Jump to content
Lexomatic

Why five million ships?

Recommended Posts

On the non-diegetic side -- Were the writers of SDFM enamored of absurdly big fleets, Lensman-style? Does "five million ships!" sound impressive in Japanese, more so than other numbers? ("Gohyaku man-hai fune yo", I guess.)

The diegetic reason -- Did the Protoculture occupy that many star systems? Did they prefer overwhelming numerical domination? Did their civil war start out that large, or was it an escalation related to the creation of the Supervision Army, or have the factory satellites been cancerously self-replicating for the past 500 millennia? (Millions of ships in each of thousands of fleets, if DYRL is to be believed.) (The Iain M. Banks coinage "aggressive hegemonizing swarm" seems apropos here.)

This may be a matter of magnitudes for which there is no good answer. (As a question, it doesn't IMHO fit the "newbie and short questions" or "mecha fun time" threads.)

(This happened to occur to me (a) while perusing the "Robotech by Titan Comics" thread. and (b) for thematic similarity with a Quora question, "why isn't the Imperial fleet in Star Wars bigger?" The size of the Tirolian empire, as depicted in the Sentinels novels, doesn't seem to justify a subjugation-fleet of that size. If Carl Macek had balked at the number and opted to downsize it in the Robotech dub script, it's not like anybody would actually count the number of dots onscreen -- a fleet of 50,000 ships would be less insane but still seemingly-unbeatable.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Lexomatic said:

The size of the Tirolian empire, as depicted in the Sentinels novels, doesn't seem to justify a subjugation-fleet of that size.

But the size of the potoculture empire in Macross was almost the entire galaxy. Five million ships is a drop in the bucket.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Lexomatic said:

On the non-diegetic side -- Were the writers of SDFM enamored of absurdly big fleets, Lensman-style? Does "five million ships!" sound impressive in Japanese, more so than other numbers? ("Gohyaku man-hai fune yo", I guess.)

I'm not sure it's a question of them being enamored of absurdly large fleets as the scale of Boddole Zer's main fleet drawing a line under how hopelessly screwed humanity was, and how amazing the miracle achieved by Minmay's song was.  It's one thing to win a fight against overwhelming but not impossible odds... it's quite another to win a fight against odds that left no chance of victory otherwise.

 

4 minutes ago, Lexomatic said:

The diegetic reason -- Did the Protoculture occupy that many star systems? Did they prefer overwhelming numerical domination? Did their civil war start out that large, or was it an escalation related to the creation of the Supervision Army, or have the factory satellites been cancerously self-replicating for the past 500 millennia? (Millions of ships in each of thousands of fleets, if DYRL is to be believed.) (The Iain M. Banks coinage "aggressive hegemonizing swarm" seems apropos here.)

The ancient Protoculture's Stellar Republic spanned much of the galaxy at its peak, but their reasons for creating such a colossal military have been lost to time.  It may have had something to do with their political tensions on the home front, or potentially the possibility of armed conflict with Vajra hives, or simply because they could.  They started building their Zentradi forces about 400 years before their civil war broke out, and had something like 5,000 main fleets in operation by the time the war began in earnest.

Between the devastation of the last few years of the conflict when the Protodeviln emerged and both sides joined together in the hopes of defeating the Supervision Army and the 500,000 years of warfare that followed, the Zentradi forces are down to around half strength... which is to say, between 2,000 and 3,000 main fleets still operating.  Even then, virtually everything in service with the Zentradi forces was built 200,000 years or more after the war ended as replacements for battlefield losses sustained in their ongoing conflict with the remnants of the Supervision Army.  So it's kind of a "yes and no" sort of answer... the Protoculture had such massive Zentradi forces before the war ever started for... reasons... but they've had half a million years of attrition and the slow, grinding replacement of mass manufacturing to at least sustain their numbers in the face of a foe who, many generations ago, used to be a significant chunk of the entire galactic population.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I want to think that there is a BIG ONE fleet out there... maybe near the center of the galaxy and is better not to attract their attention to the Humanity regions

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Considering all the conflicts (within and without) of humanity and it's allies since SDFM. Perhaps it's a similar arc to the Protoculture..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Gerli said:

I want to think that there is a BIG ONE fleet out there... maybe near the center of the galaxy and is better not to attract their attention to the Humanity regions

I've wondered before if there was a heirarchy above Bodol. 

