Back when she had activated the Dimension Eater, Grace had laughed despite the fact that Gallia 4 was her birthplace because she felt that it was finally finished. The other voices present in the collective known as Grace had understood that the sacrifice was necessary because it was the prelude to the true beginning. Now, as the battle outside the Macross Frontier concludes, Grace awakens another body to represent all of the voices inside of her. In the meantime, she recounts how their operation involves Sheryl Nome and how they scheduled her final concert for the Macross Frontier. Their main reasons include the fact that the bio-plant ship is weak to environmental fluctuations, the fact that there is an unusual banning of implants and cyborgs here, and the fact that the fleet’s planned route was the best suited for their goals. In addition to all that, they knew that the person known as Code Q-1 who was thought to be dead eleven years ago was actually on this ship, but that was low on their priority list. They were the ones who led the Vajra to the fleet, and with the commencement of hostilities between the Vajra and the Macross Frontier, the collective that is Grace have accomplished 72% of their strategic goal. They misread the military capabilities of the S.M.S though and underestimated the VF-25, but their biggest miscalculation was Code Q-1 Ranka Lee displaying a glimpse of her abilities at this point in time. They’re now very interested in her – even more so because of how she went to Gallia 4 on her own to sing – and have drastically altered their plans.
Sometime later, Grace rejoins Sheryl at the medical center and switches out a sample of Sheryl’s blood that a nurse had just taken. Grace pretending that Brera was on Gallia 4 and had saved her, and Sheryl is just happy to see her manager again. Sheryl is dismayed though at the news that the Macross Galaxy’s main habitat ship had made an emergency Fold jump to somewhere unknown after taking heavy damage in the Vajra attack, so Grace tries to get her to think positive about what happened. This leads to Sheryl being eager to leave the hospital, but Grace wants her to cancel her jobs while she fully recovers, and when Sheryl objects, Grace questions if she’s scared of Ranka and her rising popularity. She responds to Sheryl’s subsequent denial by saying that Sheryl will be okay since she’s strong, but after leaving Sheryl’s hospital room, Grace walks outside and comments to herself on how Sheryl came back alive after she had been gotten rid of. Regardless, she declares that Project Fairy was a failure and that Fairy 9 is being abandoned, and she decides to proceed to a new phase to obtain the pawn known as the Queen. Meanwhile, Ozma and Cathy are discussing how they think Brera is the same pilot as the one who had been appearing around the Macross Frontier even before Gallia 4 was destroyed. Ozma also finds it strange that Alto was called by the S.M.S’s owner Birla, but he thinks that it’s for something bigger than just keeping Alto quiet. The most suspicious person though for them is Leon.
Back at the hospital, Alto and Ranka are reunited and decide to pay a visit to Sheryl’s room. Sheryl gets excited when she thinks that it’s just Alto visiting, but that excitement leads to surprise when she sees Ranka there as well. The three then head to the hotel lobby where the video of Ranka’s performance at the Zentradi shopping mall is being played on the television screens, and Ranka is embarrassed to see herself like that. Sheryl makes it a point to say that that was when she and Alto were on a date, but she also comments on how wonderful the performance was. Ranka in turn attributes her success to Alto’s paper airplane and thanks him, so Sheryl goes ahead and thanks Alto as well for the times that he saved her. All this talk of being saved reminds Alto of the girls’ song that saved him during the battle during Sheryl’s farewell concert, and the girls are surprised to hear that their feelings reached him. This and Ranka’s What ’bout my star? video prompts Sheryl to start singing all of the sudden, and since Ranka doesn’t want to lose, she begins singing as well. Although Alto isn’t sure of what to do with both girls singing in front of him like this, he nevertheless recalls his happy memories with both of them. Unfortunately, the singing is cut short when Sheryl suddenly starts coughing, but she still claims that she’s okay. Ranka is then approached by representatives of the office of the Frontier president who have come to get her. Alto can’t do anything about it either because it is at this moment that he gets called to go see Birla.
Ranka gets taken directly to Leon, and he informs her that they’re creating a project team for her because her songs might become a trump card against the Vajra. He then introduces the leader supporting the project – Grace – and Ranka’s new bodyguard Brera. Alto meanwhile gets brought into a room decorated with a miniaturized city, and he is welcomed by the Zentradi Richard Birla. While this is going on, the collective inside Grace questions if Birla is trying to win over Alto, and they note how deeply connected Alto is to the current developments. They wonder if the people involved have good or bad luck, but regardless, the actors and the stage have now been set, and they consider this the true beginning. They are trying for the dream that even 500,000 years of Protoculture history couldn’t achieve.
I’ve got somewhat mixed feelings about this episode. It had enough plot content/dialogue to be considered a full episode, but the fact that probably 65% of the video shown in it was made up of flashback scenes was at best very distracting, at worst recap. Given that new parts here weren’t animated the best either and that last week’s battle was pretty high quality, it looks like they might have just been trying to save on the production budget (you may remember that the last episode to come after a major battle looked off as well). Of course I still enjoyed seeing what did happen – the sing-off between Sheryl and Ranka was certainly fun, and I loved all the music, including Diamond Crevasse 50/50 – and there’s are plenty of new questions brought on by what was revealed here.
For one, there’s the issue of what’s really going on with the Macross Galaxy because it would appear that Grace and the collective within her are either located there or are aware of where it is. Their goal is obviously something pretty big, but it’s still not clear what it is. What we do know is that they were planning on using Sheryl and are now going to be using Ranka, so it requires a special songstress of some sort. They had also apparently been keeping tabs on Ranka previously but had lost track of her, and the fact that they have code names and projects for both girls makes me think that this collective had a hand in the birth and/or the raising of both. They don’t know much about Alto though, so I’d imagine that they might underestimate him, making him the wild card. Brera might be one as well if he still harbors feelings for his sister and decides to side with her in the end. There’s also the mystery of Richard Birla. He no longer appears to be a bad guy (in fact he might even help Alto), but we just simply don’t know much about him yet. In any case, it looks like – based on a combination of what the Grace collective said about this being the true beginning and the fact that this was almost a recap episode – we’re now entering the second half of the story, and hopefully it will be as good as the first. Maybe this will mean that we’re going to have a new OP/ED next week too.