I’ll Do What I Hate to Do What I Love

Please note: ‘what’ not ‘who’.

So I watched Macross Frontier: The False Songstress last week. This was actually my first encounter with the franchise at all, shockingly enough, although I had hemmed and hawed about checking out Macross Frontier TV while it was airing. As I never did but have maintained a low-level interest in watching it, the movie seemed like a perfect opportunity – much faster than watching the series, after all, and especially so when I only have a minor interest in seeing it.

First of all, I was pretty much blown away by the animation quality. I realized that its been a very long time since I’ve watched a theatrically-released anime. I was also surprised as the length of the film, although that isn’t terribly shocking considering how many episodes-worth it covered in its runtime. And, finally, I’m in favor of pairing… Sheryl and Ranka. Haha. Alto’s kind of boring, honestly, even with the pretty hair and hint of gender issues (and it really is merely a hint, an itty-bitty whiff), and a love of flight. I wasn’t anticipating liking Ranka very much, and I can’t say I really liked her, but I liked her better than Alto, and I find the idea of SherylxRanka more interesting than either one being with Alto. Although what really put the idea in my mind at all was when Ranka blushed right at the beginning when Sheryl was performing Space Bunny, the performance of which was a bit homoerotic.

However, what stuck with me after viewing was something Alto said – he admits to hating fighting and being a soldier, but says that he does it because it was the only way he knew how to be able to fly. (Well, the line from one of the minor characters about hating private military contractors also stuck with me, too…) I was instantly reminded of Simoun, as Aeru, too, doesn’t really like her soldierly duties and only continues to carry them out because she wants nothing more than to fly.

(A few of the other ladies in Simoun also keep fighting despite not having a real taste for it so that they can continue flying, but Aeru’s the most straightforward one in this regard since with a few of them the decision to keep being Sybillae is also because they do not wish to have to choose their gender quite yet. Aeru doesn’t want to grow up in a sense, yes, but its all about the flying for her – growing up means no more flying; she’s fairly single-minded in that regard.)

Aeru’s case is a bit more complicated than Alto’s, as implied by the parentheses paragraph. Aeru doesn’t really think about the war or what fighting means when she starts off, since she’s just in mad pursuit of flight. It is only after an encounter with a fatally wounded enemy pilot that she understands what exactly war is and what its costs are. She is shaken by the experience, and it is clear that it bothers her… but not enough to keep her from the sky.

Alto’s motivation isn’t gone into in nearly as much detail (perhaps the TV show does that), but his vocalization of it is nevertheless striking, as is his recurring paper airplane motif.

This idea of doing things one dislikes in order to be able to pursue something one loves is a compelling one to me. It isn’t uncommon for characters to be motivated to do things for the sake of loved ones or out of duty/fate, and while most of us can relate to those, this fight for flight thing is more intriguing. There’s something beautiful about its deceptive simplicity. Its a degree of love beyond what we can usually consider; the act is what is loved, and because it is an act and not something concrete (a person, an object) there is a purity to it, even if the pursuit of the loved action is inherently selfish (and from our examples this is particularly true in the case of Aeru). Purity, after all, is not truly a matter of values – consider the phrase ‘pure evil’, for instance. Pure just implies that something is one thing and one thing only. If anything, pure is something that is impressive, which, too, carries no value judgment. The effect of a nuclear weapon is impressive. It is also bad. The amount of money given to aid groups after the Christmas Tsunami was impressive. It was also good.

Anyway, purity runs toward being impressive since the nature of the universe is toward impurity. Entropy says that everything will get messier and more disorderly.

So both Aeru and Alto’s willingness to risk life and limb to fly is impressive, at least to me, and carries a beauty in it as well. It also displays a strength and singularity of will which also possesses that purity factor. Their motivations do shift somewhat throughout the course of their respective narratives, but their shared staring point (e.g. love of flight) is a compelling one. The shift of motivations also seems to carry the implication of maturation in both characters, and a suggestion that such purity of emotion is something that only children are capable of. It makes sense; tunnel-vision is difficult once one starts carrying an awareness of consequences. Perhaps it is this love that we would be best to remember.

(By the way, in Yukikaze one of the characters loves flying so much that he is in a love triangle with his friend and his plane… and he picks the plane!)

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7 Responses to I’ll Do What I Hate to Do What I Love

  1. Congrats on your getting your Macross cherry popped.

    As I’ve replied to your comment about this on my post (It should never be linked anywhere because that comments section asploded into a fanboypocalypse), this theme of compromise is a tradition in Macross.

    In Gundam you get reluctant teenagers forced to kill, but there is nothing to do in mobile suits except destroy stuff, so there is no deep yearning for characters in Gundam to be mobile suit pilots unless the character has issues or delusions.

    In Macross flying is fetishized to a high degree, and you have your lead characters wanting it more than anything, and in Alto’s case wanting it more than women. If it meant flying a cutting edge variable fighter, there are other rationalizations to be made for paying wages of blood in order to indulge the urge to fly.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I think my favorite take on the whole Gundam piloting thing was in Gundam X. The hero gets excited about finding a mobile suit because it means he can sell it, and he does end up putting it up for sale several episodes in and after piloting it. He backs down from it, but it was funny to me since it was such a practical reaction on his own part.

      Yeah, the comment section on your own post got so ridiculous. When I looked at it a second or third time my eyes practically bugged out at how much was there.

  2. Baka-Raptor says:

    Thanks for the clarification. Nobody is worth doing Eli.

    There’s a song from the Macross franchise that has a pretty funny/relevant line towards the end: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axUqCLsU2rQ

  3. Crusader says:

    Alto’s reasons for flying remain constant but his attitudes about his enlistment differ greatly. In the TV series the gender issue was less of a concern, and he had a stronger sense of duty and loyalty even his repeated failures to be the typical shounen hero gave him a bit of gumption. TV series Ranka on the other hand, well watch that and you opinion of her will most likely sink.

    As for doing stuff you hate to do stuff you love isn’t that the gist of most jobs? Can’t imagine why you’d love being a butter bar though don’t you do it just to get promoted and make life even harder for the enlisted, with your NICE IDEAS? 😛

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Actually, no, the military was the thing that I hated but did so I could continue on in academics, something I loved. But I grew to like it, too, even if it did take a while.

      Yeah, I’ve heard that TV!Ranka is kind of disappointing.

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