(10) No, not the video game. No, not the novel, either, or the omnibus edition collecting it with GENESIS and HOMECOMING. No, this is the episode where Lynn Kyle and his military-hate-rays bamboozle Lisa, so she accidentally orders a Daedalus attack slightly late, so it hits the enemy ship at the wrong angle, causing the Destroid missile barrage to fly out into the open sky, right in the path of Rick Hunter's plane. Down goes Rick. Now this time we're INTENTIONALLY led to believe, just for a moment, that they've killed off the main character.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here. First things first, the narrator says Rick was ordered to "secretly" ferry Minmei to her folks back in Yokohama? Really, "secretly," with all those adoring fans taking pictures and cheering and all that? Seriously, they wouldn't need to keep something like that secret. She's a celebrity, of COURSE she gets special privileges. And Minmei's parents "convinced" Kyle to return with her? IT WAS HIS IDEA. ALL HIM. There is nothing in the previous episode that indicates that they planted the seed of this idea. Once again, the narrator proves his less-than-omniscience.

(9) There is something weirdly unnatural about Minmei's Aunt Lena's initial reaction to Kyle's return home. At first it almost seems like horror, and I don't think it's entirely the actress's fault. It looks like she's just trying to play the lines based what she sees in the animation. To be fair, by about twenty seconds in she starts selling it, but that initial reaction sticks with you -- especially if you've watched the series before and realize how awful Kyle is. Meanwhile, the way Kyle stands there stoically, like an action figure, is kind of odd, too. He barely emotes upon being reunited with his parents. I'm not asking for tears, I'm just asking for even a touch of humanity. Then again, we'll soon learn just what a piece of work he is, so maybe I'm asking for too much from the guy. The only people who act completely naturally in the entire scene? Rick, awkwardly standing outside, unsure what to do since he's got nothing to do with this touching reunion; Minmei, crying tears of happiness; and Minmei's Uncle Max, who does the whole "oh, that no-good kid's back, but yeah, I gotta love him, he's my son" routine, wiping a tear away at the end.

I know of what I speak. I've been in Rick's shoes here more times than I can count. Poor Rick Hunter, always stuck playing the outsider.

Meanwhile, the Zentraedi spies try to eat plastic food. Last time it was spiked punch, this time it's plastic food. The question I have after watching this scene is, they're finally out of their original food supply from their capsule, and they can only mooch so much. What do they do for food from here on out? Does someone take pity on them and give them a job? It kind of makes you wonder what they're doing when you're not watching them.

(8) I've always thought it was a little odd that Max winds up tagging along with Lisa and the bridge girls to the Chinese restaurant. It's not a grouping that really makes sense, and he sure doesn't look comfortable following them in; note the sort of grunt he lets out as he lags a second behind. Maybe Lisa invited him along when the bridge trio asked her along for lunch. After all, while Lisa certainly spent more time with Rick and Ben in the whole incident aboard the Zentraedi ship, he was there, too. It's the only real connection he has to that particular group of characters, and the only thing that makes sense.

Rick's been jealous of Kyle ever since he came down those stairs back in Yokohama, and he's certainly had some bonus resentment going ever since Kyle looked down his nose at him for being in the military. You can hear it in his voice when he tells everyone why the restaurant's so busy today. That uncertain tone when Vanessa asks Kyle's name again? That's Rick trying to downplay it while at the same time trying to cast the name out of his head. At least, that's my theory.

I wonder who the guy in the powder blue suit standing next to Minmei's Aunt Lena is. Another relative? He's the only guy in the frame who's not a character we know. It's just kinda weird.

"Well, well, well, Rick m'boy, these are some of your friends, eh? Why don't you introduce me to the ladies." Oh, Mayor Luan. I love that guy. He's great. When Kyle walks over, he tries to sell Kyle on the girls at the table despite his feelings regarding the military. He really is something else, eh? The thing is, the way he starts that conversation going, lighting that particular fuse, you'd think he really was the meddling manipulator the novels make him out to be. I suppose scenes like this were the inspiration for that take on him.

