When Love Doesn’t Drift Away: Claudia LaSalle and Everyday Love in Macross

super dimensional fortress macross, sdf macross episode 33, Claudia LaSalle

It is easier, and far more dramatic, to declare your love for something or someone once the stage is set. In Super Dimension Fortress Macross episode 27, “Love Drifts Away,” the series itself, along with its protagonist, Hikaru Ichijou, belts out its love for the Earth, entertainment, and the idea of love itself through the mouthpiece of Lynn Minmay, placing her on the grandest stage as a herald of both the Earth’s destruction and subsequent victory over the Zentradi.

Initially, I was hesitant to finish Super Dimension Fortress Macross. Upon watching episode 27, I couldn’t fathom the series topping the emotional climax of Lynn Minmay singing “Love Drifts Away” against the backdrop of an epic space battle, followed by Hikaru rescuing Misa Hayase while the sun sets over the scorched Earth.

Then, I encountered a “Rainy Night.”

Reconstruction following the battle against the Zentradi is a messy, muted, and everyday slog. It’s not pretty, it’s not fun, and it certainly lacks the drama and romanticism of episode 27. Episode 33, “Rainy Night,” shows Claudia LaSalle, in an effort to cheer up Misa, telling the story of her and Roy Focker to Misa. Much like the aftermath of the war, the story of Claudia and Roy isn’t particularly grand or reassuring. Laced with a touch of misogyny, Claudia’s tale involves Roy’s promiscuity and persistence before they eventually end up in a long-term relationship. There’s a lot of good in what Claudia says – one does have to accept the failings of their partner, as well as their own failings, before being able to build a lasting partnership – but a great deal of it boils down to the bittersweet idea that one will have a lot to put up with (especially if their partner is Roy Focker) if they choose to enter a romance. Love, like reconstruction, is often a slog.

“It’s hard to understand the ties between people, isn’t it?”

Misa Hayase, Super Dimension Fortress Macross, episode 33.

This acts as a bucket of ice water on the rose-tinged ideal of love on the grand stage that is presented in episode 27, along with the movie retelling of Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Do You Remember Love? which is even more romanticized. The latter quarter of the Super Dimension Fortress Macross series is dedicated to the reconstruction of Earth and the results of taming the Zentradi. Instead of glory in battle, former ace pilots are sent to calm dust-ups between human and zentradi as the latter slowly bends to the will of the former. The once-popular idol, Minmay, is already washed up, with her primary audience – the Zentradi themselves – ironically too occupied with becoming cultured to have time, or the means, to support Minmay. Culture isn’t nearly as wonderful for the Zentradi once the newness has faded and they’re forced into service to rebuild the Earth. Gone are the battles, the grand stage, and the romanticism of culture and love as we, along with Misa, are left still uneasy in the cozy atmosphere of Claudia’s living room, without a clue as to how to deal with the aftermath.

Super Dimension Fortress Macross will always first be remembered for its loud declarations of love and culture. However, when one peels back the layers it is this bittersweet and near-cynical look at love that reverberates throughout the last few episodes. While it lacks the dramatic nature of Do You Remember Love? or the epic battle of “Love Drifts Away” the soft determination and compassion that Claudia shows in “Rainy Night” will stick with me long after the resolution of the triangle.

5 comments

  1. Personally I greatly prefer love stories that begin with the couple getting together, rather than end. To me, resolving the story with the couple getting together doesn’t truly capture the essence of love. It’s the ever after that soulmates reflect upon when they reach their milestone anniversaries, no?

    When you think about it realistically, the love story doesn’t truly begin until the couple actually gets together. Sure, emotions build up towards that moment of romantic conception, but it’s fully realized and active after the fact. I suppose part of me greatly enjoys the “bio-pic” storytelling framework, which greatly contributes to this particular mindset, but at the same time, these factors contribute to the end result of “happily ever after” devices coming off as gross perpetrators of the “show, don’t tell” rule.

    They live happily ever after? That’s nice, but how? That’s what I’m most interested in! That’s most relevant to my interests!

    1. They’re fairly rare. Macross not only hints at the constant amount of effort that is required from both parties in a relationship but also apparently shows the strain that daily life can put on one through the characters of Max and Milia Jenius and their large family. (This is just one of the many reasons I can’t wait to watch Macross 7.)

      SDF Macross additionally, as I previously mentioned, shows what a slog reconstruction can be. Like a love story, a war story usually ends with the “good” party winning the war, with the crux of dramatic storytelling taking place within the war instead of afterwards. Perhaps, like war stories, love stories are thought to have the majority of their dramatic elements occur prior to the couple getting together. Additionally, as the progression of a relationship, and reconstruction, are far more nuanced than the larger, romanticized, story of a couple getting together, or a nation rebuilding. The drama is far more fragmented and more difficult to pull off well. Perhaps this is why we see fewer of these stories. Either way, I love the latter half of Macross for what it tries to do. ^ ^

      Thank you for your support.

  2. Macross is not grim, but it is dark. Or, it is not dark, but it is grim.

    There’s a harshness to it in spite of its apparent gooey-headedness — which is really due to the puppy love dynamics between inexperienced teenagers and then adults.

    This is why SDFM is to me, superior to DYRL.

    The latter is almost pure fantasy.

    The former is a fantasy of a more cultured order.

    I would say more, but you may find these thoughts made clear in my own conclusion to blogging the series a few years ago in the WRL archives.

    1. Oh, I read those prior to making this post. In fact, you were the first person who I wanted to thank for recommending me this series. ^ ^

      As for SDF versus DYRL, I think I’ll always be biased towards the latter because I saw it first. It was my first Macross and therefore it additionally carries the weight of nostalgia. That being said, the character development in SDF is far more fascinating to me, specifically in this latter third of the series, when things begin to pull apart at the seams.

      Thanks for commenting!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s