Episode 18 of Macross Frontier, “Fold Fame”, starts from where the last episode ended, with Sheryl confronting Grace. The single question she asks is “Why?”. Why did Grace become Ranka’s manager? Why is Grace trying to keep Sheryl tied to a bed? Why is Grace making Ranka sing against the Vajura? “Why” is a good catch-all for all the implied questions. It’s revealed that Sheryl was an abandoned and homeless girl on Macross Galaxy taken in by Grace, who groomed her to be an idol. But now that Grace has Ranka, she is abandoning Sheryl and actually says that “Sheryl Nome” is going to die. I’m not sure if she meant it literally or just figuratively as the end of Sheryl’s career. In addition, I’m not sure if Sheryl’s surname actually is “Nome”, and I wonder if Sheryl got her earrings from Grace or from her actual mother.
The new opening sequence then starts. It’s accompanied by a great duet by Sheryl and Ranka singing the new opening theme Lion. I’m hoping that this implies that Sheryl and Ranka would be forming a team, whether officially or unofficially, regardless of what Grace might be planning. They seem to complement each other pretty well. No doubt the awesomeness of Kanno Youko probably helped. And the opening sequence seems to imply that we’ll eventually see Battle 25 transform, too, not just Macross Quarter, which we’ve already seen transform multiple times.
After the opening sequence, we see that Luca has decided to cooperate with Leon with whatever agenda he has. He doesn’t seem to quite agree with Leon’s agenda, but he obviously thinks that cooperating would help protect what he considers precious (presumably Nanase).
Back at the hospital, Grace clarifies what she meant by Sheryl dying. She meant it literally, but not because of anything she does. Sheryl had a sickness since she was found, and it hasn’t been cured all this time; only the symptoms were suppressed, presumably with the 639 Witch Craft pill. Grace claims that the disease will soon kill Sheryl. This raises the question of whether Grace infected Sheryl deliberately or whether Sheryl had the sickness even before Grace found her, but the way she said things seems to imply that it was a deliberate infection. Sheryl isn’t the type to take things lying down, so she runs off, although she probably has much of an idea of what to do as I do.
Meanwhile, President Glass is notified that their plan for a long-range fold has been guaranteed approval by the legislature. From the way he’s talking, at least he is sincere in the original mission of the colonization fleets: find habitable planets to colonize for the preservation of the human race. Leon has another agenda, of course.
We then see the bridge bunnies from Macross Quarter discussing the just approved plan for a long-range fold. It turns out that the fleet doesn’t quite have the energy reserves to make a proper long-range fold, so they’re going to be imposing a rationing of energy throughout the entire fleet. This means a much more constricted living, but Bobby is agitated by something else. He’s absolutely excited about the pre-fold sale that should be commencing and can’t wait to go shopping.
The scene changes to Alto heading towards the hospital, where he gets first-hand experience in the sales that are commencing. It’s just a pity that he’s offered some women’s clothes that are on sale, which makes him angry. He would have appreciated being offered food, though. Anyways, he visits his hospitalized boss. Ozma then reveals that the Vajura are attracted to fold jumps and fold communications, so that the military are planning to use Ranka as bait during the long-range fold. Ozma reminds Alto that he should help protect Ranka. After Alto leaves, Ozma and Kanaria worries about Ranka’s memories returning, which seems to be painful to her. Outside, Alto notices that the public seems to have all swarmed to Ranka and have forgotten Sheryl.
At the library, Michelle is getting Klan’s help in figuring out what the 639 Witch Craft pill is for. She finds out that it’s used to suppress the symptoms of V-type infections. This disease is what made the hydra go amok in episode 10, but it’s rare for humans to be infected. In their research, they discover that V-type infections were being studied by the 117th fleet. I suspect that it’s no coincidence that “Vajura” starts with a ‘V’. By the way, we also get to see Klan wearing the lab coat she wears as a teacher of biology in an issue of Comp Ace.
