In 2067 AD, the galaxy is threatened by the mysterious Var Syndrome, which infects people and causes them to commit violent acts like suicide bombing. As a Cargo Transport ship approaches the planet Al Shahal, the crew searches for young Freyja Wion, a stowaway. The ship lands at an industrial port where dock worker Hayate Immelmann is fired for slacking off on the job. A police car and small drone pass by, and Hayate’s boss mentions that there’s a stowaway. For his last day of work, Hayate gets into his Workroid and performs fancy dance moves while unloading cargo containers. Freyja hides in an apple container and starts singing along with the music, which gets Hayate’s attention. He opens the container and lets her down. She starts crying and explains that she snuck onto the ship to avoid marriage and is hungry. Hayate takes her inside a warehouse and gives her some of his onigiri. Freyja mentions she also ran away because she’s heading to planet Ragna to audition for Xaos’ tactical sound unit Walkure, which sings to fight the Var Syndrome. Hayate informs her that she’s not on Ragna and is instead 30 light years away at Al Shahal. He tells her to give up, but she declares that she’ll get to Ragna and join Walkure. He asks what the reason is, and Freyja explains that she loves singing and feels alive when she does so. Hayate thinks that’s dumb and that she won’t make the audition. A small drone flies in and finds Freyja, so she runs away. Freyja makes her way through a crowded street and hears a woman humming, but the ship crew find her and give chase. The woman, Mikumo Guynemer, checks in with the other Walkure members who are conducting surveillance on the planet. Makina Nakajima reports nothing from Shahal City, while Reina Prowler finds nothing in orbit. Reina’s partner, VF-31E Siegfried pilot Chuck Mustang, asks if they expect to find Var here, and fellow pilot Messer Ihlefeld notes that there have been ten cases in the last month, three of which had abnormal biological fold waves. Walkure member Kaname Buccaneer adds that an abnormality was detected in Shahal City 15 hours ago. Delta Flight leader Arad Mölders mentions that Lady M’s orders are to find who’s responsible for Var. The cargo crew and their down corner Freyja against a fence, but Hayate jumps on the drone with his motorcycle and helps Freyja escape. She asks him on a side street why he helped her, but he’s not sure. Hayate asks what planet or immigration fleet she’s from, but she insists that she’s going to reach Ragna. He tells her it’s not worth her life, and she asks why he’s so down on her ambitions. Hayate explains that he doesn’t have anything special and has tried doing things in different places. Freyja jumps onto a wood beam and declares she wants to spend her life singing, but she slips and falls. Hayate catches her and ends up on top, and passing Delta Flight member Mirage Farina Jenius attacks when she assumes that he’s a pervert and the stowaway. Freyja admits to being the stowaway, so Mirage apologizes. She introduces herself as part of Xaos’ Delta Flight, which makes Freyja excited. Mirage doesn’t understand, and Hayate says that she’s a fan.
At a military base, several Zentradi hear a song and become afflicted with Var Syndrome. A citywide alert is sounded as Regult and Super Glaug pilots go on a rampage, destroying everything in sight. Several Destroid Cheyenne IIs mount a vain attack on the rogue Zentradi and are destroyed. Freyja and Hayate are caught in the crossfire, and she hears Mikumo singing “Love! Halation THE WAR” as she reveals herself. Delta Flight’s Siegfrieds fly above and deploy Makina, Reina, Kaname and their multi-drones. The Walkure members sing to the infected Zentradi pilots both on the ground and while hanging on to the Siegfrieds. At the same time, the Delta Flight pilots attack and try to disable the Zentradi units. Arad commands from the front and orders his teammates to contain the Var within the soundstage. Makina uses her multi-drones as a shield to protect civilians and asks Mirage to send her recharge energy. A Queadluun-Rhea targets civilians, but Mikumo jumps in front of it and sings, which causes the Zentradi pilot to return to normal. Hayate is amazed that Walkure neutralized the Var with music. In space, several Sv-262 Draken IIIs de-fold and approach Al Shahal. The Windermere Kingdom’s Aerial Knights open fire on the NUNS ships and VF-171 Nightmare Pluses in orbit. Pilot Bogue Con-vaart rushes in first and destroys multiple units on his own, followed by Hermann Kroos, Keith Aero Windermere and brothers Theo and Xao Jussila. Captain Ernest Johnson tells Arad that the local garrison was destroyed by incoming unknown units. The Delta Flight redeploys to fight the Aerial Knights, and Mirage encounters a radar jamming attack. Messer dodges a missile attack and goes after Theo, but he then comes under fire from Keith’s Draken. As they pass over each other, Keith notices that Messer’s insignia is that of a grim reaper. Bogue fires missiles aimed at the ground and at Walkure, which causes the Zentradi to feel the effects of Var again. Reina is knocked aside by an explosion and is saved by Makina. Mikumo breaks out of a pile of rubble with her multi-drones and starts singing “Forbidden Borderline.” The rest of the team join her, and Freyja feels an overwhelming urge to sing, saying she’ll show the power of Windermere. The Walkure members detect Freyja’s singing and its power. Hayate hops into a damaged Nightmare Plus and activates it. A Super Glaug targets Freyja, but Hayate knocks it aside and picks her up with one of his hands. The Delta Flight is surprised when they see Hayate dancing to avoid the Zentradi attacks. Hayate uses his thrusters to avoid a missile volley and takes to the air in fighter mode. The song causes him to see himself floating in a blue sky, which distracts him from an incoming attack. The Nightmare Plus is hit from above and starts falling back toward the city.
It seems that we get only one Macross TV series per decade, so Macross Delta is that installment for the 2010s. At first glance, it combines the aesthetics of Plus and Frontier with the weirdness of 7. The magical girl look of Walkure is probably going to be off-putting to many, but I’ve come to expect the unexpected from Macross. It’s been eight years both in the real world and in universe since Frontier, and the latest threat is the mysterious Var Syndrome, which in essence is terrorism instigated at a distance by songs sent through space fold waves. The idea of a song driving Zentradi to violence is highly reminiscent of the Mardook emulators from Macross II, and the obvious question is who is behind all this and to what purpose? The Aerial Knights attack just as a Var outbreak was being contained, so what’s their connection to everything? There are some obvious callbacks to the original here, mainly the return of classic Zentradi mecha and ships. There’s also another connection with pilot Mirage Farina Jenius, who has to be a granddaughter of Max and Milia, but which of their many daughters is her mother? Freyja is very bubbly and clumsy, which reminds me a lot of Ranka Lee. She also sees sounds with colors, which suggests that she has synesthesia. Hayate is a talented but aimless pilot, so I expect he’ll end up in Delta Flight with her in Walkure. While there is an interesting hook here with the Var Syndrome, I feel the episode is a bit overstuffed with characters to the extent that it doesn’t give enough breathing room for every idea and character. I hope this is just a debut episode problem that gets sorted out as the series progresses. Delta may not be the next incarnation of Macross that people hoped for, but it’s off to a solid start so far.
Original Review: January 1, 2016