Follow Me To The New Digs.

I think it's safe to say I've officially closed up digs at this location. I didn't even remember my Blogger login when I tried to get in to post this notice.


That doesn't mean I'm not out there talking about Robotech again. It just means that I'm not doing it HERE anymore. I've pulled up roots from Blogger to Wordpress, and I'm just doing all of my blogging at one spot; it's not just a Robotech blog, though at the moment I'm in one of my serious Robotech phases again, so that IS what you'll be seeing a lot of over the coming months. I'm doing the video blogging thing on YouTube again, and I'm marching my way through a scaled-down version of what I'd been doing here when I was so rudely interrupted by real life, a marathon viewing and write-up of the entire animated Robotech saga (except for The Untold Story, because SOME WOUNDS NEVER HEAL).

You can continue to follow my Robotech-related rambling at:

Hope to see you all over there!

Captain JLS, signing off ...



Interruption of service announcement redux.

I'm starting to think the interruption in the blogging may be permanent -- another unfinished Robotech-related project on my part, like the various comic synopsis/blogging projects I've been playing with for the past decade-plus. Here's the situation as it stands.

Three days after I got back from RT 25: THE CELEBRATION, I lost my fifth manager in not quite two years. The district manager tapped me to serve as interim manager until he can find a replacement, although it seems what he really wants is for me to step up and say I'll take the job on a permanent basis. I'd rather not do that, but I'm taking a "wait and see" attitude on it -- I'm waiting to see what my first paycheck as interim manager looks like, and what my workload is like once the nearest hiring manager sends me some additional staff. Right now our store is terribly understaffed, and even on my days off I find I'm stopping by and calling in to make sure things are proceeding apace. I come home exhausted, and have no energy to spend three or four hours analyzing a Robotech episode or comic book or whatever. At most, when I come home I throw in a DVD and lean back and try to relax -- and then feel guilty about it, because in the back of my head I'm thinking, "I should be writing a blog post, or drawing something, or doing SOMETHING constructive."
Unfortunately for all of you who were following my latest laughable attempt to maintain daily blogging activities, that "something constructive" won't be the Roboblog for the foreseeable future. This isn't a big dramatic "I'M LEAVING ROBOTECH FOREVER" shutdown like last time; this is totally about me and my own energy level and my work schedule, not about negative energy floating around in the community and associating Robotech with a fractured fandom or whatever the heck was going on in my head last year. I'm reserving the right to come back to the blog later if and when I step back from my current position, or find another job elsewhere, or get myself fired -- basically anything that lands me a great heaping pile of free time to return to gazing deeply into the depths of the Robotech TV series and its twenty tons of printed spin-off material.

I still will need a creative outlet, something that allows me to express myself in a positive way that makes me feel like I'm not just a zombie-like retail monkey, and I do have an idea what that might be. If and when something comes of this idea, I'll let you all know. It's not SCWONKEY DOG this time -- no, that's on hold just like the blog, because that requires even MORE energy and effort than the blog; that requires me to dig into the depths of my being and tear out bits of my soul, silly as that may sound, especially given that on the surface it just looks like a twisted psuedo-mature Saturday morning space opera action cartoon. But at its core, SCWONKEY is a project of self-examination; what I need to do right now is something a little lighter. If this does go forward, it's going to be another webcomic project. A friend of mine's been bugging me to collaborate on something with him for months now, and I'm thinking I might go ahead and do it. I'm shooting off that e-mail sometime in the morning.

So, until I've got time to come back here and start hammering out the Robotech thoughts again, this is Captain JLS, signing off.

See you on the next go-around.

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DAY FORTY-THREE: Reflections, Part 4

The one part of my personal ROBOTECH journey I failed to mention thus far -- besides this blog itself, and its byproducts like my YouTube channel -- is EMISSARIES, the fanzine I inherited from my dear pal and ex-roommate Evan. I contributed histories of the ROBOTECH comics and ROBOTECH THE MOVIE (riddled with inaccuracies I'd picked up over the years from forum discussions and on-line articles), an ongoing column discussing the state of the franchise at various points, and ultimately when I was given run of the 'zine itself, I tried to offer a broad view of the franchise, keeping tabs on what creators who were associated with ROBOTECH were doing, talking up stuff going on with MACROSS and MOSPEADA in Japan, and the like. I promised subscribers four issues but only got three out the door, which in my mind remains a blight on my record. The problem is, as I'm sure you guys can tell, I'm a perfectionist, and getting the 'zine put together was a terribly intense effort on my part. On top of that, I know Evan always had trouble getting his subscriber base to offer their own material for it, but I didn't even have a wide base of friends to beg material out of. It always came down to the usual suspects, and their lives got increasingly busy as the months and years rolled on.

Indeed, if all goes according to plan, my life should be getting increasingly busy as the year rolls on, which is how I'm planning on segueing into how the blog's going to roll for the rest of the 365-day project ...

A piece of art I drew of Roy Fokker that appeared on the last page of my first issue of
EMISSARIES: A ROBOTECH FANZINE VOL. 2, signed by Dan Woren at the bar one
night during AnimeExpo 2006. Yes, I was having a drink with Roy Fokker. Don't ask me
how that happened, I'm still not sure.

Right now I still have to finish my write-up of "The Robotech Masters," the second episode of the reconstruction era of The Macross Saga. Once I get settled back into some sort of normalcy, probably around Wednesday, I'll be trying to crank out a couple of posts a day to play catch-up. In order to spread out the episodes to keep things sane, I'll be continuing to sprinkle in bits of artwork I've got around the apartment -- not like the signed stuff I've been posting these four days I've been out of town, but cool commissions and pieces of original artwork, animation cels, that sort of thing. The unique pieces from my collection, basically. There are only eighty-five episodes of ROBOTECH, and I've got 365 days to fill; even spreading out SENTINELS and SHADOW CHRONICLES to three days apiece, that's still only ninety-one. (I wish I still had copies of the terrible Matchbox figure set "Robotech Wars" episodes, those would be good for a laugh. I could summarize those without any commentary whatsoever, and they'd STILL be entertaining reads!) Naturally, then, you'll be seeing more comics, and I think if I have the time and extend the backlog out long enough to give me time to reread them, I'll even throw a few of the novels up here. After all, I just replaced my water damaged copies of THE ZENTRAEDI REBELLION and the three ROBOTECH MASTERS novels -- I really need to break these new copies in.

If you have any suggestions for subjects for future installments, to sprinkle in among the TV series episodes or for when the TV episodes are up, leave 'em here. It'll give me something to do while I'm sitting at the computer with a glazed-over expression on Tuesday night -- or, if one of the airports has free wifi, it'll give me something to do today while I enjoy my epic-length layovers.

Thanks for indulging me these past few days. I hope I didn't come off as TOO self-centered ... ^_-

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DAY FORTY-TWO: Reflections, Part 3

If you visit ROBOTECH.COM's episode guide, you'll notice there are some entries that are monumentally epic-length, entries that go on, and on, and on, and you just wonder why in the hell someone would write an episode summary that takes longer to read than the episode takes to watch. Well, that would be because someone back in the first half of the decade past thought all those little details were important. That someone was a damn fool college student named ... well, it was me. They wouldn't be so bad if not for that skinny column layout the site has going on. I did a lot of odd jobs for Harmony Gold early on in ROBOTECH.COM's life -- I did a fistful of those overlong episode summaries, I did a bunch of screen grabs of characters on the phone so they could use them to promote their customer service line for the ROBOTECH.COM store, I eventually did a lot of work on the bibliography when they rolled that out, and, in one of the dumbest moves I've ever made, I spent three days straight watching and rewatching ROBOTECH THE MOVIE: THE UNTOLD STORY so that I could transcribe the whole damn movie, because for some reason they didn't have a script for it anywhere in the office.

