So we open the infiltration mission with a pre-opening song gay hacking scene featuring the series’ best couple, Reina and Makina. I know I’ve been hammering a lot on this, but I can’t help but like how the show portrays their relationship through little scenes like this. Reina’s first hacking attempt on the defence network fails, so Makina leans in and offers a hand before the two make the Walkure sign together, flipping off the viewer in the process. It shows how much they trust and like each other without you needing to be told this directly.
The planet Voldor is populated with cat people, so that means dressing up with cat ears and lots and lost of nyanderful puns. Of course it would be Mirage who wants to spoil everybody’s fun, but it’s impawssible. You do have to wonder why the Walkure team would be sent in to infiltrate this supposedly not very strategic planet, but if it was logical it wouldn’t be Macross. And anyway, who cares when Best Couple is cosplaying cat girls?
We got a bit of their back story this time as well as to how their relationship got started. Guess what? It didn’t start out well, with them fighting to the point that Walkure had to cancel shows because of it. The picture says it all. There’s Kaname, Walkure’s leader, explaining how the two used to be oil and water, while the sexual tension comes through in the song lyrics even as they stand facing away from each other, arms crossed but one eye still on the other. You can feel their story from that one brief cut — and I do hope we’ll at least get an OVA out of the beginnings of Walkure at some point.
Plotwise not much else is of importance. The main characters are fairly useless throughout, Best Couple gets to showcase their gay hacking skills twice, while singing two different new songs and Freyja still has the best reaction faces in all of Macross. So much so that it’s difficult to choose just one to show. A setup episode if there ever was one. One thing that has been constantly missing so far has been Mirage taking the spotlight, so I hope that will change next episode, when the main three are left on their own.
So I’ve been reading the manga version of flying Witch today after being well impressed by the anime adaption. An adaptation always changes things and it was interesting to see how the anime had changed and improved on some the gags in the manga like the weed pulling gag or Makoto getting lost on the way to her own bedroom. Just by having more control over timing these jokes have a better comic beat. There’s only so much you can do in a manga to control the reader’s flow of time: it works better to see somebody go left, wait a second and two then go right than to see the same thing in two side by side panels. Nevertheless timing in a manga can be perfect as well, as we can see in the two pictures shown here. First we have the setup above, which comes a few pages before the payoff below, which takes up an entire page. By using full length, short panels the mangaka perfectly controls the reader’s timing: each panel takes about a second to read, gving you three seconds of build-up before the payoff in the last one.
It works perfectly, but in the context of a monthly manga that has twentytwo pages per installment, it comes at a significant cost: the payoff itself is an entire page and including setup it’s five pages of story being used for a single joke. That’s a lot. It’ll be interesting to see if and how the anime adapts this scene, which may be a minute long, if that? A lot less costly in the context of a twentytwo minute episode. Which also explains why the anime could expand on these jokes whereas the manga couldn’t: it’s more efficient.
Just look at that picture. Don’t you just want to join them under there? I love the detail Umina Chika puts in panels like this in Sangatsu No Lion. The crowded, cramped nature of the panel underscores the coziness of the living room at new year’s eve, everybody snug under the kotatsu, cats and all. It’s a bit of gentle humour to set the scene before the mood turns serious. A pity this series doesn’t have an official English translation yet.
Makina and Reina continue to fascinate me in Macross Delta. They’re such a nice, well balanced couple I dread the day the series will make them into close friends or something similar. So far though Delta has been very good in showing, not telling how close they are, how comfortable they are with each other. They’re also the friendliest of the whole Walkure crew, not afraid to mingle with the support crew or in Makina’s case work on the Valkyries themselves, the ones most active in welcoming Hayate and Freyja to the team.
Meanwhile those two are so in synch the supporting cast is wondering whether they were separated at birth. Again, this is shown as much in their behaviour around each other as in dialogue. It has been that way since the very first episode but it’s still on that cusp between friendship and romance, where it could go either way. In general there seems to be much less drama in Delta‘s love triangles than in previous instalments, but their strong bond leaves the third member of the triangle somewhat out in the cold.
Mirage has been somewhat of a tsundere, slightly hostile to Hayate at first, not unjustified considering how they first met (not to mention him throwing up all over her after his first training flight). It was obvious that her somewhat stiff and by the book attitude was hiding some personal trauma –that’s always the cases with these characters– and we got a hint of it this episode. Last time she’d already mentioned her grandparents, arguably the most famous fighter pilot couple in the Galaxy and their legacy; it’s no surprise she feels the pressure. There were a fair few signs of a blossoming friendship between her and Hayate this episode, but no romance yet.
But perhaps we have been looking in the wrong direction for our love triangle. Perhaps it’s not so much Freyja x Hayate x Mirage as Hayate x Freyja x Mikumo? The latter certainly seems …interested in the new Walkure member more than mere friendship or camaraderie might justify. She’s also a bit more …hands-on with Freyja than with the other Walkure members. Mind, it’s all suggestion and nothing concrete so far, but wouldn’t it be fun if that was the official love triangle?