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Macross Frontier: The Wings of Goodbye

 

Review by Chris Guanche

October 13, 2019

 

Summary

 

Sheryl opens a concert by singing “Forbidden Elixir,” and the stage show features multiple holographic replicas of her dressed as nurses and mixing a formula in test tubes. Sheryl, wearing a wedding dress, is seduced by a holographic male version of herself. In space, Alto and the rest of Skull Squadron engage the Vajra. Ranka stops to listen to Sheryl, but Elmo reminds her that they’ll be late. Sheryl then coughs up blood and collapses on stage. The next day, the local news reports that Sheryl seems to be suffering from a serious illness. Ranka comes to visit Sheryl and asks if she’s ok, but Sheryl waves away her concerns. Ranka is surprised to see that Alto is one of Sheryl’s bodyguards, and he explains that they have to keep an eye on her because the espionage charges haven’t been cleared. Sheryl then starts coughing again but dismisses it as nothing. Grace tells Sheryl that they have to go, and Ranka gives Sheryl an invitation to her first live show, which Sheryl agrees to attend. Ranka tells Alto that she heard from Ozma about the SMS trip and asks if they can do something, but Brera interrupts and tells Ranka not to waste her time with Alto. Elsewhere, Grace has a remote meeting with her coconspirators where they debate about using Sheryl or Ranka as the host to control the Vajra. They believe Sheryl won’t last much longer, but Grace thinks that if they use both it would increase their level of control over the Vajra. One of the conspirators mentions that they lost their fleet, so now they must take the Vajra’s home planet and their fold network. Unbeknownst to them, Leon eavesdrops on their conversation. Later, Ranka meets Alto at the beach and becomes embarrassed when he looks at her bikini. They then go snorkeling while other SMS members play beach volleyball and surf. Alto comments that being at the beach makes the Vajra threat feel like it’s just a story. He asks Ranka about her singing career, and she explains how hectic everything is now. Alto comments that she’s the famous Super Dimensional Cinderella now, and she responds that she just moved without thinking. Ranka wonders why the Vajra didn’t try to kill her and thinks that it’s odd. She then tells Alto that when she was captured, instead of feeling scared she felt nostalgic as if someone was welcoming her home. Ranka starts singing “Aimo” and walks out onto a small pier.

 

Grace finds Sheryl outside of her medical bed and sees her coughing again. Grace tells Sheryl that she could be cured of the V-Type infection, but Sheryl doesn’t want to lose her body. Grace reminds Sheryl that she signed up as Code Q1 to be the substitute until they could find the songstress immune from the V-Type who can generate fold waves to fight the Vajra. Sheryl responds that if she can’t sing, she’d rather die. Grace then mentions Alto, which gives Sheryl pause. Grace asks what Sheryl would do if there was a way to be cured and still sing. Ranka thinks that Vajra have feelings and souls, but Alto refuses to believe that given the way the Vajra have attacked them. Alto vows that he’ll protect Ranka from the Vajra with his life. Ozma shows up and yells at Alto for not having his phone because there’s a sortie order. Sheryl thinks about Grace telling her that a transplant of Ranka’s antibodies could save her. Nanase visits Ranka backstage as she prepares for the concert and encourages her to do her best. Elsewhere, the Macross Quarter and a New U.N. Spacy fleet de-fold at coordinates near a destroyed Zentradi Gol Boddole Zer mobile fortress. Ranka’s concert opens with the song “Rainbow-colored Bear” and a stage show featuring a Cinderella motif. The fantasy-themed holographic show features castles and bears and projects new clothes onto the audience. A holographic Ranka fairy gives a bear to Sheryl. Wilder explains that the Gol Boddole Zer was destroyed 50 years ago by the Vajra and has become their nest. Luca’s Messiah deploys fold crystal bait to lure out the Vajra. Swarms of Vajra immediately emerge from the fortress, and Brera announces that his squad will work with SMS. The fleet unleashes a barrage of missiles on the Gol Boddole Zer, but the Vajra continue their advance. New type Super Heavy Soldiers appear and attack, along with a Bishop class mobile fortress that Luca determines is controlling the Vajra fleet. The Macross Quarter charges forward and transforms so that it can fire its Macross Cannon at the Bishop. The blast isn’t enough to destroy the Bishop, so Brera enters it in his Lucifer, followed by Alto’s Tornado Messiah. For her next song, Ranka sings “Love is a Dogfight” while sitting in a Valkyrie painted in Basara Nekki’s custom colors. Alto struggles to fly through the Vajra ship and hears Ranka’s singing. Luca explains that Ranka’s song is reaching them through fold waves, but Ozma doesn’t care what’s happening since it’s slowing the Vajra. The Macross Quarter destroys a swath of Vajra, which makes Ranka feel pain. Brera blasts into the inner chamber and opens fire on the Vajra queen. Alto arrives and is told by Brera to give him covering fire. Alto opens fire on the Mobile Soldiers with his gun pod and missiles. The queen attacks Alto directly, damaging his Messiah and injuring him. Brera opens fire and destroys the queen, which causes Ranka more pain. A fold wave merges from the Bishop and points toward the Vajra planet, causing the Vajra to retreat. Brera pulls away as Ozma arrives to retrieve Alto, who is seriously injured. 

