A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Relieved of the requirement to always take itself seriously, The Super Dimension Fortress Macross has free rein to give us entertaining moments (like fishing in space) and brilliantly ludicrous design decisions (like a battleship with aircraft carriers for arms). It’s also what lies behind a sequence in the second episode which – as far as I can see – wraps up into one brief segment of animation the essence of the whole show.
Hikaru dives through the clouds to save Minmay before she hits the ground, catches up to her, opens his cockpit canopy and pulls her inside. This is exhilarating (for us) partly because it’s an exciting, life-or-death situation and partly because the shot simply bombards us with movement, Minmay spinning around Hikaru’s Valkyrie as they both fall through the sky. (I must say I love the work on Minmay’s hair, as it’s affected by the competing forces of wind and gravity.)
Here we have a lot of what Macross is about. Excitement, movement, romance and mecha – appropriately, Hikaru’s Valkyrie is in GERWALK mode, the bizarre in-between humanoid and jet fighter mashup, rather than being at one or the other end of its transformation spectrum.
This moment isn’t just great in itself, it’s also capitalised on brilliantly. There is a brief exchange between Hikaru and Minmay which mostly consists of adrenaline-fuelled illogic. They are – like me when I first saw this – still reeling.
It gets better, though. Just when we – and they – have managed to calm down a little, they have their first close encounter with a Regult, crashing into its legs as they round a corner. Minmay faints. Hikaru screams and empties his gunpod into the enemy.
And even then, it isn’t over. Now, I’ve seen Do You Remember Love? and I’ve lurked on /m/ for a little while: I more-or-less knew beforehand what (or who) was piloting those Regults. But the pilot’s sudden emergence still managed to shock me (perhaps aided by the residual adrenaline from Hikaru’s plummeting Minmay-save). The bullet holes, the sudden dislocation of one’s sense of scale and the crushing of the car combine to pile one last shock on top of the heap. I imagine seeing this scene without preparation in October 1982 must have been quite something. The only thing that could possibly improve it would be the arrival of Roy Focker.
. . . right, I’ll get my coat.