Macross Frontier 20: I will come back for you

Poignantly performed

It is frightening how sometimes the course of history could’ve been tipped over one way or the other by one simple act of a few individuals at one crucial moment. Had Ranka not ran into Sheryl falling into Alto’s arms on that fateful day when the Vajra swarm happened to hatch, she might’ve remained in her little bubble of genki-ness, on top of the world, still charged with rabu rabu feelings, embraced as heroine. Perhaps then when the Vajra swarm showed up, Ranka would’ve been able to sing her heart out in pure bliss, and the whole universe would see that the Vajra, too, were a peaceful species, just as the Zentradi had become not too long ago, capable of celebrating along side with both humans and Zentradi the art of music, just as Ai-kun had, waving his little antennas, standing behind some fans at Ranka’s concert one episode ago.

If only for that one brief moment, things may have been so very different.

That's some serious infestation problem.

That's some serious infestation problem.

String puppeteer

As much as we keep Ranka responsible for her own action, so must we not exempt a certain meganekko evil bitch who had largely, behind the scene, led her down this bottomless pit. Even if the seed is good, but if the cultivation is poison, no good fruit can yield.

When Grace was with Sheryl, she spoiled and cultivated her into a nasty, ego overinflated intergalactic bitch, who would be all smiles to her fans in front of the camera but quickly called them unworthy brats behind it. Had Grace not discarded her and then told her the harsh truth, the songbird might as well continue to be soaking in her big dream that was the birdcage built to contain her. Her abandonment was the best accidental gift given by the devil herself. Since free of the devil’s poison, Sheryl took leaps and bounds over a short few episodes in redefining what it meant to be Sheryl Nome and what her songs meant to people in despair.

Now Grace turned to Ranka and packaged her as the Songstress of Hope and deliverer of Frontier from the Vajra, when in reality, her voice was what attracted them here. She sang, they came. Those baby Vajra on board of Frontier did not call for reinforcement—they have nearly no mental capacity—no, it was Ranka who subconsciously summoned them. And it wasn’t like Grace did not know that; she knew it well—both Ranka’s ability as well as her anguish toward Alto. She had been, as she put it, casting a carrot to Ranka by allowing her to see Alto. What surprised her, however, was the timing and the intensity Ranka had for him.

On the other hand, Ranka had absolutely no clue whatsoever who she really was and the exact effect she had on the Vajra. The mirage that Grace had cast on her was one where everyone celebrated everything she did—she was Frontier’s deliverer, she could do no wrong. Ranka was simply thrust into a status higher than Sheryl ever was. With hats that large, your head can get pretty big too.

Taking a step back, I can’t say either Sheryl or Ranka was fundamentally a bad person. They both have a good heart, though Ranka’s has yet to mature. On the other hand, both have been under some very bad and evil influence that has stunned, if not regressed, their growth. Fortunately, though painfully, Sheryl got free of it, but Ranka is still in the blind. I’m not trying to excuse Ranka, for, very truly, each person must face up to their own conscience for very decision they made. Gosh, why am I suddenly defending Ranka? Perhaps it’s because I myself had made blunders in my own life and had wished there was a Sheryl to hold me, even if a slap had to come first.

New and improved

New and improved

I will come back for you

As painful as this episode was to watch, there was one very heartwarming scene, one I wish will come to fruition. Right after an explosion had separated Alto and Sheryl, a quiet and seemingly unromantic dialog underlined a deeper level of mutual understanding occurring between the two and an almost seemingly life-long commitment coming from Alto.

ALTO
(seeing Nanase seriously injured)
Sheryl! Nanase! Hold on! I’ll …

SHERYL
(holding Nanase in her arms)
Go! We’ll be fine. Hurry and end this chaos.

ALTO
But …

SHERYL
Who the hell do you think I am?

ALTO
(paused for a second, then nodding)
I will come back for you.

