When it comes to cute anime idols there are many out there. Ranka is the best form of that type of idol. There are multitude of reasons why that is because there isn’t one thing that truly defines what a cute anime idol is. Being a cute anime idol isn’t solely about looks. With many different aspects of this it’s difficult to know where best to begin or even how to put it in a way that explains why Ranka is the ultimate cute anime idol. I will try my best.
To begin with I suppose this easiest thing would be the story of Ranka Lee. Ranka starts off like many would-be idols as a fan of a particularly famous one named Sheryl. This alone doesn’t set her off on her path to becoming a famous idol. It wasn’t until after few near-death experiences and a few chats with freinds does she find the courage to pursue being an idol. Giving strength to her reasoning of career choice rather than the usual wanting to be like an idol I saw or pursuit of fame and fortune. The desire to be noticed and not forgotten is one we can all relate to. We also learn during this time how Ranka has lost her memories and only a song is sole connection to that past. However Ranka’s path to fame wasn’t easy. Having to perform for advertising in ridiculous themed costumes is both adorable but you also feel bad for Ranka. Specially when compared to the ultra successful Sheryl who appears to have it all. Ranka would have her Cinderella moment. Her childhood song becomes the gateway to fame and fortune. However for fans of the series and Ranka herself her true raise to fame was the act of rescuing the main male hero Alto with song. Riding on an open top mecha she performs her signature song and dance Interstellar Flight. Complete with cute opening phrase and the very famous and cute *kira* pose. This was of course done in the midst of a battle. Not only does this scene truly define Macross but it’s easily the moment many would fall in love with Ranka. Being famous isn’t all that easy however. In fact this is probably when most of the troubles start.
What makes Ranka Ultimate Cute Anime Idol in terms of storyline is not just how she became famous but how she allowed herself to be used and then gave up everything to achieve a greater more noble goal. It takes a lot of courage and willingness to sacrifice oneself to do both things. To allow herself and her songs to be used to lure in and on mass kill an alien race called Vajra would have been very difficult for her. Being forced to sing a distorted version of a precious song in the midst of a killing spree doesn’t sound nice. But it takes greater courage to refuse the norm and to try to make peace with said alien race. Having to give up and leave everything you love and know behind takes a lot of courage. Even if you are aware it is the best for everyone involved. Through much conflict eventually Ranka awakens to her full potential. Not only saving Frontier as well as curing Sheryl but also befriending the Vajra too. All through the power of song. Which is another key reason Ranka is the ultimate cute anime idol. Her being an idol is central to the plot. Not just for the sake of having an idol but the importance of her singing.
Far too many cute anime idols just fall into the trap of being overly cute. Ranka as a character even outside of concerts has a strong natural cuteness. This isn’t the case of her forcing it just for the performance. Ranka just lives cute. It feels almost like a natural cuteness.. Not to say her reactions aren’t adorable. In fact they are. Specially her embarrassed and happy ones. I just love how her hair is so unique and moves in reaction to those emotions. Just that it feels like this is naturally Ranka. Her looks go a long way to help with this. She isn’t wearing super cute pink outfits and have pink hair to match. Some of her outfits have an almost everyday look to them. Of course she has the super cute idol outfits as well but even then none feel like they go over the top with cuteness. In a sense it is the diversity that makes Ranka the ultimate cute anime Idol. She isn’t just one cute element and that’s her entire being. She has many smaller yet more natural cute elements that add up to her being cute anime idol. This gives her wider appeal beyond a normal cute anime idol.
Looks play an important role for any anime character. Ranka is quiet distinctive. Her hair goes a long way to help this. Not just the style of it but the way it moves depending on her emotions or current activity. There are a few key features needed to make the character drawn Ranka. That on its own might seem like a weird reason for her to be the ultimate cute anime idol. However a distinctive design means anyone can draw her and so long as they have certain key elements it’s obvious the character is Ranka. Certain anime idols when drawn in different style lose their uniqueness. Often this is defined by a particular concert outfit. While Ranka does have a standard concert outfit she also has a variety of other outfits. This range from over the top concert outfits with high heels to costume-like outfits and the finally the more standard cute dresses. It’s this variety that makes her stand out. She isn’t limited to one particular style of outfit. For the most part she looks cute in all of them. If there is any fault with this is that most are severely underused. Some being done for promotional use only as opposed to having any real value in the anime itself. Which is a huge disappointment as some of those looks amazing.
A big part of being an anime idol are the songs and performances. Ranka is no exception. Like with her concert outfits she has a variety of songs. Ranka’s voice actress Megumi Nakajima has beautiful singing voice that has improved since when series was first recorded. While majority fall into the cute pop style each has a uniqueness. There is a variety of songs but it doesn’t take away from it being a Ranka song. The performances help with that. With most having a cute dance to go with it can be difficult to resist the urge of joining in at times. What I really like about the songs is you don’t need the anime scene to enjoy them. They can be enjoyed away from the anime but at the same time the songs were made for the anime. It fits both situations well. While cute pop might not be everyone’s taste this is about her being a cute anime idol. It’s that variety and combination of cute songs and dances that makes her the ultimate cute anime idol.
Potentially Ranka isn’t the ultimate cute anime idol. She is in fact a Goddess. Most of her development is very similar to popular Magical Girl characters. From a shaky beginning to a full on power up at the end. With her songs can reach the far reaches of the galaxy. It also has the power to stop conflict and allow for intergalactic travel. With the right conditions she could appear as a vision in your mind and remotely curing those infected with a particular virus. Ranka could be compared to that of a certain pink haired Goddess in terms of abilities. However since this was never fully stated in the anime and closest we get is Ranka being called Little Queen I decided not to use that as the title.
The reason Ranka Lee can often neglect to get the notoriety she deserves is because she is unfortunately in an anime with a love triangle and rival Idol. It happens to be the worse kind of rivalry as well. The kind only fans can make. Where the general idea is to make the other girl miserable in favour of making “your” girl happy. In the anime both series and movies it was shown on a regular basis this wouldn’t be the case. When one was sad or distressed the other would come to support or join in the despair. This even went one step further with the second movie ending. I personally I am a fan of everyone winning something. Even if that isn’t the desired victory. Unfortunately most fans would rather push all the “rewards” onto one character and destroy the rival. It paints both the characters those fans support in a bad light.
Even though Ranka is the ultimate form of a cute anime idol chances are she wouldn’t be the greatest idol. The difference between the two are potentially huge depending on your point of view. The major difference is the ultimate goal. An idol’s main goal is mostly to become as famous as possible. To gain a large number of fans and sing on larger and larger stages. This works for anime focused on idols. An anime idol’s goal is often a more noble one. Often stopping a war and saving the world through singing. During the course of attempting such a goal it often impacts negatively on their in anime popularity. In short Ranka is the ultimate cute anime idol but there are other anime idols that are great idols.