Macross Delta Episode 3: A Stormy Dogfight

Walkure Thoughts: Just more of best girl Mikumo being best girl, NBD.  Anyway, the OP for this is starting to grow on me. I'm questioning the mixing during "dueling chorus" part, but that could be anything from bad audio on my encode to just not being able to hear the song properly and the actual release will clear it up.  Either way, I'm slowly starting to believe in Walkure, both as characters on the show and as a musical group.  Anyhow, onto the review!

We come right back to where we stopped in episode three, with Mirage demanding Hayate keep his hands off her plane, and (rightfully) asking what he's even doing on the ship. Upon being informed of his new position as a cadet in Delta platoon, she reminds him of her words in episode one--that he shouldn't be playing around on the battlefield.

Hayate points out that he can fly too, which gives Mirage the idea to drag him along on a test flight, which has hilarious results. Unused to the near-sonic speeds and ridiculous G-Forces, Hayate can barely move, much less be his usual, overconfident jerky self. And once getting back onto the Macross, we find the teen losing his lunch (...and breakfast...and probably last night's dinner...) all over the place...including onto Mirage, just as she learns she's going to be Hayate's instructor! Poor girl's got her work cut out for her. 

Coming out of the OP, we come back to Freyja gloating over being inducted into Walkure and planning to rub Hayate's face in her success.   So far, I'm actually quite fond of Freyja. Whereas Ranka looked and seemed childish to the point that I was actually uncomfortable with her place in Frontier as the third part of the love triangle, Freyja seems every bit the capable match for Hayate. She just feels like a more mature, well-rounded character and it's only episode 3.  (Having done a bit of checking, Freyja's only 14--two years younger than Ranka, but she acts a couple years older so this love triangle doesn't bug me as much.)

In any case, Freyja meets up with Hayate, then later Delta Squad pilot Chuck Mustang and Walkure leader Kaname Buccaneer as they make their way to Chuck's restaurant, which also doubles as dorm space for the males of the Elysion crew. We're reintroduced to the rowdy kids from episode two who tried to force Freyja into buying a cell phone, only to learn they're Chuck's younger siblings...though Freyja's brokeness takes a backseat to a troublesome, fish-stealing seal kitty!

Chuck and his brothers try to catch the "mercat", and things look dire...but apparently a hungry seal cat is both faster AND smarter than all of them, escaping their clutches and making it back to the ocean--but not before giving Hayate a quick smack in the face, presumably because he saw episode 2 Hayate.
It's at this point one of the other Delta Platoon members, Messer Ihlefeld, pops up. The other characters are all likable and apparently this show has a one jerk minimum per episode, and Messer picked the short straw. At this point in the episode all he does is turn down an offer to eat with his fellow Squad members, but rest easy, he his chance to be a proper prick later.  On that note, I'm picking either Messer or Chuck to be the one to bite it this season.  Though the girls of Walkure are actively on the battlefield, the idols are usually safe.  So if a pilot has to die (and it's Macross, so...yeah) it's got to be one of these two. 

Anyways, after that brief time with the guys, it's back to focusing on the girls of Walkure who share a girls-only dorm presumably on the other side of the city.   Well...some of them do, at least. Makina and Reina "live together" (yuri senses tingling...), and apparently nobody knows where Mikumo lives.  So the dorm is only occupied by Kaname, Freyja, and the reappearing Mirage--who presumably has been showering for the past however many hours to get the stink of vomit off her.

As another aside, Mirage has already become likable. She's by no means "best girl", but she works for me as a character now.  She welcomes Freyja in the scene pictured above, but then immediately starts listing off chores that are shared in the house that she'll be expected to do. When Freyja says that sounds hard to remember, Mirage immediately assures her that she'll be around to remind her. It's a cute scene, and it also reminds me of something I wanted to talk about.

Some people online are calling her a tsundere, but I don't think that's quite right.   Tsundere characters enact physical and emotional abuse upon people they like because they can't express affection like normal people. They're basically the kid on the playground shoving the girl/boy they like into the sand, and the character type shows up so often because otakus have stunted emotional growth and don't know how adults handle romantic affection.   But Mirage isn't any of that--she's not mean towards Hayate because she can't accept her feelings, she's mean because he's an idiot.  

