The new opening song’s not bad – I like the way it starts, but the actual vocal parts are still growing on me. What’s really attention grabbing is how busy and flashy the animation that goes with it is. Heck, all that triangle imagery reminded me more of Triangular than anything else. And unlike CODE GEASS R2’s most recent OP, this one doesn’t drop too many hints about the upcoming plot, so it felt like mostly just eye-candy (in more ways than one).
In confronting Grace, Sheryl demands to know why she became Ranka’s manager and why Ranka’s song works against the Vajra. Seeing Sheryl question why it’s Ranka and not her, Grace finally comments on how Sheryl is a manufactured idol. Sheryl denies this and insists that she made it this far on her own, but Grace counters by pointing out that Sheryl would still be covered in garbage in a Galaxy slum if Grace hadn’t found her back then. Regardless, she feels that Sheryl Nome is going to die. Sheryl tries not to let that faze her and declares that she won’t lose even if Grace isn’t around. In response, Grace laughs and reminds Sheryl that she had been taken to the hospital soon after she had been found. Grace reveals that Sheryl hadn’t been cured though – the illness merely hasn’t developed in her yet. In short, when Grace was talking about Sheryl Nome dying, she meant both as a singer and literally. She finally suggests that if Sheryl thinks that she’s lying, then Sheryl should go see for herself. Meanwhile, the bridge crew of the Macross Quarter are discussing how the Macross Frontier Senate has passed a super-long-distance Fold bill. Mina thinks that they succeeded in accumulating enough surplus energy for it, but Ram and Cathy doubt this. Cathy explains that the supply of energy to all islands has been dropped instead, meaning that all commercial activity has been suspended and even a part of the transportation system has been stopped. Mina is depressed about this, but Bobby sees it as an opportunity to go to some clearance sales before the Fold.
Over at the hospital, Alto pays a visit to Ozma who reveals to him that the Vajra have a tendency to be drawn towards reactive engines and Fold waves. The problem is that the military plans to use Ranka as a decoy to repel the Vajra, and – speaking not as a superior officer but as an older brother – Ozma asks Alto to protect her. After Alto leaves, Ozma discusses with Canalia how Ranka’s memories will return and worries about the next situation that will trigger them. Thoughts of protecting Ranka weigh heavily on Alto’s mind as he walks away from the hospital, and he remembers how Ozma had once asked him what he wanted to do and why he was fighting. He notices that Ranka’s image is now plastered everywhere, and she’s what everyone seems to care about. Sheryl, on the other hand, has been relegated to the bargain bin. By this time, Kuran has gotten a response from her friend about the medicine that Mikhail was asking about. It turns out that it’s a receptor blocker medicine used for a certain illness, but it only relieves the symptoms instead of curing the disease. Hearing that its side effects are fever, vomiting, and chills reminds Mikhail of how Sheryl had experienced all of those, and Kuran explains that it’s a V-type infection which is acquired through blood or body fluids.
Kuran then does some research and finds an article from an issue of COSMO NATURE about the management and prevention of the V-type infection. The authors were from the 117th research fleet: Mao Nome, Ranshe Mei, and Grace O’Connor. If this weren’t surprising enough, Kuran also digs up a patient report that includes a picture of a child who bears a striking resemblance to Sheryl. As if on cue, the real Sheryl suddenly appears. After they tell her what they’ve learned, Sheryl begs them not to to let Alto know, and she insists that she’s fine before running off. Mikhail knows what’s at stake though and honors her request only to a degree: he still calls up and has Alto search for Sheryl, but he doesn’t tell Alto the reason why. Sheryl is at this moment stumbling around in the rain thinking about everything Grace had said to her when her attention gets drawn towards a television broadcast of Howard Glass holding a press conference about how Ranka’s voice will be used against the Vajra. The contrast of Ranka on the big screen and herself – as represented by a torn poster of her lying on the ground – causes Sheryl to start crying, and she doesn’t stop until a person that she thinks is Alto appears in front of her. It is actually Yasaburo, and he decides to take her with him. The real Alto manages to find them right as they get into a taxi, and Yasaburo tells Alto to come to the Saotome home if he’s worried. Alto tries to protest, but he’s distracted by emergency mobilization orders from the S.M.S.
They are mobilizing because the Vajra are attacking again, and with many of their weapons ineffective now, the Frontier forces have a hard time fighting. The turning point comes only after Ranka enters the battle aboard the König Monster and starts singing. Given this chance, Leon urges Howard to go ahead with their plan, so Howard orders the initiation of the super-long-distance Fold. As Ranka’s singing continues to keep the Vajra at bay, Brera protects her and vows to continue doing so. What eventually destroys all the Vajra is the firing of the main cannon of the Macross Frontier’s Battle Frontier, and the Frontier fleet then makes the Fold jump. This is successful, and there are no more Vajra to fight, yet Ranka decides to continue singing.
If I thought episode 16 was frustrating to watch, then this wasn’t much better. Ranka is still being used – in fact, she’s now volunteering herself for it – Sheryl is as depressed as ever, and Alto is still useless. On the plus side (kind of), we do know more now about Sheryl’s background (found on the street by Grace), her health problem (V-type infection), and the connection Grace has with Ranshe Mei and Mao Nome (worked together on V-type infection research). Because of that last one, Sheryl’s cure might lie in Ranka or the Vajra, or conversely, Sheryl herself may turn out to be the key to all this, whether it be instead of or alongside Ranka. The new OP certainly makes it seem like they’ll both be in the thick of things.
I have to say, however, that I had a hard time sympathizing for Sheryl this week. Yes, she’s getting the short end of the stick currently, but I think of her as a very strong character, so I just don’t see this lasting and fully expect her to recover, especially now that she’s already been through a series of depressing episodes. It’ll probably only take a little help from Alto, Mikhail, and/or Yasaburo. Speaking of which, I’m starting to wish that Alto would just make up his damn mind. One moment he’s all about protecting Ranka, the next it’s all about Sheryl, and then he’s back to Ranka again. Earlier in the series it made sense when he was swinging one way or the other, but now it’s gotten both too frequent and tiresome/frustrating because it doesn’t feel like he’s made any progress in either direction. And given Alto’s nature and the pacing of the story, I’m not expecting him to make up his mind anytime soon either. Then again, maybe the accelerating of destinies and desires hinted in the preview means something will finally happen next week.