this is the warm sea
Ranka was originally born on the 117th Long Distance Research Fleet, born by her mother Ranshe, and sister to Brera. Ranka’s slowly pieced together memory of her family during these days seems to very peaceful at first—singing a song next to her mother and brother happily. That song was Aimo, a song very dear to Ranka’s heart, as it is the only memory she has of her childhood at first.
The research conducted on this fleet was done by Ranka’s mother, Ranshe, and her friends Dr. Mao Nome—presumably Sheryl Nome’s grandmother—and Dr. Grace O’Connor, a character during the series that is known simply as Sheryl’s, and later Ranka’s, manager. They were researching Protoculture Civilization, but had several squabbles with Grace over the use of their research. Grace wanted to sacrifice the Vajra to control their fold communication network, while Ranshe especially held very opposing views to this.
Because of their close research on the Vajra, Ranshe eventually developed a V-type virus from them, and gave birth to Ranka while still carrying this virus. Thus, Ranka was born with perfect immunity to this virus, and was also born with the ability to communicate with the Vajra through song. Eleven year ago, her singing summoned the Vajra to the fleet, wiping out nearly the 117th Long Distance Research Fleet. The only survivors of this incident were Ranka, her brother Brera, Grace, and Ozma Lee, who was a friend of the family.
Ranka escaped through an escape pod by herself, where she was found and taken to Macross Frontier by Ozma Lee, while Brera and Grace somehow managed to escape together. Grace went on to use Brera and Sheryl to her own ends of attempting to control the Vajra. She wanted to use the same power Ranka had to draw the Vajra to her and attempt to control them.
Amnesia and PTSD
Because of how traumatic this was for Ranka, she developed dissociative amnesia from the events, and forgot about it altogether. Her only memory of the event was the song she used to sing with her mother and brother, Aimo. At least until she later slowly pieces together her memories throughout the series.
Dissociative Amnesia is developed from experiencing an event so traumatic that one’s brain blocks it out entirely, a common symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD for short. This might be a similar term to you. A lot of soldiers that come back from war are afflicted with this terrible disorder, but they are not the only ones who can develop it. PTSD can fester inside anyone who experiences anything traumatic enough for the brain to consider it a threat. Victims of abuse, war, tragedy, and even car accidents or house fires can develop PTSD, and Ranka is no exception. She displays many symptoms of this disorder throughout the anime series.
Though most of her symptoms don’t show up until near the end of the series, because her memory has been blocked out, you see a lot of symptoms near the beginning of the series when her memories are trying to come back but her brain rejects them. This is done as the brain’s way of trying to protect Ranka, and when her memories slowly come back, and especially when Grace reveals them to her suddenly, she shuts down. It’s her own body’s way of processing the stress and trauma from remembering the memories.
PTSD is a very complex disorder, but I feel the series does a great job at portraying it through Ranka. It’s nice to see some representation for a disorder that is often not thought about.
Ozma Lee is Ranka’s adoptive big brother, one of the few survivors of the 117th Long Distance Research Fleet where Ranka was born and raised. After failing to protect and save her family, he makes it his sworn duty to take care of and raise Ranka. Though their relationship can be considered very similar to that of a normal brother and sister, sometimes Ozma can be a bit too overprotective, which causes squabbles and arguments. Ozma is the one person who discourages Ranka in her journey to try to make a name for herself. This isn’t because Ozma doesn’t care for her, it is simply because he doesn’t want her to get hurt. He later realizes however, that no matter what he says or does, this is something Ranka truly wants and is driven towards, so there’s no point in trying to stop her. Ozma is the Squall Squadron leader in the SMS, and is also the one to get Alto into the SMS, despite initial frustrations and worry.
During the time the first episode transpires, Ranka has no idea Ozma was in the SMS, due to her worry for his safety. Losing her entire family and having no recollection of it, she didn’t want to lose her last remaining family the same way. Ranka ends up eventually finding out within the first few episodes, but after her brother reassuring her that he won’t die, and neither will Alto or any of her friends, she reluctantly agrees with him and he continues to be in the SMS with increased vitality, knowing Ranka is okay with him being there.
Their relationship started off very strained. Ranka was completely broken, distraught, and fragile when Ozma first took her in. She wouldn’t even talk to him for the longest time, but that didn’t stop Ozma from trying to take care of her, as clumsy as he was at it. On one day he tried to make his girlfriend’s pineapple cake for Ranka, to try to get some kind of reaction out of her (and also probably to feed her), and she finally talks. She tells him his cake is so gross, and thus, the bond is born.
Brera is a character that remains such a mystery throughout most of the series, only showing up at random locations to either be an asshole or help out. In truth, Brera is Ranka’s biological brother, long thought to have died alongside the rest of Ranka’s family 11 years ago. He is a very important character to her, even before they both find out the truth. Throughout the entire series Brera feels a very strong connection to Ranka, one that he can’t seem to explain. All he knows is it feels right to be together, and Ranka feels the exact same way.
Brera is first seen as somewhat of an antagonistic asshole. He causes trouble for the SMS multiple times before fully coming on board to help them, but Ranka’s first encounter with Brera is a dangerous one. A monster is seen on set of the movie that Ranka, Sheryl, and Alto are to star in and it corners Ranka. Alto attempts to save her but gains no ground, which is when Brera makes an appearance and saves her.
Brera is thought to have died in the explosion 11 years ago, but is somehow brought back to life as a cyborg thanks to Grace O’Connor. He has no memories of his childhood, save for the song Aimo that he plays on a harmonica he always carries on his person. It’s not until the very end that Brera learns that Ranka is indeed his sister.
In the beginning, Brera was simply protecting and aiding Ranka because of Grace’s orders, but soon finds himself forming a sort of connection with her—he feels some kind of connection with her that makes him disobey orders from Grace in order to protect her. He becomes her bodyguard after Grace takes over Ranka’s management, much to the dismay of Alto. He accompanies her when she tries to get away from her duties for a day, and the two share ice cream and have fun, not knowing they are related at all. He is also the only one to tell Ranka that she "doesn't have to sing" when she starts questioning why she is singing.