We know there's communication between fleets(Fleet of the Strongest Women), but not how much communication or if it is smoothed along by infrastructure or just more of a friendly "Howdy, war neighbor. What's life like in sector 5309 these days?" when their movements took them near enough to each other.

 

 

It seems obvious at this point that if there is a further tier, Bodol didn't report Earth to them, and they haven't noticed that fleets are going dark in a big bubble spreading outwards from the sol system.

...

Either that or they decided "Heck naw, we ain't gettin' anywhere near that crap after what happened to the LAST fleet! Just tell everyone to get out the way of the dang miclones before they all catch the culture and have to be put down. Set course for friggin' Andromeda, helmsman."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, JB0 said:

I've wondered before if there was a heirarchy above Bodol. 

We know there's communication between fleets(Fleet of the Strongest Women), but not how much communication or if it is smoothed along by infrastructure or just more of a friendly "Howdy, war neighbor. What's life like in sector 5309 these days?" when their movements took them near enough to each other.

As far as we know, there isn't... not anymore, anyway.  The Main Fleets were the highest level of organization, overseen directly by the Protoculture while they were still around.  The Fulbtzs Berrentzs-class motherships even include artificial parklands and so on for the Protoculture's use, though the Protoculture are no longer around to make use of the facilities and haven't been for nearly 500,000 years.

 

6 minutes ago, JB0 said:

It seems obvious at this point that if there is a further tier, Bodol didn't report Earth to them, and they haven't noticed that fleets are going dark in a big bubble spreading outwards from the sol system.

...

Either that or they decided "Heck naw, we ain't gettin' anywhere near that crap after what happened to the LAST fleet! Just tell everyone to get out the way of the dang miclones before they all catch the culture and have to be put down. Set course for friggin' Andromeda, helmsman."

Even then, there were ~3 million ships of the Boddole Zer main fleet that were able to successfully withdraw from the combat zone after the Macross sank Boddole Zer's mothership.  If they did tell anyone, they may have come to the conclusion that humans were the Protoculture and therefore to be avoided or that the ancient Protoculture had ordered them to leave miclones the hell alone for good reason and resolved to not push the issue further.

The Macross II parallel world timeline does have cases where Zentradi who had fought in the war and fled into deep space to find other fleets and attempt to finish what they'd started.  That wacky Quamzin manages to lead a whopping THREE main fleets into our solar system after the First Space War in that timeline... and it never ended well for the Zentradi.  He led the Neld Main Fleet into our solar system first in an attempt to finish with Boddole Zer had started, and despite doing some pretty decent prep-work, promptly got his sh*t and Neld's sh*t wrecked by Vrlitwhai's counterattack spearheaded by none other than Komilia Jenius.  This apparently convinced him there was something to Boddole Zer's plan of using Earth's culture against the Meltrandi as a weapon, because he tried again by leading the Burado Main Fleet to Earth in the hopes that the UN Spacy would sort out the Meltrandi Leplendis Main Fleet that was hounding Burado's forces.  To his credit, this actually worked pretty well despite not cluing the Spacy in or in any way cooperating with them.  After a few skirmishes and some fact-finding undercover work by her troops, Leplendis was so convinced she was dealing with the Protoculture that she ordered her fleet out of the system and was in the process of leaving when the Spacy and Zentradi delivered a one-two punch that crippled her fleet during their retreat.  Quamzin's forces then turned on the Spacy, and in the ensuing final dustup the Spacy took out Quamzin's flagship AND Burado's mobile fortress.  There are still so many leftover Zentradi forces in the vicinity of the Sol system that the Spacy has an average of one war with them every ten years clear into the 2090s.  After five main fleets met their ends on in one solar system, the Zentradi and Meltrandi don't seem to be all that eager to start sh*t on a grand scale.  (The Spacy in that timeline has technically racked up 3 Main Fleet kills and 2 assists in eighty years.)

