With Ranka’s newfound popularity, Cathy compares her to Cinderella and asserts that Ranka has found the glass slipper after Leon suggests that the clock will eventually strike midnight. Despite how busy she is, Ranka tries to find the time to write to Alto about how every day is like a dream for her and how she’s giving her all. Her first live performance is even set to be in the same concert hall where Sheryl gave her performances. Ranka also remembers that next week is Alto’s birthday, and she promises to take time off so that she can come to the party and give him a present. She’s too busy to finish and send this message though, and Nanase is surprised to find out later from Alto that Ranka still hasn’t contacted him about his birthday. Luca thinks that Ranka has just been busy with her upcoming first live, and speaking from experience, Sheryl explains how much fun all the new things would be. Alto uses this chance to comment on how Sheryl’s had a lot of free time recently, so Sheryl asserts that her experience makes her good at time management. Her own sneezing interrupts what she’s saying though, and after Mikhail offers her a towel, she explains that she’s got a new job next week and won’t be coming to school for a while.
As it turns out, Sheryl is having a special concert on the planet of Gallia 4, and Ozma had been asked about guard duty for it. He had turned it down because Gallia 4 is where the famed New U.N. Spacy’s 33rd Marine Force was sent, and he comments to Cathy about how the government’s recent moves have been strange. Cathy promises to investigate, but she then changes the subject to Ranka’s movie, and that gets Ozma angry because he views the movie as vulgar thanks to the kiss scene between Ranka and Alto. Back at the academy, Luca is telling everyone about how Gallia 4 has an atmosphere, and that gets Alto thinking about a time from his childhood when he threw a paper airplane towards the sky. His thoughts are interrupted by the arrival of his brother Saotome Yasaburo who had seen Alto’s performance and had been happy that Alto hadn’t forgotten acting. Yasaburo isn’t Alto’s real brother but is rather a senior disciple and is in line to succeed Alto’s father Ranzou since Alto himself left home. He’s here to inform Alto that his father collapsed, and though there’s no big threat to Ranzou’s life, Yasaburo wants Alto to go home on his birthday. Doing so would resolve the issue of Alto having been disowned.
Alto is against the idea and asserts that he became a pilot, but Yasaburo thinks that Alto is lying and is convinced that Alto hasn’t stopped performing. He cites how Alto is pretending to be someone who opposes his parents and wants to be a pilot, and he thinks that Alto should stop trying to act cool. Yasaburo also feels that, no matter how much he devotes himself to it, he can’t obtain the acting blood that Alto has inherited. Meanwhile, Ranka gets an extra ticket for her first live because, as Sheryl figures out, there’s someone she wants to hand it to directly. Sheryl knows that the person in question is Alto since his birthday is coming up, and when Ranka reveals that she wants to give him something other than the ticket too, Sheryl thinks that this will make Alto happy. Ranka is surprised to hear Sheryl refer to Alto in such a familiar way, but before she can ask Sheryl about it, Sheryl gets dizzy and almost collapses. Sheryl claims that she’s okay, but she’s still feeling bad later, and Grace sees that she has a fever. Grace suggests canceling the Gallia 4 event, however Sheryl insists on going because of the rumor that there are survivors there from the Macross Galaxy.
Over on the Macross Quarter, Cathy questions Kuran about the 33rd Marine Force, so Kuran explains that she and Nene are descendants of those who sided with humans during the first great interstellar war. After the war, there were those Zentradi who reluctantly surrendered to the humans, and they didn’t get along with the other Zentradi, so they were put in the 33rd Marine Force. Kuran personally sees them as an embarrassment to the Zentradi race. Later that day, in light of the fact that Ranka has yet to talk to Alto, Nanase tells her over the phone that he and Sheryl have been getting along quite well recently. Nanase doesn’t think that the two are dating yet, but she warns Ranka that Alto could get taken from her. This makes Ranka consider her feelings for Alto, and so she decides to call him, but she only gets his voice mail. Making the best of it, she leaves a message telling him to come to the hill overlooking the city on his birthday because she has a present for him. Alto had actually left his phone in his room and is currently staring out into space, thinking about what Yasaburo had said, while he waits for Sheryl. She shows up in a revealing outfit and wants to give him a present: the ability to fly over a real sky.
On the day of his birthday, Alto considers the three options he has: see his father, meet Ranka, or take Sheryl up on her offer. He eventually makes a decision after remembering again how he had thrown paper airplanes towards the sky when he was young. When Ranka arrives on the hill after having gotten a two-hour break from work, she finds Mikhail waiting for her instead of Alto. Mikhail was sent there by Alto because Alto had chosen to go with Sheryl to Gallia 4. Unbeknownst to Alto, all of this is in line with the plans of Leon and the mysterious person he’s been in contact with. Left by herself, Ranka is joined by the creature the stole Sheryl’s underwear, and when it tries to comfort her, she feeds one of the cookies she had baked. Taking another and wishing the absent Alto a happy birthday, she bites down and finds it bitter.
ED: 「ねこ日記」 (Neko Nikki) by ランカ・リー=中島愛 (Ranka Lee=Nakajima Megumi)
Watch the ED!: Mirror 1, Mirror 2
I really didn’t think much of this song when they first played it in the background a couple of episodes ago, but it’s actually a pretty good song. I wouldn’t mind this as the ED for a few episodes, though I’m pretty sure this is only a temporary until the new one premieres either next week or the week after.
For the most part, this episode further confirms that Ranka will become the key songstress but will grow apart from Alto in the process. What’s frustrating is that Alto didn’t even really choose Sheryl like Ranka thinks he did – he chose his dreams (the sky). Because of that, I wouldn’t say he’s gotten that much closer to Sheryl, so maybe Ranka still has a chance (I personally still prefer the Alto and Sheryl pairing). All this also made me wonder if Sheryl was intentionally trying to compete for Alto by offering something she knew he couldn’t resist, thus insuring that she’d had him all to herself on his birthday. That sounds kind of sinister, but I wouldn’t put it past her since it’s pretty clear she likes him even though he doesn’t necessarily return her feelings yet.
Anyway, the big “surprise”/implication at the end of the episode is that Grace is the one in charge of Brera. I use quotation marks because it probably isn’t surprising to those of you who have sharp ears and recognized her voice (aka. Inoue Kikuko) back in episode nine (I’m not one, but got tipped off by someone who was). It deepens the mystery of her character since she’s so close to Sheryl and is definitely trying to use her in some way, however it’s still not really clear to me what her ultimate goals are. I wouldn’t call Grace evil yet in any case, but it’ll be interesting to see how this connects with the Vajra and what the Zentradi trap mentioned in the preview is about.