EPISODE REVIEW: Macross: “Space Fold” (Episode 3) AND Robotech: “Space Fold” (Episode 3)

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We pick up exactly where we left off last week, with Roy flying back to the Macross. Hikaru is still catatonic on the ground, so Roy checks in with Misa to explain the situation - about Hikaru being a civlian, the mess-up that got him involved in the fight, and so on. Misa is furious. Roy heads back. There’s still a lot of fighting going on all around the island. Global and the bridge crew wonder why the aliens are toying with them - clearly they’ve got the firepower to simply destroy them and be done with it.

On the ground, Hikaru regains his senses, and tries to move his plane away from the big dead alien. Alas, the alien is holding on to the ‘foot’ of the fighter, and he immediately trips and falls over, and starts freaking out again. Minmei comes to, and asks him what’s wrong, and he tries to calm down and prevent her from seeing the giant. In Mighty Fighty Robot mode, Roy shows up, insults Hikaru, and quickly detaches the cockpit from the rest of the plane, then slings it under the arm of his giant robot. More aliens show up, so he takes off and flies back to the mother ship.

The alien advance guard is recalled to orbit, they took surprisingly high casualties. There are still plenty of their forces on the island, though.

En rout to the Macross, Minmei wants to go back to the island. Roy totally shoots this down as it‘s stupid and dangerous, but he offers leeringly to take her back to her family once the fighting’s done. Hikaru knows what this means, and gets upset about it. While trying to get landing instructions from Misa, Hikaru shoots his mouth off about the ‘angry old lady’ barking orders at them, which Roy thinks is hysterical. He starts calling Misa “Lieutenant Grandma,” much to the amusement of the captain and the bridge bunnies. She threatens to give him bad landing instructions, thus making him crash and he shuts up.

Back on board, Roy takes Hikaru and Minmei on a jeep ride through the vastly hugely sprawlingly big interior of the ship, leading them to a small cargo bay. He’s had Hikaru’s racer-plane brought aboard. The signal comes through that they’re going to dock with space carriers ARMD-1 and ARMD-10, so he has to leave. He sets out in the jeep telling them to stay put, as it’s just too easy to get lost in the ship.

The aliens want to capture the Macross, so they open fire on the rest of the fleet to prevent it from making deep space. The rest of the UN Space Fleet is destroyed, and Global orders them back in to the atmosphere. During re-entry, he informs the crew that they’re going to move in like they’re intending to land back on the island, but at 2000 feet they’ll initiate a “Space Fold” which will instantly transport them through hyperspace to the far side of the moon, allowing them to attack the enemy from behind. Claudia puts up a fight about this being too dangerous, but the Captain insists.

Hikaru, meanwhile, has prepped his racer for flight, and intends to take Minmei back to her family. Once he’s sure they’re back in the atmosphere, they pile in to his tiny one-seat plane, pop a door, and fly out, immediately spiraling out of control. He’s a professional racer pilot, though, so he quickly recovers. Directly above the island, the Macross initiates the fold, and disappears, but something goes all screwy and unpredictable-like. Rather than just the ship folding through hyperspace, the fold took the ship, the island, several miles of surrounding ocean, and the alien forces on the island with them. Rather than appearing on the far side of the moon, it deposited them…somewhere else, where exactly they don’t know. The atmosphere instantly vanishes in to space, and the water instantly freezes. The Macross crashes in to the now-frozen island.

Hikaru realizes something is wrong when he’s all weightless and his plane ices up and the prop stops working. He gets a visual on the Macross, then uses his booster rockets to fly to it. There’s still some intense fighting going on between the accidentally-transported alien soldiers and the human forces, and the hangar bay doors are closed. While pondering what to do, a battle pod careens past them out of control and explodes, blowing a hole in the hull. Thinking quickly, Hikaru flies through the hull just as the breech is automatically fixing itself. His plane gets damaged and careens out of control, eventually getting caught in some cables and chains hanging from the ceiling, and ending up hanging upside down about ten feet above the deck. Hikaru and Minmei get out, overjoyed to be alive.

Meanwhile, on the bridge, they’ve managed to wipe out the last of the alien forces on the island, and they’re recovering the refugees from the bomb shelters. There is surprisingly little loss of life. Vanessa has figured out that they’re actually on the far side of Pluto. Everyone starts to freak out, but Global tells them it’s no biggie - they just do another space fold to get back to earth. Before the bridge bunnies can really calm down, the phone rings - it’s engineering. Turns out that whoever designed these engines is a big fan of Larry Niven, and having tried to use them in a gravity well caused them to vanish permanently in to hyperspace.