The main timeline seems to have fairly infrequent contact between the New UN Gov't and Zentradi, if only because stumbling on a fleet with another fleet is like trying to hit one grain of sand with another grain of sand from across a football field.  That said, there are several references in books like Master File to emigrant fleets going so far as to self-destruct ships with dimensional warheads to prevent them from falling into Zentradi hands, or main fleets stumbling on the occasional emigrant planet and glassing it out of habit.  Other, more official works tend to mention smaller conflicts where branch fleets are wiped out after stumbling into the New UN Government's territory.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always thought it was very cool to portray NUNS in deep space fighting Zentradi at the beginning of Macross Plus.

Those fleets are out there ,boie;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
46 minutes ago, Seto Kaiba said:

That wacky Quamzin

HOW?! Just... why won't he stay DEAD?

"How many times do I have to kill you?!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, JB0 said:

HOW?! Just... why won't he stay DEAD?

"How many times do I have to kill you?!"

Macross II: Lovers Again's timeline seems to draw on Sukehiro Tomita's novelization of Macross: Do You Remember Love? more than any other iteration of the First Space War story... the novelization cuts a dash between DYRL? and the TV series for events.  The Macross II timeline's Quamzin lived among humans for a while like he did in the TV series, but instead of that death or glory run against the Macross that was supposed to precede a return to deep space and ended up killing him he just legged it for deep space.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As far as a smartarse answer to the original question goes... the size of Boddole Zer's fleet just goes to show Minmay's much better than Helen of Troy, right?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The original Macross being an antiwar series, defeating impossible odds (the afore-mentioned five million ship fleet) may have something to do with Japan's relatively recent history.  The defeat of the Imperial Russian Navy at the Battle of Tsushima, for example, and their resounding victories both in the war against China and their early victories against the Allies in WW2 lead to a lot of hubris amongst their leadership and their population.  The devastations visited upon Japan as a result of their leadership's audacity had to have a strong impact on the artists and writers, even forty and fifty years after that horrific mess.  Massive fleets--impossible odds--arrayed against their homeland would naturally become a common theme because they've had to live it.

While there are probably still significant and dangerous amounts of Zentradi (et al) out there, I doubt there is a single "Big One" (massive main fleet) because, without the Protoculture, there's no one who can effectively organize and direct the Main Fleets to create one.  Also, that many factory satellites and the resources required to feed them is going to get noticed.  Fighting an opponent who is in every way but sheer numbers your superior demands you maintain control of the battlefield.  Massing only to strike and then scattering is key to your long-term survival.  Massing hundreds-of-millions-of-miles-long-warships in the center of the galaxy is not going to help that effort.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, seeing the question still sitting on the topic list has left me thinking about it... Why bring all five million ships to Earth? It was WAY too many to glass the place, most of them were just in the way of each other. I mean, sure it gave them manpower to spare so no one on the inside("targets") ran the blockade and escaped. And then they could sweep the system and glass every planet that had a base. But five million still seems a bit overkill.

I guess Bodol had grown tired of being surprised by the dang miclones, and figured an absurd level of overkill was actually just the right amount of kill in light of how problematic the Earthlings had been. (Joke's on him, it wasn't nearly enough kill.)

Edited by JB0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, JB0 said:

Actually, seeing the question still sitting on the topic list has left me thinking about it... Why bring all five million ships to Earth? It was WAY too many to glass the place, most of them were just in the way of each other. I mean, sure it gave them manpower to spare so no one on the inside("targets") ran the blockade and escaped. And then they could sweep the system and glass every planet that had a base. But five million still seems a bit overkill.

I guess Bodol had grown tired of being surprised by the dang miclones, and figured an absurd level of overkill was actually just the right amount of kill in light of how problematic the Earthlings had been. (Joke's on him, it wasn't nearly enough kill.)

Did he bring all 5 million?  I thought a branch fleet was left to guard the Factory Satellite that was depicted being taken a few episodes later.

Nevertheless, you've made some good points.   One thing to keep in mind is that the Zentradi use their soldiers as cannon fodder.  So, having plenty of "reserve units" around is kind of important to their battle strategy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, JB0 said:

Actually, seeing the question still sitting on the topic list has left me thinking about it... Why bring all five million ships to Earth? It was WAY too many to glass the place, most of them were just in the way of each other.

