Robotech, In Brief: A Rainy Night

“So, how long does it take for the hurting to stop?” 

WHAT HAPPENS: Lisa Hayes sulks in the mess hall, kicking herself for how she’s treated Rick. Claudia stops by and offers tea for her emotional wounds and some advice: tell him how she feels while she’s still got time. Rick returns from a patrol and is told to see Lisa; he curtly tosses her his report and tells her his personal life is just that: personal. To demonstrate, he asks Vanessa if she’d like a bite to eat. Lisa storms out and Vanessa tells him Lisa is in love with him. Rick laughs it off. As night falls, Lisa walks home in the rain. She finds herself in front of Rick’s quarters and, as she considers knocking, Claudia appears with an umbrella. She tells Lisa to drop by if she doesn’t work up the courage. Soon Lisa and Claudia are talking over a bottle of wine. Claudia says at least the man Lisa loves is still alive, but when Lisa remarks that Claudia and Roy seemed to hit it off from the start, Claudia corrects her and tells her all about her romance with Roy Fokker. It started back during the war, when the two were posted up in Wyoming. He singled her out when she was just a green recruit. She wanted nothing to do with him. When she did agree to a date, he turned up late with three other girls; Claudia turned her back on him. To make it up to her he showered her with gifts, but she wouldn’t budge. They didn’t see each other for over a year and, when she found out they were both on Macross Island, she caught him at a hangar where Robotech weapons were being developed. He was happy to see her, but she took the opportunity to return all the gifts he’d given her. He shrugged and returned to his new fighter, which made her angrier. She went back the next day and saw Roy dancing with some girls. The night following the first Veritech test flight, Roy called her from a phone booth outside her quarters. Standing in the rain, he told her about his fears as a pilot, and admitted that while he’s liked being with silly girls in the past, he needs someone to tell these things to who’ll listen, and he wants that person to be her. As Claudia admits that she didn’t return his confidence that night, Rick realizes that Vanessa was right. He springs up and runs to Lisa’s quarters, but she’s not home. Claudia’s story is interrupted by a phone call: it’s Rick, looking for Lisa. Claudia lets him know she’s there and shoos Lisa out when he arrives. They walk in the rain and Rick invites her to his place, though he doesn’t have anything to offer her. Feeling for the box of tea in her coat pocket, Lisa tells him she has just the thing …

Roy Fokker original production cel, from my personal animation art collection.

Roy Fokker original production cel, from my personal animation art collection.

THOUGHTS: While any new material with the late Roy Fokker is a good thing, the picture Claudia paints isn’t a flattering one. He leaves her in the rain with unconvincing-sounding assurances that the other girls meant nothing to him, even after baring his soul in a way that suggests he’s sincere. Claudia’s admission that she didn’t even fully open up to him immediately after that isn’t terribly surprising; that rainy night wasn’t where their story ended, it’s just where the running time left it. Then again, that’s the perfect spot to end it for this episode. The Macross producers were setting up a parallel; Rick and Lisa’s story doesn’t end on this rainy night, either — there’s several steps left to go, but in both cases the story we’re watching ends with bridges built to a stronger future for both couples.

This is a decent looking episode overall, but it’s distracting that Roy’s character model swaps back and forth between younger, longer-haired Roy from the posting in Wyoming and the sharp-chinned, beefier Roy we’re familiar with — in the hangar with Claudia, it’s older Roy in wide shots and younger Roy in the close-ups. If we’re basing the dates on these flashbacks on what the show’s given us, you’d assume the stuff in Wyoming is pre-1999; the opening narration to “Boobytrap” points to global peace not long after the crash of the SDF-1. Robotech.com says otherwise, that Claudia joined up after the crash, suggesting a more original-Macross-like early 2000’s date, which lines up better with Claudia not seeing Roy for about a year after Wyoming and then joining him on Macross Island. If we have the SDF-1 crash between the two, the Veritech Fighter’s development begins far too early. I’d love to put a year or two between the funny dance in the hangar and the rainy night, but Roy talks about it like it’s recent. The problem is his character design. He looks visibly older on the rainy night; his goofy dance consistently uses the “young Roy” design. I’ve always assumed it was much later because he’s also talking like he’s going to take up the prototype he’s looking at and it’s still looking skeletal, though over his shoulder there is a VF-X test fighter that seems more ready to go.

Timeline problems and the occasional design slip-up aside, it’s a sharp-looking episode that sets Rick and Lisa’s relationship on the right track and features an extra serving of Dan Woren as Roy Fokker. Seems like a winner to me.

FIRSTS OF NOTE: It’s our first long look at any of our heroes before the launch ceremony; we’ve seen glimpses of Roy back in the flying circus (Remastered offers a glimpse in “Boobytrap,” repeated in both versions of “Bursting Point,” and then we see another look in “Reconstruction Blues”), but here we see him in his pre-Skull Leader military days, along with a young Claudia.

RICK’S STATE OF MIND: Still stinging from Lisa harping on him about Minmei before and during Minmei’s rescue; it takes him until he gets home to realize what a jerk he’s been, and it takes turning Vanessa’s words over in his head and thinking about those photos Lisa gave him in “Reconstruction Blues” before the truth sinks in. Rick may be an idiot but at least he knows it.

DOES MINMEI SING? She doesn’t even show up except in flashback as Lisa nurses her wounds with drink.

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