The second half of the episode focuses on her attempts to train him, and her frustation with him is shown to be completely justified. He won't show up to training, half-asses it when he does, flagrantly disrespects authority, and outright does not seem to understand that Delta Squadron isn't a flying club--they go into battle to protect Walkure. Her reactions aren't to hide her rapidly growing emotions for a childhood friend, but exasperation with a problem student.  

I do appreciate that they've pulled back on making Hayate some sort of wunderkind though. In episode one he was magically able to pilot a Valkyrie, and by ep two he was being invited to join an elite PMC. I was afraid he was going to karma houdini his way through this show and drive me nuts, but the difficulty he had learning to fly eased my concerns a bit.   Of course, a lot of that seems to be his outright refusal to take training seriously. He spends more time trying to catch the seal-cat that pimp-slapped him than he does learning how to fly. (Of course, he can't catch the kitty either...)

After what looks like days of playing around, Mirage finally proposes that Hayate have a final exam to show what he's learned under her training--a sort of pass/fail deal to decide if he should be allowed to stay on with Delta Squadron. It's a paintball dogfight battle in which Hayate need only hit Mirage once to succeed...but of course Mirage is from the Jenius clan so we're basically pitting an ace pilot against a kid who's only good when he's "riding the wind".
The two start out in some basic Valkyries that are often used by platoons for training purposes, as explained by Walkure member Makina, which is the point we discover something about her: she's a total gearhead, having seemingly encyclopedic knowledge about the ships being employed by the Macross Elysion. It's a neat character quirk that I hope the rest of them get as the show develops.

The "exam" goes exactly as one would expect, with Hayate getting absolutely blown out early on until he gets a bit of "help".   Elsewhere, Freyja is going through her own training--having still not figured out how to properly channel the fold energy that's necessary to be a member of the team.  At that point, Kaname shows her footage of Hayate, and things have gotten even worse.  Completely unable to control his plane, he's actually at risk of legitimately hurting himself until Freyja starts to sing, and Hayate starts to "feel" the wind again, just in time to pull out of a dangerous nose dive, and use a new manuever he learned from a certain mercat to land a single hit on Mirage just before the time limit runs out.

The scene is actually a really cool moment of development for both Freyja and Hayate--they manage to convey the drama of the situation for Hayate and the hope that Freyja (and by extension, Walkure) can bring not only to her friend but to the populace in general.  But there WAS a bit of a hang up for me logically, wondering exactly how Hayate was hearing any of this--with Alto the fold quartz carried the sound, but Hayate doesn't have anything like that.   It was bugging the crap out of me until I remembered that Freyja's rune means there's a good chance she can transmit her voice to those she chooses to hear it.  I'm sticking with this until someone reveals something that makes as much sense.

Either way, just as both our protagonists are basking in their victory, Messer pops in to douse Hayate's ship in paint--dragging them both from their moment of triumph back down into the real world.  Hayate points out that Messer has no business being there, only for Messer to respond with the very accurate point that the battlefield is unpredictable, and there are no promises of fairness.   While Mirage's reaction is that she's lost, the reality is she would've shot Hayate's plane down ages ago, and if she hadn't someone else on a far more hectic battlefield would have.  Messer's still a jerk, though.  The song was just getting good!

Still, the end result is a positive one.  Hayate's learned the dangers of taking his training for granted, and apologizes to Mirage, promising to be a better student in the future!  It's not completely fixed though, as he complains about the idea of having to shoot anyone down.  In that respect he's reminiscent of Macross 7's Nekki Basara, who more often than not flew out onto battlefields without any weapons, merely singing to both the Macross Valkyrie pilots and the Protodevlin.  Still, I suspect that Hayate will have to learn the meaning of the battlefield sooner rather than later....

Either way, you can see the very beginnings of a budding relationship between these two.  Not a romantic one, but that of friendship and master/teacher.   It's very much like Hikaru/Misa from Macross Coke Classic, except this time the Jenius clan is involved so it's automatically better.

And on that note, the episode closes with us back on what I'm now assuming is planet Windemere, with a young boy named Heinz singing at the top of an immense castle, only to be called back inside by the guy leading the villains from episode one.   He agrees, claiming that they are about to stir up a great wind.  Uh-oh.   This inspires a lot of questions--does Heinz know what he's really doing to people?  What's the purpose of the Var syndrome?  And how exactly does his voice create such a thing, and seemingly only in Zentraedi?   All questions I'll have to leave for episode 4, unfortunately.  


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