that. It's a good thing Max didn't mention that she tried to kill him, too, or Rick probably would have jumped across the table and started slapping him. When Rick tells him to at least slow down and think about it, Max starts hitting the table with his hand, insisting that he's in love, and that there's no problem love can't overcome.
So Rick just starts laughing like a nut, calls Max a silly idealist, and points at him very sternly. Max starts acting like he's talking to his dad. "I will marry this girl, with or without your approval!" Rick's like, "Okay, so you're attracted to this girl. How often does that happen to a guy?" And then, almost conspiratorially, Max says to him, "I keep trying to tell you, she's not just any girl."
His voice drops almost down to a whisper.
Then Miriya walks up in a pink dress that doesn't look half as good on her as that brown jumpsuit did, but it does the trick anyway; Rick is utterly flabbergasted and changes his mind about the whole thing, calling all that stuff he told Max earlier "silly nonsense." Rick knows the score. "In fact," he says, folding his arms smugly, "in order to guarantee you have a great wedding day, I plan to be there to help you kiss the bride."
Cut from the final edit of the show is the moment right after that, where Max punches Rick in the face and then starts kicking him repeatedly while he's down.
(Now THAT'S the Rick Hunter that would have made that crack to Lynn Kyle about what's great about the military back in "Homecoming," that one line that was in the novelization.)
(6) Exedore always has the answers to these hard questions, and I keep wondering where DOES he do his research? Is he carefully studying the MBS broadcasts out of the SDF-1 now during his downtime? Does he have an itty bitty set of encyclopedias that Rico, Konda, and Bron brought back? How does he know what marriage is when all the other Zentraedi do not? I get that he's the archivist, I just want to know what archives he's been consulting.
As you can see, we cut straight from Rick's wisecrack to the ceremony itself; this episode is going just as full speed ahead as Max and Miriya's relationship. When we cut away from Breetai and Exedore, it's right to the cutting of the cake, and then to Captain Gloval making a speech -- one that starts with a reminder that Miriya, being the greatest ace the Zentraedi has ever known, killed a very large number of their fellow citizens and soldiers. You thought that conversation that Rick and Max had was weird? I remember the first time I saw Gloval start this speech, I started squirming in my seat. It was like when I watched "Boobytrap" for the first time and Gloval started laughing: "Oh god, the man has lost it." Once again, Rick stands in for we the viewers; his jaw drops, his eyes grow wide, and he's like, "Oh no. The wedding is ruined."
(5) See, it looks like he's gone off the deep end, doesn't it?
But no, he quickly turns around and says they have to learn to forgive the Zentraedi for all that they've done -- not blindly, or ignorantly, but because they understand that until now the Zentraedi have known no other way of life. As he speaks out for a day when the war will end and human and Zentraedi will live together in peace, Admiral Hayes flips off his TV. He can't listen to any more of this peace talk, it'll ruin his war hard-on. Wait, Lisa's in the room with him, I really shouldn't say that ... or think about it.
Anyway, Admiral Hayes can't listen to another second of that. Notice that Admiral Hayes is smoking a cigarette. Recall that Senator Russo smoked cigars, as did Colonel Maistroff. So I guess that puts cigarettes in the middle of the "who can you trust" smoking continuum, with a fine pipe on the far "trustworthy" end, and cigars on the "oh, hell no" end.
(4) Minmei comes on and sings "The Man In My Life." Breetai hears it and states, profoundly, "This woman has a voice that can make a man feel sorrow." He is then immediately given orders to destroy the SDF-1; there are to be no survivors. He is willing to do this thing, but he doesn't like it. He is, as always, a good, loyal soldier.
Some of the guys under his command, ehh, not so much. Even with all the soldiers who deserted during Exedore's brilliant little operation a few episodes ago, there are still many within Breetai's fleet who don't want to fight against the SDF-1 -- probably even more now, since they are now aware that they will be attacking a ship inhabited by many of their forner comrades. While we observe Zentraedi across the fleet losing the will to fight against the Micronians, guys clutching little Minmei dolls and refusing to report to battle stations, one guy we see just appears unwilling to get out of bed, which amuses me.
