Macross Frontier 17: Ozma’s 23 minutes of fame

Spike...

Spike...

I am going to play the Devil’s Advocate here and say something negative about this episode. You have been warned.

There’s an old saying in Chinese that a good horse does not graze the same pasture twice. I suppose, then, the writers of Macross F must be trying to tell us something about themselves. While I have no problem with them trying to find greener pasture, I do question at what cost have they inflicted to the overall story.

Lee, Ozma Lee

Lee, Ozma Lee

Operation Let’s jerk the viewers around

Alright, I will admit it: As far back as when Ranka caught sight of Ozma’s mecha being carried back after a bloody battle, I have considered him as the Erstin of Macross F, whose sole purpose of existence in the overall plot was his death as the catalyst that will send the characters to take a turn which they, otherwise, would not have taken.

Of course, the difference was that in Mai Otome few viewers have predicted Erstin to die, while in Macross F everybody were starting to write Ozma’s obituary as early as in episode three.

But can you really blame us, given the kind of lines the writers have written for him? I would say they damn well misdirected us over and over again: Ozma’s numerous times declaring he will not die; the title of this episode Goodbye sister; Ozma charging in Mu La Flaga style to block a shot; Ozma presumably watching Ranka last time in her debut concert and then saying he’s done for—and those are just in this episode alone.

Then after twenty minutes of red herrings, the writers finally revealed their true purpose of what this entire episode was about:

They spent an entire 23 minutes to tell us this?

They spent an entire 23 minutes to tell us this?

And to rub it in, Ranka had to repeatably cry baka, baka, baka right afterward. But the definitive sign that the writers have been truly teasing us, Ozma gets to have his cake and eat it too.

OK.  We get the meaning behind the cake.

OK. We get the meaning behind the cake.

Squaring evenly with a cyborg, I\'m impressed.

Squaring evenly with a cyborg, I'm impressed.

Just another filler episode

Fun for the viewers, but what does it add to the story? Nothing, except maybe to tell us viewers not to expect any cliché plot twists or endings; but if even so, there are better ways to do it. How about simply not mislead the viewers and just develop a fresh line of drama for Ozma?

The latter part of that question begs another question: What will be the role of Ozma, now that he probably will not die to drive the plot forward? There are three possibilities:

  1. He’s really gonna die. Now that they have us convinced he won’t die, they’re gonna kill him. Brilliant. We are truly putty in their hands.
  2. He’s gonna be one of the dead weight side characters. His purpose in the story—to tease the viewers—is over. He will just hang around like a leech, get a happy ending, and become a mostly superfluous character like what they did to Michael in episode nine.
  3. He will still drive the plot forward but in a totally fresh way. If so, then all is forgiven.

I have a problem if it turns out to be #2, at which point, I must question if a cliché plot is necessarily worse than one, which, for the sake of being different, nerfed a character’s purpose in a story.

I sure hope not.

I sure hope not.

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6 Responses to Macross Frontier 17: Ozma’s 23 minutes of fame

  1. Crusader says:

    Kawamori will be the ultimate arbiter of who lives and who dies, Ozma can still contribute but his close brush with death doesn’t mean he won’t die, per se. However if and when it happens we will not see it coming given how Kawamori likes to raise false alarms.

    Truth be told in a way I am glad the went in another direction and it was an epic troll on his part. As anime viewers we tend expect things to go a certain way and we forget that the director and his team are still in control. We learned that Ozma and Cathy are close on the heels of Grace, and that Ranka is still leaning on Alto-hime despite her runaway success. Luca seems to be trying to get into the Grace-Leon circle while Mikhail is starting to doubt Luca… there are future seeds of conflict here. Once you get over the fact that Kawamori trolled us good you can see that there was some plot progression and the message that this will be a different series from the previous ones.

    Besides most people in the blogosphere were kind of getting cocky in thinking that Kawamori would broadcast his intentions so easily. Most of us were counting down to Oama’s doom and had assumed Kawamori was going to play along. It’s his universe he has the right to rule it.

  2. bakaneko says:

    OK. I was too presumptive to have called this a filler episode, which you have correctly pointed out that it isn’t since there are indeed lots of seeds of conflict sowed beside the Ozma tease plot. I was largely reacting to how the writers had gone out of their way to organize the plot—possibly at the sacrifice of the story flow—just so as to first mislead us down into this line of thinking and then single us out for our naive expectation of their compliance.

    In short, it felt like cheap thrills from a second-rate horror movie where the characters keep turning around corners but finding nothing most of the times.

    If the writers don’t want us to know what they’re thinking, there are much better ways to do it—for example, Maes Hughes’s death in Fullmetal Alchemist with his last words, “I’ve got a wife and kid waiting for me at home … I can’t die here!” Few of us saw that coming, not even *after* the burial scene.

    Yes, it is his universe to decide what to do, but it doesn’t mean we can’t point out winkles in it when we see them.

  3. blissmo says:

    I’ve never thought of Ozma as an important character to begin with since he’s “just there.” This episode definitely wasn’t a filler, but it’s not exactly the best either since when I was watching it, all I was hoping was that it would ends really soon. Nevertheless, I like unexpected turns so it was nice to see that we all thought Ozma was going to die, but then he didn’t. Although, I did want him to die …

  4. Kabitzin says:

    I doubt Ozma will die yet, because he still has an important role to play. Ozma and Cathy are doing the whole internal-detective thing. One really important scene in this episode is when Ozma recognized Brera. This brings up the questions of What was Ozma doing prior to the attack on the research fleet? How did he know loli-Brera and loli-Ranka? I highly doubt Ozma will get taken out by a Vajra. If anything, Ozma will get shot in the back by Grace or Leon.

    Besides, Ozma already had a brush with death in the episode where Ranka found out he wasn’t a paper-pusher. Also, Ozma is totally trying to graze the same pasture twice with Cathy, ifunowutimean.

  5. bakaneko says:

    @blissmo, gee… what did he ever do to you? 🙂

    @Kabitzin, at this point, it’ll be quite anticlimactic if he were to be taken out by some random Vajra. I do like your theory that Ozma and Cathy’s investigation will get them into a life-n-death situation, although I would bet it’ll be Cathy who’ll take the shorter end of the stick, just because then we’ll get to see Ozma going GAR all over again.

  6. blissmo says:

    @bakaneko: It’s all for the LULZ

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