Today marks the one year anniversary of when I watched Sayonara no Tsubasa for the first time. It’s strange how little time has passed but it feels like a lifetime ago. Being the one year anniversary I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss some things I’d otherwise not have a reason to write about. A lot of it is going to be personal to me, more so than I usually go into on my blog.
I wrote this way more for myself this time than as something I’d hope others would enjoy reading. It would be great if you liked what I have to say though I just don’t expect it. So this discussion is going to be centered around the love triangle and the movies ending as it’s what has really motivated me in so many ways this last year. You could even say my blog only exists today because of the following story I am about to tell. I divided this post into four topics listed below for easier browsing.
- In defense of being called a shipper
- Thoughts on the Macross community
- Looking closer at shipping wars and pairing
- My modern theory on the ending of this movie
In defense of being called a shipper
This is something that has always bothered me as I feel like I’ve been more than once unfairly labeled as a shipper merely because I care about the love triangle so much. Coming into watching this movie I couldn’t have cared less, in fact I still think we need to ask ourselves sometimes is Alto really worth it? No, before this movie I was mainly looking for two things from it. First, to see how the soundtrack I’d been listening to constantly was going to be used along with Ranka’s Niji Iro Kuma Kuma concert which looked so amazing and cute. Second, I just wanted to see more of Ranka being Ranka. I was more concerned that this was the last time I’d see Ranka than anything else at the time.
To me Alto was a boring generic lead and the love triangle was something I’d rather they just not deal with and leave it like the TV series and let fans imagine who Alto chooses (less hard feelings this way). Initially upon watching the movie I loved the movie and for the ending I thought “well Alto has horrible tastes but he’s gone at least.” I think though something was bothering me and I couldn’t figure out what. Here is where I made my first mistake, I went to websites like Animesuki, My Anime List forums and certain blogs (that recently shut down) for answers and what I got didn’t make me feel better it just made me feel horrified.
Funny enough the worst came from a Ranka fan who was trying to show how much Ranka loved Alto and how all the songs were about him. There were other things as well I’ll admit for time and I got this idea that Ranka was at the end of the movie looking desperate and lonely and she was singing in the credits her unrequited love for Alto which just seemed way too sad. Worst yet the fear that with hints of Alto returning he would come back and run off with Sheryl leaving Ranka completely alone. To me this became a super bad end and I couldn’t enjoy the movie anymore nor be a happy Ranka fan. Not only that but it made the songs I loved more than anything be associated with sadness and so many negative things.
On the other hand I did also realize that I was in fact in love with Ranka because I cared so deeply about her and what happen. It took me a few weeks to realize it and this was the first time I felt I loved a character enough to call her my waifu. While most use the label waifu easily I do not. It took me 12 years before I called an anime character mai waifu and Ranka is still my one and only waifu for life to this day.
Up next though was my re-watch of the TV series, I had not cared about the love triangle at all the first time so this was new to me almost. Granted from my discussions with other fans I was convinced this was not going to be good for Ranka. I spent the first 12 episodes with the mind set of “Alto stop being so nice to her you jerk.” Funny enough around this time I suddenly realized something, Alto actually was showing a ton more preference for Ranka.
However I didn’t get too excited because I still knew there was the end where everyone thinks Sheryl was shown to be the one Alto loved. Amazingly enough what I got instead was something that might look good on the surface for Sheryl but if you look closer and look at it from Alto’s perspective it was way more in favor of Ranka to the very end. Anyways long story short I realized the more I did research that Ranka was in fact suppose to the be one Alto chose.
So basically for the TL;DR crowd it’s always been about avoiding a bad end for Ranka. I did approve of the feelings Alto showed in the series for Ranka through his actions and while I am still not an Alto fan I think they would make a good couple.
Thoughts on the Macross community
Going more into fans I mentioned earlier I’ve realized over the last year I’ve let other people’s opinions weigh on me far too many times. I’ve also come to realize the Macross F community is a rather fanatical one and I probably shouldn’t care so much about any one person’s thoughts. We all seem to care a little too much for this show and I am no exception.
I’ll also say I do bare a giant grudge on the community in general because as I’ve said many times before I feel like the movies were created to appease fans and thus the popularity of Alto and Sheryl together is what cause the bad end. While I do not have anything against Sheryl I have placed too high of an importance on the popularity between Ranka and Sheryl. Because of this I feel Ranka needs to be more popular in order for her to have a happy ending. Perhaps this was too naive but it’s what has developed in my mind.
