The many Minmays to my Hikaru (but who is the Minmay here, and who the Hikaru?): A selfish reading of that one love triangle

Every once in a while, two lines of inquiry collide in my head, and the resultant reaction inevitably takes some sensitive tissue with it. The questions that led to today’s post were: 1. if fandom is socially constructed like the rest of our personalities — if fandom is indeed part of one’s personality, and not a “mere” result of hobby choice — which of our discrete attributes incline us toward specific branches of (specifically anime/manga) fandom, and 2. what does Hikaru Ichijou see in Lynn Minmay, anyway?

I’ve been stewing over these questions for some time, but I’ve devoted more time to the second than to the first. And, wouldn’t you know it, once I took a step toward answering the first, the answer to the second seemed rather obvious: Hikaru has feelings for Minmay because she’s hard to get, and he’s into that.

I could be wrong, of course, but this feels like the right answer — for the original Macross TV series, at least. The setup in Do You Remember Love? is rather different, and, lo and behold, I don’t really have any issues with the DYRL? Minmay, so I’ll mostly leave her out of this.

We’ll have to begin with the first realization that led to the second. It occurred to me, all of a sudden, after certain facts conspired to make it more apparent than ever it has been (to me), that I’m not attracted to reasonably obtainable women. I’m only attracted to women who would, for me, prove hard to get.

Yes, I know this sounds juvenile; my only excuse is that Genshiken says it’s okay not to have finished growing up when you’re in your mid-twenties, and so does Solanin, and so I’m not going to worry about it too much because, really, what good would that do? Things happen when they happen, maturation included. In lieu of worry, however, I’m a bit fascinated by this little hangup of mine, as I think it bears upon my fandom.

But before I reveal to you all my dark secrets, let’s consider Hikaru for a moment. (This requires that I abandon any attempt to avoid spoiling Macross, so prepare yourself.)

My point may depend upon whether Minmay is even technically hard to get in the early episodes, but this seems to me to be the case, if only because she’s young and flighty, and thus not so quick to settle on Hikaru. His advances never prove especially effective, and when Kaifun enters the picture, Hikaru is effectively locked out — but this doesn’t stop him.

I’m guessing that Hikaru’s preference for the hard-to-get ladies (or lady, as it were) has something to do with his being the kind of person who likes to challenge himself. Competitive as he is, the cockblock prospects represented by Kaifun may just make him try all the harder; after all, the two years that pass between episodes 27 and 28 don’t do much to diminish his desire. If anything, he’s all the more willing to reject poor Misa Hayase and run off with Minmay post-time skip.

I’m also willing to entertain the idea that Hikaru was into Minmay because she was vivacious and attractive, and his ultimate recognition of Misa’s merits represents growth on his part, but bear with me here. I’m trying to give Minmay the benefit of the doubt for once.

If we grant that Hikaru’s romantic “philosophy” sends him after challenging situations, he comes to occupy a distinct position among the show’s cast of amorous males:

  • Hikaru: Challenge/thrill
  • Focker: Insecurity/fear of (breaking) commitment
  • Max: Respect for talent and beauty
  • Kakizaki: Cute girls are cute (everyman angle)
  • Kaifun: Control

Otherwise Hikaru might just be a more proactive Kakizaki, and Minmay would effectively have him by the pants. But somehow that seems too easy.

And, anyway, as a fellow man in pursuit of implausible relationships, I feel a kind of camaraderie with Hikaru. I can’t get too frustrated with him for acting like a tool in Minmay’s presence, as that would require that I be frustrated at myself.

For my part, there’s practically a one-to-one correlation between the obtainability of a woman and my attraction to her. And, in a way, it’s as if I’m devoted to the continuation of a vicious cycle. I make myself available to people who aren’t that interested, and I shut out those whose interest is obvious — I play the hard-to-get role, in other words. And so it is with Minmay, Hikaru, and Misa.

How does Hikaru end up choosing Misa in the end? I feel as though I have a personal investment in this question. Is it because he learned enough about people to appreciate what she had to offer? Did he come to appreciate her persistence, a quality he himself displays? Did he simply grow tired of Minmay’s indecision, or did Minmay cease to fascinate him when she became obtainable? Did he, after all, get over an almost compulsive need to challenge himself, even in romantic situations? Does this represent “growth” on his part, or simply change?

Any of these could be true; more than one could be true. And, given that I seem to be afflicted by some of the same idiosyncrasies as the Hikaru who pines pitifully after Minmay, I may not be in a position to suggest an answer. Hikaru seems to have found his own answer, in the end. But, once, I found myself involved in a “love triangle” of roughly the sort diagrammed above, and it didn’t end particularly well for all involved. It may be that the Misa would have been better for me than the Minmay, but such a thing didn’t occur to me at the time.

It may not do me much good to scrutinize a cartoon character as a means of self-improvement — in fact, if I have anything to learn from Hikaru, it’s probably that I’ll have to figure things out on my own. But, as I see it, he has two advantages over me. The first is that Misa hangs on for as long as she does — rather longer than Hikaru warrants, I figure. And the second is that, while Hikaru probably approaches romance as he does partly because of his challenge-seeking nature, I do so because…why?

Maybe I’m just self-destructive. But I don’t know. I’ll get back to you on that.

