Macross Frontier

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If my previous reviews haven’t made it clear I do enjoy the Macross series a lot. Jets transforming into robots and pop songs helping to unite the universe, what’s not to love? Today though we look at a TV series with a lot of new material which takes us far into the future of the Macross universe.

The Macross class ship, the Frontier, has come under attack by the Vajira, a race of alien insects. As the young pilot cadet Alto Saotome works to join the private military group, S.M.S. (Strategic Military Services) he attracts the attention of seasoned idol singer Sheryl Nome and the up and coming talent Ranka Lee. The trio find themselves frequently attacked by the Vajira and discover they are much more than simple killing machines. As the truth comes out, it will tie directly into one of their pasts.

MacrossThe series has a lot of good points to it. It succeeds in making sure to advance the universe building aspect of the franchise while making references back to the older shows. References include the Nyan-Nyan restaurant become a franchise, the previous idol songs being played in the background, and even an episode where the characters are cast in a movie based on the events from Macross Zero. This attention to detail really helped to make it feel like it was a proper continuation of the Macross franchise.

The characters are very entertaining, each with their own deep background about them. Alto comes from a family of Kabuki dancers but became a pilot to fight this upbringing. Sheryl is an idol who is on top of the charts but finds its very lonely up there. Ranka wants nothing more than to sing but has a steep hill in front of her. These three by themselves make the show worth watching but there is still supporting characters like Michel, Klan, and Captain Lee to mention.

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This show isn’t without its problems. One of the most glaring ones is the episode entitled “Legend of Zero” with the previously mentioned movie filming episode. In it there is a particular action scene which goes so under budget with its animation and it looks absolutely absurd. We are talking Naruto vs. Pain bad but at least its only for like a five minute sequence. Still, you are better than this Macross! Don’t cut the corners, especially when this franchise only gets like two entries every decade.

The mecha in this series are the best part. Taking into account what needed to be upgraded, the Valkyries look fantastic especially in CG. Also, they included a close weapon feature which I think all Mecha should have as a back up just in case the enemy gets close. The VJ-25s have some very impressive technology, each with there own special function to combat against the Vajira menace. If you can’t tell they did a great job over all. 

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This is another show which sadly hasn’t made its way to American shores. Again, much like Macross: Do You Remember Love, I strongly plead with anyone who has the power to make it possible for these shows to someday be made available here to do something about it. I’m looking forward to the release of Macross Delta this year but know there is a good chance it won’t stateside anytime soon. Maybe I’ll be proved wrong though and someone will pick it up to stream.

RATING: A-

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Macross: Do you remember love?

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Time to return to the wonderful world of Macross. I’m looking forward to the new series, Macross Delta but it will  have to wait until later this year. For now we find ourselves still in “retelling” month and looking at a movie which retells the original Macross series and asks the important question, “Do you remember love?”

Out in the solar system, the spaceship, the Macross is out exploring when it is attacked by Zentrati forces. Helping to fight against them is Hikaru Ichijou, a pilot who finds himself falling in love with the young idol named Lynn Minmei. Things get turn upside down when Hikaru and his commanding officer Misa Hayate get thrown from the ship. As they struggle to survive the two grow closer and may have found the way to defeat the Zentradi by harnessing the power of love.

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This retelling is a masterpiece that adds a great deal to the original show it was based on and does so while looking so good in the process. The visuals in this movie are incredibly detailed to the point each missile with its vapor trail is lovingly hand drawn (rumor has it if you pause at the right moment you can see they drew one missile as a Budweiser can) and the landscapes are detailed in a way which conveys distress and hopelessness at just the right moments. Its truly a sight to behold.

The characters also have a bit of an alteration from the TV show. Minmei isn’t as annoying as she was in the show and you can feel the struggle with the result of the love triangle between her, Hikaru , and Misa. Also, they managed to squeeze in some time for Mira and Max’s relationship but sadly one character doesn’t have any change and once again Roy Fokker still meets with a very traumatic fate. Why can’t he just stay alive in one version and retire to private sector with Vanessa on his arm?

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The movie does have a few plot holes which are never properly addressed.  This has led to questions like “Did Mira shrink or did Max enlarge?” and “Why does an ancient alien song sound like 80s pop?” Still these little nitpicks don’t distract from the overall enjoyment of the movie and has some really memorable moments which mecha fans have been treasuring for years. The film is a quality piece of animation for not only fans of giant robots but fans of anime in general. Now if we could just get a physical media release of it in America. Are we asking too much for that to happen?

Two entries down and two to go on the first themed month. So far the entries have been successful in retelling the series properly. Next week though we find one that doesn’t succeed in properly recreating the feel of the show at all. Look forward to it crew.*

RATING: A-

*I’m thinking of addressing my readers as crew. Thoughts? Love it? Hate it? Comment and let me know.

Macross II: Lovers Again

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A bad sequel is nothing new to any franchise. A sequel that is so bad that people wish it isn’t exist at all isn’t uncommon at all. Few shows are so terrible that they are never referred back to again even when series set after it are made.

