Macross Frontier – 23
Many years ago, when Ranka was still young, she had been in a lab when her mother and Grace had been arguing about Grace’s plan to sacrifice something. Grace had wanted to change the world by combining her implant network theory with the Vajra’s zero-time Fold communications, and when Ranshe tried to protest but ended up coughing instead, Grace had questioned why Ranshe protected the Vajra to the point that she became so sick. Right after young Ranka realizes that she’s sitting beside a boy, she wakes up to Brera’s voice telling her that they’ve arrived at their destination. Meanwhile, on the Macross Frontier, Leon reassures some men that their journey will end soon with the best of goals. For the time being, the government is having all civilians carry around oxygen masks due to the low partial pressure of oxygen. Alto is at this moment flying a patrol around one of the abandoned islands, thinking about how fragile the vessels are and how he had felt that they were inescapable cages. He later meets with Sheryl for dinner, and she insists on them having a toast. Sheryl then gulps down a glass of wine and reveals that being like this has always been her dream. She makes Alto carry her to bed after she’s finished eating the food he cooked, and while she’s in his arms, she asks him not to go home and to always stay by her side. As Alto watches her sleep, he notes that she hasn’t been acting herself, but after seeing the bottle of pills on her nightstand, he wonders if it’s understandable.
Back at the alien planet, Ranka thanks Brera for going along with her selfish request, so he explains that, for a cyborg with no memories, orders are absolute. His raison d’être was to carry out those orders, but when he heard Ranka’s song, something overflowed inside of him, and doing all this is his thanks for that. Brera talks about how Aimo is the only memory he has, but before their conversation about it can continue any further, hundreds of Vajra suddenly de-Fold. Ranka sings Aimo to keep the Vajra at bay, and when Brera joins her with his harmonica, she’s reminded of her past with her mother and the boy who she still doesn’t recognize. Afterwards, Brera gives her his harmonica as a charm so that her wish is realized. Their moment together is short-lived though because the Vajra suddenly attack. Alto meanwhile gets called to a meeting with Leon and Richard Birla, and Leon reports the detection of a faint Fold wave. They’ve confirmed that it was from Ranka singing, and it has allowed them to finally figure out the location of the Vajra homeworld. Alto is ready to fight, but first he wants to know if the purpose of it is to obtain Fold Quartz, so Birla explains that the Vajra just have a habit of collecting raw Fold Quartz materials. Leon notes though that their goal as humans is primarily to survive, and for the future of humanity, they need to destroy the Vajra. He claims that this is because the Vajra are trying to obliterate mankind, and he surprises Alto by stating that the Vajra are using Ranka.
Leon continues by explaining that the Vajra don’t have brains – instead, they communicate with Fold waves via a network of enterobacteria. Each Vajra acts like a synapse, and they have no notion of individuality, so they behave as one swarm. When Alto tries to point out that Ranka’s song affects the Vajra, Leon wonders if Alto has thought about why that’s possible. Leon knows that those bacteria don’t live in human intestines and in fact bring death to humans. The only exception he can think of is if a child were infected while in the womb, and that would mean that a coexistence with the Vajra was chosen. Leon finishes by suggesting that Ranka connects them to the Vajra and that she will become the vanguard who can destroy them. Back in the space around the Vajra planet, Brera tries to reassure Ranka by promising to protect her, but she doesn’t want more fighting. Ranka gets out of the Valkyries’ cockpit after seeing Ai-kun nearby, but it turns out to be a trap, and as she’s getting carried away, Ranka realizes that Brera is her brother. Brera tries his best to give chase, but he’s first held up by the Vajra and then by Grace in her Valkyrie. Grace questions if he had fun escaping with his little sister – which Brera is shocked to hear – before she decides that the magical times are over and activates his slave mode.
While this is going on, over at the hospital on the Frontier, Luca tries to convince Sheryl to take her medicine because it will delay the progression of her illness. Sheryl refuses and points out that no medicine means that her power will become stronger. She feels that if they are going to use her as a tool, then they should be thoroughly cruel to her because kindness is a sin. Alto isn’t part of this discussion, but he is also at the hospital and happens to see his father being pushed away in a wheelchair. Yasaburo is there as well, and as they watch Ranzou being helped into a car, Alto comments on how small his father seems. In response, Yasaburo notes that Alto’s changed if he sees it that way, and he once again requests that Alto return home. Alto claims that he can’t because he’s a pilot in the military, so Yasaburo questions if fighting and killing is really the path that Alto desires. Yasaburo wonders if Alto would have become a pilot regardless of whether or not there was an enemy, and he suggests that Alto is an actor at heart who acts whatever roles he wants. Before leaving, Yasaburo asks Alto to think about what he wants and why, and Alto ends up spending his afternoon thinking about Ranka. At that moment, she is being held on the Vajra planet and realizes that everything that happened to the 117th research fleet was her fault. From her Valkyrie, Grace is watching Ranka during all this and starts to get excited about what she calls the opening of the door to the abyss.
Back on the Frontier, Alto talks with Kuran about how far he’s come, and he asks her why she joined the S.M.S. Kuran tells him that it’s a tradition in her family to become a soldier, so there was no question that she’d do it. Alto explains that he felt the same way about acting, but he yearned for the sky and left home to become a pilot. That’s how he met Ranka, and in order to protect her, he chose to join the S.M.S. Alto concedes that he might have been running away up until now, pretending not to notice various things, but he feels that that’s over. Taking into account how everyone on the Frontier wants to continue living there, Alto declares that if Ranka is made a tool of the Vajra, then he’ll kill her. Hearing this causes Kuran to wonder if that is Alto’s love. Unbeknownst to either of them, Sheryl had been eavesdropping on their conversation, and after she sheds a tear over it, she quietly tells herself that even though she understood, she still wants a little longer. Her thoughts are interrupted by an announcement from the government about an impending Fold jump. Leon plans to head to the Vajra homeworld – which he refers to as their promised land – and he feels that this begins the holy war. Sheryl meanwhile tries to fly a paper airplane that she made, and although it soars up at first, it soon tumbles out of the sky.
Ouch, having that paper airplane fall out of the sky to end the episode is rather ominous. Add that to how much it probably hurts as well to overhear Alto say that everything he did was for Ranka and that he would kill Ranka if she were used as a tool of the Vajra (which Kuran thinks is his love) – things just can’t go right for her. The problem is that Sheryl really doesn’t have many good options or paths. At this point, she looks likely to die from the bacteria in her, so either she goes out as a hero (via her song rallying the people or saving the day or something), or there’s some miraculous cure found from the Vajra or Grace. Part of this also depends on if Alto loves her more or Ranka more, and despite what happened this episode, I think it’s still up in the air. Heck, Alto swings back and forth between the girls so much that I’m leaning more and more towards the idea that he won’t end up with either of them.
As for the other stuff in the episode, they didn’t talk about Protoculture this week like I thought they would, but a lot of the background was explained, including (kind of) what Grace is after. The whole Vajra hivemind thing reminded more of the zerg than bees, but that may just be me. What I found interesting was that Ranshe seemed to side with the Vajra by choice – compared to Grace who just wants to do whatever is beneficial for herself – so there are still some missing pieces in the past, including Ranshe’s motivations and where Dr. Mao Nome was during all that. On that note, I’m certainly expecting a few more big surprises in the final two episodes and am curious to seeing how this all concludes.