You know I do like Sheryl, sure she has some serious flaws and honestly she has some fans that drive me nuts but as a character I am ok with her.  My issue however is in the role she was given and how poorly she fit into it.  The main problem and reason why I am writing this is she is completely over glorified and I hate what her popularity did to Macross F.  I feel she is not suited very well as a main character or even having any business being in the spotlight as much as she was given, particularly in the movies.

The problem with Sheryl is her role in this show is almost completely unneeded to drive the story and almost completely worthless in a heroine role in all but a few places.  Almost nothing would change in Macross F if she wasn’t portrayed as a main character, in fact she is probably the easiest character to remove from any of the cast with significant screen time.  The most critical role she plays is helping Ranka becoming an idol but the movies even down played this and made their relationship more along the lines of friendship rather than student and master.  Sure Sheryl and Ranka are not in a traditional student and master relationship, I do feel it is the best way to describe them.  Ranka’s goal was to become like Sheryl and she learn both directly and indirectly through Sheryl on how to be a great idol.

So what was Sheryl doing for most of the TV series?  She spent the first half doing almost nothing outside of the before mentioned role but trying to hit on Alto and the last half being depressed and sickly.  That is an over simplification but as someone who is the lead in a show about mechas, war and using the power of singing to save the day she adds little to nothing on these themes.  Only at the end was she given a real role using a rather silly trick of her earrings becoming amazing tools but which ultimately did nothing as Ranka first overwhelmed her in singing and then Ranka was the one who saved that day and saved Sheryl.  She was then given abilities like Ranka thanks to Ranka but really at this point the story was all but finished.

The director Kawamori even admitted he had trouble figuring out what to do with Sheryl.  If you think about it was because she didn’t really fit in with the themes of this show nor did she really belong in it in the role she was given.  In a show about the struggles of growing she is a character with little story to tell.  Instead of growing she was given more flaws and fell hard as a character in order to give her screen time and interest which was a poor attempt to make her fit in with the theme of characters struggling to grow.  It really was the only way to even give her some kind of a story and in the end I found it very uninteresting and more of a pander to her popularity to give her more screen time when she didn’t even have an important role to play.

To put it in another way I think Macross F shares some important similarities to that of the characters of Gurren Lagann.  Kamina and Sheryl are both characters who start out simply at the top of their game.  Likewise both Simon and Ranka start with a long path towards being heroes and need their counterparts there to guide them and give them a goal.  Of course the point is always to have the apprentice surpass the master and become the hero and while Kamina steps aside and achieves his glory this was not the case in Macross F.  Instead they do a 180 on this theme midway through and try to give Sheryl a separate story which also causes Ranka and Sheryl to go two separate paths that did not often meet.  This in turn also messes with Ranka’s story too as with Ranka going her own direction she would not ever be able to achieve the goal that was destine for her or Sheryl from the start.

It is said that Ranka regressed in the latter half of Macross F, I believe if anything it was more of the case of the creators messing with all the characters to fit in Sheryl and thus screwing up Ranka’s character.  After all I believe the reason Kawamori was regretful of how Ranka was used at the end of the show was because he had to change the story up to fit in Sheryl’s additional storyline and that left little choices in what they could do with Ranka.  Why else would he make something he regretted doing when he was supposedly in control of the story direction from the start.

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In fact I’ve read that Sheryl was originally intended to die early on which not only goes along with my previous thoughts but I think would have made for a superior story and a superior Sheryl that could have achieved real greatest even if for a short while and not crowd pleasing fake greatness.  If you think that is because I don’t like Sheryl that is wrong, Kamina is one of my favorites however I wouldn’t change a thing about what they did with him.  If they had left Kamina in for the whole show that would have diminished the greatness of Gurren Lagann and destroyed the epic rise of Simon.

Don’t misunderstand though I don’t think Sheryl needed to die however she really has no business being in the spot light like the way they tried to use her.  This is why Gianax is still the master and Satelight is the apprentice.  I don’t necessarily blame Kawamori either on this one but since I don’t know the facts I can only guess it if it’s all true it wasn’t his decision.  Considering this was Satelight’s first show to be known to have been making a decent profit and the economic shape of the anime industry I believe they decided they needed to go with what would net them the most money considering this is their one and only cash cow.  Not to mention something they have been milking to death in merchandize, particularly with Sheryl products.