Hibiki Kanzaki is a reporter out to find the truth behind the next big scandal and tries to look into ace pilot Silvia Cena. Just as he thinks he’ll never find that one big story, a new race of aliens known as the Mardook invade earth. The new UN Spacy is quick to counter their invasion with their tried and true strategy, the Minmei defense. Unfortunately, these invaders have their own songstresses whose singing throws the pilots into chaos. As Hibiki gets lost in the battle he comes across one of the alien singers named Ishtar and takes her back to Earth. Will Hibiki be able to show Ishtar that human culture shouldn’t be exterminated?

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There are a lot of good reasons why this series is not popular with the Macross fanbase and Mecha fans in general. First off as a Macross sequel the show feels very sloppily pit together without much thought on world building (and you reader know I love my world building). This is evident in the fact that despite 8- years passing the Earth still seems to be centered around the decommissioned Macross fortress. Shouldn’t the humanity/zentrati society have redeveloped more of the earth by now? Silvia mentions that her grandmother was Zentrati so that means that it has been many years already but there isn’t many shots of other locations that would help the watcher to know that the world is bigger than the one city that the story take place.

Also can we talk about the the Minmei defense for a second. Why is this the only means of protecting the Earth? I know it can work for when a series has never experienced culture before for shock factor but is that really what they are banking on? Shouldn’t they have created some kind of high tech laser defense grid or something? Maybe had a few different Macross class cruisers on standby just in case the appearance of a malevolent alien fleet appears.

The movie/OVA (not like it matters, neither way of watching this things makes it any more salvageable) does introduce one interesting feature and that is a new Mecha. The VA-1SS Metal Siren is a one mech with the super mode which is cool but seems out of place.Still it is pretty interesting to watch this new machine tear through the battlefield destroying the enemy fleet.

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Also the love triangle feels rushed and not done properly. The entire series seems to be pointing to the idea that Ishtar and Hibiki should be together but then at the last minute they decide that he and Silvia should be together instead. If that had gone with the better love story of Ishtar and Hibiki then the show might have been saved. I said MIGHT.

Also to add a cherry atop this crap sundae, they also destroy the Macross. The Macross!? The original, unbeatable fortress is destroyed except for the bridge where Ishtar is singing to reach out to her fellow songstresses and get them to change sides. The power of music protected her and somehow keeps the floating head of the destroyed robot fortress together. Sure, whatever as long as it helps this anime end faster.

If it hasn’t become apparent by now, you should probably not watch this series. I cant even recommend it to the die hard Macross fan as they already have the less than interesting parts of Macross 7 to get through. I still have to sit down and watch that series myself. Might have to watch something else with jets that transform into robots to wash the taste of this out of my mouth.

RATING: D

 

Macross

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Have you ever talked with an old school anime fan? I mean true old school anime fan, not those who look at Toonami with a sense of nostalgia but those who were fans from before the creation of cartoon network. The three titles these true old schoolers will mention is StarBlazers (Space Battleship Yamata), Voltron (Beast King Golion) and Robotech. the show Robotech is particularly notorious fore being created by typing three series together with no other connection to create s huge spanning universe. Still, its the first arc, the one based on Super Dimension Fortress Macross that people feel the most love for. The reason: Its just so damn good.

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After a mysterious craft falls to earth, the governments of the world partake in the Unification War to band together with one goal in mind: To restore the ship that fell from the stars. On the day of its initial launch, Hikaru Ichjiyo, a young stunt pilot is caught into the middle of an alien invasion. Finding himself caught with in the crossfires with this armada looking to use the ship that got away for their own purposes, Hikaru has no choice but to become a soldier and fight to protect his friends and family. Along the way, he develops a complicated love triangle with upcoming idol Lynn Minmay and First Lieutenant Misa Hayase.

It’s really hard to talk about a series like Macross because it is such a milestone series and has had such lasting power in the anime community that there is no denying the hold that it possesses. The series starts strong with an alien ship crashing to earth, continues with incredible mecha fight scenes in space, and rounds itself off by focusing on the intense love triangle that the series became known for. An anime fan that has not seen Macross, is someone who needs to realize they have a lot that they still need to check out. This series is one that must not be missed.

166b6c989634c395a19e63d7f9a6dbf9Of course I’m not going to just gush all over this series. I’m aware its not without its faults. Thanks to the American Version of this series, the name Minmay became associated with a very character that was very annoying and unnecessary. Know that is more in the Robotech version of the show and doesn’t truly carry back into the original series. The original voice actress and the Japanese songs were fair more entertaining then the ones that were made for the american audience. If your finding it hard to believe that these songs could be that annoying, just pop over to YouTube and check them out. Trust me, they aren’t exactly something you add to a favorite playlist.

There also is the issue with the additional nine episodes. Originally the series was just supposed to be a 27 episode series. Then the audience and ratings for the show were insane so the studio tacked on an additional nine episodes which really do feel very tacked on. This is especially true considering that in the 27th episode an incredible planet wide battle took place and the most of the Earth was destroyed in the process. Kinda hard to come back after hitting a high point like that.

Despite the drag in the attached episodes, the series is still good and started a franchise that is continuing today. I look back fondly on Macross and would gladly rewatch it if I was blessed with more time in my life. For now I’ll keep remembering love and the importance of protoculture.

Rating: A