Don’t believe this movie was made by the fans lets compare the changes to the movies and what fans wanted changed from the TV series.
- Fan’s didn’t like Ranka’s and Alto’s immaturity: movies fixed this.
- Fan’s hated Michael death: movies fixed this.
- Fan’s didn’t like Brera all that much: reduced role, killed.
- Fan’s hated the love triangle going towards Ranka(well not that they believed it): Sheryl get’s picked and gets all of Ranka’s important scenes.
- Fan’s hated Alto not choosing: He chose even though it seemed silly to do this if they called it off in the TV series at the last-minute. Kawamori even changed his stance after the TV series ended to one of it was better Alto didn’t chose but yet he had him choose here for some reason.
- They didn’t like the ending much: removed things complained about such as Sheryl being magically healed.
- Liked Sheryl and wanted more: gave Sheryl a place in the main plot this time and made it more focused around her and gave her moments for the fans to cheer for.
Yeah so at best the only thing they did that was unpopular was the ending with Alto disappearing before he finished his statement to Sheryl. Even in that scene they changed it from the theater version, allegedly, to make it so he clearly warped out instead of it being unclear what happens to him. People were very upset thinking Alto had died so this was more making fans happy. Plus they even added in other things in other media to hint at him coming back afterwards because people wanted it so much. Fan pandering to the end. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling the movies horrible I am just showing they clearly wanted to give the fans want they asked for and not a story from Kawamori’s mind like what was done in the TV series.
Thinking about it I wonder if the reason why Kawamori stated he wanted to explore other forms of media in this 30th anniversary came from all this. We already know he was upset over the change in the TV series to a Alto picks the sky ending and it wasn’t his choice. It’s obvious he had to sneak in his own views in the movies. He might just be tired of having to deal with people that can influence his story and looking for other places where he has more free reign. I think it’s part of the reason anyways and sure it’s possible Kawamori just wanted to make fans happy with the movie changes.
Looking closer at the shipping wars and pairings
Something that has always bothered me is why were the shipping wars for Alto so bad and why is Sheryl so much more popular in this area to the point that they gave her Alto to appease fans. Almost every single forum I’ve been to has focused on this aspect of the series and even I was dragged into it against my will. In fact this entire post is because of these wars, I don’t even want to be discussing this but it’s the only way I can vent. But why exactly do we care about who Alto chooses being that Alto is such an average anime character with nothing really amazing worth fighting over.
I think it’s less because of Alto and more about our characters. For some it’s just they want to see their favorite character win, that is pretty clear cut and you can tell this is the main point for a lot of people. Obviously there is also the anti-moe factions where it’s more about going against the moe trend. I’ve seen Sheryl fans declare that no moe girls like Ranka should have love. Others have stated they wanted the non-moe girl to win for once (I’m not even sure that is true). Personally I just wanted to see Ranka happy and I want to know she is going to live happily ever after.
I imagine though the center of it all is more about how super idealized Sheryl is particularly for fans to live their fantasies through. Alto is really more of a guy that is bland enough for anyone to mold the way they want him to and live out their idealized romance through. It’s true, if you generalize, that women do want a man they can mold to be the ideal person and I think Alto really is the kind of person that to women they can make who they want and through Sheryl they can live out who they want to be.
It’s not that they are a prefect couple it’s that they are a perfect couple to turn into a fantasy romance. I think that is where people really start getting into shipping. If you look at a lot of shipping material for the two Alto doesn’t even act like himself at all. It’s a fantasy romance that was obviously never intentional but maybe after the Macross F staff realized they created it they felt the need to change the story.
Also if you compare the two couples Sheryl is usually dominate in the Sheryl x Alto pairing and Alto is usually dominate in the Ranka x Alto pairing. In other words there is less to mold for Alto when it comes to Ranka x Alto, its a little more realistic less fantasy. Don’t get me wrong I think there is no such thing as better or worst when it comes to love this is more towards people who wish to rationalize their ship. I am simply bothered by the idea of Sheryl x Alto being so much more popular to the point they changed canon around it. The consolation prize is Kawamori made it very obvious the canon he wrote was about Ranka and Alto.