What jumped out at me was how Alto and Sheryl had become like equal partners, each knowing what the other must do—Alto must fight the Vajra and Sheryl will take care of the injured—and trusting in each other’s ability to fulfill it—Sheryl sent Alto off to end the chaos and Alto nodding off to Sheryl’s usual response to take care of Nanase. And before they parted, Alto gave his promise to meet with Sheryl. Not any romantic words, but a simple and genuine promise that’s worth more than a million but empty “I love you.”

Surely, this must be what an equal and supportive partnership is about.

Simply beautiful.

Until we meet again

Until we meet again

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21 Responses to Macross Frontier 20: I will come back for you

  1. Shin says:

    Forgive my princess she is immature. Ancient Cantonese adage; Feel No Offense From The Child Who Does Not Know The World. Or something like that. ;D

  2. EX-Keine says:

    Sheryl has redefined herself into Kamina… “Just who in the hell do you think I am!!”

    Apparently Shin still falls for that dependent type who falls and cries…. 😀

  3. Haesslich says:

    Shin: When a child makes a mess, you scold them but clean up. When a child starts crying loud enough to summon enemy bombs that’ll kill everyone, you either shut the kid up… or sometimes, to save the group, the parent smothers the kid or finds a way to silence them… or the group tosses kid and parent out to die while the rest survive.

    Ranka really needed a reality check – expecting Alto to love her because she ‘loved’ him, and expressing disappointment because she didn’t know anything about him but not seeking to learn more of who she loved or expressing her feelings towards the subject in question is horribly immature. The tragedy here is that her ‘wish for her and everyone to die’ is what led to the Vajra frenzy. Small mistakes are one thing – big mistakes which lead to the loss of a fleet are usually ones that see court martials or criminal procedings, especially when lives are lost.

  4. brainyscholar says:

    Honestly, i don’t feel anything romantic i.e. romantic spark coming from Alto and Ranka. Ranka is like a kid and Alto acts more like a brother.

    In Ikkitousen Great Guardians, the creator wanted to confuse the audience by creating scenes in which Koukin blushed in several episodes when around Hakafu’s sister (Koukin’s destined wife) but in ep 11 we found out that Koukin’s actual love interest was Hakafu whom he always argued with.

    I hope Alto ends up with Sheryl. They seem more fit for each other and on equal terms.

  5. bakaneko says:

    @Shin, I believe Sheryl knows the prior verse to that adage: But Not Before The Damn Brat Feels The Heat Of Your Palm. 🙂

    In more seriousness, if you truly care for someone, you should more than anyone else reprimand her to turn her abruptly around. Anything less is spoiling her and stunning her growth as a person. Love can hurt like this.

    So, @Haesslich, in light of this, could this mean you truly care and love Ranka? 😉

    You know, it really feels good to read what you wrote. It brings out a lot of fervor. Not that I can agree with every word on its face value, but in terms of the emotions, I hear you.

    @brainyscholar, yea. Whereas Sheryl was trusted by Alto to go off and do her part, Ranka, on the other hand, had to be dragged off by Alto away from her daydreaming. What an abrupt change and contrast between the two girls between the two scenes back to back.

  6. Haesslich says:

    bakaneko: I’m not a shipper, and I hate all of them (Sheryl-shippers and Ranka-shippers). I -did- like Ranka as a character, rooted for her… but at this point, she’s been a static figure for ten episodes. In a drama, that’s akin to being dead or a dead-end side-character who gets shuffled off for someone who’s more dynamic. If this was a comedy, then Ranka is currently that unfunny character that nobody likes and everyone hates them for getting screen-time at all. She needs tough love, and she’ll either be getting doses of it next episode or else she’s going the TV-series Minmay route of ‘being a has-been and the third wheel in a relationship’.

