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Episode 1: Close Encounter (Yack Deculture Edition)

 

Review by Chris Guanche

Deculture Edition Review: January 6, 2008

Yack Deculture Edition Review: November 4, 2010

 

Summary

 

In the year 2059, a half century has passed since Space War I was fought between Earth and the giant Zentradi. In deep space, a passenger shuttle de-folds and approaches the Macross Frontier, the lead ship of its immigration fleet. One of the shuttle's passengers, idol singer Sheryl Nome, views the ships of the fleet with amazement. At the Mihoshi Academy High School, a student named Nanase Matsuura leaves and heads for work. On the rooftop, 16-year-old Alto Saotome and several other students are dressed in EX-Gear flying suits. Alto uses his EX-Gear's manipulator hands to make a paper airplane out of a Sheryl poster. He tells Luca Angeloni that he could easily do several loops for their concert show, but Michael Blanc says it's too dangerous and teases Alto by calling him "princess." At the Nyan-Nyan Chinese restaurant, waitress Ranka Lee speaks on her slug phone to her brother Ozma, who says he got her tickets for Sheryl's concert. Ranka begins to dance in joy, and Nanase tells her she shouldn't fool around. At the spaceport, NUNS officer Cathy Glass is told over the phone by her father, Frontier President Howard Glass, that it'll be a big problem if anything happens to Sheryl. Sheryl complains about jet lag and fold sickness to her manager Grace O'Connor, and they're soon greeted by the press corps. At the school, everyone else rushes to see a video of Sheryl on Luca's laptop, but Alto takes the paper airplane and launches it into the air. He then gets onto the EX-Gear catapult and takes off to chase the paper plane. He grabs onto the paper plane and flies up to the ceiling of the Macross Frontier's dome, where he says to himself that the sky is too small. At the Tenkumon Hall, Michael tries to hit on a girl backstage by accidentally "mistaking" her for Sheryl. Luca makes reference to Alto's past as a kabuki actor, which angers Alto. Sheryl then arrives and smiles at them before going into the next room and complaining about their presence. Cathy explains that they're students who will perform an acrobatic show, and Sheryl then complains about amateurs being her opening act. In space, an alien Vajra mecha de-folds into an asteroid belt. Ranka gets off the crowded subway and heads for the Tenkumon Hall. Finding the street too full, she decides to take a shortcut. Luca complains about Alto's corkscrew being cut from their performance at the concert, but Michael says there's nothing they can do because the client doesn't want anything dangerous. Ranka walks through a forest area and realizes she's lost. Michael teases Alto that he should do better next time and calls him a princess again. Alto tells Luca that he wants to fly a real Valkyrie, not a toy like the EX-Gear. In space, a NUNS reconnaissance VF-171 Nightmare Plus detects the Vajra mecha. At the ship's CIC, the Nightmare Plus' signal is lost. Ranka continues to walk through the forest and falls to the ground when a sprinkler hits and soaks her. When she looks up, she's amazed at the sight of Alto undressing. A group of unmanned Ghost fighters are sent to investigate, but electromagnetic jamming causes them to fly out of control and crash into each other. Alto uses his EX-Gear's engine to dry Ranka's clothes, and she tells him she thought he was a woman because he's so beautiful. Alto and Ranka walk out of the park, and she tells him he should come to the Nyan-Nyan restaurant. She then runs off to the concert, and Alto says to himself that she's a strange girl. A Nightmare Plus squad prepares to take off and intercept the Vajra.

 