The stock footage they use of Rick flying Skull One into battle is from "Bursting Point," and consequently shows him without his space visor on.
(3) Always liked this shot of Gloval. You may remember it from the Toonami ROBOTECH opening sequence.
Max's wingman in the green jumpsuit told him to stay behind, but Max has enough pull now that he can insist on going into battle with his comrades, unlike that one time with him, Rick, and Ben after they returned from Breetai's flagship. Miriya, likewise, insists on going along, so the two of them hop into that blue VF-1D they flew in the ceremony and join the battle.
HOWEVER ... Miriya tells Max not to shoot to kill; rather, she points out a safe spot to hit, which I guess disables the Zentraedi Battlepods without killing the pilot. When Rick discovers what's happening, he joins in as well. This is juxtaposed against the sight of the SDF-1 taking serious damage. I guess if the Battlepods are, in fact, disabled this isn't a problem, but it seems to me if this is the path to peace, then that's a path you're going to ride in a coffin. They would have, too, except that so many Zentraedi from aboard Breetai's flagship refused to fight that he threw up his arms and issued a recall order.
"Look at him run like a trall, with his tail between his ears!" This, apparently, is a thing Zentraedi say.
(2) Not even ROBOTECH is safe from the obvious turning-one's-life-upside-down gags related to having an alien in the house trying to do domestic things. Entire TV shows have been created worldwide based around this concept; thankfully, this is only one of a couple of times we see this card played in The Macross Saga.
Rick listens to Max's domestic ... err ... bliss and muses upon his own romantic entanglements. And thankfully, for all of us, he thinks of Lisa.
(1) He almost admits to himself that he loves her (PROGRESS!), but he's too tired to think about it too hard -- I guess from listening to the misadventures in the Sterling quarters next door -- so he just dozes off.
I'm not a fan of generically happy Max & Miriya. It's ridiculous, like something out of a fairy tale, and juxtaposed against Rick, Lisa, Minmei, and Kyle, it seems too neat, too easy, too ... unrealistic. I may want to slap Lisa upside the head for staring at Kyle with that glazed-over expression, but that's a thing that happens in real life. People do, in fact, obsess over other people who won't even give them the time of day. Sparks fade. People you hate wind up becoming people you like, and then people you love. But in real life, you don't just suddenly marry a super-hot alien warrior who tried to kill you with a knife. Even Lancer and Sera's relationship comes off as more real than this, because actual time is spent building the relationship part, hackneyed though it may be.
You know what I DO like? Separated-and-squabbling MACROSS 7 Max and Miria. For one thing, the minute Miriya is defeated here, she suddenly becomes a generic "oh, please teach me the ways of your world" alien girl. Okay, she does get Max to stop killing her people, but that itself is a complete 180 from the ruthless, arrogant, ego-driven warrior she was before. In MACROSS 7, she's her own person with a political career all her own, she's got her ruthlessness back, but she also has a warmth about her that comes from having a family, and having citizens who depend on her. The neat thing is, over the course of the series, Max and Miria get closer again -- they actually, over time, rebuild that relationship. Over forty-some episodes of MACROSS 7, we get that development that their relationship originally never had. Again, it's something real, it's something relatable, it's something that feels like a thing that actually happens to real people. I can take all the lasers and robots and aliens you can throw at me, but if the people aren't acting like people, there's nothing there to emotionally get attached to.
(Don't get me started about SENTINELS Miriya. I only hope they were PLANNING on getting Edie Mirman back if they actually had gotten the entire series produced. I wouldn't have been able to stand sixty-five episodes of that vocal characterization of Miriya.)
"Be sure to stay tuned for 'The Messenger,' the next thrilling chapter in the amazing story of ROBOTECH!"
Labels: 365 Days of Robotech, Macross, TV series