Robotech, In Brief: Paradise Lost

“Someday we’ll come back to Earth. We’ll never give up hope. But for now I’m proud to be a citizen of Macross City and this ship.”

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

WHAT HAPPENS: Convinced that the destructive wave of the barrier overload was a deliberate, ruthless move by the micronians, Dolza returns command of the operation to seize the SDF-1 to Breetai, who agrees on the condition that he is given command of the million-ship-strong Imperial-class fleet. As Breetai’s fleet folds for the solar system, government helicopters drop supplies on the flight decks of the Daedalus and Prometheus, stirring rumors that the SDF-1 will soon be banished from Earth. Below decks, the Zentraedi spies reminisce about the good times they’ve had as they prepare to return to the fleet. Captain Gloval receives grim new orders: to leave the Earth with the civilian population of Macross City in tow, or else. He tells Claudia to prepare for liftoff the minute all supplies are all on-board. Breetai’s fleet emerges from hyperspace behind the moon, and the spies escape in a custom Battlepod, blasting off to rendezvous with their ride “home.” As those aboard the battle fortress take notice of the massive fold operation beyond the moon, Rico, Konda, and Bron make their report to Breetai and Exedore. Breetai is utterly confused by their observations, while Exedore is intrigued. The spies are dismissed and, once they are alone, begin showing their comrades the stuff they didn’t present to their superiors, including a singing Minmei doll. Back aboard the SDF-1, Captain Gloval makes the big announcement to the civilians that they have been ordered to leave the Earth. He chokes out an apology and as he sheds a few tears, Minmei runs to his side and tells everyone he needs their support now more than ever. She gives an inspiring speech that lifts the spirits of most aboard SDF-1 as Lisa slips away to take charge of the liftoff. Once again, SDF-1 takes to the stars.

THOUGHTS: It is amazing to me that even with less than a year between viewings, I still thought of “Paradise Lost” as “the bad animation episode where the SDF-1 is exiled” until about halfway in. I forgot that this is the turning point where the spies are returned to their people and begin to preach the Gospel of the Cult of Minmei — a sequence of events that brings this up from “the bad animation episode where the SDF-1 is exiled” to, maybe not one of the best episodes of The Macross Saga, but a fairly good and important one with some great lines delivered well by the guys who do the three spies, especially Robert Axelrod as Rico. And despite the rather poor art and animation throughout — the first shot of the SDF-1 is appallingly bad, and the “ghost Ben” that appears in Rick’s quarters is terrifying and looks more like the Michelin Man — there are some iconic images in there as well, such as the Zentraedi staring at the fallen Minmei doll (which appeared in print ads for the series you’d see in magazines and comic books back in the mid-1980s), and … err, well, maybe that’s the one, but man, that’s an iconic shot. The scale issues, with the Minmei doll appearing to be the size of a real human relative to a Zentraedi, still nag, but between the bad art and the need for the Zentraedi to interact with it and the other micronian artifacts, I get why it’s that big.

FIRSTS OF NOTE: It’s the first time the name Minmei is mentioned among the fleets of the Zentraedi — and not the last time.

RICK’S STATE OF MIND: Distraught. Ben’s death seems to be hitting him harder than Roy’s did, or at the very least he’s lingering on it more than he did Roy’s. Understandable, as it happened on his watch, he’s the one who has to write the letter to Ben’s parents, and he has to carry that with him for the rest of his life.

DOES MINMEI SING? The spies listen to “My Time To Be A Star” on their boom box, and beyond the moon their Minmei doll sings “To Be In Love.” The real deal ends the broadcast to the people of Macross City with a somewhat inappropriate performance of “My Time To Be A Star.”