I haven't been able to watch ROBOTECH THE MOVIE since then. I don't think it's any great loss. I used to think it wasn't good, but it wasn't bad either. After that long, torturous, sleep-deprived experience, I take that position back. It's really, really bad, and I never want to see it ever again.

signed by series director Noboru Ishiguro. I totally cut in line in a major way to get this autograph
on the last day of AnimeExpo 2006. I have no regrets about it.

The big stuff I've gotten to do, of course, was the work on THE ART OF ROBOTECH: THE SHADOW CHRONICLES book, the chronological notes in the back of the three-in-one ROBOTECH MASTERS and NEW GENERATION novels, and I guess the article that appeared in PROTOCULTURE ADDICTS #94. The work on the SHADOW CHRONICLES artbook was an interesting collaborative effort; I spent a lot of that process basically going, "I think that turn of phrase mischaracterizes these events from the TV series, it went more like such-and-such-a-thing." The only passage I can name off the top of my head that I absolutely know I wrote is the short write-up of the Sentinels themselves. The one thing I know was omitted from that paragraph was the term "the Local Group," a term Daley, Luceno, Mason, Ulm, and the Waltrips all used to throw around throughout their SENTINELS work. Otherwise, that's all mine. Most of the rest of my contributions were turns of phrase and games of bad continuity whack-a-mole; if you're thumbing through the book sometimes and you think to yourself, "That sounds like something out of the Roboblog," then you probably just read five or six words out of there that are mine. They're all over the place in there.

Those little continuity notes in the back of the second & third generation ROBOTECH three-in-ones were originally going to be a wholesale rewrite of those novels. It's funny, I'd doom-and-gloomed about the possibility some months prior, and then the question was popped to me, "Say, how would you like to revise the novels to mesh with modern continuity?" I thought about it for a second and then went, "Well, if anyone's gonna do it, I'd rather it be me." So I accepted. I spent at least two weeks going from my job at the local elementary schools straight to a coffee shop a few blocks from my house, sitting down with my copies of the mid-1990s ROBOTECH MASTERS three-in-one volume and THE INVID INVASION, METAMORPHOSIS, and SYMPHONY OF LIGHT and stacks of index cards. I then went through the books and found everything -- and I mean EVERYTHING -- that didn't jibe with modern established ROBOTECH continuity. I'm talking stuff ranging from the bizarre misrepresentations of Logans throughout the MASTERS novels to bits like Dr. Zand killing Dr. Miles Cochrane, since Cochrane is alive and well in PRELUDE TO THE SHADOW CHRONICLES. I jotted every last little thing down, and e-mailed all the work, annotated with page numbers, back to Harmony Gold. I think I was most of the way through INVID INVASION when I got an almost panic-stricken voicemail from Tommy Yune on my cell phone, telling me to stop, that there was no room in the budget to make new plates for the new editions of the books, so they would have to go with the books as they were, and all that work would have to be boiled down to maybe a page or two in the back.

So I did that, and my name's still in the back of the books, but for two weeks I honestly thought I'd go down in history as the third "part" of Jack McKinney. That would have been cool.

Now that I think about it, the article wasn't the next major thing I did; the next major thing I did was get the ball rolling on getting THE SHADOW CHRONICLES to St. Louis. THE SHADOW CHRONICLES was making the film festival circuit, and I was frustrated that it was bouncing around the edges of the country but not hitting the midwest. I asked Kevin McKeever if there was anything that could be done about this, and he said to get a hold of some film festivals and request it. So I spent a couple of days doing research and finding film festivals that were going on for the remainder of 2006 across the midwest. I contacted five or six festivals, and St. Louis was the big one that bit. I put them in touch with Kevin, and the rest is history -- and is memorialized on the DVD case, on top of that. Take it out, look on the back, and there it is: "Official Selection, St. Louis Film Festival."

The PROTOCULTURE ADDICTS article was the first bit of ROBOTECH-related material I really took on after getting fed up with fandom politics at AnimeExpo 2007. I wasn't in a happy place and I think that colored my communications with the PROTOCULTURE ADDICTS staff, but on the other hand, it was a case where I wanted to see something done right, so I offered to do it myself. I just reread that piece a few nights ago, and despite the formatting errors and a couple of writing flubs, I'm proud of it. I think it offers a nice primer on how ROBOTECH began, where it had been, and where Harmony Gold was hoping it would go circa 2007. 

The last ROBOTECH works my name appeared in were the SHADOW CHRONICLES RPG book and the new ROBOTECH MASTERS RPG book. My only contribution to the SHADOW CHRONICLES book were a few notes I typed out after skimming most of the manuscript while I was home sick from work, while the MASTERS book I read a draft of in its entirety at the Applebee's here in Wausau over five or six cups of coffee and scrawled all kinds of notes in the margins. I have no idea if my thoughts influenced anything that was done in that book, but I don't even really care -- it's a nice little book, and my name's in it, so that's cool.

These experiences have been some of the most bizarre of my life; I'm not an intensely clever guy, I'm not an engineer or mathematician, or a crazy-brilliant artist, or a published sci-fi author. I'm just a guy who likes ROBOTECH a lot -- probably too much. I've spent my entire life living somewhere in the midwest, working low-paying hourly jobs to get by. And yet, somehow I've made a few marks on this B-level 80's animation franchise I love. I've made myself into a bit player in its twenty-five year history. How about that, ladies and gentlemen? How about that ...

TOMORROW: I'm spending the whole day in airports. It's gonna suck. I'm glad I brought a few books with me. Oh, and I'm telling you what the blogging schedule's gonna be for the foreseeable future.

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DAY FORTY-ONE: Reflections, Part 2

I was clearing out my suitcase for the trip on Thursday night, and I came across the program for my pal Ian's wedding. I flew halfway across the country for that particular trip, too, about seven years and a month ago. How, you might ask, does that relate to the subject at hand?

Well, if not for ROBOTECH, and specifically the old Robotech Message Board, I wouldn't know Ian. Sometime in 1997, I think, he posted up that he was looking to sell off some ROBOTECH comics, and I, looking to acquire a lot more ROBOTECH comics, bit. We then started e-mailing back and forth every day. Today, even though we don't talk as often as we used to, I'd still consider him one of my three closest friends in all the world -- and even beyond that, all three of those people I wouldn't know if not for this obsession, this fixation -- I'd almost call it this PROBLEM. I wouldn't live in Wisconsin if not for ROBOTECH; it was because I wanted to move somewhere, ANYWHERE else that I moved up here to be roommates with my pal Evan, who I met through ROBOTECH fandom on-line around '99 or 2000. You could say every person I've met here, every coworker, every person I now call a friend here is a consequence of my ROBOTECH fandom.

My life is weird.

The late, great Carl Macek's autograph from the inside front cover of the
keep on my bookshelf. I keep hoping he's right.

From the moment I returned to ROBOTECH in the early 1990s, I've had a voracious appetite for more ROBOTECH. As quickly as allowances and begging would allow, I got all the novels, and had most of them read by the end of the eighth grade. I got episodes of the TV series on video tape and LaserDisc when I could find them, or when my parents would order them, but never amassed the full series until the DVD release in 2001; thankfully, I managed up to episode 60 courtesy of the Cartoon Network run in 1998, but that was still several years of relying on the novelizations and synopses for my ROBOTECH knowledge.

And that's what it was all about -- a thirst for knowledge. A thirst for understanding. A desire to see how this complex universe, crafted almost haphazardly from three once separate anime programs, actually worked. I dearly love the characters, most of the mains and a lot of the more offbeat or bold members of the supporting cast, and the mecha were both an obvious draw from the get-go and still keep me interested and entertained in toy and video game form, but it's the depth of the universe, and the depths still untapped that keep me fixated on ROBOTECH. It's why I became Mr. Robotech Comics; because that's where creators were really putting the toys through their paces. That's where the possibilities were truly being tapped. Sure, the execution was often lacking, and especially in the waning days of Academy the art was crap, but there were kernels of good ideas being popped out on a monthly basis for years. The RPG books also offered a lot of ideas that a lot of people seemed to dismiss as silly, but about which I say, bring 'em on. That's the only place you can go to find the motorcycle that transforms into the chariot for the Expeditionary Force pegasus mecha. Give me the Expeditionary Force pegasus and its chariot that splits off and transforms into a motorcycle! It's ridiculous, but I don't care. A little bit of madness is good every once in a while. You toss out the offbeat and the occasionally ridiculous and you turn into -- well, you turn into a modern ROBOTECH comic, all sober, straightforward, mechanical and obvious. Competent, crafted with care, but bereft of life. Thank goodness, really, for the Waltrips and their absurd Edwards-Invid hybrid monster. Over the top, a little silly, but horrifically realized and a real kick in the pants.

