Friday, October 18, 2013

When Love Doesn't Drift Away: Claudia LaSalle and Everyday Love in Macross

It is easier, and far more dramatic, to declare your love for something or someone once the stage is set. In Super Dimension Fortress Macross episode 27, "Love Drifts Away," the series itself, along with its protagonist, Hikaru Ichijou, belts out its love for the Earth, entertainment, and the idea of love itself through the mouthpiece of Lynn Minmay, placing her on the grandest stage as a herald of both the Earth's destruction and subsequent victory over the Zentradi.

Initially, I was hesitant to finish Super Dimension Fortress Macross. Upon watching episode 27, I couldn't fathom the series topping the emotional climax of Lynn Minmay singing "Love Drifts Away" against the backdrop of an epic space battle, followed by Hikaru rescuing Misa Hayase while the sun sets over the scorched Earth.

Then, I encountered a "Rainy Night."

Reconstruction following the battle against the Zentradi is a messy, muted, and everyday slog. It's not pretty, it's not fun, and it certainly lacks of episode 27. Episode 33, "Rainy Night," shows Claudia LaSalle, in an effort to cheer up Misa, telling the story of her and Roy Focker to Misa. Much like the aftermath of the war, the story of Claudia and Roy isn't particularly grand or reassuring. Laced with a , Claudia's tale involves Roy's promiscuity and persistence before they eventually end up in a long-term relationship. There's a lot of good in what Claudia says - one does have to accept the failings of their partner, as well as their own failings, before being able to build a lasting partnership - but a great deal of it boils down to the bittersweet idea that one will have a lot to put up with (especially if their partner is Roy Focker) if they choose to enter a romance. Love, like reconstruction, is often a slog.


Misa Hayase, Super Dimension Fortress Macross, episode 33.

This acts as a bucket of ice water on the rose-tinged ideal of love on the grand stage that is presented in episode 27, along with the movie retelling of Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Do You Remember Love? which is even more romanticized. The latter quarter of the Super Dimension Fortress Macross series is dedicated to the reconstruction of Earth and the results of taming the Zentradi. Instead of glory in battle, former ace pilots are sent to calm dust-ups between human and zentradi as the latter . The once-popular idol, Minmay, is already washed up, with her primary audience - the Zentradi themselves - ironically too occupied with becoming cultured to have time, or the means, to support Minmay. Culture isn't nearly as wonderful for the Zentradi once the newness has faded and they're forced into service to rebuild the Earth. Gone are the battles, the grand stage, and the romanticism of culture and love as we, along with Misa, are left still uneasy in the cozy atmosphere of Claudia's living room, without a clue as to how to deal with the aftermath.

Super Dimension Fortress Macross will always first be remembered for its loud declarations of love and culture. However, when one peels back the layers it is this bittersweet and near-cynical look at love that reverberates throughout the last few episodes. While it lacks the dramatic nature of Do You Remember Love? or the epic battle of "Love Drifts Away" the soft determination and compassion that Claudia shows in "Rainy Night" will stick with me long after the resolution of the triangle.
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