In the wake of Macross Delta‘s spring debut a rush to identify its spiritual predecessor has cropped up. While a line of progression can be drawn from Super Dimension Fortress Macross‘s Lynn Minmay to Macross 7‘s Fire Bomber, it’s reframed a bit with the advent of Delta‘s Walkure: a highly-specialized military tactical unit. Song in Delta is unabashedly weaponized, not used as a surprisingly convenient source of confusion, or a reckless and unsolicited effort.
One of Macross creator Shoji Kawamori’s properties between Macross Frontier and Delta was AKB0048 — for all intents and purposes, a Macross series without variable fighters, solely focused on idol competition and wielding music as a weapon.
AKB0048 the in-universe group is the distant continuation of real-life Japanese pop idol group AKB48 in a world where entertainment has been banned. Tasked with bringing entertainment to the masses, they hold geurrilla concerts and must learn to fight, if only to defend themselves. Delta takes this one step further with Walkure similarly held up as a beacon of entertainment but rather than fighting an oppressive government system, they are the part of the government’s military force. In both cases idol music is brandished as a weapon, but only in the case of Delta is it specifically used to quell disputes. Where AKB0048 and other iterations of Macross upheld music as a means of celebration or distraction, Delta‘s VAR syndrome can seemingly only be cured by the songs of Walkure. AKB0048 are the terrorists of their world, Walkure suppress terrorist-like pockets of war.
Layered on top of this are the separate processes by which a girl can become a member of these respective idol groups. When leads Chieri Sono and Nagisa Motomiya audition to become members of AKB0048, they form the 77th Generation along with five other girls. Advancing to the primary performing squad of 0048 requires them to go through a process of succession, where they’ll be chosen to succeed one of the original real-life AKB48 analogues and be assigned a version of that original AKB48 member. For example, natural leader Kanata Shinonome is chosen to succeed AKB0048’s leader, Minami Takahashi. The only problem is that there’s already a current Minami Takahashi the 5th, which leads to all sort of musings on identity and ambition. Becoming a member of AKB0048 in part means temporarily discarding one’s name and personality to perform as a different individual entirely. The selection process is based on how well one’s own personality fits into one of the pre-packaged original AKB48 idols.
By contrast, Delta‘s Freyja Wion doesn’t have to become anyone other than herself; however, being a part of Walkure has its own dazzle, transformation, and most importantly an inherent ability to generate fold resonance while singing. It’s this specific talent that Walkure seeks, as it’s seemingly the only thing in the Delta universe able to reverse VAR syndrome.
Freyja’s is an easy archetype to dismiss — the genki girl with a cheerful attitude who repeatedly says that she’ll do her best. However, to write off Freyja as a simple character archetype undermines one of the more intriguing avenues that Delta could choose to travel, a route that begins with her age and caveats attached by the series. Freyja is 14 years-old in a race that physically trades lifespan for extraordinary powers. In other words, her natural ability to sing, and subsequent fold resonance, is the reason why she can join Walkure. It’s also the reason she’ll likely die by the age of 30.
There’s a lot to unpack here, and much of it has to do with idol culture in general, which is admittedly creepy. Even AKB0048, which most would consider heavily in favor of idols — at the very least least how their so-called culture can positively affect the hearts and minds of the general populace — doesn’t fully shy away from the creepier parts, albeit muted by a sugary coating. One of the more prominent moments is the introduction to Tomomi Itano the 11th’s family, where it’s revealed that all of the women in her lineage are bred and chosen with succeeding the original Tomomi Itano in the subsequent generation of AKB0048. There’s also the story of Mii-chan, formerly Minami Minegishi the 5th when she was a part of 0048, whose in-series betrayal eerily echoes the trajectory of Minami Minegishi’s own fall from grace in AKB48. Heaven forbid that an idol, a product meant for the masses, have a significant other. Echoes of this creepy insistence on purity above all else are inherent to Freyja’s age. The tradeoff for being a part of Walkure is that she’ll conveniently die young before any sort of horrible aging that so obviously ruins women for good.
A tertiary plot thread involves Freyja’s home world of Windermere, instigators of the VAR syndrome that declare war on the United Government. Their prince’s song causes VAR syndrome to emerge, just as Walkure’s song cures it. Freyja initially begins her journey to Walkure having stowed away on a ship leaving Windermere in order to try out for the idol group while also escaping an arranged marriage. She cites a recorder that was dropped by a human on her world as inspiration for her pursuit of an idol career, a recorder that carried songs of former Macross artists Lynn Minmay, Fire Bomber, Sheryl Nome, and Ranka Lee. In Delta, Macross has come full circle from unwittingly teaching the military society of the Zentradi about “culture” with Minmay to inspiring Freyja to escape her own society in order to become a military idol, by way of AKB0048. Similar to Freyja, both Nagisa and Chieri’s respective families do not approve of their choices initially, particularly their fathers, one of whom heads anti-entertainment legislation while the other is the CEO of the corporation supplying weaponry to anti-entertainment fighters.