Robotech, In Brief: Force of Arms

“Life is only what we choose to make it.

“Let’s just take it.

“Let us be free …”

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

WHAT HAPPENS: Planet Earth is surrounded by Dolza’s nearly five million ship-strong armada. Aboard the SDF-1, Rick Hunter takes what may be his final opportunity to tell Lynn Minmei that he loves her. Lynn Kyle tries to stop Minmei from following him, but she breaks away and takes off. As Dolza’s command ship arrives in Earthspace and his fleet energizes for a bombardment, Minmei apologizes to Rick. He tells her it’s alright; things wouldn’t have worked out anyway since they live in such different worlds now. All over the planet, Zentraedi energy beams tear through Earth’s defenses, rip through the atmosphere, and wipe out entire cities. The planet’s surface is devastated. Minmei cries for her parents, and though Rick fears he may have lost Lisa, he tells Minmei this isn’t the end. He has a plan. He wants her to sing for everyone. While seventy percent of the planet’s surface has been destroyed, at Alaska Base it is confirmed that the Grand Cannon will function. In orbit, Captain Gloval asks Breetai to broadcast Minmei’s song on all available frequencies. As Exedore explains, Dolza’s men haven’t had contact with micronian culture. The broadcast will cause mass confusion and increase the micronians’ morale. Minmei visits the bridge and Exedore adds that he would like for her to perform a kiss as well. Back on Earth, the Grand Cannon energizes, firing a massive beam which tears through hundreds of thousands of Zentraedi vessels. Minmei takes the stage, and the forces of the SDF-1 mass for the attack. Captain Gloval orders total radio silence so that Minmei’s song is the only thing the Zentraedi hear. The joint forces move out; Minmei’s song proves such a distraction that they’re free to make the first move, opening fire with everything they’ve got. Kyle joins Minmei and they kiss, proving an effective second round of distraction. As the battle rages on, Rick is struck with a missile barrage; he blocks it with his Battloid’s arms, but is knocked out. Meanwhile, Lisa tries to radio anyone still out there. She briefly gets a hold of her father, who admits she was right about the power of the Zentraedi before an explosion engulfs him. Above the planet, Rick’s Battloid drifts towards the planet. He comes to and switches to Fighter mode for reentry. As he flies above the wastelands of Earth, he picks up a signal coming from Alaska Base — it’s Lisa! He lets her know he’s on his way and swoops to her rescue. Meanwhile, the SDF-1 reaches its objective, Dolza’s command ship. Using a modified Daedalus attack, it tears into the Zentraedi mothership and enters its core. Captain Gloval orders the deployment of the reflex warheads. The fortress fires everything it’s got and engages the omnidirectional barrier. The entire complex blisters up and explodes in a show of light as bright as a second sun. Back on Earth, Rick and Lisa survey the scorched surface of the planet. Lisa wonders if anyone else survived, when suddenly they hear the sound of Minmei’s song. The SDF-1 has survived. Far in the distance, the battered space battle fortress descends towards its adopted home, wounded but victorious. Mankind has won the First Robotech War, but at a great cost …

Lisa Hayes & Rick Hunter original production cel, from my personal animation art collection.

Lisa Hayes & Rick Hunter original production cel, from my personal animation art collection.

THOUGHTS: While there are several episodes I’d say I like more than this, you cannot deny the impact of “Force of Arms.” It features some of the most brilliant mecha battle animation of the early 1980’s, appears to pay off the Rick-Lisa-Minmei love triangle to, and gives every surviving major character a moment to shine. Rick gets that kiss that was denied him back in “The Long Wait,” but at the same time he says farewell to Minmei; he gets shot down again, sure, but because of that he’s around to rescue Lisa from another exploding base. And did you notice this was the first time Rick’s said anything to Minmei since “Farewell Big Brother?” What he says is true; they live in such different worlds now that it could never work, but they can have this one final moment together, on this day when none of them might survive. When he finds Lisa again, though, it’s clear where Rick’s future lies. Oh, and check it out — Lisa in his lap, wearing his flight helmet. Another callback, all the way back to him and Minmei in “Space Fold.” One thing I like about Rick’s moment to shine is that it’s personal; he gets his Veritech smashed up in battle and sits out the final fight to save Lisa’s life. He doesn’t get a big main hero duel with Khyron or something. The fortress itself gets the big hero moment, taking down the Zentraedi war machine that so fears the way of life it stands for.

FIRSTS OF NOTE: First performance of “We Will Win,” first appearance of Miriya’s red Veritech, and I believe the first time we’ve seen the interior of a Monster Destroid and its three pilots. We also see a new Zentraedi mecha, the Nousjadeul-Ger Powered Armor. This is also the first time that Rico, Konda, and Bron actually get to meet Minmei. It’s a very sweet scene, one of my favorites of the episode.

RICK’S STATE OF MIND: Rick thinks this might be the last day of his life. The Earth has been destroyed, they’re up against a few million enemy cruisers, and all he wants is for the girl he loved to know he cares. After seemingly ending that chapter of his life with a kiss, he’s surprised that not only has he survived the battle to end all battles, but so has the girl he thinks he might be okay with spending the rest of his life with. One door closes, another opens. Sometimes life’s like that.

DOES MINMEI SING? A slightly melancholy “To Be In Love” is played over memories of Minmei’s hometown of Yokohama before she takes the stage and belts out verse after verse of “We Will Win.”


One thought on “Robotech, In Brief: Force of Arms

  1. I have nothing to add since this is an excellent review – except to note that I totally have that “fhe” VHS featured above. It is one of only two official VHSs in my possession – all my other tapes are (very poor) recordings from local TV.

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