DAY TWENTY-NINE: Battle Hymn
(10) In keeping with my shaky recall of this particular handful of episodes, I always remember "Battle Hymn" being the one where Rick strengthens his resolve by standing next to a terrible poster of Minmei and telling himself he's fighting for her sake, despite having basically concluded that his relationship with Minmei is little more than wishful thinking on his part after seeing her on the silver screen locking lips with her cartoon defeatist, pacifist anti-military cousin. It's why I asked at the end of the last episode whether or not Rick and Lisa's relationship really has made the leap forward it appears to have made; sure, they're starting to look close at the end of "A New Dawn," but there seems to be some backpedaling in "Battle Hymn."
It turns out that's the direction Dolza's taking as well, because while in the short term Dolza wants Breetai to capture some Micronians again for study, as they do seem to possess the secrets of Protoculture based on his observations, but in the long term the plan is to destroy them all, as prolonged contact with a race that has such knowledge of Protoculture will "have a bad effect upon our soldiers." That bad effect is taking place right under Breetai and Exedore's noses.
How this relates to the ROBOTECH definition of Protoculture, well, let me give it a shot: this is another fail-safe by the Robotech Masters designed to keep the Zentraedi from becoming too autonomous, while at the same time preventing the secrets of Protoculture from falling into anyone's hands but the Masters'.
(8) The Zentraedi rebels, led by Rico, Konda, and Bron, decide they want to have all those nice things they've never had before. With full knowledge that they'll face execution if they're caught, they decide to sneak on-board during the next attack. But first they have to become Micronians. This exchange cracks me up:
Squinty-eyed Zentraedi: "Bron, do you know how to work the conversion machine well enough?"
Squinty-eyed Zentraedi: "Maybe I can."
It doesn't look funny when you write it out like that, but it's the extreme close-up we get of the squinty-eyed Zentraedi along with his weird delivery that does it. It's like, "MaybeIcan."
Karita, the blonde Zentraedi above, has this whole worrywart thing going on to the point that if you listen carefully you can almost hear his knees knocking together. Bron even dangles a Minmei poster and the Minmei doll under his nose, but he's too worried about getting caught. Maybe he'll be convinced by the time we get back from the SDF-1.
(7) Oh, here we go! We heard "To Be In Love" earlier via the Minmei doll, and now as Rick starts having his mid-life crisis already -- "What am I doing with my life?" -- it starts playing over the P.A. system and he comes across a badly painted oversaturated poster of the same image the Zentraedi were passing around earlier. He has a flashback to "The Long Wait," and suddenly he's all like, "That's right! Minmei! I'm fighting to protect her! I can't think negative thoughts! I've got to think positively for Minmei!" It's not enough to be fighting to protect the people of Macross City, the girl you think you might REALLY love, and your coworkers aboard the SDF-1? No, it's all about that girl, all about those two weeks almost two years ago. He sees Minmei, he hears "To Be In Love," and he winds up back there again, all the progress lost, circling around back to the starting point. You poor fool.
(6) Meanwhile, Minmei is actually in concert and singing the same song. While the bridge girl trio relaxes and listens to the concert, the song causes Claudia to fall into a flashback to being with Roy. She's carrying loaves of bread; they must be in France. Loaves of bread are usually visual shorthand for France.
And then you've got Lisa thinking about stupid, stupid Kyle and going, "What he says makes more sense every day." No, it doesn't. Sure, unbeknownst to Lisa you've got Zentraedi who are looking to reject their way of life, making peace a possibility, but you're still going to have plenty who, like Khyron, will never reject this way of life. Kyle's vision is of a world without a military, but in a world where there are Zentraedi still ready and eager to fight, there will always be a need for a military. Karl Riber didn't like fighting, but he was a member of the military; he didn't have the same hard-line approach. Her infatuation with Kyle is solely because she sees Karl in him, but would he be spouting the same nonsense garbage? Does she honestly believe that? I get that she's still harboring this bizarre fixation; Kyle's gotten himself mixed up in her feelings for her dead lover. I just don't get Lisa really buying into what he's selling.
(5) Exedore's plan in this episode is brilliant, using the SDF-1's tactics against the ship and its crew. It also plays right into the hands of the defectors, giving them easy access to their goal. Goad them into using a Daedalus attack and, before the Destroids can launch their volley, wipe them out and storm the ship via the Daedalus arm. It's a plan even Khyron can love, since it allows him to wreak mayhem on the ship. It's only right that this one be so brilliant, since it's the last major operation Exedore will set into motion before Breetai's fleet switches sides. The one thing I don't get is that Exedore says they can then capture some Micronians and seize "the Protoculture generator." I suppose he's referring to the Protoculture Factory. This is the first time that somebody besides the narrator has mentioned it, and Exedore doesn't even use the same term. I assume Exedore believes the Micronians know where it is, and the Zentraedi will be able to get them to disclose this information, at gunpoint if necessary.