    Seriously, it’s a far cry from being able to cheer her on as one could do during Miss Macross or the Gallia 4 incident – there you wanted her to succeed because she was doing good… but here? She’s a far cry from that character whose childish innocence was charming and cute. Now it’s cloying and mildly disgusting, especially when the shit has hit the fan and she’s sitting around thinking about Brera even as she’s alone with ‘her man’ (as she sees it). Not even ‘I wonder if he’s okay’, but fantasizing about the past and Brera.

  7. bakaneko says:

    Haesslich, I do agree with most things you said, but it just alarms me a bit that you seem to place blame solely on Ranka. I know in my last post I said the same thing too, but after cooling down a bit, I realize that what we saw in episode 20 is not just the consequence of the immaturity of a single teenager but also the premeditation of an evil large enough to destroy all life on a planet.

    Yes, without a doubt, Ranka needs to be reprimanded big time too. Not chastening her here is to set her for even larger screwup in the future, if any such mess can be worse than this. But do not overlook Grace, the one who would setup a naive little girl not ready for the role she was put in, to run her diabolical scheme.

    It’s not fair to set someone up in a position they are not ready to handle and then after seeing them fail, blame them and walk away clean.

    I’m quite stupefied that few people are seeing the share of blame that Grace deserves.

  8. Haesslich says:

    I’m blaming her for her part in this disaster – and for wasting all that time she could’ve used for character development. Ozma needs to get told off for spoiling Ranka and not letting her grow up. Grace and Leon share blame for setting up Frontier as a target for Vajra as well as manipulating Ranka… While Grace hid the knowledge of Vajra lurking on Frontier. Ranka acted like a child who assumed Alto was hers, never pursued him or even talked to him, and then when the shot hit the fan, refused to do anything because “she didn’t want to anymore” despite the fact everyone was in danger and only she could do something about it of all the people there – Sheryl and Alto could only use harsh language on the Vajra.

    As for the “walking away clean” part, that’s what Ranka tried to do until Sheryl did her slap-hug-speech combo, remember? Ranka’s actions after she failed were worse than her failure. She basically went into a funk even as Nanase got hurt and thought only of herself and Brera as her idol and best friend were in danger. If she is still in a “woe is me, Frontier is dying but woe is me and the rest are immaterial but Brera, I don’t like Alto-kin anymore even though they explained it was because she fainted”, then she’s screwed. If she rises above this, and starts to mature, then she might start seeing some more understanding from the fanbase.

    Even Ranka Nation seems to be tiring of her, at least as a viable romantic partner for Alto to judge by how they call that pairing “Alto! Alto! Alto!” – which is all Alto would me hearing from Ranka as she has been for half the series now.

  9. bakaneko says:

    Wow, still so much fire left in you. 🙂 Must be hard growing up as your kid, but then again, they’ll be more likely to turn into people of characters.

    Since the Ranka camp isn’t showing up, I’ll say one more thing on behalf of them.

    Some people are just brighter than others. Back in grad school, I met students who get the mathematics by just showing them an example of two and other students who would just not get it and make the same mistakes over and over again. The former type of students needs little help, but the latter plenty.

    Sheryl is more of the former type. She hits a wall, identifies it, then climbs over it—all by herself. Ranka is more the latter type. She just don’t get it, and she needs a lot of help in identifying the wall. Sheryl tried to help Ranka to do that when she slapped her across the galaxy and taught her what a professional would do. And it sort of worked, didn’t it? Ranka did step up and try to sing. Alas, she hit the same wall again when she tried, which caused more chaos, but this is not much different from the math students making the same mistake over and over again.

    Some people just need a lot of help growing up, and we don’t just let the dumb, stubborn students be and give up on them, something I sense from you toward Ranka.

    We can get mad at her for short while, but we should girdle up and embrace her afterward, just as Sheryl did.

