Robotech, In Brief: Blitzkrieg

As they would say, it’ll be like shooting fish in a barrel, whatever that means.

Read my 365 Days of Robotech write-up on “Blitzkrieg” from last summer here.
WHAT HAPPENS: It’s been two months since the space fold disaster and Rick Hunter has not only enlisted in the Robotech forces, but has earned an assignment as a Veritech Fighter pilot. Having just finished his training, he spends some time with Minmei, following her as she shops for clothes. To his embarrassment, Lisa Hayes and two of the bridge operators spot him in the lingerie section while Minmei is trying on a dress. Meanwhile, Dr. Lang shows Captain Gloval a time-space distortion where the fold system used to be, which he believes can be used as a barrier. As the Zentraedi predict the SDF-1’s next move, Rick and Lisa are reintroduced and, after a beat, realize who each other are; Lisa gives him a hard time over their previous run-ins. On the bridge, Gloval outlines their next move: the SDF-1 will enter Saturn’s rings, switch on ECM to elude detection, and launch a counterattack. Rick learns this will be his first mission; as evening sets, Minmei joins him at the park and he gives her the news. They have their photo taken in front of a lit fountain to remember the moment. Back on the bridge, Lang shows Gloval the barrier system: three small photon barriers, controlled by trackball. Morning comes, and the operation begins; Rick didn’t get any sleep, and keeps drawing Lisa’s ire as his Veritech approaches the staging area. Having anticipated Gloval’s plan, Breetai orders Captain Zeril’s destroyer to seize the battle fortress. Things are going well for the SDF-1 until the main gun fails to fire; Lang figures the barrier system is interfering. The Zentraedi overwhelm the SDF-1’s fighters, until Lisa comes up with a plan: concentrating the photon barriers over the landing door of the Daedalus and ramming it down the Zentraedi destroyer’s throat, then opening the hatch to reveal a force of Destroids, who unleash a missile barrage that blows up the destroyer from the inside out. The plan goes off without a hitch, and Breetai decides it is time to call in some reinforcements.

THOUGHTS: A jam-packed episode that perfectly encapsulates the joys of this particular era of Robotech, mixing light comedy and relationship drama in Macross City with nifty sci-fi space battle and robot action. “Blitzkrieg” features some iconic moments, including Rick falling around the lingerie display with Minmei’s shopping bag, the photograph of him and Minmei by the fountain, and the Daedalus maneuver — the one moment where the attack mode of the SDF-1 really comes off as a super-giant robot. As much as I love all that, though, I think the standout moment for me is when Rick finds himself aboard Zeril’s destroyer and winds up face-to-face with a Zentraedi soldier. The look of horror on the Zentraedi’s face neatly flips Rick’s anxieties about the Zentraedi; he kept seeing the Zentraedi soldier from “Countdown” every time he tried to sleep, and now here he is face-to-face with another, and the Zentraedi is the one who’s scared! It’s a great showpiece episode, featuring every facet of Robotech until now, down to the neat gadgets that roam Macross City — in this case, the automatic camera wandering through the park. The only problem is that it’s a little TOO jam-packed; after Breetai mentions calling in reinforcements, the last minute or so is a narrated montage of images talking about the Veritechs mopping up the last Battlepods and Rick’s anxieties about being a soldier and his future. I kind of think we could have done without that; Rick’s growing maturity and how he settles into his role as a soldier are going to be SHOWN plenty in the episodes ahead. We don’t have to be TOLD about it by the narrator. Then again, this is a common Robotech problem …

FIRSTS OF NOTE: A few little firsts: the first appearance of the Tomahawk (Excalibur Mk VII) Destroid, the first (and last) appearance of Zentraedi Captain Zeril, and of course, the first apperance of the pinpoint barrier system and Daedalus attack. More noteworthy, it’s Rick Hunter’s first mission as a Veritech pilot and the first appearance (outside of the opening theme) of his white-with-red-trim VF-1J; while he’s currently answering to the call sign Skull 23, this is the craft that fans call Vermilion One.

RICK’S STATE OF MIND: Anxious, morose, and preoccupied with the notion that he could die at any moment. (He nearly does, escaping Zeril’s destroyer by the skin of his teeth.)

DOES MINMEI SING? No, she’s too busy using Rick as a stand-in for a REAL boyfriend — all the benefits, and she doesn’t have to do anything in return! Sweet deal for her.


4 thoughts on “Robotech, In Brief: Blitzkrieg

  1. It’s hard for me to see Minmei as deliberately manipulating Rick; I know that’s how some sources interpret it, but for some reason I’m inclined to give Minmei the benefit of the doubt and believe that she was just being extremely naive, believing that she could just hang out with this new guy and the question of if they are date-dating never coming up.

    RIck, of course, is partially to blame for never speaking up on the same issue.

    • That naivety seems to me to be more of a manifestation of her being a bit spoiled and self-centered, as you are when you’re young and pretty/talented and people go out of their way to do nice things for you all the time. It may not be a deliberate manipulation — “Hee hee, I’ll get him to do whatever I want!” — but there’s a definite imbalance here of him showering her with attention and doing nice things for her and in return all he gets is, well, to spend all this time with her. If she doesn’t get the inequality, it’s because she’s not thinking about it, and RIck’s such a moony-eyed doormat that he’ll put up with it. It gets glaringly obvious as the series goes on, but I think it’s clear even this early that Minmei doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about what other people want. She doesn’t have to; she always gets what she wants.

  2. I starting to believe that Minmei doesn’t have the courage to admit that she and Rick are an item, albeit she says that they’re just friends.

    As for her relationship with Lynn Kyle: Ugh.

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