My modern theory on the ending of this movie
Interestingly enough I’ve had a number of thoughts about the ending in the last month I had never really considered before now. I think my fault always lied in that I was looking trying to make sense of the end from a realistic perspective but instead this is anime and such rules need not apply. I realized once you look at it this way there were a lot of strange and confusing things about the ending.
For starters, why have Sheryl in a coma, how does this add to the impact of the scene that is more focused around Alto being gone and then they have her wake up in the credits (we all have concluded anyways). Not to mention they put her in jail earlier and then right after that they killed off Sheryl, putting her in a coma a few minutes later and then having her wake up a few minutes after that (movie time) is way too amateurish unless there was a deeper meaning. I mean the first two actually did have meaning in the love triangle formula the last one has no meaning in anything at all love triangle or otherwise. At best I could see it as some kind weird karma.
Also there are some other odd things about the end. Why did Ranka yell out Sheryl’s name? How did she know Alto was going to be okay? Why have Ranka be the one that the movie ends like the way it did if she was the rejected one? It doesn’t really add up but when you remember this is basically a story where he swapped Ranka and Sheryl in a lot of positions it begins to make a little more sense.
Looking at it this way let’s look at the ending some more. There was Ranka’s paper airplane taking flight at the end, a symbol that has been closely associated between Ranka and Alto’s bond. They even had the paper plane falling that Sheryl threw as a symbol in episode 23 of the TV series so don’t over look this as meaningful.
Like I’ve said before Ranka was singing her feelings (supposedly) to Alto at the end, odd it’s not Sheryl again in the credits singing this. There is also the first movie’s credit where the song at the end could be a song Ranka is singing to Alto around this time if you look at the lyrics. Heck, they almost put in Anata no Oto into the credits a song that I am on record as showing as having very important ties for a Alto and Ranka ending in the TV series. Ranka’s song was a big factor to Alto shown over and over again in the TV series don’t underestimate this as meaningful in ways other than what is directly in front of you.
For a story that was so twisted around from the TV series it wouldn’t be out of the question that Kawamori (who is on record as saying this ending was closer to what he originally envisioned) was just playing out what he wanted with Ranka here as the one Alto loved waiting for him to return. Just have Sheryl in a coma so she can’t be the one and have her wake up right afterward is the patch he added just to get this ending he wanted even if it wasn’t exactly what he envisioned.
It really seems kind of wrong towards Ranka if you view the end any other way such as Ranka longing for Alto. It screws her character over a lot which is not the point of Kawamori’s love triangles and even goes against what Kawamori said about her being fine because she was able to confess her feelings to Alto. In other words I’ve noticed in his love triangles there is a greater good that comes out of a character losing a love triangle, here there was none. I feel like he might have just figured the ending would be okay because it was interpretive what he was trying to express and he wasn’t thinking about Ranka as a character when he did this. Nor did he consider the love triangle anything but fan service induced canon in the movies.
Consider this, in anime how often do you end a show on the rejected girl waiting for the guy to return when the girl who he chose is also separated from him? I really want to know because I never even stopped to consider this until a few weeks ago. That really makes no sense to me unless you view this as Kawamori doing the ending he wanted but not quite exactly the way he originally wanted.
Thinking about it this way made everything make sense about the end and even if Ranka didn’t get chosen I don’t feel so bad because I just think of this as Kawamori’s vision with Ranka chosen instead. I no longer feel like Ranka is lonely and crying out for Alto. Although there are less facts to go on in this theory I think this is what he really wanted it’s the only way that makes it flow with everything I’ve been told and know. It’s also only fair when the franchise seems to have gone out of it’s way to get the Sheryl shippers the ending they wanted while ignoring Ranka.
One other thing I wondered is if the way Alto rejected Ranka was different from the norm. As someone who doesn’t speak Japanese I don’t really know but I do wonder if it was phrase in a way that was more along the lines of I can’t love you not I don’t love you. That would be interesting but I highly doubt this, more just speculating this one and throwing it out there.
So to put everything in this post together I view a lot of what happen here as canon invasion but without anyone clearly at fault. I am simply someone in love with Ranka who wanted her to have what she deserved and would have rather just left this all alone. I could have enjoyed the movies immensely, even if they were fan service compared to the depth of the TV series, because I am a person who just wants to have fun watching anime. It’s a shame everyone else had to go and make this movie into something else to me.