Archive for August, 2008



In Light Of Recent Revelations of the Beijing Olympics…Or, Should I Say, Moelympics?

As some of you may or may not be aware, the performance of China’s national anthem at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics were actually lip-synched.

Now, of course, this is an entirely logical thing for China to do, since they’re so obsessed with presenting a positive image to the world as the whole world watches the Olympics (to the point that they might actually be stabbing themselves in the back, given this and several other cases I’ve heard [see below–ed.]) that presenting an extremely photogenic girl instead of a much more down-home girl for the grand national anthem singing backed by choir, but that’s not the point here.

The point is the moenetic analysis of the two girls in question.

Let us consider the on-stage “singer”, Lin Miaoke:

Twintails. Hair clips. Making a weird and seemingly nonsensical yet still terribly cute and adorable hand gesture. “Low” moe.

Now consider Yang Peiyi, the actual singer:

Down-home appeal. Barely visible hairclip, or possibly flower. Damn good voice. “High” moe.

I don’t know about you, but the concept of a cute, twintailed girl actually being voiced by a much more down-home kind of girl seems pretty anime to me. And there was that Olympic promo art that bore an eerie resemblance to Haruhi

Now, of course, we here at Anime wa Bakuhatu da! (by “we” I mean “me” but the “about” page fails to mention that I am actually bizarro zombie Queen Victoria, since I am amused, unlike actual Queen Victoria, who was not) can’t really have a post about Chinese girls, now can we?

Yes. Yes we can. But here’s something to make up for it:

Klan Klan wants to sing, too. She fits all the criteria posed by Lin Miaoke! GIVE HER A CHANCE~

[DISCLAIMER: My apologies to the families of both Lin Miaoke and Yang Pinyi, and probably to Chinese people in general. The Beijing Olympics are probably going much smoother than the Western media outlets seems to tell us. You know, because they’re the media and all. Remember the Yellow Scare of the early 1900s (that was in reaction to Japan’s growing military, I know, but just bear with me here)? Yeah. Yellow journalism’s a great thing, isn’t it? How DARE someone not be like us. I hate you, Joseph Pulitzer. Hate hate hate.]

Macross Frontier: So Where Are My Chiba Song Units?

Like, seriously, Kawamori. You’re spending all this time talking about the ability of Ranka’s song to transcend spacetime and traverse through foldspace and resonate with the Vajira and you haven’t even talked about Chiba Song Units at all. At least you have Ozma and his love for Fire Bomber.

I’m actually going to try to keep this shorter than usual, since I’m trying to get to bed at a decent hour and have a decent amount of sleep tonight, but here goes:

The opening for episode 17 was amazing. The opening for episode 18 was even more amazing and I think it simply reinforces what I think is going to wind up happening in the end of Macross Frontier: Ranka and Sheryl, rather than being rivals and one always overshadowing the other (or one being discarded when the other is more valuable), will simply have to work together (much more so than Misa and Minmei had to work together in SDF, and more so than Basara and Gamlin had to in 7). The glue that binds the two together is, of course, Alto, who genuinely cares for both of them. I don’t think that the “triangler” of the series is actually a love triangle–at least, in Alto’s eyes. Alto cares for both Ranka and Sheryl almost equally, and he’s demonstrated this time and again. I’m not even sure if he’s going to actually resolve the arbitrary love triangle of the series in any way at all, really. This triangle seems to be less about a dividing wedge between people so much as a a cooperative effort: the “Triangler”, therefore, isn’t about “who gets whom”, but how the three can work together to form a geometric shape that obeys the Pythagorean Theorem and will give headaches to geometry students the world over.

Or maybe I’m making all that up. At any rate, I thought 17 was amazing in and of itself, simply because they drug out Fire Bomber songs and used them as background music–My Soul For You and Try Again (twice! The second time they added in a more modern twist with a heavier guitar riff that I’m not sure I wholly like yet, but I’d have to hear the remixed version in full to decide that, but it certainly was impressive). It was like a Fire Bomber tribute episode, so, naturally, I was happy. Although I’m still wondering if Ozma is going to bite it–I expected him to die in 17, but, alas, he did not, although he seems to have been made even more useless than he already was.

And, seriously, what’s up with this? Does Ranka realize that she’s riding around in a ship that has a giant image of her, clad in a bikini, albeit a bikini that doesn’t seem to have a bottom to match the top? I mean, it’s like–she’s in the ship. Surely she’s seen it. Isn’t she embarrassed to be the bottomless Call Up Monster Girl? Does she secretly enjoy it?

Or is Kawamori just baiting all the otaku with official Ranka psuedo-erotica? Whatever it is, it’s pretty Macross to do this, considering that Mylene had the stalker photographers who sold lewd photos of her, and I’m pretty sure Minmei wound up in a similar situation, and at any rate I’m pretty sure half the appeal of Sharon Apple was that she was smokin’ hot.

