Ever since I realized the very unique differences between the Macross F universes and furthermore the idea of the canon behind the Macross universe being something singular but not specific despite multiple incarnations I’ve had a few things on my mind. First, what is it that Kawamori, the originator of the universe, really thinks happen in Macross F. Second, did he create the series off of one universe which we don’t know about or is it just different stories. I thought the answers were something completely up to interpretation until now.
On the idea of there being only one real universe in Macross F from which these multiple tellings come from I realized something. That being you can not bind multiple stories to one unified story that is not defined first. It’s like a tree growing it’s branches from a trunk that isn’t there, you can’t do it. Saying it’s just inside one’s person head doesn’t work either for a few reasons. One this universe while created by one person originally is now a product of many different minds. Just saying one person supervised it all to keep it consistent still doesn’t change that the thoughts and ideas of others went into creating it.
A universe does not exist until it’s given a well-defined form, it can’t just exist inside one persons head especially when it’s off spring stories have been defined and given life already so to speak. When it’s still a thought it’s susceptible to change and modification something that invalidates it as a parent to all the subsequent stories that have already been defined. No, the only way there is one universe for Macross F is if there is a script locked in a bank safe somewhere that hasn’t been accessed since 2007.
What really happen?
So given all this can there be one story for Macross F that rings true? Well as Kawamori said if you choose to you can just take it all as parallel universes but if you don’t then the following is the closes to correct way you can get using unbiased logic. Before I get to that I would like to say don’t put much weight in events in light novels or such as they have an unknown amount of influence from Kawamori (if any) just look as Kiss in the Galaxy for a good example of what I mean. Similarly with statements in interviews especially given the track record here.
However, we can take what we’ve been given in the TV series and movies and analyze it from the perspective that this is an anime and a story as to what would make the most sense for a unified story following proper story telling methodology. From this we can determine what the main plot line should be and from that what likely happen if there was an original universe. The details are more vague but the main plot is the important part here.
First the setup, this is extremely critical to the entire story as a proper build up and payoff must logically go off of this. There are some parts that keep it similar which is very important consider. Ranka is a girl who becomes an idol and is the little queen sought after by all the antagonists. The Vajra are simply trying to rescue Ranka and are considered the antagonists for the majority of the story. Alto is the main character and is a pilot who quickly rises up in the sms and is the focus of the fight against the Vajra.
The only changes to the setup are Sheryl who is just an idol and later on her earring is suppose to have a power to influence the Vajra (even if it’s never shown to matter in the plot besides giving her a reason to be there) while the movies also have her pegged as a spy and thus giving her a central role in the plot from it. As well Grace is the final antagonist in the TV series while in the movies she is not. There is also the plan they go by which is to steal Ranka in the TV series and use her to control the Vajra while in the movies harvesting her organs for Sheryl to use.
So while it may not seem like much that little paragraph I just wrote ends up having an almost night and day impact on the build up of the story and ultimate pay off portion to finish the story. In the TV series it’s clear Ranka in the main character whom the story revolves around and all the characters as well and that results in her being the center of the pay off as well. In the movies it ends up being Sheryl whom the story revolves around and payoffs too.
Now which makes more sense. I really see zero holes in the Ranka version, it’s simple but interesting and easy to build up and payoff with most issues due to poor writing. Sheryl’s story I do have more issues with, for one does Sheryl as a spy work? As she is required not to be a villain to stay as a main heroine isn’t that a conflict of interest? At best you have to make it a story of salvation but that would require changing her character, as she is written it is a dead-end role used as an excuse. Not to mention why do we concern ourselves with such matters so much when the antagonists by the setup are after Ranka. Yet we did in the movies and no one questions it.
Moving on to the plan for the antagonists, so while the ultimate goal of Grace is to control the Vajra and take over the queen the way they go about it is fairly different due to this setup. I think stealing Ranka’s organs to control the Vajra when they only needed to control the Vajra for a short while seems more convoluted a plan than just stealing a girl who no one knows is important and has zero protection. At the very least you need Ranka or your control of the Vajra is at risk here which is why it makes no sense why things happen as they did in the movies.
Of course there are also a number of plot conveniences on top of that such as Frontier finding out about Grace’s plan in the movies and developing a weapon to control the Vajra so that Ranka is not needed by anyone. While it’s impossible to invalidate these as just stuff they threw in to make it work, I think it’s pretty clear they just threw this stuff in to make the story work much like developing the vf-29 so fast because they needed something new to sell models. Throw in Ranka randomly gaining back her memory and you have effectively used a lot of convent plot lines to get the plot revolving around Sheryl and the trouble she gets in all the time. Take away any of it and they need Ranka way more again and she becomes the main focus of the story again.
From another perspective what happens if we keep the movies mostly the same but instead have the plot focused around Ranka controlling the Vajra and Grace trying to steal her. You get rid of many of the issues with the movies and make it a cleaner more straightforward story. In fact one that could be better than both the current TV series and movies if you take the best of both worlds. In my mind this is the story that should have been written.
As I’ve said before Sheryl has been misused in both cases and putting her as a mentor instead of spy would make for a great secondary plot but make no mistake the setup for Macross F clearly shows Ranka should be the main heroine, that isn’t my preference it just is what it is. I mean Ranka is the spiritual girl who has always been Kawamori’s main heroine in every one of his anime.
So while the Macross Frontier movies did so many things well and even better than the TV series in some cases, the main story from a good story telling perspective is clearly inferior. In fact I can claim that Kawamori likely knows the original logically should be closer to the truth even if he’ll officially lean towards the movies to make the fans happy or whatever the reason it is. It also clearly shows that there was likely no good reasons for swapping Ranka and Sheryl as main characters so to speak.
If you’re wondering in terms of the love triangle, yes Alto likely chose Ranka as the protagonist also clearly revolved around who the plot revolved around in both series. I went more into this in my love triangle screenshot comparison post and many of those events would go back to Ranka if not all of them in the movies.
So in summary I doubt there exists an original unified Macross F out there and I certainly know that it can’t just sit in Kawamori’s head until he feels like telling us. However going off of what we do know if there is a universe that truly works right for Macross F the plot lines almost certainly follow the TV series while the details can be more up for debate.
I am now almost certain sadly the changes to Ranka and Sheryl were about money due to the way the love triangle decision was at the last-minute called off in the TV series against Kawamori’s wishes and the changes since then as well as how they’re using Sheryl all over the place to sell stuff in the 30th anniversary. But this is just about canon and I still think everything can be enjoyable to watch which is what is most important just remember this is the truth behind it is all.