(4) The animation of the Veritech pilots racing to their fighters is from as far back as "Transformation"; Rick in particular is from "Bursting Point." Lisa tells Rick to be careful, the sole hint of their time together last episode, and Rick dismisses it and thinks of Minmei.
NOSE LASERS! NOSE LASERS! ARGH!
It's interesting that as the battle rages, Kyle tells everyone to stay calm, butts in seats, because the Minmei concert is going to go on. Earlier in the episode he seemed angry and frustrated that all eyes were on Minmei -- "AND THERE'S NOTHING I CAN DO ABOUT IT!" -- while the war raged on. But placed in this context, you have to wonder if the translators mixed up the tone of Kyle's realization, if instead of frustration he realized that if only for a while as they were listening to Minmei's song they were experiencing the peace he sought, that the war wasn't going on. Or maybe Kyle's just a two-faced jerk. I could go either way on that one.
And she goes into "My Time To Be A Star," which is at least appropriate to the moment this time.
(3) The entire Daedalus sequence from "Blitzkrieg" is used as Gloval plays right into Exedore's hands. Only once it breaks through, for some reason a small team of Defenders is deployed and marches into the Zentraedi ship only to be brought down by the Battlepods hiding throughout the section in Breetai's ship the Daedalus stopped at. Where are the Tomahawks and Monsters? If those Destroids had been the ones deployed, the missile and cannon barrage would have surely taken out those Battlepods. Is the SDF-1 just running short of Destroids and pilots? Maybe I was right; maybe they CAN'T get anyone into a Destroid anymore ...
What I can't believe is that the Daedalus was recalled before the ship started to blister and explode. Also, aren't they in radio contact with the Destroids? Shouldn't they have noticed that they'd been destroyed? Maybe that's why they recalled the Daedalus -- only, too late, because now they've got a pod infestation.
Sequences from "Countdown" and "Bye Bye Mars" are reused, changed to nighttime cityscape backgrounds, as the Zentraedi invade Macross City again for the first time.
(2) Rick's Minmei fixation continues as he asks if the concert hall has been hit when Lisa orders him back to the ship. All he can think about is Minmei, while all Lisa can think about is Kyle, his hair wisping in the wind. It's really pathetic. If Claudia knew what was going on here and wasn't busy with her duties, I'm sure she's slap both of them.
SDF-1 control fails to close the entry hatch behind Rick and Max fast enough and let Khyron and another team of Battlepods on-board. Slipshod work, folks!
Minmei's had a wardrobe change amidst the fighting, and as she sings "To Be In Love" again, two Battlepods take notice and I think the intention is that it's the Zentraedi soldiers singing "My Time To Be A Star" badly along with -- well, the wrong song, but it's the thought that counts, isn't it?
I love how, when another Battlepod shoots one of the stagelights down, hitting Kyle in the back of the neck, the two Battlepods that were watching the concert turn and stare down the attackers. Shame it didn't do any permanent damage to Kyle. To try and distract him from the pain, Minmei makes some funny faces, which are in fact kind of funny.
(1) Even in a bad animation episode like this one, Max manages to look really awesome in battle, doing all kinds of leaps and rolls with his Battloid to avoid enemy fire and tear them apart. Rick does the same with Skull One, but it's not nearly as impressive. For one thing, the subpar Korean studio handling this one has a really hard time with the VF-1S head, which doesn't help matters at all. For another, the first thing Rick does when he gets his Battloid in there is try and knock 'em down with his arms and shoulders like he's a football player or something, while Max is all about finesse.
In the end of the episode, Rick runs at the screen and goes, "Minmei!" which, hey, he's been doing that all episode. At the end of the comic adaptation, however, Lisa radios Rick and tells him what happened at the concert hall. He charges ahead, saying, "That does it! I'm going after them! And if those Zentraedi have a god, they'd better hope he'll have mercy on them ..."
"... because I won't!"
I dunno, maybe it's a bit much, but I like it. (The illustration of Skull One by Mike Leeke & Mike Chen that accompanies it is leaps and bounds above any single frame of Skull One in this episode, which also helps.) Early in the next issue of the comic some of the defectors gather around and let out a sigh of relief that they avoided the crazy screaming Battloid. I'm not sure whether they were talking about right around now, or a little bit later, when Rick sees something that's REALLY worth screaming about ...
"Be sure to be with us for 'Reckless,' the next thrilling episode in the epic saga of ROBOTECH!"