Macross Frontier episode four continues to meet expectations and provides some great action and a lot of entertaining humor. The Zentradi make a very flashy return to the Macross universe as we're treated to three Meltrandi piloting newly designed Queadluun-Rau Lambda battle suits. Giant sized and all, the new Q-Rau proves it's just as deadly as the latest VF-25. Watching the Q-Rau in action is a true delight for long time Macross fans and the new CG animation doesn't fail to do this mecha justice. We also get some more setting embelishments as the main action in this episode takes place in amongst a 7,000 year-old Zentradi battle site filled with destroyed Zentradi warships and mecha. This provides more history for new fans and wlecome reference for old fans.
The characters continue to develop at a very satisfying pace. We learn that Alto, though being harshly run through the training guantlet at SMS, is highly skilled and exceeding the expectations of his fellow pilots. The montage of Alto's training provides some hilarious situations for our hero. Alto just can't seem to catch his breath taking a beating (literally) both at SMS from Ozuma or at school from his teachers. Meanwhile Ranka begins down a path to attaining her dreams and enters the 12th Miss Macross Frontier beauty pageant. Lt. Glass and her boyfriend Chief of Staff Leon Mishima are on hand for judging, but Glass notices Leon has plans for Ranka. Ranka is nervous and not quite as composed as she should be for the contest, but nonetheless gives her all in a great rendition of My Boyfriend Is A Pilot a song made famous by the original Macross idol Lynn Minmay. In amongst the contest, we are also introduced ever so briefly to Ranzo Saotome, Alto's disapproving father. Looks like more pressure is on the horizon for our dear hero
Episode four also provides a little background into Ranka's past and the Vajra. Seems the latest nemesis of the UNG has been attacking them in stages for a little more than 11 years now and is responsible for the death of Ranka's entire family aboard the 117th Research Fleet. It's also revealed that Alto has some more elaborate motives of his own, as he has a strong desire to defeat the Vajra and protect Ranka. It's likely no coincidence that Ranka was present at two major Vajra attacks, but we'll have to wait to see more.
Lastly, the meltran pilot Klan Klein is introduced in this episode. While a deadly and beautiful female pilot when in her giant sized Zentradi form, the poor woman has a rare genetic discrepency which causes her to revert to an adolescent girl when she undergoes the micloning process for reduction to human size. Mikhail in particular delights in mocking poor Klan Klein in her miclone form and provides some of the funniest moments in Macross Frontier to date. No doubt we can look forward to more fun from these two as the series progresses.
Again, the new Macross Frontier series pays plenty of homage to the original Super Dimension Fortress Macross series, but continues to charge in new directions. The homages often make us think we know what will happen, only to have the unexpected throw us right off. The series stands well on it's own, but as a long time fan I'm loving the way Kawamori is playing with audience expectations and constantly throwing us off what we think will happen.
Next up, episode five. Deculture!