I’m really trying to get at a broader question here: is it possible that my desire for the unobtainable led me to the 2D world in the first place? I’m not suggesting that my fandom for the latter is wholly dependent upon the former; I simply wonder whether, at some point, one was connected to the other, and I crossed the divide between them via that connection. It may not even be possible to answer such a question, but I do at least feel the need to bear such things in mind as I go about the business of fandom.

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6 Comments

  1. It’s not that complicated. At the end of things, the future Minmay represented was anathema: a claustrophobic hell where both their identities are destroyed:

    Minmay doesn’t want to sing anymore
    Minmay doesn’t want Hikaru to fly anymore (effectively since the only flying worth a damn is in the UN SPACY)

    Perhaps you can read growth into that, but for me this isn’t the indicator for growth on Hikaru’s part. It certainly indicates a regression on Minmay’s — everything is STILL all about what she wants. But for Hikaru, the choice was pretty obvious: Misa represented freedom, Minmay represented a shrew.

    Reply
    • Pontifus

       /  30 May 2010

      Well — I don’t know. I see where you’re coming from. I had forgotten that Minmay asked Hikaru not to fly, I think. But I wonder whether, had he not changed at all, Hikaru would have actually done as Minmay asked, at least temporarily. I don’t figure it would’ve worked out, in the end, but perhaps the pursuit of Minmay would, for a moment or two, have eclipsed the pursuit of flight, insofar as the two were roughly the same sort of “pursuit.”

      Then again, I don’t think you’re saying that Hikaru didn’t change at all.

      At any rate, I’m always more comfortable talking about things in terms of change, rather than growth/regression, so I use the latter terms hesitantly.

      Reply
      • I get your hesitation, because growth is indeed quite a difficult thing to measure. For every ‘mature’ decision I make as a 30something I manifest 3 other behaviors I’ve carried with me since I was 14.

        But growth does happen, just a tad difficult to ascribe to fictional characters. Hikaru did change: While difficult to find solid evidence for it, how could he not?

        Roy died, Kakizaki died. Most of the Earth’s population died. So many Zentraedi died — he pulled the trigger on them himself!

        He must have felt responsible for so many things, at 18! When he emerged with Minmay from the belly of the metal space whale (the Macross) at 15, I find it hard to imagine he felt responsible for anything.

        I can presuppose growth occurred if I choose to read his choice for Misa as also a choice to accept responsibility for the future of humanity and culture; a choice to live the aspirations of those who passed away.

        You know I appreciate how I’ve been able to think Hikaru through like this. The fanboy that I am feels all my efforts to remember love for Macross and share it with people have grown and gave me actual personal returns. Thank you.

      • Pontifus

         /  2 June 2010

        I should be thanking you for indulging me!

        Responsibility is probably a good measure of growth. It’s especially interesting here, too. Hikaru could feel responsible for a great many things; I wonder how many of them he actually feels responsible for. Certainly he has learned responsibility, in the end — but how much? Or, I’ll put it this way: is it possible that he refuses Minmay’s request that he not fly not only because flying is what he does, but also because he feels a sense of duty toward the UN Spacy and the human race by extension? I’d like to think so.

        All things to remember for the next time I watch Macross, whenever that may be.

  2. NewMacrossFan

     /  16 December 2013

    This is indeed a late answer, but I’d like to point some few things… In general, I do not believe the choice Hikaru made was only a choice of growth, if it was anything like that at all.

    I believe it was the “easy” road he chose when he chose Misa. The series, throughout its episodes, focuses constantly on the relationship of Hikaru and Minmay and generally uses Misa as a “back up”. That is why I was also surpised at Hikaru’s choice of Misa, rather than Minmay. Towards the end, I saw Minmay changing for the better, seeking a hapiness she had long forgotten. In fact, all the build-up towards the last episodes had me thinking that Hikaru and Minmay would’ve worked it out, both with themselves and their personal desires, despite the road Minmay firstly proposed. What I was seeing was the series trying to explain how Minmay needed someone like Hikaru to teach her and remind her the importance of what she had forgotten, and Hikaru needed someone like Minmay to take his mind off the hardships of being in the military and live a more refreshing life; That’s what I saw in that relationship and in the way it was being developed throughout the show.. Which is the reason to why I am still a bit puzzled at Hikaru’s choice of staying with a “co-worker” -without me disliking Misa.

    Towards the end, I believe he himself said when Misa asked him, that Minmay isn’t the type of girl he can handle(never denying the love he had been feeling for the past 30+ episodes, a love he never showed towards Misa.)

    Well, my opinion is that after all the build-up, giving up on something you desire untill that last second and choosing an ever existing back up does not necessarily do Hikaru or the series justice, although it is quite an interesting and unconventional way to end it, which is why it’s still being discussed today.

    Reply
  3. In the series, I felt like Hikaru ending up Misa felt rushed…there was no build up to their relationship that could equal his build up with Minmay.

    However, we have to remember that Hikaru’s first love was flying – something that Minmay wanted him to leave behind. Misa never asked him to stop flying. Even though Hikaru and Misa’s eventual intimacy wasn’t detailed through the episodes right up to the finale, Hikaru’s choice represented his outlook, he wanted to go on as a soldier, and keep flying – which would let him be with Misa.

    DYRL is more clear with this – his only buildup with Minmay was the week they spent trapped behind the hypercarbon walls, while he struggled for survival with Misa during the month they were back on the then scorched Earth.

    Reply

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