  10. brainyscholar says:

    Although I root for Sheryl and hope she ends up with Alto but I have a bad feeling from ep 20. If you really want to be with someone and care about her, wouldn’t you want to be with her all the time, in bad/dangerous and good situations. Especially in harms way, Alto chose to save Ranka and didn’t think twice about Sheryl even though she is strong. But in life and death situation, it’s not about confidence you have in the person but being with that person even if death comes. So I’m worried that Alto has chosen Ranka instead as depicted in ep 20. If this were the case, I wouldn’t even bother with watching. Don’t you think this world is unfair? A girl always get pampered in her life also gets the man as long as you’re an angel, harmless and powerless like Ranka while the strong one also has to work for her gain and must remain strong to endure life by herself (Sheryl).

  11. brainyscholar says:

    if Alto chooses Ranka, which I will despise this pairing because they don’t look like a couple to me, then Klan and Sheryl will probably leave for another galaxy or to go on a mission to find another home for humans. Just speculation and I hope this speculation is not correct because I still hope Sherly and Alto ends up being together and creates mini-Alto and mini-Sheryl, hehe……

  12. bakaneko says:

    If you want to be obsessive about the other person, then, yes, you want to stick to them like gum on a shoe. On the contrary, a mature loving relationship achieves a level of trust that transcend physical closeness.

    It’s not like Alto and Sheryl want to be apart, but that the situation calls for them to work together in spirit but yet apart physically, to attend to what they both know they must do.

    Ranka, on the other hand, although having her hand held by Alto, was completely out of sync with what Alto knew in his heart he had to do.

    So, which girl do you think was closer to Alto in heart and spirit?

    At this point, I doubt there is one sane soul on Earth who thinks Ranka is the right match for Alto.

    And the writers better make good of Alto’s promise to come back for Sheryl. At this point, I won’t even ponder the other possibility.

  13. Haesslich says:

    brainyscholar: If they’re together, like you said, then Alto will die from V-type infection as well… since it’s spread through bodily fluids. Oops.

    As for Ranka, the’wall’ as you put it, is there… but it’s not that she can’t identify the wall so much as that she won’t even admit that there’s a wall and insists that someone fix things for her, no matter the cost to the other person, because SHE wants it. She expects to have everything handed to her, which is unrealistic, and for everyone to understand her wants without her saying what they are or that they even exist.

    And as for giving up on her… if the student repeatedly fails to make progress, or even WANT to make progress, you can’t push them into succeeding. You can only do so much in the end – try to inspire, encourage, or even terrify them into moving on… but if they won’t go, then you can’t make them go. Or are you telling me that you’d give the dumb, stubborn student a ‘pass’ in a class even though they didn’t understand the subject, refused to study, and won’t even admit there’s a problem because you want to help them ‘succeed’?

  14. Haesslich says:

    To sum up what I said, it’s this: she needs to start growing up, and to start acting for herself, on her own initiative. She needs to start learning that things don’t just get handed to you because you’re Ranka, or that you’ll automatically succeed because you’re Ranka (or Sheryl), and to learn to deal with failure. At this point, she doesn’t love Alto – she’s in intense hero-worship of Alto which stems from Episodes 1-2, likes how he looks, and expects him to ‘love’ her because she’s Ranka and he’s Alto.

  15. Kate123 says:

    I feel bad for Mikhail. Dang it.

    Actually, I don’t want to go into a deeper character analysis for these characters because it’s a waste of time. Even if Sheryl or Ranka’s type of character will be good for Alto, it doesn’t mean that Alto will end up with her. I just like to go concentrate on how they deliver things because no matter how messed up things get right now, the fated couple will get together. The author will make it so that happens under any circumstance. Uh, what I mean to say, the story will make a way much like in the earlier episodes where we all thought Ranka will be left behind in Frontier, but something happened and uh huh…Even the spoilers kept us in the dark.

    I don’t blame Ranka for how she acted. I’m pulling a Klan. I’m a girl so I know.