KLAN KLAN WATCH!

Michael and Klan Klan need to go on dates more often. She totally wants him bad. Also, she acted like classic girl–sit around at the cafe for an hour or so before your date is scheduled to arrive and preen and primp your hair and then when your date arrives slightly late and apologizes simply act like you hadn’t been waiting desperately for him to show up and just say “Oh, I just got here two minutes ago, it’s okay” and then seethe inwardly with anger at him until his true objective is revealed in which case you get the above.

Labcoats are within the scope of my interests. We need more labcoats. And I think Klan Klan needs to borrow Alto’s trenchcoat for an episode or so.

Or, hell, just give her her own spin-off series. The Klan Klan and Michael Happy Fun Time Awkward Relationship Hour or something. I would watch it, buy the DVDs, and any related merch.

I am aware that Klan Klan has done nothing terribly useful except be (amazingly and mind-destroyingly) cute for the entire series, but that’s okay–she’s a side character, she can exist for that purpose, just like Straight Cougar existed for the sole reason of being amazingly and mind-destroyingly awesome. Just please don’t die like he did, okay?

Watch Out, Duke Togo!

Miyako has you figured out.

And I don’t know if your Golgo guile will save you from her wily clutches. After all, nothing is more dangerous than an airheaded girl who doesn’t know what she’s doing.

Code Geass R2: It’s Safe to Say That We are Most Certainly in a Handbasket Now

I don’t know if it’s just because it’s been a month since I last touched a Code Geass episode (no, I was not skipping it on purpose due to the loss of my beloved Shirley [although when I saw that coffin I was saddened all over again]), or if it’s because of the “give Sunrise series more than 13 episodes to set themselves up and get awesome” rule, but I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in saying that watching episodes 14-17 was a feeling that I will simply, at the risk of making crude sexual humor, call a “Geassm”, all the more intensified by watching them all at the same time. Some short observations:

  • Apparently Britannia, when they capture a high-profile female prisoner of war, instead of throwing them in dank dungeons and letting them rot, they give them amazingly hot dresses that overemphasize their cleavage and let people come and talk to them just to chat. I like this approach to prisoners.
  • Neo-C.C. (Retro-C.C.?) is amazing. I wasn’t ever really a huge fan of C.C. in the first place (at least from the viewpoint of “favorite girl” in the cute/hot department; she is, of course, pretty awesome, as 15 proved), but even my cold icy heart was warmed (or made more cold and icy) by her own brand of cold and icy. And then Neo-C.C. comes in and it’s like “where have you been all series, honey?” But, then again, Neo-C.C.’s personality is the type that makes me want to sit down and give them a hug. Completely platonic. And not in the Platonic sense.
  • There is blood on the black king on the chessboard. This is SYMBOLISM.
  • Charles took some lessons from his own son. It was hilarious seeing Diethard react to the hacking of their transmission like everyone else reacted to his hacking of theirs. Two can play at that game, apparently.
  • For a brief moment, Code Geass turned into bizarro Legend of Galactic Heroes, except with more lolis. More girls, in fact, period. Code Geass has girls like Legend of Galactic Heroes had men. They just don’t put their names on-screen to helpfully remind us who they are.

These episodes summed up what I think is great about Taniguchi Goro–he’s capable of amazing and “honestly good” work like Planetes and Infinite Ryvius (which I have not had a chance to see, yet, sadly) and maybe Gasaraki if you count assistant directorship on that, but he’s equally good at just being plain entertaining. I know people who complained about the early episodes of Planetes, probably because they weren’t the later episodes of Planetes, but part of what I think made Planetes such a good series was that it was willing to kick back and relax sometimes and just be plain silly (the NEET moon ninjas were great, and, sad as it was, the fact that they all died when the plot kicked into full gear was astounding), but even when Planetes was silly, it never really lost its focus. And Code Geass, despite all the “pandering” (which, honestly, helps the series far more than it hurts), and despite sometimes ridicukous smoke-and-mirrors “logic”, manages to be serious and hard-hitting in its emotional weight at the same time that it’s willing to be light and fluffy. Code Geass wouldn’t be popular if it only did one or the other–but, since it does both, it’s got multi-level appeal, which, of course, is Goro’s specialty.

Of course, what is really going on here is the fact that everything Lelouch planned is falling apart around him, and even when he tries to make amends to Suzaku and honestly seems to want to change himself for the good, zing goes the bullet and any hope of a moderately happy ending is cast off into the dark bowels of Sunrise’s script recyclers. This is, of course, what Code Geass has always been about–the bait-and-switch, both of the viewer and of the characters, and, more frequently, both at the same time. It’s obvious that Lelouch planned for this contingency before he set off to meet Suzaku, but, given his reaction at the time, I don’t think he really expected his friend to betray him. We kept seeing his thoughts via internal monologue for the whole scene, and Suzaku clearly had no idea he was being followed either.


