EPISODE REVIEWS: Macross Zero: “Blue and Desperate Battle”(Episode 3, 2003)

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We pick up right where we left off, with Sara singing naked in the sacred pond, and stuff floating through the air. Sara herself seems surprised by this, then she realizes Shin is watching her, and covers herself more in annoyance than embarrassment. The rocks and things fall. She cautions him that the bonds between ground and rock are failing, as are the bonds between people, and soon the bonds that hold the world together will fail. Aires and Edgar, fumbling around in the jungle trying to trace the “Protoculture” signal, eventually find the sacred pond while Shin and Sara are arguing, and the doctor realizes that her mentor in college - the one who came up with the Protoculture theory - had actually *been* to this island, but never told anyone about it.

Sara has a flashback to when she was about Mao’s age, and met the old doctor. He bribed her with some junk jewelry, then took her blood. Repulsed, she yanked off the jewelry and ran away.

Back at the village, the natives are watching anime on the TV, now that the generator work. Mao insists on taking Shin to see “Her Treasure,” and they go snorkeling in a fairly beautiful sequence that cleverly stresses the neither-fish-nor-fowl nature of the island: Birds swimming underwater, and flying fish. Sara goes back to the sacred pond and prays, asking if this whole catastrophe began when she gave her blood all those years ago? Meanwhile, Shin and Mao dive really really deep and she shows him the wreckage of an alien ship beneath the sea. Its eye opens up, and it looks at Shin, startling him badly. He gasps out all his air, and begins to drown. Mao calmly takes off his dive mask and snorkel and kisses him, pushing her air in to his lungs. While doing this, Sara is instantly somehow aware of what’s going on.

Back on the surface, the Anti-UN Forces attack the carrier, trying to steal “The Birdman’s Body” as they’re calling the alien ship. Fokker and DD Ivanov get in to a pretty rough-and-tumble fight in their mecha, while Lorna leads a squad to attack the island.

Edgar flies out to pick up Shin and Mao, who’re coming back on an outboard motor boat. He lands in the water right next to them.

“What are you doing?” Yells Shin, thinking Edgar’s just trashed the plane.
“This thing can go in space, right? So if we shut off the intakes it should be ok in the water - for two or three minutes at least.”
They climb in, but Mao suddenly realizes that a mechanical beastie of some sort has been awakened by their underwater visit, and is following them. She urges Shin not to let the bad guys get it. The Valkyrie dives back in the water - “It’s good for two or three minutes, right?” - and grabs the thing, then flies to the island stopping only long enough to drop off Mao and get attacked by the Anti-UN-Forces. They try to fly away, still holding what Sara calls “The Birdman’s Neck,” but end up in a dogfight with Lorna. Lorna knocks the “neck” out of their hands, and easily defeats them, then chases after the falling artifact to catch it before it hits the ground. Not watching her six, Shin manages to kamikaze his burning, dead fighter in to hers before bailing out. Her own plain crippled, she lands on the island.

After evacuating the island, doctors on the carrier prepare to transfuse blood from “The Birdman” in to Mao.

On the island, Shin runs to the sacred pool and meets Sara there, and while discussing what to do, Lorna turns up with what looks like excavating machinery.

“Got you, Boy!” she says.

To Be Continued…

OBSERVATIONS

Not a bad episode by any stretch of the imagination, but probably my least favorite of the three we’ve seen so far. Despite all the shooting, running, and shouting, very little happens in this episode, and not much of it is of a character-building nature.

We do find out where Aires learned her manipulative traits from in the flashback, and coincidentally this is where Sara gets her passionate distrust of outsiders from as well.

Fokker is only barely in this episode, wrestling with his old flight instructor, DD Ivanov, who’s now one of the bad guys.

The battle sequence on the aircraft carrier “Askua” was pretty cool, particularly with the enemy variable fighters hovering just below the flight deck on either side. Very sweet. A little hard to follow in places, though. I can’t help but think the editing was a bit over ambitious in this episode, and detracted from the fluidity of the action scenes. Even so, the snorkeling scenes were beautiful (They start about 53 seconds in to the link below), and the fish flying/birds swimming stuff seems slightly magical, as it’s supposed to.

I can’t help but note that Mao swims like Patrick “The Man From Atlantis” Duffy used to.

There’s a whole lot of emerging love triangles in this series: Ivanov is obviously in love with Lorna; Mao is in love with Shin, Shin is in love with Sara, Fokker still has some feelings for Aires on some level. It’s all twisty and turny, and you just know it won’t end well for any of them. All the relationships have a doomed quality to them. The best example of this is the underwater kiss, which is painfully sweet and just flat out wrong at the same time. Shin clearly knows this, and is more-than-a-little freaked out by her actions. As he should be.

One interesting aspect of the whole Macross universe has been the way music has been integrated in to it on every level. Here, again, we see that the “Birdman” artifact (Which includes antigravity generators) is in some kind of resonance with the “Shrine Maidens” (Sara and Mao, and their forebearers) who have essentially the same kind of blood as the semi-organic artifact itself does. Music - specifically a song/prayer sung in a near-trance - seems to be a way to access these ancient mechanisms.

Sorry not to have more detailed insights this time out, but there really wasn’t that much to report. This episode is essentially an intermezo for the story, so it exists mainly to conclude the first half and set up the final act. There’s just not too much to be insightful of, though it is gee-gosh-wow pretty, as you can see in the link below.

Since it featured a lot of nudity in the first few minutes, I didn't want to link to the whole episode, but you can get a good feel for it, and a lot of the dogfighting from this, and if you want to watch the whole thing, it's not hard to find on Youtube.

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