Episodes 16-17 of Macross Delta combine advancement of the romantic plot (something that is proceeding nicely and adorably) with some subtle – and then not at all subtle – bombshells regarding the main conflict. These articles have not really discussed the love-story aspect of Delta too much; it feels gauche to dissect the very cute relationship between Hayate and Freyja, and as soon as one begins factoring Mirage in as the other wing of a love triangle I feel a distinct ennui at how Mirage is being handled as a character.
However, this is becoming more interesting in a way, and it is interesting in the same way Orguss was interesting in its handling of the cultural differences between Emarns and humans; while it seems wholly like Freyja is being painted as the Minmay of Delta (right down to stepping into the idol-in-daily-life shoes of working in a Chinese restaurant), the complications are a bit more than simple melodrama about Kaifun and feelings for Misa. The matter of Freyja’s Windermerean nationality has passed the “is she an enemy spy” stage but the matter of her life expectancy still remains unresolved – when Hayate casually talks about how taking “a couple of years” away from home is no big deal for a human, it is very much a big deal for a Windermerean. What is more, her singing is having a strange effect on Hayate; he has a momentary yet visceral mental reaction to her song during the Walkure concert central to episode 17, evoking the out-of-body experience she has caused in him in the past. Their compatability on a psychic level, key to Hayate’s Var resistance, has been applied to his piloting in the past but now, as the viewer has seen more of Windermere’s abilities, it is almost as if Freyja has the Heinz effect but just for Hayate. It has been established Hayate has a fold quartz, a gift from his father – which may be amplifying this.
All the little details of the love story and the missing family story are being brought together into the main plot; Freyja (and maybe Mikumo) have potentially the same power as the Wind Singer but used for good. Roid sees the Windermerean ideal as using Protoculture power to make themselves stronger physically, trying to extend their lives and power with alien super-science so that they can compete on a more even footing with unworthy, yet physically stronger races. This in itself is vaguely reminiscent of the human-Zentradi dynamic in SDF – the perceived primitive but strong race and the resourceful but weaker one. The underdogs are planning to use science and technology to become strong. In a way, this makes a peaceful resolution quite likely; Windermere may be warlike and bent on mind-controlling the universe to prove a point, but what stands a good chance of unscrewing their thought process is basically their own methods. If Freyja and Mikumo can turn the Protoculture ruins against the Wind Singer, and possibly become Wind Singers themselves, then there is the potential for reconciliation through culture (albeit on a Frontier style level whereby the nature of the singing is less important than the close relationship between the singers and some alien entity).
And on top of this there is the matter of Hayate’s father and the matter of the dimension bomb. Nothing about this currently makes satisfying sense. At first it was suggested Windermere did it to themselves and blamed the NUNS. Then it was suggested the NUNS actually did it, which would make them awful people and violators of arms control treaties. Now it is suggested that Wright Immelmann, Hayate’s father, did it flying a NUNS plane under the orders of Windermere. Now it is established that at this point during the war of independence Windermere had no qualms about mind-controlling people – so it is impossible to rule out the idea that Wright was not himself at the time. But at the same time nothing is certain. As Hayate says, however, in an uncharacterful display of not callous but sensible pragmatism of the sort that has made him quite refreshing as a protagonist, “I’ll see the truth one day.” At the moment he has to stop Windermere doing something quite obviously terrible and immediately threatening. This, combined with the whole ethos of Windermere as a villain faction (and the questionable heroism of the NUNS, which draws back on my initial reservations about the Macross ideal of some cargo-cult, soft-cultural sledgehammer to keep uppity aliens in line) has made the personal stakes in the wider conflict very interesting to me.
On top of all this, episode 17 offers yet more of Delta‘s very different style of Macross homage. For all the glowing runes, snow halation, bouncing breasts and incredibly angry Bogue these episodes have invited quite a lot of discussion. Walkure launches its counterattack in an incredibly funny Macross Plus style way, carrying out a next level concert full of giant holograms of cute idols messing with peoples’ heads. This is a vector for a smartphone app offering lewd pictures of Walkure and planting a virus within military infrastructure – a kind of monetised, capitalist Sharon Apple effect. This is not the first time Walkure’s “attacks” have visually used the language of Sharon Apple, one of the few “evil” idols in Macross – but this time it is set in a kind of Do You Remember Love framework, causing mayhem in the enemy forces and acting as the vanguard of a military operation. Indeed, scenes of Bogue (rapidly becoming an ineffectual and slightly less friendly fire prone Kamjin by this point) getting confounded by culture have a real feel of the humorous earlier episodes of SDF Macross where the Zentradi react to men and women living together.
Initially I felt there would be nothing to say about a pair of episodes that focused a lot on Hayate’s feelings for Freyja and Mirage’s insecurity about this. There was some interesting stuff about Windermere and Wright Immelmann, but it felt very discrete from the main substance of the episodes. However, with a fresh angle taken, it seems to be building to some point where the two plots will converge and the little details of each will matter to the resolution of the greater conspiracies. I do not feel this is a wholly exceptional supposition; Shoji Kawamori has a good history of truly unexpected plot contrivances (never more obvious than in Aquarion Evol‘s casual dismissal of all of Genesis of Aquarion‘s plot in one expository episode), and the turning of fluffy character interactions into something very significant (most of AKB0048)