Television is scary, Neo-C.C. It invades our homes with mindless rot broadcast over the airwaves! Enough television, and we will all become tasty vegetable toppings on the pizza you so dearly love! So, remember, kids: take a lesson from Neo-C.C. and cower in fear when the television is on. Most important, however, is to cower in fear cutely.

Lelouch was almost painfully honest of his own feelings, doubts, misgivings, and sins of his own. Rather than tell Suzaku that Geassing Euphemia was a freak accident (who wouldn’t have believed him anyway) he instead states that he did it on purpose, that he did everything on purpose to acheive his own end. Suzaku points out that, by creating Zero and leading the rebellion, Lelouch began to go against what Zero stood for. Zero, of course, stands for fighting justice and tyranny, but it’s clear that somewhere in the middle of the first season (and for the whole of R2 for certain) the whole idea and concept of Zero began spiraling out of control–rather than doing what he claimed he was doing, he simply started reacting to events as he saw fit in manners that would give him the best tactical advantage, rather than manners that would actually let him live up to what he claimed he stood for. Either the whole conceit of Zero consumed him such that he actually believed that what he was doing was for “justice”, or else the situation simply spiraled too much out of control for him to remain focused on the path of “justice” without making terrible sacrifices along the way. I’m inclined to believe the former, honestly–Lelouch got quite full of himself recently, but effectively losing C.C.–who, up till that point, had been the closest thing he had approximating a “friend”–obviously set him on edge, hence breaking the plate of pizza in Neo-C.C.’s hands for probably the best scene in the series thus far: Lelouch’s own realization that he can’t fight his fight alone and needs support.

Which, of course, makes the Brittanian army’s betrayal of both Suzaku and Lelouch soul-crushingly depressing–and, of course, excellent (melo)drama. Lelouch admits to himself all the terrible things he’s done, in the name of his own, personal, sense of justice, while Suzaku fights against these efforts with his own, personal, sense of justice. The difference between the two isn’t so much their sense of justice–since both, effectively, want the same outcome–but rather in how they apply their sense of justice. Lelouch is bitter over the death of his mother, and turns his own personal vendetta into what is essentially a sham of a revolution; Suzaku calmly accepted the death of his father and joined the Britannian military in order to effectively carry on his father’s last wishes (I might be wrong about this; memory’s fuzzy at this point). Lelouch acts for himself, Suzaku for the good of all. I don’t think either is really wrong, as there’s a clear, definite, and justifiable reason for Lelouch to be Lelouch, and Suzaku is, well, Suzaku.

The downward spiral of the world’s situation (a bad situation made even worse through Lelouch’s interventions for his personal reasons), of course, continues, and, to make a bad thing worse, Lelouch now can’t trust anyone if he can’t trust Suzaku, and, of course, whatever fate awaits Britannia (and Lelouch) will be one they brought upon themselves. Everything starts to converge, and there are eight episodes left.

Lelouch’s eye twitches involuntarily.

Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?

Well, I don’t know about you, but reading otousan’s post on this topic, the similar top-10 post he linked to (you know, the one that wasn’t me), and realizing that this is August, which makes this the six-year anniversary of my friend finally magically convincing me to watch Cowboy Bebop which opened up a floodgate that led directly to where I am today, made me ponder the infamous question posed by Paul Gauguin. So, I figured, why not jump in on the “exploring your roots in anime fandom” deal?

It, uh, didn’t work the way it was supposed to.

I started checking my list for series that could serve as series that left a deep and impressionable impact on me, and discovered two things: one, there weren’t really a lot of them, and, two, the ones that seemed to leave an impact that resonates to this very day aren’t the ones everyone else attributes the same to. Cowboy Bebop is, of course, my first (and you never forget your first) and it indeed was pretty amazing (or else I had nothing better to do since I watched it all in one day, God help me) because I sobbed like a baby when Ed and Ein left, but revisiting the series later (in, admittedly, a terrible setting to do so) I was struck by the realization that I didn’t really understand why this was the work that got me into anime. I don’t know if it’s just that my tastes shifted, the fault of the setting in which I rewatched it (although I did grab Mushroom Samba that night and watched it, and was also much less amused by it), or the fact that I’m just delusional as hell and like to fabricate elaborate ways to not like things, but something felt missing. The same went for a lot of “classic” series that I jumped into at that point in time: I watched Slayers all the way through and forgot that I did so a year later, I suffered through a library-owned VHS dub copy of Ghost in the Shell and sat there and said “why do people like this movie?”, I watched (possibly only the vast majority of) Neon Genesis Evangelion in an entire day (I went to class that day too!) and wasn’t really moved to massive fanboyism or anti-fanboyism, and I found Princess Mononoke boring (that was another “I watched it dubbed” thing, though, so who knows). The fact that none of these really grabbed me in the way they grabbed everyone else baffles me as much as it does you, and is probably indicative of a taste deficit in my part, although, for the most part, I wouldn’t say I actally, physically hated any of above mentioned series–it’s more a lack of true, amazing, heartfelt devotion to one or all of those series. Not really apathy, but just “it’s there, and it’s good, and that’s it.”