What is it about Kyle that hits Lisa like a punch to the gut? Is it something in the face? Because it's sure not anything about his bearing; all through this episode, Kyle's ramrod straight like someone shoved a pool cue up his butt, while in the flashback in "Bye Bye Mars" Karl seemed an easygoing sort. Not a lot to go on, sure, but they don't seem that similar. And yet, Lisa's rattled and spooked by his presence. Not weak in the knees, "Oh, he's so dreamy," like Sammie, Vanessa, and Kim; honestly shaken, trembling, like she's seeing a ghost.

Kyle gets on his high horse about hating fighting of any kind, saying it only results in "devastation and destruction." Max seems engaged for the first time since he got here, looking to counter Kyle's remark; Rick just wants to get back at him for his "what's so great about the military" crap back in Yokohama, and the girls sort of stare at the table and grumble their agreement. Minmei wisely changes the subject, telling everyone essentially, "Happy up, it's great that Kyle's here, and hey let's watch me on the TV."

When we watch Minmei on the TV it's actually a new one, the third Minmei song in the TV series: "The Man In My Life." Until the song is interrupted by a breaking news announcement, you can hear someone drunkenly trying to sing along in the background.

After the breaking news announcement that nobody can leave the SDF-1, someone asks, "What does he mean, permission denied? Does that mean we're stuck here?" Confusingly, it sounds EXACTLY like Sammie, who we know already knows this given the scene that opened the episode.

Kim, a lot of people aren't "going to be" very upset, if you've been listening to the restaurant around you, they ARE very upset. Especially that one blonde guy who sounds like Konda doing a New York accent.

(7) There's something about this episode that feels like an apology for the previous episode. Sure, it's one of the weaker art episodes, looking like "Transformation" or the second half of "Blind Game," but you get an all-out brawl in the Chinese restaurant before the commercial break, and then the second half is back to Veritechs fighting Zentraedi, this time over the skies of the Pacific.

You know, I've always regarded the line about Kyle being an incredible fighter as odd, but when you really think about it, knocking a man who's about to fall on your head along like a skipping stone so hard that he shatters a table is kind of amazing. On the other hand, the blow was unnecessary; it was either instinct, or a hypocritical desire to get mixed up in the brawl in order to show off. Given that it's Kyle, I'm honestly not sure either way.

(6) This is the best hand-to-hand fighting we're going to see in ROBOTECH until, I think, Dana's 15th Squadron mixes it up with Marie's Black Lions in "False Start." However, that's played for laughs, while this is deadly serious. The nice thing is, from the moment Max lays his hand on the angry citizen accosting Lisa, the animation team really kicks things up a notch. There's a couple of wobbly bits, but all in all it's a good solid minute of swift dodges and well-placed socks to the jaw. It's a very strange sequence, though; the civilian ringleader is saying the kind of stuff Kyle later uses to his advantage when he's leading the defeatist peace movement later on in the war, but during the brawl Kyle winds up on the sides of our military heroes, fighting off people who, on a less chaotic day, would be his allies against the RDF.

"Nobody even got a hand on you," Max says. We can forgive Max's observation, as he was a bit busy dealing with his own corner of the chaos, but we clearly see a guy grab Kyle from behind and another sock him a few times in the gut.

"Kyle doesn't really like servicemen. Let me help," Minmei says, verbally pushing Lisa's handkerchief aside and dabbing Kyle's wound with her own. That's ... a little awkward. The whole thing's awkward. When Max tells Kyle he's pretty good for someone who doesn't like fighting, Kyle just says, "It was just something that had to be done, I guess. I'm sorry." It reads to me like he got caught up in the moment, and now that the fighting's done, he's ashamed of himself, especially given the people he found himself defending, and who he was defending them from.