 

Later, Ranka and Sheryl separately rush to the hospital to see Alto. Sheryl is in a panic, and Alto tells her that she’s being too loud. He explains that he’ll be out in two or three days, and Sheryl is mad that she was scared for nothing. Grace communicates with her coconspirators and reports that their people are infiltrating Macross Frontier and posing as civilians. The group comments that they have to finish before LAI discovers the true power of the fold network. Sheryl cuts herself while slicing apples for Alto, so he takes over. She comments that he’d make a good wife, and he explains that his parents made him do house work his whole childhood. She mentions him having kabuki parents and says that Alto’s family was famous even on the Macross Galaxy. Alto cuts an apple slice into the form of a plane and teases Sheryl with it. She asks him why he wants to fly, and he counters by asking her why she wants to sing. She takes Alto to the roof and tells him that she started singing to live, but now she lives to sing. She talks about the thrill of being on stage and the energy from the audience, which reminds Alto of his kabuki days. Sheryl asks Alto to stop flying and tells him there’s no reason for him to throw away his life. Ranka runs up to the roof and sees Alto with Sheryl. A video of Sheryl singing “Diamond Crevasse” appears on screens around the city, and Grace orders Brera to capture Ranka and Sheryl. The infiltrators make their move and begin attacking key positions around Island 1. However, the infiltrators come under attack from soldiers wearing combat EX-Gear. Grace is disconnected from her network and surrounded by soldiers, who open fire and send her tumbling off a rooftop. Leon arrives at the hospital rooftop with multiple soldiers and puts Sheryl under arrest. Leon calls Grace and tells her that he has fold quartz technology now. Leon asks if everyone has been captured and is told that Brera is still loose. Alto demands to know what proof they have that Sheryl is a spy, and after a scan reveals that Sheryl’s earring is fold quartz, Leon accuses her of luring the Vajra to Macross Frontier. Sheryl is then loaded onto a helicopter and taken away. 