Even today, as I write these write-ups of the TV series episodes, you'll notice all these rhetorical questions, questioning the occasionally inexplicable and trying to sort out why things happened the way they did, why lines don't make sense, and what the intention was with certain parts of the mythology that were never quite fleshed out in a way that makes sense based on the information given -- that's just me continuing, all these years later, to search for that level of understanding. I want to know how this works, if it works -- and if it doesn't, how I could hit it repeatedly to MAKE it work.

It's funny, unlike other properties I enjoy, I can't bring myself to throw any part of ROBOTECH out. It's like I was saying about the pegasus above, or any of the much-derided elements of Sentinels -- Karbarrans, cowled villain T.R. Edwards, Breetai's stupid hat, Rick Hunter learning psychic powers, busty Amazons, any of that stuff -- I couldn't bear to see it all tossed into the dustbin of history, because a voice in the back of my head keeps shouting, "It could work! Here, just hit it like this, spin it like that, smooth that out, provide some clear motivation here, and it's all good!" We long-time ROBOTECH fans all carry in our own heads our own ideal version of the series; we've all read so many different takes, read different parts at different times, prioritize different versions of the series -- and, in my case, I even spent a few years fanficcing away with friends, spinning out our own half-silly, half-serious generation of godawful author avatars and characters imported from other fanfics flying around in an SDF design I cooked up for a series proposal for Antarctic Press, fighting a splinter sect of Zentraedi in the 2040's. Some of those characters are still running around in the ROBOTECH in my head, fighting the good fight, turning traitor, and discovering that what works in MACROSS 7 as regards the power of song doesn't necessarily work in the ROBOTECH universe ...

Maybe that take on things, that the core of every idea can be useful and that the ROBOTECH universe has room for everything that's been tossed into it, in one form or another, is naive, stupid, wrongheaded, and may even be why the chronology is in a minor state of disrepair at the moment -- because it's still taking all this SENTINELS stuff into account when none of it's been properly grounded or established. But don't even bother trying to convince me of it. I've spent too many years digging these things out of back issue bins, buying them up from used bookstores, tracking down copies of production materials on eBay, and connecting dots from interviews and revision errors to make sense of the glorious jumbled mess. Back to my pal Ian, I remember hanging out with him in a toy store in Japan, and I found a toy that I've long desired but just never gotten around to buying, this toy from a Takara toy line and animation series called WEBDIVER. It's a dragon-headed galleon, a sailing ship, that transforms into a dragon man with a big crazy sword and a shield made out of the bottom part of the ship. Bear in mind, he's a fellow TRANSFORMERS fan, too. I showed this thing to him, and he looked at me like I'd dropped a sack of dog crap on his shoe. He just flat-out told me it looked stupid. When I'm standing here defending random fifteen year-old comic books, sifting through them, finding the salvageable parts, dreaming up ways to spin them in with stuff I've been reasoning out from my latest viewing of the TV series, I wonder if people are staring at this blog with the same sort of bafflement tinged with sadness? Disgust? Or maybe just curiosity -- "Why would someone still be beating his head against a wall trying to make something of a badly drawn licensed comic that nobody else seems to care about anymore?"

It's like I said, it's an obsession. I just can't help it anymore. What is it we always say? "It just gets in your blood or something, I don't know ..."

Tomorrow: Oh the places I've been, the things I've done.

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DAY FORTY: Reflections, Part 1

If you're up at six a.m. reading this as it posts, then in a little over three hours I'm going to be getting on an airplane here in Northcentral Wisconsin in order to attend RT 25: THE CELEBRATION out in Van Nuys, California. That's the big fancy dinner ceremony thing going on this weekend where we'll all be raising a glass to the folks who helped create the ROBOTECH television series a quarter century ago. I've had to spend a few paychecks to get all my ducks in a row to go, including buying a new suit, since my old sport jacket makes me look like a ten year old wearing his dad's clothes. But I promised someone I'd be there for sure, and a promise is a promise, and on top of that I'd regret it for the rest of my life if I DIDN'T go. Bonus points: I get out of Wisconsin for the better part of four days. With the exception of a brief sojourn to Minneapolis-St. Paul to try and push some SCWONKEY DOG comics on an unsuspecting public almost a year ago, it'll be the first time I've left the state since I moved here in the summer of '08.

Consequently, I'm not going to be sitting in front of my computer for hours on end, staying up until the wee a.m. hours attacking the nasty backlog of posts I let build up over the course of the month of August and the first half of September. However, I thought I'd memorialize this occasion with a four-part series posts discussing what ROBOTECH means to me, my memories of the series -- y'know, bits and pieces of my personal ROBOTECH journey.

A page from the ROBOTECH STYLE GUIDE, the licensing guide
Harmony Gold issued to companies making ROBOTECH products
in the 1980s, signed to me by Tony "Rick Hunter" Oliver at the
Harmony Gold ROBOTECH booth at AnimeExpo 2005.

When I visited one of the handful of AnimeExpo conventions that Harmony Gold had a somewhat major presence at -- 2006, if I remember right, the year they were promoting THE SHADOW CHRONICLES without yet having a distributor -- I remember my fellow fans from across the country tossing back and forth the names of the stations they watched ROBOTECH on back in '85 or '86. Irritatingly for me, I couldn't play along; I don't remember what station I watched it on. I'm a few-to-a-handful of years younger than most of my fan-contemporaries, fellow folks who watched ROBOTECH in its initial syndicated run. I remember the time it aired, six in the morning, and in fact I vividly remember the first time I'd even heard of it. My mom was flipping through the Saturday listings in the TV Guide, looking for shows I might be interested in. She'd circle them -- or maybe highlight them, I forget. I remember sitting on the floor of the trailer we lived in at the time, and she was sitting on the couch, flipping through the pages, and she handed it down to me to look at, and there it was: ROBOTECH. 6:00 a.m. Sure, I could get up for that. That sounded cool.

And it was. I have very few concrete memories of watching the show; ingrained in my memory for the next several years were the opening filmstrip, the cool-for-the-time video effects over the opening sequence, the iconic pose of the VF-1J against the SDF-1 bridge, the question in my mind of "Where's Rick?" when the episodes with the blonde chick with the big hair started running, the transforming motorcycles, and the climactic scene from "Reflex Point" where Marlene/Ariel looks down at her arm and sees the green blood dripping from it. Did I ever ask for any ROBOTECH toys? I know I looked at them, specifically -- as I mentioned in the write-up for "Force of Arms" -- while trying to hunt down a Minmei, which as we all know now was never produced for whatever reason. What I did wind up with, at the age of six, was a copy of the first of the Jack McKinney novels, GENESIS, which I read and understood maybe the first chapter or so of -- the prologue, with all the business between Zor and Dolza during the seeding mission -- and then kept reading without really processing for several weeks thereafter. Since I was six years old and not really "getting" the show to begin with, since it was on too early and I think I was missing episodes anyway, I clearly recall picturing Zor as a half-remembered Breetai. (The faceplate clearly made a strong impression even back then.)

The following year, even though I had a hard time with the first one and never got the rest of the original series, my mom got me the first of the SENTINELS novels, THE DEVIL'S HAND. I remember spending a lot of time staring at that cover, thinking it was awfully weird, and reading and rereading the back cover copy. My clearest memory of actually reading that book, though, comes from maybe eight to ten years later -- specifically, reading about T.R. Edwards managing to seize the Invid Brain while I'm sitting in the back of my dad's car on a family trip up to see my Grandma Anita up in the vast green sea of nothing that is northern Kansas.