The thing about Minmei's comment is that it's just purely thoughtless, like a lot of Minmei's actions and comments. She knows Kyle, she knows his prejudices, she knows he needs someone to tend his wounds, so push the military lady aside and get to it.

Cam Clarke's line reading on "Well. is he for real, or am I crazy?" has a bit of an accent at the end, like he just threw a little Sylvester Stallone in there for no good reason. There's parts of the series where his voice for Max winds up a little off; this is one of the stranger ones.

I distinctly remember the version of this episode I had on LaserDisc not only had the eyecatch in it -- a rarity for the home video releases prior to ADV's DVD release -- but the ENTIRE COMMERCIAL BREAK. I had to fast forward through it to get to the other half. The only other episode I had with the eyecatch intact, if I remember right, was an episode of Robotech Masters, on one of the Perfect Collection tapes, I think one of the first three episodes, though I'm not certain.

(5) If anyone wanted to start adding in "missing adventures," this would be the period to do it in, if only to provide some account of what Azonia's supposed to be doing here. Certainly the SDF-1 is no longer moving, so she's not going to chase it like Breetai, but then what are the expectations Dolza has for her? What is her goal now? Just to wait for the spies to complete their mission and return home in their custom Battlepod? If that's all, why does she have so many ships? And once again, why the hell is Khyron here? Why hasn't Dolza reigned him in? Or is he here as a test for Azonia, to see if she can control the Backstabber? If that's the case, then Azonia is a total rubbish failure. She's even gotten to the point already where she's smiling when he takes off on his latest hare-brained scheme, curious what he's come up with this time.

Oh, and once again one of her female Zentraedi soldiers is given a male voice, when the report comes in that Khyron's taken off to take some kind of action against the SDF-1.

When word comes that an enemy ship is on its way, Gloval yells for someone to call Lisa in. Clearly he has no faith in his yellow-uniformed B-team bridge crew. After a quick cutaway to someone in another RDF installation monitoring the enemy's descent, suddenly the bridge is populated with all the familiar faces -- only Lisa is still dazed and confused. Claudia, in her best terrible soap opera delivery asks, "Is it -- is it Kyle?" Lisa assures her this isn't the case, and then Gloval gives them an "AHEM" while the urgent battle BGM quickly fades in, letting us know the show is terribly aware of what it just did there.

(4) I suppose since Rick's promotion in "Blue Wind" the Vermilion's become a full squadron; Gloval orders them on deck, and we see Rick leading a full compliment of planes across the runway, with no Fokker in sight.

There's a nice bit where a Spartan Destroid socks a Battlepod in the foot, toppling it and causing it to explode, before the Spartan is overrun by a whole team of Battlepods and torn apart. Being a Destroid pilot has got to be the worst job on the SDF-1. It's a wonder that they still have any Destroids left by now; practically the only time you see a Destroid is when it's getting blown up.

(3) Azonia sends her bloodthirsty flying ace Miriya to stop Khyron's attack, not thinking that perhaps Miriya wants to test her mettle against the enemy. Moments after Azonia tells her not to fire on the enemy, Miriya shoots down a team of Veritechs and gloats.

Khyron is actually more responsive to Azonia's orders than Miriya; when given a direct order to turn back, he does so, though he does have one more trick up his sleeve. While Khyron's Battlepods prepare to return to the fleet in orbit via the Reentry Pods Azonia deploys -- remember, we've seen Battlepods in the lower decks of the purple Zentraedi ships, clearly they carry equipment for joint operations -- he orders the helmsman aboard his ship not to forget "his souvenir," which I guess must be code for "ram the ship down their throats." The SDF-1 sees this coming and Gloval orders the Daedalus prepared to counterattack.

(2) So Rick's pursuing Miriya's Queadluun-Rau while Max and Ben cover his back. This puts him farther out than anyone else on the battlefield as Khyron's ship continues on its collision course with the SDF-1. Claudia counts down to zero and then ... nothing. She gasps and turns to Lisa, who looks completely out of it. Lisa snaps out of her trance, gives some orders, flips some switches, and the SDF-1's right arm lurches to life, smashes through what appears to be the side of the Zentraedi ship but turns out to be the belly of the ship. The front end smashes through the topside of the ship, and then Lisa, flying on auto-pilot, orders the missile barrage.

