Robotech, In Brief: Phantasm

“Whenever I fly I get shot down, but now I can save her with this magic bicycle!”

“Attention: Corporal Rick Hunter was shot down this morning while attempting to fly a bicycle.”

Read my 365 Days of Robotech write-up on “Phantasm” from last summer here.

WHAT HAPPENS: Recovering from his injuries sustained at the hands of the Daedalus‘s missile barrage, Rick Hunter suffers through vivid dreams piecing together bits and pieces of his life since he arrived on Macross Island. He visits Minmei in concert, only to see her snatched away by the Zentraedi Breetai. He quickly assumes control of a Veritech Fighter to try and save  her, only to be shot down. Humiliated, he enters the service to get a second chance, but is shot down again and again. Eventually he gets help from Lisa Hayes, Max Sterling, and Ben Dixon, who break into the Zentraedi flagship. There, he finds Minmei in Breetai’s clutches on an island floating in space — only Breetai is Lynn Kyle, and he won’t let Minmei be with a soldier. Rick strips away his uniform to reveal his old flightsuit, and Kyle melts away. Pursued by missiles, Rick ejects the back end of his Veritech and it transforms into his old fanjet, ultimately crashing inside the SDF-1, where he and Minmei replay their time marooned together below decks. Rick tries to tell her he’s becoming interested in another girl, but Minmei falls asleep; he tries to talk to her about maybe getting married, but she dozes off again. When he finally gets through to her, she tells him she wants to keep her career, but he says that might be a problem, since he doesn’t know where he might be assigned. As Rick assures her they can work it out, the two lean in for a kiss; when Rick looks back, he sees the Zentraedi, and ahead he finds that he just kissed Lisa, who, as Dolza bellows that he’ll never have Minmei now, tells him he’s a part of her world. At that, Rick wakes up.

THOUGHTS: A dream-logic clip show, bridged with nice new animation. The reveal of Breetai-cowled Lynn Kyle is a real standout moment, showcasing exactly how Rick sees his rival for Minmei’s affection, as is the lovely still of Rick and Minmei dressed for their wedding day. The writers and actors seem to have a lot of fun with this one, but moreover, it does a great job showing us how Rick sees his life. The determination I’ve talked about before is made quite explicit, as he goes after Minmei with great gusto over, and over, and over again — and we also see Rick getting a complex about how often he’s crashed and been blown up so far. It’s interesting that his subconscious calls him on his casual sexism, with Minmei insisting on keeping up her career; watch how Rick backpedals on that one. Is he getting better about this, or does he just want Minmei that much? And notice how the final sequence is all “The Long Wait”; for Rick, that’s his happy place, that status quo. Yet throughout that he talks about his growing feelings for Lisa, as well as how clear it is to him that he and Minmei are drifting apart. For what could have been a throwaway episode, a lot of thought went into this, on both the original production end and the Robotech production end. Over the last two viewings I’ve come around on it; I quite like it.

FIRSTS OF NOTE: It’s all in Rick’s head, so aside from the sight of Rick and Minmei dressed for their wedding day — again, lovely picture — nothing new this time.

RICK’S STATE OF MIND: Delirious and scattered, trying to make sense of his life as his body recovers from his near-death experience.

DOES MINMEI SING? We hear “To Be In Love” three times; it’s worth noting that so far she’s never performed that on-screen for anyone but Rick. You could look at it right now as “their” song.


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