ROBOTECH REWATCH 3: To Be In Love

This weekly rewatch of classic animated space opera Robotech is brought to you as bonus content for the Musketeer Space project. Thanks everyone for your support!

Previous episodes:
1 – So Much For World Peace
2 – Who Put Pluto There?

longwaitEpisode 4. The Long Wait

Gloval feels guilty about the mess he’s made, and he and the crew set about rescuing the survivors from the civilian shelters and aircraft carriers. It’s a bit of a massacre, frankly, dead bodies everywhere, and it’s only because the story moves so quickly that everyone doesn’t sink into deep depression.

Meanwhile, Rick and Minmei play house in the bowels of the giant space fortress, stuck without food, water or communications.

Roy is cranky at Gloval’s insistence that he stay at his post instead of going to find the missing Rick Hunter.

“Yes Captain, whatever you say, I’m sure that 70,000 civilians are more important than my friend.”
Roy Fokker, not quite getting how sarcasm works.

Here is what I love about Robotech: after an episode which was mostly ships shooting at each other, we get an episode made up largely of flirtation, character development and coffee breaks. Lisa and the bridge crew talking out their situation over coffee is a lovely scene. Also, some pretty major changes happen over the fortnight or so that Rick and Minmei are stranded (spoiler: they don’t starve to death in this episode), but we don’t see much of it – instead, the rescue of the civilians, the rebuilding of their city inside the space fortress, and the general populace adapting to the horrors and limitations of their situation all happen mostly off screen.

And are summed up during refreshments.

“I used to be a junior nature scout.”
Rick Hunter, pointedly not mentioning whether he got the orienteering badge.

So, Rick and Minmei are stuck. Rick has to use all his survival skills, and Minmei has to develop some from scratch. Day after day, he goes for a walk to find a way out, and fails. Given that they don’t need the ship for shelter, I’m a little confused as to why they don’t go together and just keep moving in one direction, but of course that’s not the point. The plot wants them to be stuck here. It’s romantic.

Together, the teenagers burst a water main to get a drink, and Minmei promptly decides to take a shower. Rick is not invited.

UNEXPECTED NAKED MINMEI – okay, I don’t remember that butt shot in the original TV broadcast. Just saying. Ah, this is the famous anime fan service, yes? I can’t help wondering if there are going to be any other surprise nude shots which somehow mysteriously failed to make their way on to the ABC screenings, along with all those big knockers jokes I never knew were in The Goodies until the DVDS came out.

I like Minmei a lot more when she’s mocking Rick for his lack of pathfinding skills than her ‘duh, what’s a compass’ act. Really, at this stage, these two totally deserve each other. They’re so innocent it hurts.

Minmei cutting notches in Rick’s plane’s brand new paint job to keep track of the days they’re stuck there is, however, one of my favourite things about Minmei ever.

In other news, this is where we first hear about Minmei’s aspirations to be an entertainer: acting, singing and dancing! Something about this makes me think it might be a bit significant to her future, hmm? Just to make sure you know she’s not really one of those terrible career women, though (Minmei is, like many of the characters, surprisingly retro in her world view), she assures Rick that actually her greatest ambition is to be a bride. So that’s all right, then.

The look on Rick’s face in response to this suggests that he has read a lot of Regency romance novels, and is a bit worried that sharing a crashed plane tent with Minmei for a week or two means he’s going to have to marry her.

Meanwhile, Rick has not managed to find their way out of the level on which they are stuck. With their supplies running low (extended only thanks to Minmei’s excellent wife skills), he finally comes up with a plan to put on his flight helmet, hold his breath, and go out the airlock in the hopes he will float towards people who can help them.

Minmei is dubious, which does rather suggest she isn’t the one holding the stupid ball this week.

They are so royally screwed.

An unexpected giant tuna floats past, and Rick manages to grab it through the airlock (well, half of it). His adventure costs them a “chance” of escape, as his suit is ripped. Quite possibly, that tuna saved their lives. Also, Minmei’s cooking skills prove to be superhuman as she manages somehow to find a pan large enough for fish head soup.

Twelve days into their long vigil, Minmei cracks and starts singing “To Be In Love.” Yes, songs! The use of only a few lyrics over and over formed a kind of repeated meme in Robotech, making us think that Minmei had a substantial repertoire. I may take the opportunity to note how true this is, over the rewatch.

“To be in love, must be the sweetest feeling that a girl can feel.”

The rocket fuel is running out, and so is their food. Minmei thinks they are going to die – and weeps over never getting to be a bride. Rick falls into her elaborate snare by suggesting they playact a scene.

“Well I guess I should be the groom, huh?”
Rick Hunter, you should be so lucky.

After a half-hearted ceremony and a lot more tears, the two lean in for what might possibly be the least sexy kiss of all time. In a last minute save that suggests the SDF-1 herself is not a Rick/Minmei shipper, the ceiling explodes. To their shock, torches flash down at them, and they have been rescued – by the Mayor! Quite by accident, the construction machines rebuilding the city have dug into their level. Scooped back to reality, Rick and Minmei survey the new version of Macross City. Minmei’s Aunt’s restaurant and their house are back where they should be – even the wall Rick destroyed is repaired!

As Minmei enjoys the attention of her friends and family, Rick collapses from exhaustion, starvation, and mild disappointment that he missed out on a snog. This is, literally, the story of his life.

Will Minmei still like him, now he’s no longer the last man on Earth?

Next Episode Minmei

Maintain communications on this channel! The Robotech Rewatch will return next week! Find out more about the Musketeer Space project and how you can support it here at Patreon.