Episode 21 of Macross Frontier, “Blue Ether”, starts out with the desperate situation from the previous episode. With the president dead, Leon blames it on the Vajura and takes control of the government. The first thing he does is to order the detachment of Battle Frontier from Island One. Ozma and Cathy were running to Battle Frontier, so I hope they got there in time: the captain wasn’t inclined to follow Leon’s orders, so they might be able to convince him that Leon was responsible for the president’s death.
Back at Island One, Luca, Alto, and Ranka are waiting for Klan to distract the Vajura so they can head to Island Three. Equipped with the Zentraedi version of an EX-gear, and fueled by a terrible vengeance at Michelle’s death last episode, Klan wreaks havoc on the Vajura swarm in the city. Unfortunately for us, her combat scenes were all too short. With the way clear, Alto, Luca, and Ranka head towards Island Three.
Lead by Luca, they arrive at a facility in Island Three which holds a fold bomb developed by his family’s corporation, L.A.I. I wonder how much he’s involved with the dealings between L.A.I. and Macross Galaxy? His plan is to lure in the Vajura to Island Three with Ranka’s song and detonate the bomb, which would destroy the Vajura in one fell swoop. Alto is very unhappy about the plan, but he eventually acquiesces given the desperate situation. And while we weren’t looking, Luca had contacted Leon about his plan, so Leon orders the military to help out with it.
In space, the battle is ferocious. Both Macross Quarter and Battle Frontier are fully engaged in the battle, and variable fighters are flying everywhere combatting the Vajura. Klan had also managed to get to her Quaedlunn-Rau in the meantime, so she does her part in fighting the Vajura, firing missiles all over the place.
Meanwhile, back at Island Three, Ranka is ready to sing Aimo, with Luca and Alto ready to guard her in their VF-25s. Before she starts, however, Brera approaches and tells her not to sing if her heart isn’t in it. But Ranka strengthens her resolve and sings for the sake of the fleet. We also get to see her remembering flashbacks to her childhood, where it looks like a little Brera was helping Ranka get into an escape pod. And more ominously, Grace, who is keeping track of things cybernetically, mentions off the cuff that Ranka is acting much differently than she did eleven years ago. Is this implying that the destruction of the 117th fleet was somehow Ranka’s fault? Was Ranka always intended to be part of a control mechanism for the Vajura since her birth? Did she fail to control the Vajura eleven years ago?
We also see that Sheryl somehow hears Ranka’s singing through her remaining earring, which is made out of fold quartz. I’m leaning towards the theory that fold quartz is somehow embedded in Ranka’s body, which would be why a connection between Sheryl and Ranka seemed to form back in episode 7, where the S.M.S. were on the rescue mission for Macross Galaxy, which in turn formed a connection to Alto through the earring Sheryl lent him. But since he lost the earring back then, it seems there’s a subtle unbalance among the three, with Ranka and Sheryl still possessing fold quartz while Alto doesn’t. Admittedly, this could all be completely vapid speculation.
As Ranka sings, all of the Vajura gather in Island Three, at which point Island Three is detached from the rest of the fleet and every human remaining in the habitat flees in their fighters. With Island Three away from the rest of the fleet, the fold bomb is detonated, destroying all of the hostile Vajura. And like in episode 18, Ranka doubles over in pain as her abdomen glows red. With the loss of an entire habitat and countless casualties, the Macross Frontier fleet got a costly victory over the attacking Vajura.
After the break, Macross Frontier is dealing with the aftermath. This includes a funeral ceremony for the dead, which Leon presides over as acting president. And like the insensitive person he is, even mentioning that Ranka’s brother is missing, he asks Ranka to sing for the dead. But Ranka is hurting too much to sing, and publicly states that she’s not going to sing anymore. Given that she was on television, Alto and Sheryl also see her declaration.
At night, as Ranka ran off into a forested area, she sees Ai-kun. But first glances can be deceiving, and we see the creature has grown quite a bit as it comes into the open. She’s glad to see him, anyways. With Ranka on the ground, Ai-kun floats on top of her and starts to molt with a bright light.
In the next scene we see Alto receiving a call from Ranka. Having heard her declaration on television that she wasn’t going to sing anymore, he runs desperately to the park where she said she was. But when he reaches her, Ranka seems to be in a much better mood than she was earlier. Did Ai-kun turn into a copy of Ranka as he molted, or did he somehow merge with her? Or am I being paranoid? In any case, Ranka tries to think of an excuse to spend time with Alto, and asks him to teach her how to fold paper airplanes on the spot. Alto doesn’t have any reason to refuse and happily obliges.
During their time together, we get to hear about how Alto got to love flying so much. We learn that his mother was always looking up to the sky and wanted to see a real sky, with her not being able to do much else with her weak constitution. Ranka also reveals that some of her memories are coming back. And to Alto’s shock, Ai-kun appears and is being friendly with Ranka. Ai-kun is also even bigger than he was earlier, and this time he actually has limbs.
Alto tries to shoot Ai-kun with a gun, but Ranka tries to stop him. But before things go further, Brera appears and knocks Alto down. And oddly enough, Brera seemed to be a in really good mood as he smiles at Ranka and Ai-kun being friendly with each other. It might be because Ranka had decided to leave Macross Frontier with him, as Brera remotely controls his VF-27 to pick him and Ranka up. She’s planning to take Ai-kun to where his own kind are living. If Alto hadn’t shown such a hostile reaction to Ai-kun, I think she was going to ask Alto to come with her. At least my paranoia was proven wrong about Ai-kun somehow impersonating or corrupting Ranka.
The episode ends with Brera taking Ranka with him in his VF-27, with Ai-kun hanging onto the bottom of his fighter, and flying away from Macross Frontier to fold to wherever they’re heading. We also get to see some of the main characters noticing the fighter leaving by the bright red glow of its exhaust, among them being Ozma and Cathy, who are apparently in hiding from the Leon-controlled government. Pity that they didn’t get to Battle Frontier in time to expose Leon. All of this is accompanied by Blue Ether, the nice slow song which is this episode’s namesake sung by Ranka, which continues into the ending credits.
With no Vajura to fight against in the immediate vicinity and Ranka gone from the Macross Frontier fleet, I have no idea in which direction the series is going. But it was still a very emotional episode, even though some of the animation were a bit sub-par. Perhaps we’ll get to learn what makes Ranka so special in the next episode, something that would shed light on what happened to the 117th fleet eleven years ago. And whatever makes her special seems to be growing stronger, given the way that it’s resonating with Sheryl’s remaining earring. And what part will Sheryl be playing in the coming events?