Hazy recollections were all I had for a few years. But those hazy recollections festered in my mind. I remembered that ROBOTECH looked different from most everything else I'd seen at that time; the colors were different, the art style was different, the art seemed to have a lot more care and attention lavished on it. I always came back to that oft repeated shot of the VF-1J; you compare that shot, seen over and over again, to anything from any of the other cartoons I'd have been watching in 1985 or 1986, and you'll see why that stood out as amazing to me.

Jump ahead to 1992. My folks take my sister and I on a shopping trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma. We visit the mall there, which has in it the first Suncoast Motion Picture Co. store I'd ever seen. By the end of the decade a much closer Suncoast store would be a weekly mainstay in my life, but at that point it was something new and shocking, a place with the best selection of VHS tapes I'd ever seen -- stuff you'd only see in catalogs, stuff in foreign languages, stuff that looked like it was produced in someone's basement. And, of course, tapes upon tapes of ROBOTECH -- namely, the six FHE "100 minute edit" Macross Saga tapes and, if I'm remembering this right, all of the Palladium Books Southern Cross and New Generation tapes.

I was agog. I was stunned. There it was, the whole lot of it. Knowing full well we might never be back this way again, I asked for all of it. Or maybe three tapes? Two? C'mon, two? No? But you'll get me one, right? Okay, one. Hmm. Well, let's start at the start. Six episodes? 100 minutes? That math sounds wrong, but it's still the most bang for my buck. So I walked out of there with this.

Before I put this tape in, I was certainly fascinated. After I sat through the whole thing, finally making sense of some of these half-memories and impressions, I was officially obsessed -- and as I'm sure you can tell, it hasn't let up but for a few months at a time for the past eighteen years.

Tomorrow: Madness takes root.

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DAY THIRTY-NINE: Robotech Invaders illustration by John Waltrip

Posted September 14, 2010

Commissioned by Emissaries: A Robotech Fanzine founder/former publisher Evan Cass for a series of articles presenting the completed scripts for Jason & John Waltrip's unfinished ROBOTECH INVADERS mini-series. Originally published in Emissaries: A Robotech Fanzine Vol. 1 #7, Summer 2003.

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DAY THIRTY-EIGHT: Return to Macross #22 - Storming the Gates (1995)

Written September 14, 2010

By Bill Spangler (writer) & Wes Abbott (artist)

(10) Yep, we're taking a few steps back today to root around in the back issue bins and turn back the clock in the ROBOTECH chronology as well -- back to the days before the Zentraedi invasion, when Robotechnology was all shiny and new to the people of Earth, and Roy Fokker was running around Macross Island shoving his nose into places where it didn't belong and occasionally punching terrorists in the face. As I said some time ago, I'm setting aside a few slots on the calendar to talk about "War of the Believers," Wes Abbott's four-issue swan song on RETURN TO MACROSS, which Academy Comics later collected in a skinny little hundred-some-odd-page graphic novel.

(9) This first installment opens with Nina Lang, lead singer of of Absolute Zero and the sister of Dr. Emil Lang, doing an anti-Robotechnology commercial for the Faithful, the religious group that believes the SDF-1 was placed on Earth as a new Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. She's been rattled by the fortress ever since the incident where the mentally unstable RDF would-be instructor Shane Gleason had a nasty flashback in the middle of the night and stole a Destroid to try and "escape" his "captors." Gloval remarked back in the first issue that the stress of living around the battle fortress had driven some people off  the deep end, but Gleason's experiences during the Global Civil War had pushed him WAY over and endangered the lives of everyone on the island. The Faithful discovered her misgivings and, given that Robotechnology's chief expert, he of the mysterious all-black eyes, is her brother, gave her a platform to offer those misgivings up to the world.

That, I think, is a shrewd little bit of plotting. Spangler worked this out nicely; he added a singer to the cast, important for anything with "Macross" in the title, and at the same time added the character as a relative to an existing character in a way that made good sense for the plot.

Dr. Lang's response to the situation is to offer to debate his sister on the topic live on MBS -- a debate he would, of course, win hands down, being the world's foremost expert on Robotechnology. Good for his job and the advancement of science, bad for his relationship with his sister.

(8) Enter our villains, chief among them future Southern Cross Supreme Commander Anatole Leonard. Spangler wrote a few stories with Leonard as one of the "villains" -- THE MALCONTENT UPRISINGS, CYBERPIRATES, and MECHANGEL among them. His appearance here tracks from points Luceno made in THE ZENTRAEDI REBELLION (itself based on Spangler's MALCONTENT UPRISINGS), and even before that the characterization he and Brian Daley offered up in the three novels based on the Robotech Masters episodes of ROBOTECH -- Leonard as anti-alien religious zealot. Here he's presented as a former member of the Faithful pushing his own extremist agenda, associating with thugs and mercenaries to further his cause. I always feel bad enjoying this, MALCONTENTS and its novel counterpart, and the Masters novels because I truly dislike their take on Leonard, but there's more than enough good in all these stories that I can't hate them -- and I especially find it difficult to blame the writers since I found the root of that all the way back in ROBOTECH ART 1 (again, the very first line in his bio in what was touted at the time as "The Official Guide to the Robotech Universe:" "Supreme Commander Leonard is a pathetic bigot.").

Anyway, Leonard's plan in this first installment of "War of the Believers" is to disrupt the testing of the latest Destroid model, the Spartan (today referred to by its original MACROSS name, the Phalanx). In order to succeed, he enlists the help of one Reynaldo DaSilva, a scruffy thug in a wife beater who becomes a more major villain during the final stretch of RETURN TO MACROSS, when it was drawn by the then-not-ready-for-prime-time Dusty Griffin. More on all that later, if I wind up especially hard up for material sometime next year.

(7) Despite the fact that the test of the Spartan was supposed to be top secret, Leonard's cohorts manage to assemble a crowd of around a hundred and fifty people to protest the event. It's guarded by armored GMP officers, which despite how well drawn they are always look a little odd mixed up with Macross characters and settings.

It looks a little funny seeing Anatole Leonard, clad in his nice suit, personally setting the bomb that will cause the explosion that distracts the GMP and disrupts the test. Doesn't he have any trusted lackeys? Or wait, I think that sort of becomes a plot point in the next couple of issues.

(6) When the explosion goes off and his right hand girl Jessie leads the crowd onto the testing field, one of the characters who runs onto the field is obviously FATAL FURY/KING OF FIGHTERS's Terry Bogard, complete with ball cap, ponytail, and sleeveless jacket with "NEO GEO" written on the back. He even says, as he's running onto the field, "Come on, come on!" which is what Terry says at the start of each match in most of the KOF games.

(5) While the GMP prepares to gas the protestors, Roy notices DaSilva taking snapshots of the Destroid. Again, seeds for later storylines; also, today it wouldn't be anywhere near as obvious, given digital photography, cameras in every cell phone, or even in cases like this more discrete methods of shooting pictures for folks with the right connections, as DaSilva would have. Roy, being Roy, shoves past the GMP officers to take DaSilva down, but while he gets a good uppercut in, his efforts are undercut by the GMP's blanket gassing of the area.

(4) The issue ends with Roy expressing his doubts that this is the Faithful and a mysterious figure halfway across the world deciding it's time to return to Macross Island. That mysterious figure turns out to be the long-absent Charles Conrad Wilbur, the founder of the Faithful who couldn't bring himself to destroy Roy's VF-1J prototype back in issue #4 using that bomb supplied by T.R. Edwards and planted by mechanic Rob Leeds -- in one of Spangler's less successful, more eye-rolling relationship ties, the brother of future SDF-1 bridge tech Vanessa Leeds. Wilbur is planning on returning to the island to denounce the violent protests. This, as you can imagine, won't end well for him.

