EPISODE REVIEW: Macross: “Lynn Minmei”( Episode 4) AND Robotech: “The Long Wait” (Episode 4)

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As Hikaru points out, it’s really been a busy day. In less than 24 hours he went from being a 17-year old orphan visiting his old flight instructor at the launch of the Macross, to fighting alien invaders, to flying in space, to getting lost and trapped inside an unused portion of the derelict starship.

This episode gives us a chance to catch our breaths. Perhaps a bit too much.

PLAY BY PLAY:

We pick up where we left off. On the bridge, Global is recriminating himself for the loss of life and terrible situation they’re stuck in. Claudia tries repeatedly to reach the Prometheus and the Daedalus - Navy aircraft carriers that were in South Antaria harbor when the fold happened. Gloval points out that they’re sea ships, not space ships, and their crews must be entirely dead. He gives orders to get all the survivors from the city on board, then salvage everything they can from the debris field outside. He tells Misa to dispatch some spa craft to the carriers to try to pull them alongside. Since they can’t dock with ARMD-1 and 10, the now-dead ships will have to do.

Down below, Hikaru and Minmei and their plane trapped somewhere in the labyrinthine interior of the Macross. Hikaru stupidly tries to free his plane from the chains it’s dangling from, but no luck. Minmei suggests he just calls for help on the radio, but unfortunately it’s broken. Hikaru has a special gyrocompass watch, however, which will always guide him back to the plane, so he decides to use that to try and dead-reckon their way out. Meanwhile the Bridge Bunnies have a Nescafe moment, and discuss just exactly how screwed they really are.

In hunting around they find several huge storerooms full of useless scrap, but no obvious exits. They do, however, find a massive alien airlock, clearly built for the huge aliens. Looking out the window, they’re surprised to see a massive debris field - cars and bricks and toys and garbage and ships and things - floating around. They have no idea what to make of this - they have no idea about the botched hyperspace fold, so they decide to ignore it and keep trying to find a way out. Minmei is thirsty, so Hikaru breaks some hot-water pipes they found earlier, and form an geyser in the hallway. Minmei decides to take a shower, and sends Hikaru off while she strips down. Hikaru tries to sneak a peek, of course, but fails. They eat some emergency rations from Hikaru’s plane, and fall asleep chaste-yet-sexy, and exhausted.

Day 2:

Hikaru continues to explore around while Minmei starts cooking their food to make it last longer, and constructs a tent for them by draping a parachute over the still-dangling body of the plane. While bunking down for the night, Minmei mentions she always wanted to be an entertainer.

Day 5:

In the cafeteria, Claudia and Misa discuss what’s to be done with the thousands of refugees who survived the disaster, and the start of ‘construction’.

Day 7:

Food is running out and depression is setting in, and Hikaru comes up with the amazingly stupid idea of trying to use the airlock to get help. He intends to make a makeshift space suit out of his flight suit by sealing up the ankles and wrists, and attaching his helmet to the thing with a lot of bundled-up towels. He’ll take a deep breath of air, float up to one of the other levels, and get in that way. Then he’ll find help and come back for Minmei. Never exactly the sharpest penny in the fountain, even Minmei thinks this is kind of a stupid idea. At the airlock, they see a massive dead tuna floating along dead in space, and Hikaru decides to get it, bring it back in, and cook it up for dinner, sort of as a preliminary test for his stupid scheme. Minmei reluctantly agrees. He goes out with only a lungful of air, and grabs the fish, but when he re-enters the airlock, the artificial gravity pulls the fish down atop him. In his mad dash to have Minmei re-fill the airlock before he expires, he doesn’t think to pull the fish all the way in, so it’s still resting on the sill of the outer door. When the outer door closes, it decapitates the fish, and Hikaru basically only got the head, and a little bit more.

Minmei cooks up the fish head and they’re both a bit glum, though she tries to cheer him up about his being the first man to catch a fish in space, but he’s not having any of that. Also, his adventure ripped his flight suit, so he can’t try it again.