The lights dim at the Tenkumon Hall as Sheryl's concert begins. Alto and his friends fly around inside the concert hall, each leaving a trail of colored smoke behind them. Sheryl begins the show with the song "Sagittarius at 9 p.m. - Don't be Late." Alto decides to perform the corkscrew, but the tip of his wing hits another student's EX-Gear and sends him flying out of control toward Sheryl. She loses balance and falls off her platform, but Alto catches her in his arms. He apologizes, but she tells him to keep flying. Sheryl continues to sing, and the other students fly in formation with Alto and release colored smoke. In space, the Nightmare Plus squad opens fire and engages the Vajra mecha. The Vajra mecha easily destroy many of the Nightmare Pluses, and Howard tells NUNS to do whatever it can to stop them. He then calls a man named Richard Birla and tells him that "they" have finally appeared. At the concert, Sheryl sings "What 'bout my star?" and Alto films the crowd for the Frontier Music Channel and spots Ranka. SMS military contractor pilot Ozma Lee watches the concert and is surprised when he sees Ranka on screen. A scramble order for SMS then comes in from Howard. Ozma tells fellow pilot Henry Gilliam to get everyone else ready for launch. At the concert, the lights suddenly come on, along with an emergency evacuation order. Cathy then comes onto the stage and quickly drags Sheryl away. Michael and Luca leave, and Alto wonders what's going on. SMS' Skull Squadron arrives on the battlefield with their armored VF-25 Messiahs, and Ozma rescues a VF-171 pilot from an attacking Vajra mecha. He tells the pilot that SMS will be taking over and says to himself that these aren't enemies for cowards to fight. Ozma spots a red mecha that he assumes is the commander and fires a volley of missiles at it. He then chases the red mecha into the asteroid field and loses sight of it. He spots it hiding on an asteroid above and transforms his Messiah to open fire with his gun pod. The red mecha escapes and heads for the fleet at speeds too high for Ozma to keep up with. The fleet opens fire, but the red mecha uses its cannon to destroy two battleships. The red mecha breaks past the final defense line and blasts its way into the Macross Frontier's city dome, Island 1. Gilliam gives chase and ejects his FAST pack before entering the city. Alto goes down to Sheryl's limo and asks her and Cathy if they're going to escape by themselves while everyone else is left behind. Two guards restrain him, and Sheryl says it's a job for pros, so amateurs should stay out of it. Angered, Alto storms off and takes to the sky. The red mecha transforms and lands near Ranka. Ground vehicles open fire, but the red mecha destroys them and the surrounding buildings with its cannon. The red mecha then opens fire on Alto and damages one of his wings, forcing him to the ground. Gilliam opens fire on the red mecha and tells Alto to leave because he's in the way. The red mecha then jumps onto Gilliam's Messiah and won't let go, so he ejects with his EX-Gear and opens fire with his personal machine gun. The red mecha then grabs Gilliam with its hand and crushes him to death, leaving only a bloody mess. The red mecha turns its attention to Ranka and approaches her. Alto then jumps into the Messiah's cockpit, and his EX-Gear transforms into the control system. As the red mecha continues to approach Ranka, Alto opens fire with the Messiah's gun pod.

 

Commentary

 

It's been 14 years since the last Macross TV series, and almost 6 since Macross Zero began. So far, this is a very welcome return to the franchise. The story is set about 14 years after Macross 7, and not surprisingly, we see a lot of Macross 7 ships and mecha here. In those years, the VF-17 Nightmare has gone from being a stealth fighter to a cannon fodder unit as the Nightmare Plus. Some things have changed, such as U.N. Spacy being replaced by NUNS (New U.N. Spacy). Also, for whatever reason, the new VF-25 Messiah is used by private military contractor SMS. The basic story here combines the first episodes of Macross 7 and the original series: mysterious aliens attack colony fleet, and civilian bystander is forced to act. This time, our hero is Alto Saotome, who is bored of his life and wants to be a pilot. He's also teased by his friends because of his feminine appearance. Interestingly, Frontier President Howard Glass seems to already know about these aliens, and it doesn't seem like a coincidence that they appear right after Sheryl. Also, since her last name is Nome, I wonder if she's related to Sara and Mao Nome from Macross Zero. Since Sara and Shin Kudo vanished, Sheryl could certainly be a descendant of Mao (assuming Mao survived the Rain of Death from the Zentradi). This episode also contains a bunch of references to previous Macross shows, such as the EX-Gear students making flight motions with their hands ala Isamu Dyson. The annoying soda and trash robots are back from the original series, as are Skull and Vermillion Squadrons. Alto ends up jumping into a Messiah that's in Hikaru Ichijyo's classic red-and-white color scheme, and the shot of him opening fire on the red mecha matches the same shot of Hikaru opening fire on the Zentradi for the first time. This Yack Deculture Edition runs longer than the average episode because it combines the footage from both the special Christmas 2007 airing and the regular 2008 broadcast, so if you've seen either of those versions, everything is here.

 

Overall Rating

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4 out of 5 stars
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