(3) As you can see, it's a very brief opening story; it's paced with big, wide open panels that would actually translate well to manga size. Some of the emptier panels would probably look better at the smaller size, to boot. There's one panel in particular that just has a couple of GMP armors with no background that looks especially unfinished and empty. Interesting that, because the next issue has a lot more action and detail, and Abbott uses a lot of screentones there as well. I get the feeling he probably paced production to give more attention to the busier story.

(2) Emptiness of panels and brevity of story aside, it's another lovely issue from Abbott. As the Destroid walks out, it looks appropriately massive. I love the way Nina, as she's standing on the shoreline of Macross Island in the commercial, has the wind blowing her hair in her face; it's a really nice touch. His characters are always so full of character; when DaSilva comes into Leonard's apartment, he leaps over the back of the couch to get on it, and Jessie shies away and steps out for a smoke. So many nice little touches.

And seriously, the guy can draw a mean GMP combat armor. It might look out of place, but regardless it looks really, really great.

(1) I know I've got a problem when it comes to ROBOTECH; it's that too often I see the good idea at the core of something and sort of shrug when the execution is off. For crying out loud, I played ROBOTECH: INVASION all the way through twice, maybe three times. (And I used to make fun of people who still bought SPAWN games ...) But I'm pretty sure I'm not totally high on this one; while it's not as good as the issues yet to come, this is some pretty solid action-adventure comics work, if a bit slight, and "War of the Believers" gets better from here on out. I got to the end of this, started flipping forward (I was reading the trade paperback, which resides at present on my ROBOTECH bookshelf -- much easier to get to than my ROBOTECH comic book boxes), and then sighed because Wes Abbott isn't drawing any comics these days -- at least, not that I know of, not since the end of the second DOGBY book back in 2008.

So, more Spangler & Abbott in a few. Next up, just a little art commission that recently found its way into my hands courtesy of my now-ex-roommate and former Emissaries editor/publisher, then back to the TV series write-ups for the first on-screen appearance of the Robotech Masters!

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DAY THIRTY-SEVEN: Reconstruction Blues

Written September 14, 2010

(10) Two years later ...

I always remember this one as "the one where Rick gets excited about a field of sunflowers, then watches as Lynn Kyle drinks a lot and emotionally abuses Minmei."

(9) Yep, there are the sunflowers. Now, where's the purple-suited monster?

Something interesting that started in "The Messenger," Breetai brought up the dwindling supply of Protoculture. Now this idea continues to be seeded in the subsequent episodes, like right here in Rick's internal monologue. Amidst talk of mother nature beginning to forgive humanity for the part they played in the Earth's near destruction and flashbacks to running in a field of flowers just like this after Roy Fokker's old biplane, Rick considers that with the destruction of so many Zentraedi ships, humanity may have also destroyed most of the remaining Protoculture in the universe, and consequently accelerated or caused the fall of the Robotech Masters, whom until now only Exedore, and maybe (though I don't think so) Dolza has mentioned, and who we will meet for the first time in the next episode.

(8) In the shadow of the SDF-1, New Macross City has risen, and in the suburbs of that city, Lisa is tidying up Rick's home while he's on patrol. Beside Roy Fokker's old flight helmet, she finds a photo album filled with pictures of Minmei, and we get to enjoy every moment of Lisa's bitter, disgusted internal monologue. It really doesn't reflect well on her; she remarks on it herself, nobody asked her to come in and tidy up Rick's place, and here she goes, thumbing through Rick's stuff and fantasizing about throttling Little Miss Singing Star to within an inch of her life.

I love how Lisa's remark of "How can any girl compete with this kind of glamor?" is juxtaposed with a picture of Minmei sticking her tongue out.

With two years gone by it sounds like Melanie MacQueen tried to make Lisa sound older, but succeeded in making her sound TOO old. It makes her catty remarks about Minmei sound like a sad middle-aged woman trying to compete with a teenage pop star, when Lisa's only, what, twenty-seven, maybe twenty-eight at this point?

(7) Rick's in another one of his reflective moods, trying to remind himself why he's doing what he's doing -- the same place he was at back in "Battle Hymn" when he strengthened his resolve by standing next to a garish, oversaturated poster and thinking of Minmei. Only this time he thinks back to something Roy Fokker told him, that he's flying now for the sake of his home and his loved ones. Remembering that turns out to be just enough to give Rick a kick in the pants and get him back in the air. Rick spends an awful lot of time on reflection, wondering where his life is going, what he's doing with it. I think he needs a hobby.

Once in the air, he catches the end of "The Man In My Life" on the radio and discovers that Minmei's "People Helping People" tour has brought her, and Kyle, and Kyle's terrible purple suit to Granite City. After Kyle shuts up with his anti-military propagandizing, Minmei goes into "The Right Move," only heard this once and for which only the few lyrics we hear here were ever recorded.

As Rick flies towards Granite City, Minmei's moved on to "It's You," the last complete Reba West-sung Minmei song we hadn't heard until now. He runs to the concert, which seems a little ramshackle, like something out of a county fair, and catches the tail end of that song. He also almost catches a giant Zentraedi's hand on his head; them's the perils of having forty-foot guys just wandering around as part of society, I guess (and I almost forgot, one of Rick's green-trimmed wingmen actually quoted the more correct forty-foot figure in this episode).

(6) Things that have changed in two years: Max and Miriya had a baby, little Dana Sterling, who will grow up to be a more interesting character than either of them -- or, at the very least, a more fun character to watch. Lisa's watching them pass by, continuing to mope about how Rick's still hung up on Minmei after all these years. Two guys walk up with a boom box blasting out "My Time To Be A Star," and Lisa decides to up and leave, trying to escape from Minmei. Then we reach the halfway point of the episode, and whose voice tells us that ROBOTECH will be right back? Why, it's Minmei! THERE IS NO ESCAPE.

(5) We look in on Minmei's life these days and see it's in pretty terrible shape, though she's doing an okay job holding her own against her boozy, unappreciative jerk of a cousin and manager. I guess living in the shadow of a military-run government has taken its toll on the former peace movement activist and turned him toward the drink and made him even more hardline in his loathing of our valiant Robotech Defenders, to the point of nonsense and paranoia. Yes, certainly, if there was no military, the Zentraedi wouldn't have come and nearly annihilated the Earth. That makes a whole lot of sense, Kyle. I wonder -- Rick was hiding behind some rubble, watching the drama unfold as Minmei told Kyle to quit with the drinking and stop knocking the soldiers, and nearly told him to hit the road. If he'd stepped in, would it have made things worse? I think it probably would have; it would have given him a target for his anti-military hate, and he could have gotten more out of hand than just kicking glass bottles around.

On the other hand, it makes Rick look like an ineffectual idiot to just stand in the shadows while this drunken kung-fu twit goes on a tear at the girl he claims to love. Earlier in the episode he described good ol' Roy Fokker as "a real hero;" by leaving Minmei and Kyle behind to continue to bicker, and Kyle to continue to drink, he proves that in at least one way he completely failed to follow in his big brother's footsteps.

(4) Then again, it's not like Rick just ran off to avoid dropping in on one of his oldest friends and her piece of work of a cousin/manager -- he received word that Zentraedi mecha were attacking New Portland with a handful of Battlepods and powered armors. Switching from the all-out space combat of the war to the civil defense actions of the reconstruction era, it's a shock to see just how much damage a few of what used to be cannon fodder enemy troops can do to a defenseless city. Visibility is low due to the hard rain, but when Rick's wingmen get close enough, they find the city ablaze.

(3) Rick's men are taking a bit of a beating from the Zentraedi, and while Rick is en route, he takes a bit of a tongue lashing from Lisa for not staying with them, which does seem a bit irresponsible of him. Then again, because we've been listening to Lisa's jealous internal whining all episode long, she doesn't come off particularly well either. One gets the impression from the bridge girls' chatter that this has been going on for some time -- Lisa in the "isn't this a relationship?" Rick Hunter role, and Rick as oblivious Minmei, being hung up on and not entirely sure why.

