Episode 23 of Macross Frontier, “True Begin”, starts off with a dream Ranka is having while in fold transit. Ranshe and Grace are having an argument, where Grace presumably wants the zero-time folds that the Vajura parts enable used in cybernetic implants, while Ranshe is presumably against harming the Vajura. Little Brera and Ranka are looking on, wondering why their “mothers” are arguing, but Ranka wakes up when they arrive at the Vajura homeworld. I wonder why the plural? Is it because Ranka and Brera aren’t naturally born children, or is it because Brera is Grace’s son?
After the opening sequence, the Macross Frontier government is arguing about what to do after the loss of two additional islands. The loss is threatening the environmental systems to a degree that even oxygen masks are being distributed to the populace. Some officials want to ask for help from the NUNS government, but Leon assures them that the fleet is near the end of their journey. At least this clears up the confusion I had on whether there was a separate NUNS government on Earth or whether the government on Macross Frontier was the NUNS government. Earth is presumably still the seat of overall authority over humanity.
In space, Alto is flying back with two subordinates in tow, who gossip about Alto’s rumored relationship with Sheryl. Alto tries to get them to shut up, not by flatly denying it but by forbidding frivolous talk during missions. His efforts are for nought as Sheryl greets him as they’re returning.
As Brera and Ranka near the Vajura home world, a whole lot of Vajura fold in. To prevent them from attacking, Ranka sings Aimo, and the great number of Vajura that were closing in for the kill calm down. But the fold waves from Ranka’s singing gives away the position of the Vajura homeworld: the waves are detected by both Macross Quarter and Macross Frontier. Macross Quarter sets course for the Vajura homeworld.
Back at Macross Frontier, Alto and Sheryl are preparing dinner. It looks like they’re living together, although it doesn’t seem as if they’re being intimate. Even if they wanted to, I’m sure Sheryl wouldn’t let it happen: when she cut her finger and Alto tried to take a look at it, she abruptly pulled away to keep the blood away from Alto. I think she’s quite aware that her blood is dangerous given her V-type infection. As an aside, Ranshe Mei was also sick in the beginning of this episode: I wonder if she also had the V-type infection, and if so, would this mean that Sheryl could become a Vajura herself? And if Sheryl were to have a baby with Alto, would it have a safe connection to the Vajura like Ranka has?
Sheryl seems resigned to her fate, a death that will come soon, given how she acts out the dreams she had when she was a homeless child. She has a cozy family dinner with Alto, and she has Alto treat her like a precious child. It’s a little painful to watch the normally very independent Sheryl, and I think Alto feels the same way. Sheryl would probably want to live with Alto even if she didn’t have feelings for him, however, since he appears to be a great cook.
After putting Sheryl to bed, Alto is summoned by Leon and Brilla. They inform him that they have detected fold waves from Ranka’s song and that they intend to engage battle at the presumed Vajura homeworld she’s at. Alto is dubious about their intentions, wondering out loud if what they wanted was a treasureload of fold quartz, but Leon denies it with a straight face. At about the same time at the Vajura homeworld, Brera’s VF-27 and Ai-kun are grabbed aggressively by the Vajura to be taken somewhere, although Brera manages to escape from their grip.
After the break, Brera is still dodging the Vajura, but eventually manages to shake them off. Back at Macross Frontier, Alto learns the new knowledge that each Vajura is like a neuron in a brain, and that they form an immense fold network that gives rise to their intelligence. They’re a hive mind. Meanwhile, with Brera and Ranka in hiding, Ranka sees Ai-kun nearby and gets out of the fighter to get close to him. Unfortunately, Ai-kun seems to have been coopted into the hive mind and captures her.
Brera tries to save her, but he’s forced to fight off the Vajura. There are too many of them, though, so he’s almost shot down. He’s saved in the nick of time by Grace and her accompanying wingmates before the Vajura fire off a shot at him. It turns out that Brera had no idea that Grace had a tracer on him which she used to track Brera and Ranka. Even worse, now that Brera had fulfilled his role in getting Ranka to the Vajura homeworld, Grace takes away his free will. By the way, she must really love her business suits, given how her self-image is wearing one despite her real body presumably wearing a flight suit.
At the hospital in Macross Frontier, Sheryl has the medications that suppressed her symptoms taken off, which should strengthen her ability to project fold waves at the cost of a shortened lifespan. Outside, Yasaburo grills Alto on how he’s just been going with the flow, and tells him that he needs to find his own way. Yasaburo is probably thinking that Alto secretly wants to be an actor again, but I wouldn’t be so sure. In any case, this gets Alto into a self-introspective mood.
Back at the Vajura home world, we see that Ranka has been taken to what is presumably the central node for the Vajura, the large oval floating over the planet. She recalls the time when the 117th fleet was destroyed eleven years ago and is consumed with guilt. She seems to be the cause of whatever made the previously peaceful Vajura go berserk and turned Grace into something else with her humanity stripped away. Whatever she’s feeling guilty about, the emotional outburst causes what I think is a growth spurt in the fold network connecting the Vajura. This is the moment Grace has been waiting for. She is able to tap into the Vajura fold network and watch the outburst from Ranka as it happens.
I believe Grace’s goal is to have the Vajura fold network grow over the entire galaxy and then usurp it for her own collective mind. This would be the “next step” from Brilla’s vision of an instantaneous transportation network over the entire galaxy: a galaxy-wide information network where a collective of minds rule over the entire galaxy. I don’t think her goal is anything mundane like a large harvest of fold quartz. We’ll see.
At Macross Frontier, Alto and Klan discuss what he wants to do on the roof of the hospital. The topic turns to Ranka, and after a bit of soul baring, Alto declares that he would kill Ranka if she ends up becoming a mindless tool of the Vajura used for destroying humanity. Klan interprets this as his love for Ranka, and Sheryl does so, too, as she inadvertently overheard their conversation when she tried to get to the roof. She tells herself that she knew Alto was being kind to her out of pity, not love, although I wouldn’t be so sure about that. She needs to have Alto teach her how to fold paper airplanes, though.
In the next episode, we’ll probably see three factions clashing over the Vajura homeworld: the Vajura themselves, Macross Frontier, and Macross Quarter. Macross Quarter would probably be trying to save Ranka, while Macross Frontier will be trying to destroy the center of the Vajura hive mind, but I can’t guess what they’re going to try against each other, be it a temporary truce or an all out fight. But the battle may be overshadowed by whatever Macross Galaxy is going to do. And maybe we’ll see a “song battle” between Sheryl and Ranka, although I hope that eventually Ranka is going to help save Sheryl’s life. And the two of them definitely need to do a galaxy-saving duet together.