Day 12:
They’re starving, depressed, lost, and have given up hope. Lying in their tent, Minmei starts to sing, and Hikaru compliments her on her voice. Minmei then starts to break down emotionally, freaking out about how they’re going to die here and become food for the rats, and she’ll never be a bride or find love or whatever. Hikaru tries to calm her down, and offers to take part in a pretend-marriage with her, and that works….a bit. He’s in the process of confessing that he actually is in love with her, but then she starts getting all creepy and morbid talking about how they should both get married and then jump out the airlocks and die in each other’s arms rather than become “Food for the rats.” Hikaru is rightfully appalled at this, and tries to argue some sense in to her. She abruptly kisses him…and then the ceiling falls in, and his plane smashes on the ground.

Some workmen look in from above, misidentifying the plane as an enemy missile, and then they spot the kids. They haul them out on a basket, in to what appears to be the city from the island, rebuilt inside a vast unused space inside the Macross itself! The effect on Minmei is like night and day, and she’s instantly transformed from creepy morbid suicidal girl in to giggly stupid happy sixteen year old cheerleader again. Hikaru is stunned by this, shocked by the city inside the ship, and incredibly malnourished. Someone slaps him on the back in congratulations, and he blacks out.

THE END.

OBSERVATIONS:

The Macross has rats.

The Macross spends two weeks orbiting Pluto and getting their bearings.

The scenes where Hikaru tries to recover the tuna actually take great pains to be scientifically accurate, and he moves around in weightlessness by throwing heavy hunks of equipment in the direction opposite which he wishes to travel.

Minmei’s family is from Yokahama, Japan, but she’s not Japanese. She’s Chinese, and her family has a restaurant in the Yokahama Chinatown district.

There’s a metaphor going on here: Hikaru’s life is all about flying, and though he ventures farther and farther from it every day, he keeps coming back to his trapped plane. When the thing is finally destroyed in the end, I think we’re supposed to believe it’s the last vestige of his old life being lost to him. By this point he’s traded his attachment to the plane for his burgeoning love for Minmei. Once he kisses her, and thereby indicates he’s committed to her and not the old life, the plane is destroyed and they’re rescued.

And immediately after they’re out, Minmei abandons Hikaru emotionally. “Holding on to things far longer than he should” is going to be a recurring problem for him in the series.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE MACROSS AND ROBOTECH VERSIONS:

Obviously, the suicidal ramble from Minmei is absent from the Robotech version.

There’s an entirely-gratuitous butt-shot of Minmei naked in the “Shower” that’s missing from the US version as well.

This is the first episode where the "Robotech" title has been changed from the original "Macross" one.

While they admit loss of life has been ridiculously high in Robotech, they don’t mention the carrier crews (Probably around 10,000 people) are dead in it. There are repeated references to the death toll throughout the Macross version that are absent in the Robotech version. For instance, in the cafeteria scene, two generic crewmen are talking about the rebuilding plans. In the Macross version, however, one of them says “…so I told him it doesn’t matter how many planes you got if you don’t have any damn pilots!” obviously referring to the salvaged carriers.

Macross is more circumspect regards to the rebuilding of the city inside the ship. Initially they only mention the salvage operations, then in the cafeteria Misa mentions “Rebuilding” semi-nebulously, but the scene ends before she can explain. When Hikaru and Minmei are rescued, we get this great reveal of the new city inside the ship, which is kind of magical and surprising. In Robotech, however, they spoil this by telegraphing all along that this is what they’re going to do.

In Robotech, there are “More than 70,000 survivors.” In Macross there are “More than 50,000 survivors.” No idea why they changed the number in the US version. (Maybe 10,000 of those are the mysteriously still-living carrier crews? Robotech implies they’re still on their ships waiting to be rescued.)

Hikaru mentions that Roy’s preferred method of hitting on women is to talk them in to flying with him, and then going in to a crazy dive. There’s none of this in the Robotech version.

Once again, the Robotech version has inexplicably chopped out a brief flashback of the alien who attacked Hikaru/Rick on the island.

In the end of the episode in Robotech, "Lisa" has a PA announcement about a minor construction accident, which rescued "Rick" and Minmei, and it's not an attack, and everyone can please stand down from general quarters. In the Macross version, "Misa" has a PA announcement about how a squadron of Valkyries took out an attack force of Battle Pods, and everyone can now stand down from general quarters. So evidently the aliens know where they are.

Finally, and most interestingly, Robotech’s dialog and narration seems to imply that Minmei’s shift from suicidal to gleeful, gadding off and abandoning “Rick” is a perfectly normal girl thing, they try to take the curse off of it. The Macross version seems to be implying that this is kind of a serious character flaw in her, however.

Interesting!

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