(2) When Rick tears apart two of the three Battlepods, why doesn't anyone move to detain the pilots, or pursue that third one that seems to be escaping to a highway tunnel? The immediate danger is over, but shouldn't the guilty parties be locked up so they don't pull something like this again? Or are Rick's wingmen going to do just that off-camera, between the fight and the next scene back at the SDF-1? It sure doesn't LOOK like anyone's making any effort to stop them ...

Handing Rick an envelope full of photos "to remember me by" is kind of a weird passive-aggressive move on Lisa's part, isn't it? But then, that seems consistent with the rest of her behavior this episode, and by all appearances consistent with her behavior for some time before. We see them smiling, flying towards the rising sun at the end of "Force of Arms" and we assume they finally got together; we see what they're up to two years later, and they seem anything BUT together. Rick keeps wondering what he's doing wrong, and Lisa keeps biting his head off basically for not being her boyfriend yet. Certainly not as dysfunctional as Minmei and Kyle, but at least those two seem to each know where the other stands.

(1) How recently did order start to return from the chaos? How bad were things immediately after the fighting stopped? I'm curious, because Rick, Lisa, and Gloval all act like this is the first time in a while that violence has sprung up among the Zentraedi, that this is the first time the war-like aliens have returned to their "old ways." But I'd think it had to have been a bit like the Wild West for a while out there, lawless and violent. I say this because of what Gloval proposes here -- in the wake of one incident of renewed violence, Gloval suggests clamping down on the freedoms of the Zentraedi, issuing them jobs where they can be monitored by the military establishment. I wonder if they've been letting them just go freely because they felt the need to show trust, or because they just let things go due to the fact that the RDF had to focus on getting other parts of society rolling again.

It's a tricky thing, clamping down on the freedoms of forty-foot-tall men. I can see why you would do it, but you run a terrible risk of angering and radicalizing law-abiding new citizens who left their old ways BECAUSE of the freedoms our society offered. And doing such a thing to a whole people because of the actions of what appeared to be three dissidents -- why, that would be playing right into the hands of rabble rousers and anarchists. Can we name any rabble rousers or anarchists in the ROBOTECH cast for whom this will be catnip? I think we can ...

"Be with us next time for 'The Robotech Masters,' the newest chapter in the amazing story of ROBOTECH."

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DAY THIRTY-SIX: Force of Arms

Written September 14, 2010

(10) When people write about their favorite episodes of ROBOTECH, or the best-animated episodes of ROBOTECH, "Force of Arms" frequently comes up. This has never made any sense to me. Sure, there's a lot of amazing animation on display, and there are some really great and memorable moments, but a couple of things have always disappointed me about this episode. For one thing, it's not as even a "good animation episode" as, say, the first two. Certainly the MACROSS production staff was still bright eyed and bushy tailed when they did the first two episodes, while by now they've been ground down by deadlines, overwork, depression from the truly ugly episodes the Koreans have been cranking out, and the yo-yo of the episode count that forced them to speed on to this finale and then scramble to figure out what they're going to do for the next nine episodes. Even with this in mind, it's a little sad seeing stock footage in the middle of all the fantastic, mind-blowing new work they put into this.

The other thing is, it's just one long fight scene, capped off with a brilliant daring rescue. Thing is, if I'm gonna sit down and watch a final battle, I'd usually go with "To The Stars;" the emotional beats are better and more satisfying, and the sight of the SDF-1 rising out of the lake gets me all teary-eyed every time. Nothing in "Force of Arms" really hits me that way. Certainly this is just my opinion, but I have a little bit of trouble finding what beyond "stuff blows up good" brought so many people to theirs.

(9) The entire episode is full of iconic shots. I probably could have snapped at least five before this one, but you've certainly seen them all over and over again; when we were all kids putting together our little ROBOTECH shrines at Geocities, Fortunecity, Xoom, and the rest way back in the mid-1990s, this was the episode we screengrabbed the hell out of for our image galleries.

So Rick finally breaks down, walks right up to Minmei -- with Kyle standing right beside her, to boot -- and tells her he loves her. Ain't that a kick in the pants, Mister "oh yeah, I was just waiting for the right time to pop her the question?" And as Rick races for the flight deck to prepare for battle, Minmei naturally runs right after him, leaving Kyle standing around like the idiot he is.

During the gorgeous scenes of Destroids preparing for battle I believe I heard the Destroid Tomahawk referred to by its proper name for the first time in the entire series.

The sight of Exedore's mouth bobbing up and down as he walks next to Gloval is exactly the sort of thing I was talking about. There's some brilliant animation here -- the aforementioned sequence of Destroids preparing for battle -- and then there's stuff that shows just how worn down the staff was getting.

(8) Rick comes out and says what's been obvious since "Homecoming," that he and Minmei really have drifted into wholly different worlds and a real relationship just wouldn't work now. But, being the idiot he is, he takes things a step too far, offering the quip, "It's a pity so much time was wasted between us." It's very reminiscent of the argument he and Minmei had back in "Transformation," with the key similarity being that he says something so nasty right before a major catastrophe -- in this case, the near-destruction of planet Earth.

Amidst all the amazing depictions of hell coming to Earth, footage is reused from the very first episode of yellow jumpsuited RDF personnel getting blown up, as well as a somehow filtered and modified version of the shot of buildings toppling from the very first episode, followed by the shot of the crashing SDF-1 hitting Macross Island.

Footage reuse I don't mind: Minmei reminiscing about taking Rick around Yokohama, now that Yokohama has been wiped from the surface of the Earth. I suppose "To Be In Love" plays over it because, as it was the song Minmei sang for Rick below decks in the SDF-1, it will always be "their" song. We break right from the song in mid-note to Minmei sobbing. Just like that day below decks in the SDF-1, Minmei sobs that it's all over, but Rick -- a much more confident, much more assured Rick -- once again tells her to cheer up, that this isn't the end, and that she has something very important she has to do:

She has to sing for everyone.

(7) The plan: Minmei goes live on every radio frequency, singing her song for all the Zentraedi who have as of yet had no contact with Earth culture. It will breed chaos and confusion in the ranks of Dolza's Zentraedi forces, and will make them easier pickings for the joint forces of the SDF-1 and Breetai's fleet. It will also serve as a psychological benefit for their own forces, human and Zentraedi alike.

There's a really sweet moment where Rico, Konda, and Bron lend Minmei their support, telling her they know just how it is waiting to go into battle. It's the first time they've actually been able to speak with their idol, and she honestly and openly thanks them for their support.

Okay, so we're looking at a seafoam and white dress with seafoam dots on the skirt and puffy yellow translucent sleeves. Even in the early 1980's, was that ever really fashionable? As a bonus, this was the dress Matchbox's action figure of Minmei was going to wear, but as we all know Matchbox never produced it. (I have a very strong memory of myself, with my parents, combing the figure racks of the Kay Bee toy store in Joplin, MO looking for it; there was a college-age guy right next to me doing the same.) Harmony Gold eventually did when they did their run of figures in the very early 1990's, and the results speak for themselves.

This is the first performance of "We Will Win," and I want to say it's the only time Minmei's version of the song goes out for the whole series. I guess I'll find out in the coming days, eh?

(6) Speaking of psychological attacks, seeing Minmei and Kyle kiss (again) sure does SOMETHING to Rick. Oh, and that first attack his Super Veritech does, the missile volley followed by going to Guardian? A fair chunk of that was from "Showdown," the first time the Super Veritech was deployed. However, given how some of that footage was sped up, it's not like they did a lot less work due to using that particular stock footage ...

Seeing the purple Nousjadeul-Ger Powered Armors (and I'm pretty sure this is the first time we've seen those particular mecha in the show), I'm surprised that wasn't one of the color schemes Matchbox, Harmony Gold, or Playmates used for the toy of that mecha. Perhaps Toynami might have done it, but unfortunately Playmates stored the old Matchbox molds improperly following their last use fifteen years ago and we'll never see those toys again. Shame, that; all those 7" figures held up pretty well.