 

The next day, Howard announces that Sheryl is being treated as a military spy and that due to wartime laws, she will be executed without a trial. Alto prepares to toss Sheryl’s earring into the water, but he hesitates. Later, Ranka takes a boat to Alcatraz prison to visit Sheryl. Sheryl doesn’t want to speak to her, and Ranka states that Sheryl betrayed Alto and her fans. Ranka starts crying and says she thought Sheryl was stronger than this. Ranka says that even though Sheryl shines so brightly, she’s sad and alone, and it felt good when they sang together. Ranka asks Sheryl how she feels about Alto, and Sheryl answers that she loves him as much as Ranka does, but that she’ll be dead soon. In space, Luca checks the fold quartz receptors positioned outside Island 1 and recalls accusing Leon of wanting to continue Macross Galaxy’s plan and control the Vajra. Leon responded with a veiled threat to Luca’s sister, Julia. In space, someone cuts Luca’s line and pushes him away from Island 1. Brera grabs Ranka off the street and takes her to an alley. Injured, he tells her that Macross Frontier wants to use her song to control the Vajra. He explains that only she and Sheryl can contact the Vajra, but Sheryl will die soon from the V-Type infection. Ranka, however, was infected in the womb of her mother, Vajra research Ranshe Mei, and is immune to the fold microbes. He then reveals that he’s her brother and that he wanted her to remember things on her own. He explains that 11 years ago he was dying on Gallia IV and was saved by Macross Galaxy. Brera then runs away when soldiers in EX-Gear appear. Ozma shows Alto the new YF-29 Durandal, a prototype anti-Vajra fighter that uses fold quartz extracted from the Vajra for enhanced defensive and offensive capabilities. He asks Alto if he wants to quit and if he’s just acting the role of a pilot. He then punches Alto in the face and says that he plays multiple roles just like everyone else does. Ozma reminds Alto that he can quit SMS and asks him what role he wants to play. Ozma then gets a phone call from Ranka. 

 

The SMS crew is called to the bridge of the Macross Quarter, with Luca in attendance after having been rescued in space by Michael. Cathy thinks that Leon is manipulating her father, and Canaria confirms what Brera said about Ranka. Luca explains that LAI examined Vajra carcasses and found the microbes, which create a fold network. Canaria adds that the fold microbes in Ranka’s intestines react to her emotions and songs and emit fold waves. Ranka sees that this is why she can feel the Vajra’s emotions, but Ozma counters that they hardly have any mental capacity. Luca wonders if the Vajra thought Ranka was one of them and were trying to rescue her. Sheryl coughs up more blood in her cell and uses it to write on the wall. Wilder thinks they should rescue Sheryl, in no small part because she still owes them money, but he notes that this will be seen by the government as rebellion. Cathy asks how they’re going to get into Alcatraz, and Ranka has an idea. Later, Ranka appears on stage at Alcatraz to perform for the prisoners. Grace, held captive in her damaged cyborg body, asks Leon how Sheryl is doing. Leon tells Grace that her coconspirators agreed to cooperate with him in exchange for their lives. Ranka starts singing “Interstellar Flight” with her backing band, which includes Michael, Canaria and Klan dressed as Fire Bomber members. Alto flies above them in a maid outfit, and Luca poses as the sound engineer to hack into the prison’s systems. Sheryl starts singing along and is joined by the other prisoners in her cell block. Alto sneaks inside and finds Sheryl’s cell. He uses explosives to force the door open and sees lyrics written on the wall in blood. He tells Sheryl that she’s not alone, and she cries while hugging him. The excited prisoners begin rioting as Ranka sings “Get it On.” Alto picks up Sheryl and uses gas charges in his dress to escape from the prison. Sheryl lands on stage and starts singing along with Ranka. The combination of their singing calls the Vajra, and multiple ships de-fold near the Macross Frontier. Alto ditches the dress and escapes with Sheryl and Ranka. At Leon’s suggestion, Howard authorizes using all of Island 1’s energy to broadcast the fold jamming signal. The Vajra ships open fire and penetrate Island 1’s dome. 