I can’t blame Satelight for making Sheryl have a bigger role than what she was designed to be in order to cash in, they most likely really needed to make this show popular.  However to me popular does not necessarily make for a fun show especially when the ending ends up being at the expense of my favorite character to milk the more popular character so you can imagine how all this has made me rather bitter.

I think the point is even more evident when you look at the movies in which they took the remake road and rewrote her role from the beginning again to try to make it less of a hack job this time (notice how Alto and Ranka’s roles remained the same only Sheryl’s changed).  So this time around they removed the master and apprentice role thereby removing the need for Ranka to eventually replace Sheryl.  Instead Ranka just climbed her own path with her own GAR and Sheryl cheered her on.  But still as try as they might the very basics of a character like her is still not really suited for an important role in the spotlight.  She was given the role as a spy but what she did didn’t have much impact on the storyline other than getting the story rolling.  Sure it’s focused a lot but her role as a spy is not pivotal and Sheryl doesn’t do much of anything as being a spy, it is Grace who is the one who is pivotal in this and despite all the talk that surrounds Sheryl she could have been removed from the spy role and nothing much would have changed besides a more boring story.

If anything the movies just did a better job of selling her popularity by making her flashy and giving her GAR moments with little actual purpose.  A good example was when she saved Ranka over herself in Sayonara no Tsubasa, sure it made her look good but since she wasn’t in any real danger to die in the end it was hallow and was just feed for the Sheryl fans to jump on.  Honestly I kind of wonder if Kawamori was subtly making her role worthless as a kind of protest however I do probably think he most likely had no strong opinions on this matter but we’ll never know for sure it’s all speculation.

Rant time, I do find it amusing how much of a pedestal she is put upon but to be truly great you must do great things.  Her best parts of Sayonara no Tsubasa were the GAR things she said but ultimately her actions were more for show.  Her singing at the end was not out of necessity but because that is who she is, it is GAR but it is not greatness.  That is the problem here and her character in a nut shell, this is not the role Sheryl should be in, it’s not what will put her in my books as an awesome character but rather a character that was shown to be very popular and thus given the spotlight to cash in on it.  I think I would have a whole lot less issues with this show if Sheryl actually was as great as people say but they just couldn’t give her enough purpose and real importance in the end to justify it to me.

So that is the part of this that annoys me is in the end Sheryl comes out like the star the person everyone loves and whom some even call among the best characters in anime all the while probably having one of the least important roles in the history of Macross as a lead character.  Her flaws and things she does wrong in both the TV series and movies are not nearly touched upon as Ranka and Alto’s get talked about.  I mean people can’t let go Ranka leaving Frontier in episode 21 however hardly anyone notices how Sheryl knew and went along with plans to take over Frontier and kill Ranka in the movies which should be equally criticized if you are going to criticize Ranka for what she did.

Despite all this and putting aside fan views and her roles I still like her, she is not one of my favorites but she does complement Ranka well and she has a great relationship with Ranka so there is no way I could hate her.  I like her strong will (something not seen enough among female leads) and how she doesn’t give up and of course she has the looks (Ranka though is the best in looks to me).  However I find a lot of what she became and what she is viewed as is due more to her popularity and I find this disappointing and even leaving serve distaste in my mouth that ruins my enjoyment of Macross F.

In the end this is where I get upset as Ranka gets pushed aside by the Macross F community as people embrace the Sheryl x Alto ending with a character that never should have been there, only was there because she was popular and in the end took Ranka’s glory.  Ranka did not even need Alto for Simon did not need Yoko but she was most definitely the one that deserved the hero’s end for she was to put it another way the hero, the Luke Skywalker, and Sheryl was the master or Obi Wan Kenobi.  Both awesome but putting the two together like Macross F did just killed it for me from an enjoyment perspective in the end.  All I see now when watching particularly the movies is pandering upon more pandering to make more money sadly.  I don’t think they understood they didn’t need Sheryl in the role they gave her to sell as well as they did but they did in fact choose the safe popular route, it’s a shame.