Funny, I'm watching Max and Miriya do the back-to-back missile barrage thing and all I can think is how Rook and Rand will later do the same thing way, way later in "Hired Gun."

Rick takes out an entire Zentraedi battleship all on his lonesome, verbally pats himself on the back, then in typical fashion falls prey to a missile barrage that he manages to just barely block with his Super Veritech's arm guard missile launchers.

(5) The problem with the death of Admiral Hayes is that while he does tell Lisa she was right all along, his urgent insistence that she has to get herself out of there doesn't jibe at all with his almost tranquil, satisfied expression. To be fair to him, the Grand Cannon did work; it wiped out a whole swath of Zentraedi battleships, and the fact that it was proven to be operational after the initial Zentraedi bombardment helped energize the fighting spirit aboard the SDF-1. Certainly it didn't work to the extent that Admiral Hayes had hoped, but again, in all fairness, who'd have thought that the enemy they'd face would have such a massive war machine? Who could have imagined the scope of their foe from the stars? And more importantly, how in the hell do you prepare to face something like that?

One thing that's a little unfair about ROBOTECH is that the folks we like, the folks who are presented to us as "in the right" are the ones who are always talking about negotiations, making peace and not war. However, the enemies they face are so determined in their quest for conquest or destruction that there's no hope of negotiating with them. You can't reason with Dolza. You can't make peace with the Robotech Masters. In the end, all you can do is fight with all your strength and resolve, and pray your robots, lasers, and missiles are bigger and badder than theirs. The problem, though, is that because the people we like are always wrongheadedly talking about opening talks with enemies you can't talk your way around, the show winds up demonizing those who would make war -- pity poor Admiral Hayes, and worse, Supreme Commander Anatole Westphal (per Luceno's THE ZENTRAEDI REBELLION) Leonard.

(4) As he coasts through the Earth's atmosphere after suffering from that missile barrage, Rick thinks back to earlier that day, and we see that he finally, after twenty-three episodes, got that kiss he was denied back in "The Long Wait." Seeing that, it's pretty obvious that loose ends are being tied up, and the MACROSS staff wasn't exactly planning for the nine episode aftermath storyline. Sure, we're a ways away from truly resolving the love triangle, but if you look at other shows by the main MACROSS creative staff -- primarily shows directed and/or created by Shoji Kawamori -- it's not like resolving the love triangle was probably at the top of their agenda.

Consider that not one minute after we see Rick and Minmei professing their love for one another, Rick finds himself rushing headlong into the ruins of Alaska Base to rescue Lisa. Also consider, of course, that when he professed his love for Minmei, he was certain that Lisa was dead, along with everyone else on planet Earth.

You saw what I said about Khyron's claim that he's fleeing for "anywhere in the universe but here" back in "The Messenger," right? Well, here he is, watching Minmei -- who apparently has had a change of wardrobe to what would be a more flattering dress if it weren't so damned orange -- and muttering to himself, "Pretty thing." He decides in all the confusion of battle to go hunt down Breetai, but since we don't see any more of Khyron for the rest of the episode and we see Breetai again in "Viva Miriya" (and later in THE SENTINELS), obviously he fails, as he always does.

We briefly see that Destroid that was kitbashed into not-quite-an-Orguss shortly thereafter; that same footage, flipped horizontally, appears again in "To The Stars."

(3) From the Department of Obvious Callbacks: Lisa, sitting in Rick's lap, wearing his flight helmet. Hmm, where have we seen that before?

I actually own an animation cel from the black & white sequence where Lisa runs into Rick's arms. I still remember the day the owner of the anime store back in my old hometown said to me, "Yeah, I just got in this MACROSS cel, it's really weird. It's all black and white," and my eyes widened and I told him, "I KNOW WHERE THAT'S FROM, BRING IT DOWN!" and I snapped it up, either right then and there, or I told him to put it on hold so I could go grab the money to get it, I forget which. Funny thing is, I'm certain I first saw that sequence in SENTINELS; it wasn't until a few more years after I got the SENTINELS movie on VHS that I finally got the FHE tape with "Force of Arms" and "Reconstruction Blues."

Now remember every time you watch Rick and Lisa cheerfully escape in this sequence, as "We Will Win" plays triumphantly in the background, that in one of those exploding corridors he's flying down, there's a wounded T.R. Edwards clutching Doctor Lang's dead sister Janice, reaching out, cursing that yellow and black-trimmed VF-1S and its pilot for not saving him.

(2) It's sad, I almost forgot that they still have to win the war here. I guess I figured, oh, Rick saved Lisa, the important work's done.

On the one hand, boo-hiss on the reuse of the Daedalus attack footage from "Blitzkrieg." (Though honestly, with all the character and emotional callbacks to other episodes, I'm starting to think the footage reuse is more than just a way to avoid creating new animation; almost that it's SUPPOSED to remind you of the earlier episodes while you watch this one, to deliver a stronger emotional payload.) On the other hand, nice job matching the color and movement going from that shot to Minmei on stage, with the background behind her moving in much the same way.

"What are they doing, they'll destroy us both!" That's what you think, Dolza. Remember that barrier reaction you were so impressed by? What do you think will happen if that barrier system absorbs the impact from an explosion of THIS magnitude?

(1) Rick Hunter has a penchant for saying terrible things. I think by now Lisa has decided that's part of his charm. When Lisa suggests that maybe they're the only survivors, he figures that wouldn't be so bad, because at least each of them wouldn't be alone; she actually laughs at that. I have a very strong feeling Rick didn't have a lot of friends growing up -- throughout the series, the idea of being alone, possibly forever, with one close friend comes up and doesn't seem to bother him much. The fact that the other person is a very pretty girl probably doesn't hurt, of course ...

But no, they're not the only survivors of the Robotech War; the SDF-1, its crew, and most of our friends in Macross City have managed to survive, though the ship looks to be in astoundingly rough shape. It sinks waist-deep into a crater, from which it will not rise again until this generation's end.

And now, with the war over, it's time to rebuild.

"Don't miss 'Reconstruction Blues,' the next dramatic chapter in the saga of ROBOTECH."

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DAY THIRTY-FIVE: The Messenger

Written September 14, 2010

(10) Another typical blunder by the narrator opens the penultimate episode of the pre-reconstruction era Macross Saga; he states that it was Breetai's plan to attack the SDF-1 to disrupt the wedding, while it was clearly a plan hatched by Dolza. As I noted yesterday, Breetai didn't even want to attack the SDF-1, though he did because he is a good and loyal Zentraedi.

Setting aside the unreliable narration, as is typical of these end-of-the-road-to-Armageddon Macross Saga episodes, it hits the ground running, opening with everyone on alert as a Zentraedi ship approaches the SDF-1. I can't help but notice Sammie back at her typical post as opposed to filling Lisa's chair; I guess she only takes the hot seat during combat.

(9) In stark contrast to yesterday's episode, this one is brilliantly-drawn. Lots of great character moments; Kim sticking out her tongue above is just one of the earliest examples. Moreover, there's a nice directorial touch in the opening; the split-screen effects used for the first thirty seconds or so, overlaying a member of the bridge crew in close-up overtop the SDF-1 as they report on enemy activity, create a sense of tension and urgency, ala the TV series 24 two decades hence.

One more reason to love Breetai: after his flagship destroys Khyron's meddling squadron of Fighter Pods, Khyron radios him demanding to know if he's gone mad. Breetai says, simply and coldly, "Your ships were interfering with a diplomatic mission, so I disposed of them." Once again, Breetai shows us how to take care of business. Are you taking notes, Azonia?

Rick, standing in for the audience again: when one of his wingmen remarks how weird it is escorting an enemy Battlepod, Rick thinks to himself, "And it's getting weirder all the time. Oh, brother."