    You get heartbroken, you feel like everything should disappear at that certain moment. Then here comes the love of your life, the reason you are singing and the reason why you’ve made it this far, whom you just saw “hook up” with Sheryl-san and offers his hand to you. You start to take his hand and HE asks you to sing for the city and become a tool to fight Vajra. To him you’re nothing but a tool for the Vajra, he loves another woman, and he sees you as a tool to protect everyone. A tool. Not a love interest. A tool. THAT hurts. Who wouldn’t lose it at that certain state and time?

    “Stop this. I’m not a TOOL to fight the Vajra!” That’s the real reason behind this line boys. Girls should know what I’m talking about even if they hate Ranka.

    I would’ve said the same thing even if my city is on the line. No matter how much I treasure my family, they’re not the FIRST thing that will register in my mind the moment Alto told me to sing for the city. The first thing that will come to mind is: The love of my love sees me as a tool.” Welcome to women’s psychology 101. 🙂

    Ranka needed to be slapped to get a hold of herself, and she finally agreed. Too bad it was the wrong move.

  16. Kate123 says:

    ***”the love of my LIFE sees me as a tool”

  17. Haesslich says:

    Kate123: She was expecting him to love her because she’s always been the center of Ozma’s world and to understand she was singing for him… without telling him. She was expecting that he ‘knew’ how she felt for her and that he’d return those feelings because he ‘knew’, as he was Alto. She was hero-worshipping a fantasy Alto who rescued her as needed, and who would always be there at her side.

    Unfortunately, Alto’s not that perceptive, nor is he her fantasy hero. That lack of perception is why he responded “I need you to sing”… when she wanted to sing so he’d acknowledge her, whereas he saw her singing as ‘It stops Vajra, so sure”. She may have been hurt, but at the same time she’s spent ten episodes doing nothing to move on with Alto or even express herself to him. She knows nothing about his family, nothing about his likes and dislikes, and is in ‘love’ with the image she built up of him…. not Alto the pilot, or Alto the Kabuki actor.

    Sheryl’s never had a relationship either, but at least she’s made inroads into his world as far as understanding him goes, as well as making sure he knew she existed. There’s only a year or two’s difference between the two girls in age… but Ranka’s been spoiled enough that she didn’t even understand that things don’t just ‘come’ to a person, which is part of why she got the shock she did in this episode.

    It’s NOT Alto’s responsibility to know she ‘wants’ him (even though she’s thinking of Brera when she’s near Alto) – especially not when he barely sees her and she doesn’t talk to him in a meaningful way.

  18. bakaneko says:

    Having read Kate123’s exposition of women psychology 101 and then your response, it’s becoming clear that Ranka is the characterization of your typical, common girl.

    Many [common] girls, just like Ranka, expect their husbands, boyfriends, crushes, to psychically read their minds. The same girls would also get unreasonably jealous just seeing their guys chatting a bit too excitedly with another girl.

    Perhaps, what seems to make us so critical of Ranka, an ordinary girl, is because she stands next to another that is no ordinary at all. Next to Sheryl, Ranka stands like a dirt blot on a refined white silk. But be wary, this kind of comparison is never healthy for the girls being compared, if not unfair.

    Criticism is good, perhaps even necessary to make a person grow. But criticism from being compared to, that’s some dangerous business there.

  19. Kouryuu says:

    “I don’t blame Ranka for how she acted. I’m pulling a Klan. I’m a girl so I know.”
    I am a woman and I do understand your point, but that doesn’t mean I’d accept it.
    I know what dispair and heartbrokeness is, but it didn’t even once stop me to do what I have to do (And I only do normal stuff).

  20. bakaneko says:

    @Kouryuu, you’re more of a Sheryl than a Ranka then, even though you think you only do normal stuff.

  21. Kouryuu says:

    Mn… that could be the reason that I don’t really like Ranka 😛
    I still like a lot the Ranka back to the first episodes, that girl full of “genkiness” seemed a lot more mature than this egoist little emo-girl…

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