In the 2047 November issue of the journal Cosmo Nature, we also see a photograph of a group of three researchers who were part of the fleet. One is Ranka’s mother and another is Grace, or at least the person upon which Grace’s body is based on. The third person in the photograph is surprisingly Dr. Mao Nome, who was project leader for the 117th fleet. Now we know what happened to her after Macross Zero; she obviously survived Space War I and got a pretty good education. She also aged pretty well. Michelle wonders if she has any relation with Sheryl Nome. In another paper published from Macross Galaxy, they also discover an image of a young Sheryl in intensive care as a victim of a V-type infection.
As Michelle and Klan are doing research in the library, Sheryl herself shows up. After a brief interlude where we see the fleet preparing for the long-range fold and presumably when Sheryl gets the details from Michelle and Klan, we see Sheryl asking the two of them not to tell Alto anything. As Sheryl walks off, Michelle calls Alto and tells him that Sheryl is in an emotionally fragile state and needed someone, so Alto decides to seek her out.
After an eye catch with the cover of Diamond Crevasse and Sheryl singing a few words from Aimo, we see Sheryl wandering the streets in despair as it is raining. As an aside, instead of weather forecasts they have weather schedules, since the weather in Macross Frontier is artificial. Anyways, Sheryl tries to stay strong, but Grace’s words that she will die continues to haunt her and Sheryl is unable to climb out of her despair. Her sickness makes things worse. She even hallucinates someone giving a helping hand as Alto, but it was actually his brother, and soon after she collapses.
Meanwhile, the Macross Frontier government is having a press conference with Ranka as the hope against the Vajura while the fleet makes a long-range fold. At the same time, Alto discovers his brother carrying the unconscious Sheryl into a taxi and tries to get to her, but his brother apparently thinks this is a chance to get Alto back home. To make things worse, Vajura have been detected approaching the fleet, so all military personnel is recalled, including Alto. Despite his reluctance, Alto will have to deal with his own family to get to Sheryl later on. By the way, the bridge bunnies, including Bobby and Cathy, were in the midst of a fierce shopping raid when they’re recalled.
The regular NUNS military is again back to square one, performing dismally against the Vajura even with the use of reaction weapons. The S.M.S. isn’t doing so well either, with the Vajura having gained an immunity to many of their weapons. The premature attack by the Vajura also made Luca’s “Cinderella Horn” plan useless, which he had proposed to Leon at the start of the episode. Without Ranka placating the Vajura, even Alto is almost shot down.
Just as Alto was going to be shot at by a Vajura beam, another beam attack comes out of nowhere and destroys the Vajura tailing Alto. It’s Brera and his Antares squadron, who is accompanying the Monster Koenig with Ranka, who starts singing and degrading the combat performance of the Vajura. This improves the situation immensely.
Meanwhile, the Macross Frontier fleet is preparing for an emergency long-range fold. But just before folding, all military vehicles are recalled and Battle Frontier, or Battle 25, arms its gunship and fires the Macross Cannon. With the tight time constraints and the imminent fold jump, they don’t bother transforming Battle Frontier into humanoid form. They simply fire the cannon in place, which destroys the Vajura with much more destructive power than shown by the Macross Quarter. For some reason, this causes Ranka to double over in pain as the thing in her abdomen glows.
With the Vajura destroyed and the threat of being followed by them eliminated, the Macross Frontier fleet initiates the long-range fold. With combat over, everyone is relieved, and the episode ends with Ranka singing Aimo in her own way. But ominously, we switch to a scene showing something black and organic that seems to be growing somewhere inside the fleet.
By the way, we see the afterimage effect on everyone as the fleet is in a fold, so the apparent out of body experience by Sheryl in the director’s cut of the first episode was not in fact an out of body experience; it’s just a normal visual effect for folds. I should have remembered similar effects from the original Macross episodes, where we see it as the SDF-1 folds to Pluto and again when Hikaru, his squad, and Lisa are forced into tagging along a fold to Boldoza’s main base.
In the next episode, we’ll probably see Alto having to deal with his family problems in order to get to Sheryl. And the preview seems to suggest that Sheryl has lost most of her energy. And is Yasaburo, Alto’s big brother, manipulating things purely for the sake of the Saotome family, or does he have some other hidden agenda? We’ll also see Ranka going around in public with a poor excuse for a disguise; like Sheryl in earlier episodes, she’s going to use glasses.