Robotech, In Brief: Private Time

“I hope someday you can find happiness, Minmei. Good bye, and remember, I’ll always love you. 

WHAT HAPPENS: Rick Hunter and Lisa Hayes prepare for a picnic lunch when Rick gets a phone call from Minmei. She’s in Monument City and really, really wants to see him. He reluctantly agrees, though he knows he’ll have a hard time explaining it to Lisa. She’s already at the cafe where they were going to meet. Rick touches down at Monument in his Fanliner and Minmei meets him at the airfield. The two reminisce over drinks at a piano bar. She gives him a gift, a long white scarf. Kyle barges in and tells Minmei she’s scheduled for a press conference right now. He grabs her by the arm, but she gulps down a glass of wine and tells him she’s too tipsy to talk to any reporters. He splashes her with some water and drags her away. Rick drinks and mopes and eventually drives back to the airport, but is stopped by a blockade. The officer on duty tells him there’s a Zentraedi attack. Rick swerves around the blockade and floors it. A force of Zentraedi storms the airfield, taking out fleets of parked Veritechs. As they’re short of pilots, Rick is allowed to lead a team of Destroids onto the airfield. They arrive just in time to save his Fanliner. Rick orders the rebels to throw down their weapons. The Zentraedi open fire; in response, a Destroid fires a missile volley that takes care of most of them. The Destroids and a lone Veritech disable the rest in short order. Rick flies back to Macross, certain that Lisa’s going to hate him. She’s still at the cafe as night falls, feeding her picnic lunch to a lonely puppy, when Rick arrives. He assures her that it was urgent personal business that held him up. Lisa chides him for not calling, but is happy enough to see him; the two take a walk, but when Rick wraps his scarf around her, she catches a whiff of Minmei’s perfume on it. She tells him not to bother calling for another date. As snow begins to fall, Rick finds himself completely alone. Meanwhile, in Monument, Minmei refuses to sing; she can’t perform with a broken heart. Kyle finds her crying on the shore. He tells her how selfish she’s been, and how through her talent, if she just let love flow through her they could transcend all the evil around them. While he’s worked hard for her for these past few years, he tells her he’s going on a long trip and he probably won’t see her again. He tells her he’ll always love her, and walks away, out of her life.

THOUGHTS: I’ve always been fond of this story. The relationships aren’t in some stupid nebulous place anymore. Even though Lisa still hasn’t told Rick she loves him, he knows it and is trying to build the relationship from his end. The picnic is HIS idea. Unfortunately, now you’ve got Minmei, her heart filled with regret, trying to move back in on Rick; she’s been searching for those good times in her past ever since “The Robotech Masters,” when she visisted the Chinese restaurant. Her current fixation on Rick is a part of that. He only comes to visit because she begs and pleads. This is about the worst Minmei’s been in terms of selfish behavior, to the point that even if he’s completely unsympathetic, you can at least see where Kyle is coming from. The reason Minmei’s no good for Rick is because she doesn’t have a mature sense of responsibility, while Rick’s grown into his responsibilities. She’s still a child, as Kyle tells her, while Rick’s grown up.

The tone of the final scene with Kyle is interesting; despite the drinking and his awful behavior throughout the Reconstruction episodes, he seems sincere when he tells Minmei where her singing could take her and that he hopes she’ll find her happiness. If he was the monster he seemed to be, he would have stayed; it’s clear he knows that he’s the problem, and though it breaks HIS heart, he’ll go and find his own path. For the first time in the whole series, I actually liked Kyle at the end.

For the two of you in the back who don’t know, in Macross the scarf has “HI + LM” embroidered in it — referring to Hikaru Ichijyo and Lynn Minmay, Rick and Minmei in Robotech. Since those first two initials wouldn’t have any relevance in Robotech, the footage of the initials was edited out and the slightly clunky device of Lisa smelling Minmei’s perfume on it was patched over the scene. I think Melanie MacQueen’s performance, combined with the obvious disgust Lisa shows in the animation, sells it well enough.

Production-wise, this is weird one. About half the episode is kind of ropey looking and half of it is staggeringly good, with detailed close-ups that are as on-model to Haruhiko Mikimoto’s character designs as we’ve seen throughout The Macross Saga. The result is an episode that visually works where it counts, during moments of high drama, and leaves a good impression.

FIRSTS OF NOTE: It’s the first (and last) time we see a named character pilot a Destroid. This is also the first time Monument City, the central locale of the Masters episodes, is mentioned; interesting that Kyle says they’re celebrating their autonomy from the central government, given that within the next twenty years it’ll be the SEAT of the central government.

RICK’S STATE OF MIND: Rick does a stupid thing, knows he’s doing a stupid thing when he’s doing it, and realizes the consequences will probably be disastrous for his budding relationship with Lisa. He does it anyway, and is smart enough to be totally unsurprised when it blows up in his face. This is what happens when you try to please everyone all of the time. It ends in tears.

DOES MINMEI SING? She refuses to. I don’t blame her: they told us she would sing “We Will WIn,” then they started the music for “My Time To Be A Star.” Whoops!

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2 thoughts on “Robotech, In Brief: Private Time

  1. After seeing this episode for the first time, I marked the day on my calendar as –can you see it coming?– “Take Back apology for Punching Rick Hunter In The Mouth Day.”

    A good point about him trying to please everyone, I really hadn’t been that understanding about his point of view on that before. But what really makes him a shmuck in this episode is the scarf. Even at 16, when I first watched this episode and saw him come running up, the first thing I thought was “Oh God, he’s wearing the scarf Minmei gave him.” And then he’s got the nerve *to put it around her.* He really did deserve what he got. At least, as you point out, he realized it.

  2. Fer, I was wondering how long it’d be before Rick was back on your shit-list ;)

    I thought Rick was a total dick in this episode, but I have to appreciate your take on it – at least he is self-aware enough now that he realizes the mess he made.

    Kyle is probably my least-liked character, but I also agree with you concerning the final scene. It’s his best showing yet. Granted, he set the bar pretty low, but I actually agree with his statements and he comes across as rather reasonable.

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