 

As they ride in a service car, Sheryl talks about her grandmother, Vajra researcher Mao Nome. She searched for the soul in everything, including the Vajra. Ranka remembers the events from 11 years ago and realizes that the Vajra were trying to rescue her. Alto stops the car, and Sheryl tells Ranka not to go with Brera because he’s just a Macross Galaxy puppet and they plan to kill Ranka to harvest her fold microbes. Brera rushes in with a knife and knocks Alto aside, but Ozma appears in EX-Gear and keeps him at bay. As Island 1 suffers more damage, Grace is able to take control of the computer system in the lab where she’s being held. Ozma continues to fight with Brera and uses his body to shield Alto and the others. A hole is blasted in the hull from the battle, and Sheryl and Ranka are pulled toward open space. Sheryl pushes Ranka toward Alto and is sucked out into space, with the breach sealing by itself. The jamming signal causes the Vajra to stop moving, making them easy targets for NUNS forces. Several Nightmare Pluses fire missiles loaded with implants that hit the Vajra and put them under NUNS control. Alto and the others take off in a shuttle, and Michael tries to slap Alto for being sad about Sheryl and Ozma. Alto says that there’s nothing wrong with being sad, but he won’t run away anymore. The shuttle lands on the Macross Quarter, which performs a fold operation. Battle Frontier, Island 1 and the controlled Vajra fold to the Vajra home world. Wilder outlines to everyone the situation, wherein Leon can use the Vajra to control the galaxy. Wilder sent out a request for help to NUNS and SMS headquarters, but they haven’t heard a response due to fold faults. He thinks their only chance is to have Ranka communicate with the Vajra. Battle Frontier and Island 1 enter the atmosphere of the Vajra home world., but everything is interrupted when Brera storms into the room and kills everyone, including Leon and Howard. Grace’s capsule is brought into the room to connect her to the computer. Battle Frontier transforms to attack mode and enters the Vajra nest as the Macross Quarter arrives.

 

Ranka shows Alto her new dress and tells him that she’s going to sing her first original song, which she wrote for someone dear to her. She then tells Alto that she loves him and tells him not to say anything in response. She thinks that she might not be able to sing right now if he answered her. She asks Alto to promise that he’ll come back, and he hugs her. Alto then launches in the Durandal as Ranka sings “After School Overflow.” Alto comes under attack from multiple Vajra as he tries to approach the Vajra home world. Michael snipes Vajra from a small asteroid and tells Alto not to be reckless. Luca scans the area and announces that the jamming signal from Island 1 is preventing Ranka’s song from reaching the Vajra. Alto blasts a Vajra and feels pain from his earring. The Macross Quarter fires its Macross Cannon to clear a path through the Vajra fleet and transforms before landing on a large scrap metal fragment to use as a reentry shield. The Macross Quarter rides the metal fragment like a surfboard and dodges Island 1’s attacks. A Heavy Mobile Soldier approaches Alto, and he feels its sadness at being controlled. He uses his knife to destroy the control module, which turns the Vajra back to normal. Alto is then hit and falls toward the atmosphere. Sheryl thinks about seeing Alto perform kabuki when he was younger and meeting him backstage. She wakes up in a destroyed neighborhood on Island 1, and Ozma explains that Ai-kun saved them both by generating a barrier to protect them. Grace appears in her damaged body and is shot by a soldier. She explains that this had to happen to be freed from the implant and asks Sheryl to sing. Ozma asks Sheryl if she can sing, and Sheryl answers that her songs will live on even if she dies. Sheryl picks up the mic that Grace brought and starts singing, which Alto hears via the earring. Ranka hears the song as well, and Sheryl hears Alto. He flies into Island 1 and reports back that Ozma and Sheryl are alive. Sheryl asks Alto to take her to the stage so she can amplify her song. She says that she wants to shake the galaxy with her song, and Alto realizes she’s the girl he met backstage after a show years ago.