Not sure how you're determining that it was way too many to destroy the planet's surface... most of the fleet was actively bombarding the planet for a couple minutes and they still didn't get everyone.  It might've been overkill if they still had thermonuclear reaction weapons in their arsenal, but they were doing it the hard way with their standard beam cannon turrets and the heavy converging beam cannons of their medium-scale gunboats.

 

6 hours ago, JB0 said:

I mean, sure it gave them manpower to spare so no one on the inside("targets") ran the blockade and escaped. And then they could sweep the system and glass every planet that had a base. But five million still seems a bit overkill.

I guess Bodol had grown tired of being surprised by the dang miclones, and figured an absurd level of overkill was actually just the right amount of kill in light of how problematic the Earthlings had been. (Joke's on him, it wasn't nearly enough kill.)

Considering the scale of the Zentradi forces and the war they'd been fighting for the last 500,000 years, the only reason it looks like overkill is because humanity put up much less of a fight than the Zentradi were used to or expecting.  To Boddole Zer and his senior commanders, it likely looked like an entirely reasonable level of response to contain and annihilate an enemy base.

(Macross 7 put a bit of perspective on Boddole Zer's response to the situation, via Exsedol's instinctive fear of the Protodeviln and how the effects of culture shock on the Zentradi may have looked like the Supervision Army's mind control.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, based on my own inklings and Seto Kaiba's summary of ... off-screen setting materials, I surmise ... I suspect this is one of those things that started with "rule of cool" for which the Macross brain trust subsequently had to invent a plausible-sounding explanation for the techies in the audience and their own satisfaction. I imagine a story meeting, possibly during the phase when SDFM was still a Gundam parody:

"We need to confront our protagonists with impossible, disheartening, paralyzing odds. How about fifty thousand enemy ships?"

"Nah, go big or go home. Let's make it five million. For the drama!"

The Protoculture might have spanned the galaxy and satellite clusters, but that's not the same as colonizing any significant fraction of the 400 billion stars. And if they did, that's the kind of demographic growth that in serious SF takes millennia. And what fraction was already claimed by the Vajra? --If "claimed" is even the right characterization. The two species may have coexisted amicably, with a preference for different kinds of worlds or stars.

Several of the screen projects have encountered Protoculture remnants, but not in a way amenable to answering deep cultural questions. I'm assuming that most information supplied to fans is, therefore, ex-cathedra.

Logically, even the humans in-universe would be stymied. Zentraedi records are eroded, and no doubt omitted irrelevant detail ("was there a religious motivation to create sub-Protoculture races?") and a lot of strategic detail. Planet-bound remains are so ancient that investigation is more paleontology than archaeology. They have to tiptoe between Zentraedi patrols. A Macross story in the vein of Stargate Atlantis would be gratifying (following something like the 117th Long-Distance Research Fleet alluded to in Frontier), but probably not what the powers-that-be are interested in bankrolling. Even a magazine-based project like Macross the Ride is an excuse to play with model kits, and I don't expect a lot of interest in "type-3 inflatable research shelter" or "arctic-terrain gravitometer van". :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps if Kawamori had his way, we would see more interesting and in depth side stories concerning the protoculture. As it is. The powers that be seem happy to drip feed clues and scant bits to keep some level of continuity within the Macross universe.

But even in DYRL there was the song tablet found and there have been ruins found on other worlds. So yes there is archeology going on. Albeit cautiously as some ruins are massively booby trapped. 

Also NUNS and most emigrant fleets are not really tip toeing around the galaxy , concerning the Zentradi. While Earth forces and allies have evolved weaponry , ships and tactics, the Zentradi are still using the same everything, banged up and all, to combat foes. It's because of tactics like "5 million ships" that the Zentradi had been quite successful in their campaigns. 

As far as the 5million ships thing. I agree that to the Zentradi, that would have been a perfectly reasonable armada to combat an enemy. What we were introduced to way back in the 80's was the grand concept of scale on a galactic level. And here was the Earth and humans facing that open door to the galaxy with the Zentradi standing in the door way..

Edited by Bolt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Lexomatic said:

So, based on my own inklings and Seto Kaiba's summary of ... off-screen setting materials, I surmise ... I suspect this is one of those things that started with "rule of cool" for which the Macross brain trust subsequently had to invent a plausible-sounding explanation for the techies in the audience and their own satisfaction. I imagine a story meeting, possibly during the phase when SDFM was still a Gundam parody:

"We need to confront our protagonists with impossible, disheartening, paralyzing odds. How about fifty thousand enemy ships?"