(8) The emissary from the Zentraedi is, of course, Exedore; of those serving in Breetai's fleet, he's the most knowledgeable and linguistically gifted, and on top of that he isn't combat-necessary. Mark this down, too; last episode, "Wedding Bells," was the last time Exedore would ever be a full-sized Zentraedi in any version of ROBOTECH continuity. (In MACROSS continuity, of course, he would not only be returned to full size but further genetically modified to resemble his green, lumpy big-headed counterpart from the movie Do You Remember Love and would serve as Max's advisor in MACROSS 7 just as he did Breetai during the original TV series.)

Great exchange here:

EXEDORE: I am called Exedore among my people, Minister of Affairs.

COL. MAISTROFF: It sounds rather ... important.

EXEDORE: Not really.

Humility, or a simple statement of fact? You decide!

(7) One of the more memorable scenes in this episode is when the convoy ferrying Exedore to his meeting with Gloval and the other brass passes by a billboard of a barely-clad female and Exedore asks Maistroff to explain that to him. Maistroff doesn't even try, so Exedore nods sagely and decides it must be a military secret. "Yes," Maistroff says, clearing his throat, "a military secret, of course." It's a scene you wouldn't find in any other animated series of the 1980s, and one that points, once again, to ROBOTECH's relative maturity compared to other shows of its vintage. Of course, I think it got away with this moment because it was so brief and subtle; really, it plays out no differently than if a child pointed to a similar billboard and got a similar dismissive answer, like, "I'll tell you when you're older."

On the one hand, I assume they're probably serving Exedore something like orange juice. However, given that the server offers him another so quickly after he totally downs the first one, I can't help but think, say, maybe that's alcohol and the RDF is trying to get Exedore drunk. Yeah, probably not, but it's an amusing thought ...

Love Edie Mirman's embarrassed delivery when Exedore tells Miriya he saw the wedding. "Um, you probably wondered why we did it ..."

Also great is Exedore's creepy, creepy grin when Rico, Konda, and Bron notice him. They completely freak out, and he has to assure them he has no intention of harming them before they can breathe easy again. While presumably they fear him for his status within the fleet, it is funny to think of anyone being physically intimidated by Exedore. Does he possess some power we know nothing about? Could he go all Yoda in STAR WARS: EPISODE II on them if he so desired? Again, probably not ...

(6) Gloval and Exedore obviously have differing ideas as to who all should be present for the first diplomatic meeting of the two races: while Gloval calls in the Zentraedi defectors and the two remaining members of the crew who were held hostage aboard Breetai's flagship, Exedore requests the presence of, guess who, Kyle (whom he still think harbors amazing powers) and Minmei (who, well, really DOES seem to harbor some sort of amazing power). Maistroff quickly figures out that Exedore is referring to the wire-fu and CG effects trickery of "Small White Dragon," but I find it amazing that nobody present makes the leap from "female at the core of a psychological assult" to "Minmei," especially given that Rico, Konda, and Bron already told our heroes that one of the key reasons they defected was Minmei's song. I expect the writers keep our heroes in the dark simply so we can be serenaded by Exedore's take on one of Minmei's standards. (Somewhere around here I have an MP3 of Japanese-language Exedore's complete rendition of "My Boyfriend Is A Pilot," though I seem to have misplaced it ...)

The best part about it is how long it's allowed to go on while all assembled stare at Exedore in slack-jawed shock, amazement, and presumably a bit of horror. Gloval really says all that needs to be said: "I don't believe this ..."

When Kyle grumbles that he's tired of being pushed around by the military, all I can think is, "If there were a pull-string Lynn Kyle doll, I'm pretty sure that's what it would say." And when Minmei asks what she's doing here, he overplays it by a fair margin, shouting that she shouldn't expect any answers out of them. Bless Captain Gloval for shouting back, "Enough of this nonsense!" Someone should really have been shouting that at Kyle since day one ... or at least day two.

(5) Admit it, Admiral Hayes, you're just saying you doubt the negotiations will result in a full fledged cease fire because you're just jonesing to blow some stuff up with that Grand Cannon of yours, aren't you?

Exedore is intelligent and humble enough to realize when he's wrong, and it doesn't take much to convince him he's wrong about Kyle's powers and the terrifying power that was unleashed on those poor folks in Ontario, but he remains undeterred as regards the power of Minmei's song. He explains that long, long ago the Zentraedi encountered another open society like that of humanity and it nearly destroyed them; Dolza will not allow this to happen again. Exedore reveals that his mission was one of observation, and once his report is filed, Dolza will likely order the main fleet to launch an all-out assault on the Earth, "after he recovers the Protoculture Factory." As with so much of what is shoehorned in as part of the ROBOTECH story, that detail is left sitting there, and Gloval remarks, "The main fleet, eh?"

(4) And yet, Breetai clearly doesn't know the whole score, because when Azonia tells him the main fleet is on its way he's surprised. On the other hand, he obviously knows more about the big picture than Azonia does, because by the sound of it if the main fleet is on its way, Dolza has decided the matter is too urgent to bother with seizing the Protoculture Factory; he's skipping right to the final solution, the annihilation of humanity. The problem with this is that according to Breetai, without the additional Protoculture supply that would come from seizing the Protoculture Factory, the Zentraedi race is doomed. I suppose Dolza assumes that death from energy starvation is preferable to the wholesale transformation of the Zentraedi people -- death before "dishonor," perhaps?

(3) Four million, eight hundred thousand battleships: a number like that has an effect on people. Well, not really much of one on Kyle, he just continues on with the same defeatist anti-military nonsense he's been spewing the whole while. Max gets all cheesy and romantic, holding Miriya's hand and calling her "my darling." Rick looks over at them and gets depressed and mopey, again. That is the interesting thing about Max and Miriya's "fairy tale" romance: it serves as a contrast to Rick's hopeless romantic situation and makes him even more frustrated with his lot in life for a few episodes. He's just lucky that the pre-reconstruction MACROSS storyline got compressed the way it did; from the looks of things, if he had to put up with listening to Max and Miriya any longer without the distraction of planetary armageddon, he'd hang himself.

While Exedore assures his new friends that they'll surely succeed because the SDF-1's proven indestructible so far, back on Earth Admiral Hayes tells Lisa that the ship will surely be destroyed, as they're planning on ordering it to act as a decoy so they can use the Grand Cannon to destroy the incoming enemy fleet. Lisa, naturally, wants to stand with those she's fought beside for so long in this final battle, but the Admiral won't allow it, because ... well, because he's her dad. It's selfish, but it makes sense.

(2) Breetai checks in with Azonia and Khyron to see where they stand. Azonia, realizing that she is now Dolza's enemy due to "contamination" from Earth culture, decides to stand and fight alongside Breetai. Breetai nods and wishes her well in battle. Contestant #2, though, scratches his head, won't look Breetai in the eye, and remarks that he will not fight if he cannot win. "As I expected, Khyron. I wasn't depending on you anyway."


Funny how the one-note characters get even more one-note in the face of the threat of annihilation; if Khyron were a pull-string toy, that's what HE would say.

When Grel asks Khyron where they're headed, his response is, "Anyplace else in the universe but here." Despite this, you'll notice he is lurking about during the final battle next episode.

While there's a big complicated chart behind him when we return to Exedore and our heroes aboard the SDF-1, Exedore explains that their best chance for victory lies with a very simple strategy: destroy the leader. Wipe out Dolza's flagship, and the rest of the fleet will fall into disarray. As usual, Exedore proves to be right ...

(1) At Exedore's request, Minmei sings for all gathered, choosing "To Be In Love" for whatever reason. The song fades out as space surrounding the Earth is blanketed in a sea of green. With the exception of the narrator, Exedore gets the last word in:

"Well, I'm afraid this is it."

"Be watching for 'Force Of Arms,' the next action-packed episode of ROBOTECH!"

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DAY THIRTY-FOUR: Wedding Bells

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 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.

"She's SPECIAL."

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!"

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