Total panic reigns on the bridge, Global screams angrily and leaves, lighting a pipe to calm himself down. “IT’s going to be a long trip” he says to himself

THE END

OBSERVATIONS:

The actress who voiced Minmei originally in Japan in 1982 reprises her role in the english dub. She speaks flawless english, and her accent is actually sorta' charming. Much more enjoyable than Reba West's voice in the Robotech version of things. I'm not as thrilled with the guy who's doing Hikaru's voice in the american dub, thus far he's been inferior to the Robotech version, and I sort of miss Lisa's very slight southern accent.

The Comedy of Errors aspect of the show continues to get more intense, and nothing behaves the way it’s expected to. Using a technology they only barely understand, the humans end up destroying their own island, and on the fringes of the solar system, with no real clue what to do. Things just keep getting worse and worse, and the more they fight to contain the damage, the messier the damage becomes. This is both a blessing and a curse, actually, as the humans’ ignorant and chaotic nature is the only thing that prevented a complete failure in this episode. Had they not done something crazy, unpredictable, and impossible - and the alien’s reaction clearly shows that it was all of these - they would have been captured and/or killed, and that would be the end of the story. On that level, it’s a success. On the other hand, it’s at a great cost - the island destroyed, the UN Spacey fleet destroyed, the Macross itself permanently looses the ability to travel faster than light, and at best it bought them a temporary respite. They didn’t win the battle, they were just more effective at running away from it than their opponents had anticipated was possible.

The aliens, by the way, are surprised at the high casualties their initial ground forces took. It’s implied that humans are much better fighters than they’re accustomed to running up against. And of course we’ve got “The Forgotten Technology” - IE: Atomic bombs - which they want to retrieve.

I really like the contrast between the efficient, business-like, competent Aliens and the barely-capable dumb-luck-prone humans. It adds to the feeling that there are giants on the playground - in this case, literally - who are almost-unaware of the insects they squash while playing. And we’re the insects, of course.

This episode was less funny than the first two. There’s a very definite structural feeling that we’re reaching the end of an act.

I’m beginning to wonder if Roy’s constant passes at Minmei are because he’s actually a dirty old man, or if he’s simply trying to manipulate Hikaru, trying to goad him on to getting the girl for himself. I mean, if he’s going to make a play for her, there’s a lot more direct ways of doing it. Literally every double-entendre he makes in this episode goes over her head, but all of them infuriate Hikaru. They bug him so much that I’m beginning to suspect that’s *really* what he’s trying to do.

In Niven’s “Known Space” stories, hyper drive can only be used in ‘flat space’, that is outside of gravity wells. If you try to use them too close to a planet or star, they simply disappear. I’m sure that’s where they got the idea for this plot twist in Macross.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MACROSS AND ROBOTECH VERSIONS

In the shelters, there’s a scene of the Mayor and someone else cooking and eating food and discussing whether the battle is still going on or not. This is in the Macross version, but absent from the Robotech version.

In Robotech, we’re told that Minmei is from Japan, and was visiting her aunt and uncle. We’re told that Jason is her young cousin, and she’s there by herself for the summer or whatever. In Macross, we get a very clear scene of “Jason” (Yetun, I think) talking to his mom and dad about how he’s worried about his big sister Minmei. So her parents were on the island visiting, too, when all this went down. Curious.

In the Macross version, Minmei quickly recognizes they’re in space, and Hikaru doesn’t try to shelter her too much from the knowledge. In the Robotech version, she just thinks they’re flying at night or something, and “Rick” deliberately keeps the truth from them.

Roy continues to leer at Minmei and make plays for her in the Macross version, but this is absent in Robotech.

Lisa Hayes is evidently quite a bit older than Misa Hayase, her Macross counterpart. In Robotech, she’s about 30, and in Macross she’s a junior officer, and about 23 or 24 years old. That makes her only about 7 years older than Hikaru, whereas she’s nearly twice his age in the Robotech version.

It’s also very clear in this episode that Misa is merely the flight traffic control operator of the Macross, whereas in Robotech, her counterpart - Lisa - is the first officer of the ship. In Macross, Claudia is the first officer.

There’s a flashback of Hikaru shooting the alien on the ground that is absent from the Macross version, I dunno why.

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