Episode 24 of Macross Frontier, “Last Frontier”, starts off with a flashback to the past as Ranka sings Aimo accompanied by Brera playing the harmonica. It turns out that her singing called the Vajura to Gallia 4, where the 117th fleet were conducting their research, and Ranka, Brera, and Ranshe Mei watched as tons of Vajura folded in above the sky. We also get to see that Grace has a personal vendetta against the Vajura as they killed everyone around her, with herself also being gravely injured.
Back to the present, Ranka is consumed with guilt, and Grace says that she can atone by exposing herself wide open. This may be Grace trying to open a huge backdoor to the Vajura fold network, or it could be her trying to spur a growth spurt of the network over the entire galaxy. In any case, she probably would like Ranka to perish in the process, assuming that she still feels bitter about what happened eleven years ago. We also see Ozma doing reconnaissance around the half-destroyed Gallia 4, where he approaches the remnants of the SDF-04 Global that somehow survived the destruction wrought by the fold weapon. This makes me wonder what Macross Quarter is doing around Gallia 4 instead of the Vajura home world.
After the opening sequence, we learn that Macross Quarter is investigating the remains of SDF-04 to gather any information on what the 117th fleet had been studying. They were probably already there when they learned where the Vajura home world is, so I was probably wrong to think that they dawdled around until they detected the fold waves emanating from Ranka. Here they learn what Grace was trying to accomplish and about Ranshe Mei’s V-type infection.
Grace was studying the possibility of connecting everyone’s consciousness in the galaxy using cybernetic implants and the zero-time fold capabilities of the Vajura. She may have started out with good intentions in trying to unify the galaxy, but there are two caveats. One is that each member in the proposed collective consciousness would lose autonomy to higher-level members, and there would be a root node that basically controls everyone. No doubt Grace intends to be the root node. The other caveat, which may not have been part of Grace’s original plan, is that not every human would willingly receive the necessary cybernetic implants; she plans to use the Vajura to eliminate any humans not willing to be part of the network.
This explains a few things that had kept me wondering. Grace is using Ranka to reverse engineer the communication protocols used by the Vajura, which was why she was so eager to have Ranka sing against the Vajura, in addition to finding their home world. This is also probably the original purpose that Grace had in mind for Fairy 9, a.k.a. Sheryl Nome. It also explains why the prohibition on cybernetic implants was the reason Macross Frontier was selected as the last stop in Sheryl’s concert tour: with the expected destruction of the final fleet in the tour by the Vajura, they wouldn’t have to go to the trouble of having to put in cybernetic implants into everyone.
About Ranshe Mei’s V-type infection, it is indeed the reason that Ranka can communicate with the Vajura. Ranshe was the first person to contract the V-type infection, but she had become pregnant and gave birth to Ranka before becoming aware of her infection. At least I can put to rest the crazy notion that Ranka was an artificially created child. Macross Quarter transmits their findings to NUNS headquarters, but they will have to do something themselves since reinforcements would not arrive in time.
We also learn that Dr. Mao Nome is or was the foremost expert on the Protoculture. I’m not sure if she’s still alive or not; the Macross Quarter crew talked as if she is still the foremost expert, whereas I’m quite sure Sheryl wouldn’t have been the homeless child she was if Mao was still alive. By the way, we also learn that Sheryl is Mao’s granddaughter, and that her earrings were passed on from Mao to her daughter, who in turn passed it on to Sheryl.
This makes me wonder: If Mao was quite open about her own identity, then how come the events of Macross Zero remained unknown for fifty years? Did she tell her story only when documentation for the events were uncovered from obscurity fifty years later? Anyways, this probably also means that Sheryl wasn’t just some random homeless child Grace picked up from the streets. And it’s a bit ironic to think how wrong my original theory was: I thought Ranka was Mao’s granddaughter and that Sheryl wasn’t a direct relation.
At Macross Frontier, the fleet has just folded out near the Vajura home world. They intend to destroy the central node for the Vajura and land Island One on the planet for colonization. Before going out for the battle, Alto pays a visit to Sheryl and declares his intention to return alive. Sheryl also makes clear her feelings for him, not in so many words but rather with a heartfelt kiss. Even though she thinks that Alto loves Ranka and not her, she still stops Alto from saying anything, thinking that either acceptance or rejection by Alto would make it too difficult for her to sing. She does give him her remaining earring as a good luck charm.
As an aside, we also see Brilla looking forward to meeting someone. Is he talking about Mao? Did Mao somehow find the Vajura home world and stayed there? Does this mean that the Vajura are somehow related to the Protoculture? And could this mean that we might also be seeing Sarah Nome and Shin Kudo on the planet? I’m probably making wild speculations that have no bearing to the truth, however.
After the break, the fleet begins operations against the Vajura, and Sheryl starts off her concert with the song Sagittarius ☆ 9PM – Don’t be late. While the Macross Frontier fleet isn’t doing incredibly well against the Vajura, they aren’t doing horribly, either. It helps that Sheryl’s singing severely degrades the combat performance of the Vajura.
Seeing the Macross Frontier fleet close to achieving victory, Grace has Ranka believe that the fleet is an enemy and has her organize the Vajura to destroy them. This becomes a song battle between Ranka and Sheryl that I was hoping for. However, this isn’t just a contest of their singing skills and passion; Ranka’s close connection with the Vajura gives her an overwhelming advantage. A giant image of mind numb Ranka is projected, and we hear her singing of Do you remember love? everywhere. This turns the table on the Macross Frontier fleet, and the Vajura starts to dismantle the fleet very effectively.
While the battle wages on, Grace manages to delve further into the Vajura core using the backdoor Ranka unwittingly provides her. And at the central of it all is what looks suspiciously like the original Birdman from Macross Zero.
Meanwhile, Alto attempts to approach the giant image of Ranka, but he is intercepted by an apparently brainwashed Brera who is trying to “fight off the invaders”. Brera tries to shoot Alto down, and Klan tries to help Alto. But we have a moment of déjà vu as she is shot down by Brera with the arms to her Quaedlunn-Rau blown off. Alto flies in to help in turn, but Brera finally seems to have gotten his wish: Brera blows a hole right in the middle of Alto’s variable fighter, which careens towards the giant Ranka’s outstretched arms and explodes. This has Sheryl, who was watching a screen showing Alto’s fighter as she sung, screaming for him, at which point the episode ends.
The production staff are being mean to us this week, as they don’t show anything to indicate what would happen in the preview for the final episode. They just show us a photo album of pictures from the past. I have no idea if Alto somehow managed to survive with Ranka subconsciously whisking him away or having his mind swept into the Vajura network, or if he’s really dead and this prompts a bitter battle of some sort between Ranka and Sheryl.
And was it really the original Birdman from Macross Zero that we saw Grace heading towards? Or am I wrong again like I was back during episode 12? Did Mao Nome’s research into the Protoculture lead her to the Vajura home world to find Sarah Nome and Shin Kudo? Will Grace get her way and succeed in incorporating the Vajura fold network for her galaxy-wide connection of minds? Maybe she will succeed, but perhaps things might not quite work out the way she thinks.
In any case, if this episode is any indication, the final episode of Macross Frontier next week will certainly be something to look forward to.