Macross Delta Episode 2: Audition with Death

How am I supposed to get on a ship when Best Girl isn't even involved with that nonsense?
Welcome to the Macross Delta Review/Impressions series that I totally don't really have the time to do.   I'll try to keep these weekly, which means I should be doing episode 3 by Thursday and keep the rest done on a "by Tuesday" basis.

Walkure Thoughts: Yes, Mikumo is totally the header image because she's my favorite out of the group.  She's basically Sheryl Norme with an even bigger flair for the dramatic, and she's totally going to end up my favorite character...y'know, provided she doesn't become a secret traitor later in the series.  (That's totally going to happen, isn't it?)   Also, the Walkure symbol is totally the Westside gang sign.  Just saying.

Also: Judging by what I've seen online, Ikenai Borderline is already anisong of 2016.  I'm already upset the actual single hasn't dropped yet.  

On to the review!

 Four months later and finally the show has properly started, after a slightly edited first episode.  The opening isn't quite Triangler, but they aren’t even the same type of song. With Triangler a duet between two dueling idols, the other a group song done by the in-show magical girl super idol group Walkure.  It's definitely got potential to grow on me, and the actual scenes are slick, offering a bit of characterization to the pilots, Walkure, and even the villains! Neat. Anyway, we open with Hayate and Frejya being saved by our newest member of the rainbow-haired Jenius clan, Mirage, just as Walkure manages to treat the infected Zentradi and the bad guys (whoever they are) fly off.

Of course, all isn't back to normal yet. Mirage promptly finds Hayate and slugs him for hopping into a plane only to immediately start tripping balls, putting the lives of him and others in danger. I don't usually handle female anime characters handling non-violent situations with violence too well, and I started out annoyed with this scene until we learn something vital about our male lead: he's a dick.  

Rather than take Mirage's otherwise completely logical scolding to heart, he instead mocks her for not matching the rhythm of the other pilots and tells her she should take her job more seriously. This, after she just helped fight off an enemy valkyrie squadron and saved his life. It left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, and it'd only get worse the further we got into the episode.  Having "mostly" saved the city, the women of Walkure say they'll be holding the "final" auditions for the new member of the group on Planet Ragna, with Freyja pledging to join the team. Recognizing her voice from the previous episode, they give her a few encouraging words before jetting off.

...And the story skips ahead too, finding both Freyja *and* Hayate on the planet Ragna. Initially I thought Hayate guided her there, but since she was just as shocked as he was, there's a good chance she just hitched a ride in another apple cart. (You'd think they'd have wised up to that trick...)  In any case, again Hayate's overall dickishness surfaces, as he repeatedly assures Freyja that she'll fail at joining Walkure, and that she's on her own when she does.   I can't figure out why he'd do this, save that he's just pissed someone else has a purpose in life, and even then just makes him even more of a tool.

The sad thing is, I quite liked Hayate in the first episode. Rather than running away from a pre-planned destiny like Alto, he was a boy who kept trying things because he hadn't found his passion yet, something I can very much identify with and shot him well ahead of the rather boring male lead in Frontier.  But this episode just painted Hayate as a jerk in so many separate instances that any goodwill he earned went out the window. He'll have to do some work to earn it back.

Possibly Kawamori's best invention.
Delta definitely seems to be looking to expand the universe of Macross. Planet Ragna isn't just a world of humans and Zentradi. Rather, there appear to be new races--or at least gene-altered humans and animals--that include seal-kitties and humanoids with gills as well as lungs. We see an actual mermaid, at one point! We also learn that Freyja is from a planet known as Windemere, a race of people that frown on interstellar travel and have become isolationist, rejecting other cultures. This knowledge makes Freyja stand out even more against Ranka, which is the immediate comparison when looking at her design and even most of her behavior--this is a girl who had the guts to defy an entire world to chase her dream.   

A dream which is almost cut woefully short at the starting line, when she learns that the auditions are NOT open, but in fact the last round of auditions that had been ongoing for some time. Fortunately for her, her and Hayate's actions in episode one grant them both special chances. She gets into the audition, while Hayate is invited to Ragna's Macross unit, the Elysion.  

This is where we run into another difference from Macross Frontier.  Freyja's Fold Wavelength isn't quite strong enough, and despite rigorous training, she fails the auditions.  Elsewhere, Hayate's talents cause the flight crew of Walkure to offer him a chance to pilot a valkrie unit. Guess they respected his mad breakdancing skillz. But instead of simply joining, Hayate takes yet another chance to be a dick, pointing out that he hates the military and will "do things his way". The strange thing is...they agree to it all.

And here's where things get weird for me. In Frontier, Alto was probably the most talented pilot of the Junior Skull Squadron, but he was never invited and had to fight to earn his spot. Meanwhile Ranka basically fell into her role as the new idol alongside Sheryl--she sang a few times, got an agent, and suddenly she was everywhere.

Compare that to here, where Hayate is basically handed the keys to a shiny new valkyrie to help an elite threat deal with a mystery virus affecting the galaxy...while Freyja can't even pass a simple audition.  (One in which she adorably goes full on 80's style with.)

Of course, this fixes itself, when Freyja finds the courage to sing during a faux Var Syndrome attack while on her way from the auditions. I'm still not sure I like how this was set didn't quite have the same gravitas as Sheryl singing when she and Alto were trapped underground in Frontier. It's also a little weird that the entire Walkure squad followed this girl around when they could have simply offered her the job. What I DON'T take issue with, is how serious they took things.   As seen in episode one, being a member of Walkure is life-threatening--in fact, the audition itself makes less sense than this situation.

So! That covers most of episode 2, with our newbies finally in the roles they need to be for the show to properly get rolling. Did I leave out anything?   Well...maybe just the part where Mirage discovered Hayate and doesn't want anything to do with him. Uh-oh!

And, getting to the end, this just might be one of those rare anime where the end theme is better than the OP.   Check back with me in a couple episodes.


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