And Rick, still chasing the Queadluun-Rau, is right in the missiles' path.

(1) Blink and you'll miss the sight of Rick's Vermilion One exploding, his chute deploying, and his prey zipping away to fight another day, all overshadowed by the sight of the underside of the Daedalus sticking out of the back of Khyron's ship. It's a very brief shot, and poorly framed.

I'm not entirely sure why Khyron's ship explodes. Back in "Blitzkrieg" it was the missile barrage that did it, and the way everyone talks it sounds like it was supposed to have done it this time, only, how many of those missiles struck Khyron's ship? They all launched out into the open sky, not directed AT the ship. Did they circle back around? If it happened, I sure didn't see it. Also, you'd think the ship exploding around the Daedalus would destroy at least THAT ship as well; last time, the SDF-1 flew back away from the bubbling-up Zentraedi warship in time to avoid being caught in the blast, but here the Daedalus is still rammed into the enemy ship when it blows to bits.

Gloval, noticing Lisa's plight, makes sure to tell her she did a good job today. These are words she needs to hear; she may have slipped up, but she still got the job done, even if it may have caused the death of a young man who she's finally starting to see as a friend. And it's strange, while she's bizarrely transfixed by Kyle, she did spend a fair amount of this operation seemingly over-worried about Rick, with no build-up to that at all. Did these two streams cross, seizing up her mind and causing her to space out on the job? Is that it?

There's a lot of really well directed stuff in this episode, from the fight choreography to Rick being downed -- love the shots of missiles in Lisa's eye, the black & white shot of the missile tearing through Rick's wing, and the painted image of Rick reacting (see above) -- and ultimately his rescue and trip to the hospital. The simplicity of the iconography, the way the whole thing is conveyed in a few quick short scenes that wrap things up, letting us know that he's probably going to be fine, but emphasis on the "going to be" part. This is pretty serious stuff.

Which is why it's a good thing we have "Phantasm" next, an episode that entirely takes place in Rick's head while he's unconscious in bed. Going from this straight into "Farewell Big Brother" and then into "Bursting Point" would be pretty brutal. Best to, like Rick, take things easy and let the boy sort some things out while he gets better, before things get much, much worse ...

"Don't miss 'Phantasm,' the next chapter of ROBOTECH."

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  • I'm sure everybody these days can see that the spy trio were getting blind stinking drunk in the original version. I've never been able to determine if the Robotech version was trying to clumsily censor that, or just to make it more subtle.

    (What the *hell* is with Rico's weird jawline? It's part of his character model, so it's supposed to be there, but....)

    I have *never* quite understood why Lisa is suddenly drawn to Kyle. He does not look like Riber. He does not act like Riber. This is only based on what we see in the series, but that's all we have to go on, yes? (Or I could be forgetting something; maybe it was from that damn Invasion comic)

    Of course, the real reason Lisa does so is to complicate the love triangle further. I realize why the writers need to do it, but it seems very forced.

    Damn, Max kicks ASS. It reminds me of the days when he was my favourite character in the series. Hm.

    Miriya continues to be insufferably arrogant. I really disliked her at this point in the series...I never really did grow to like her, but at later points, you were *supposed* to.

    Does Azonia's smirk mean some kind of backwards affection for Khyron? Or is she, as you said, just bored? Both are hard to believe, for different reasons, but the former is *less* difficult to believe.

    By Blogger A.J. Wells, at 24 July, 2010 11:02  

  • If only Max and Miriya's knife fight got ANY sort of attention by animators. That's definetly high on my list of "POOR ANIMATION SEQUENCES" in Macross.

    By Blogger Tolarin_Skylar, at 25 July, 2010 06:43  

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