"Nah, go big or go home. Let's make it five million. For the drama!"

Well, I wouldn't rule out the possibility that it was an in-joke either... after all, 4,795,122 (the actual number cited in the series) is such a weirdly precise figure that there may have been some hidden in-joke or reference there that we just aren't getting.

 

1 hour ago, Lexomatic said:

The Protoculture might have spanned the galaxy and satellite clusters, but that's not the same as colonizing any significant fraction of the 400 billion stars. And if they did, that's the kind of demographic growth that in serious SF takes millennia.

Perhaps less so for an alien race whose mastery of cloning technology enabled them to duplicate individuals down to the level of creating identical copies complete with all the skills, training, and memories of the original in a matter of hours... and the factor in that these people had facilities for such en masse cloning that they could field a clone army somewhere on the order of almost 4 trillion fighting men (and women).

Humanity leveraged this ancient knowledge and technology to provide personnel for the early emigrant fleets... duplicating individuals with vital skills and training to provide for the various essential roles emigrant fleets needed without access to adequate levels of trained personnel.

 

1 hour ago, Lexomatic said:

And what fraction was already claimed by the Vajra? --If "claimed" is even the right characterization. The two species may have coexisted amicably, with a preference for different kinds of worlds or stars.

It's been confirmed that the Protoculture admired and imitated the Vajra, to the extent that quite a bit of their tech may be reverse-engineered or copied from Vajra biotechnology.

 

1 hour ago, Lexomatic said:

Logically, even the humans in-universe would be stymied. Zentraedi records are eroded, and no doubt omitted irrelevant detail ("was there a religious motivation to create sub-Protoculture races?") and a lot of strategic detail.

From the sound of it, the goal of creating the sub-Protoculture species was to essentially prepare habitable planets for future Protoculture colonization.

 

1 hour ago, Lexomatic said:

Planet-bound remains are so ancient that investigation is more paleontology than archaeology. They have to tiptoe between Zentraedi patrols.

There hasn't really been any indication of the New UN Government's emigrant fleets having to "tiptoe between Zentradi patrols".  The nature of traveling by space fold means that a chance meeting between two fleets is like hitting a grain of sand with another grain of sand from across a football field... while blindfolded.  You have to get stupidly unlucky for that to happen.  (It has happened in both timelines, but it requires apocalyptic levels of bad luck.)

That said, the New UN Government has - at least by the time of Macross Delta - acquired a healthy sense of caution regarding surviving Protoculture constructs and structures.  The remnants of the Protoculture civilization that have survived the ravages of time into the modern era have a distressing habit of turning out to be ancient doomsday weapons or the containment facilities for ancient doomsday weapons the Protoculture felt were too dangerous to keep around with distressing frequency.  That their immediate reaction to finding out what was buried on Windermere IV was to try to drop a dimensional warhead on it and wipe it off the face of the universe before it could end all life in the galaxy shows that, if nothing else, the NUNS staff officers are the Only Sane Men in Macross Delta.

The ancient Protoculture themselves seem to have started to understand that the stupidly dangerous sh*t they were burying everywhere was, in fact, stupidly dangerous late in the collapse of their civilization.  On Uroboros, they installed self-replicating biotechnological insectoid killing machines all over hell's half-acre to keep the lookey-loos out, and in their final settlements in the Brisingr Cluster they dumped the dangerous stuff into another dimension entirely.

 

1 hour ago, Lexomatic said:

A Macross story in the vein of Stargate Atlantis would be gratifying (following something like the 117th Long-Distance Research Fleet alluded to in Frontier), but probably not what the powers-that-be are interested in bankrolling. Even a magazine-based project like Macross the Ride is an excuse to play with model kits, and I don't expect a lot of interest in "type-3 inflatable research shelter" or "arctic-terrain gravitometer van". :)

The closest we're likely to get is probably Macross 30, which includes a LOT of messing around in Protoculture ruins.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why five million? Because the other five million were at the drive thru for Zentraedi Burger king and were waiting for their orders, so ten million wasn't going to be happening that day. :D

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...