 

Alto flies to the concert venue and drops Sheryl and Ozma there. The Macross Quarter’s improvised surfboard is destroyed, but Wilder steers the ship and crash lands inside Island 1 near Sheryl. Vajra ships target Island 1 and are destroyed by incoming reinforcement ships from SMS and NUNS. In space, Isamu Alva Dyson flies in a customized VF-19EF/A Excalibur. Alto tells everyone to target and destroy the implant modules that are controlling the Vajra. Ozma runs out of ammo, but his Armored Messiah is delivered to him. Inside the Vajra nest, the conspirators fuse the Vajra queen to Battle Frontier. Ranka gets off the Macross Quarter and runs over to hug Sheryl, who collapses in her arms. The Queen Frontier fires its Macross Cannon, and Michael rushes in to save Klan when her Queadluun-Rhea is hit. Luca tells everyone that they want to seal off the power of the song to control the Vajra, and Alto declares that he’ll go in to give the song to the Vajra. Alto takes off and comes under attack from Brera’s Super Lucifer and Ghosts. Alto destroys the Ghosts and dogfights with Brera in the sky. Ranka’s song reaches Brera, and Alto tells him to fight the implant. The Queen Frontier fires its Macross Cannon at Island 1, but the Vajra form a shield to protect the ship. Everyone hears the song of the Vajra, and Alto tries to approach the Queen Frontier. Alto feels the Vajra’s pain through the earring and tries to spread Sheryl and Ranka’s song to the queen. Several other Macross Quarters land on the surface and charge their Macross Cannons to fire at the Queen Frontier. Brera is able to break free of the implant and blasts his way inside the ship, destroying the pod containing the conspirators. Alto ejects from the Durandal and lands on the Queen Frontier just as the Macross Quarters fire. Alto tells Ranka that he can’t return her feelings, and he starts to tell Sheryl that he loves her before the Queen Frontier folds away to avoid the incoming blast. One month later, with the Vajra having left the planet, the humans start colonizing it. Ranka thinks that someday the Vajra and humankind will be able to communicate. Sheryl, despite having received a transfusion from Ranka, is in a coma. Ranka leaves a paper plane at the crashed wreckage of Alto’s Durandal and believes that someday he will return and Sheryl will wake up. With everyone gathered behind her, Ranka starts singing “Sparkling Star.” The paper plane takes off when a gust of wind catches it.

 

Commentary

 

The Wings of Goodbye picks up from where The False Songstress left off and goes in an entirely different direction from the TV series. Yes, the general destination is the same in that Grace is running a conspiracy to seize control of the Vajra, but the journey is entirely different. Compared to his TV counterpart, Leon still plots and schemes, but this time he doesn't kill Howard (although he does try to have Luca killed). Michael gets to survive, compared to his grim fate in the TV series, but he also does little in this movie aside from some sniping and rescuing Luca and Klan. The Sheryl spy story culminates with her being arrested and set for execution, which naturally leads into a prison break. I know that Island 1's design is heavily inspired by San Francisco, but it seems more than a bit ridiculous that the inspiration is down to the level of having Alcatraz island recreated as a prison, and also as a rundown 20th century relic, no less. It was amusing seeing the SMS team dress up as Fire Bomber, which would've been made a bit more interesting if Ranka was singing a Fire Bomber cover. Alto upgrades to a new valkyrie in the form of the Durandal, which allows him to keep pace with Brera's Lucifer. The end battle is completely different, which unfortunately means the fight between Battle Galaxy and Battle Frontier is gone. However, we instead get more Macross Quarters showing up, along with a voice cameo from Macross Plus' Isamu Dyson. Perhaps because of the limited time, the three characters of the love triangle are more direct about their feelings (which was also the case with Hikaru Ichijyo in Do You Remember Love?). Alto dodged the question in the TV series by declaring that Sheryl and Ranka were both his "wings," but here he makes a clear decision and picks Sheryl. Unfortunately, he vanishes with the Queen Frontier and she's left in a coma, which is a much more bittersweet ending than the TV series. Overall, both these movies go beyond what you'd expect in a compilation by featuring new animation, new music and new mecha designs. Whether or not you have seen the TV series, these two movies are recommended viewing.

 

Overall Rating

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4.5 out of 5 stars
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