[Short aside for the purposes of providing visual relief from text: The first time I was ever labeled a “pedo” (that infamous universally applicable and frequently totally inaccurate pejorative for anime fans) was when I declared to a friend that I thought Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV was constructed of pure awesome and win. The second time was when I told a different friend that Margie from Xenogears was cute.

She still is, damn you all]

What did seem to grab me? Totally random and bizarre things, apparently. I picked up Figure 17 fairly early on and loved it to pieces (even if I did suffer the Figure 17 Effect), and I do count it among the main series that I think showed me what I liked about anime and why I kept coming back for more. Kokoro Library is another one, although that attachment is more sentimental (and occupation-related) due to a massive catharsis while watching it. Beyond that, I really have no clue which series (especially series viewed early on) I can attribute to helping me solidify myself as an anime fan. I can rattle off a list of series I assigned 10s to and say it’s their fault, but I don’t really know if that’d work right. I don’t even know if I can really assign the reason as to why I’ve stuck around so long (when other friends of mine fell away, or have other interests that don’t involve animation but still involve Japan, or involve animation but not Japan, or involve neither) to any one specific group of series.

I almost want to say that what happened was that, simply because of my habit of getting interested in something and basically diving headfirst into it and starting to root for stuff evolved into a kind of holistic passion for anime. In 2002, when I started out, I downloaded anything and everything someone, somewhere, said was good. This is why I have Star Ocean EX CD-Rs and about 50 zillion others that sit collecting dust because I can’t throw them away because I might need them someday. It didn’t always work out with me in the right way, but, generally speaking, I enjoyed a lot fo what I did end up watching–and some of it stuck, and some of it I remembered existed only when I browsed through ANN when compiling my first collected list of series I’d seen a couple years ago. It’s always a weird feeling to go “wow, I forgot I watched this series and that it even existed” and remembering that you had fun watching it.

What came out of this insane, almost suicidal exploration (it could easily have backfired on lesser and greater men than me, resulting in early burnout) was, perhaps, not a passion for anime as a genre of media (or whatever you want to call it these days; I remember people arguing that it was a medium and not a genre years ago) but what I think is best described as a passion for anime as anime. It’s weird–instead of subconsciously comparing anime to other media/genres of media, as many people seem to do, I think I do the opposite, at times. It might not be a better position (I’m tempted to argue that it’s a worse position, honestly), but it certainly is a different viewpoint from the ones I’m used to seeing from a Western audience.

Also I am certifiably crazy. Which I think we’ve established.

Also, because I didn’t quite think it needed its own post, but I wanted to mention it anyway, because, well, I mustn’t run away: I bought the thinpack of Neon Genesis Evangelion today, for no other reason than I hadn’t bought it in six years, and I figured that if I didn’t buy it while I was thinking about it, I wouldn’t remember to buy it for another six.

I think I need to join the Human Instrumentality Project now. Also I have listened to Cruel Angel’s Thesis (残酷な天使のテーゼ if you’re a stickler for kanji you can’t read like me) far, far too much today. I don’t know why. It is, however, an awesome song.

(P.S.: Who the heck is Paul Gauguin anyway?)

Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu: “Komatta wa, komatta wa, watashi no himitsu mo barechau wa?!”

I am going to spend time in Purgatory for that voice actor joke in the title.

So, yeah, as I fervently hoped earlier on, and as some other bloggers have pointed out, Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu has actually managed to attempt dealing with the whole convoluted problem that comes with being an anime fan (regardless of whether or not you qualify as “otaku” or not). I don’t think it was entirely successful (it’s trying too hard to pander to the otaku crowd, which is a double-edged sword), but it gets an A for effort.

There were a few things I noticed as I watched episodes 2 and 3; the first being Haruka’s reasons for falling into the anime hobby. Apparently her father is a gigantic douchebag who emotionally abuses her (we found out more about this in episode 3, and it is emotional abuse), so after becoming so incredibly crippled by some words he said to her she runs out and is handed a manga serial by (I am making a leap of faith here, one I liken to Evil Knievel trying to jump over a sidewalk crack with his motorcycle) Yuuto. She promptly devours the manga serial, praising it for allowing her an escape from the dreary life around her. Escapism is, of course, a dirty word and not a word to be mentioned in polite company, but I think it’s a natural function of the brain–if one is stressed out, one will try to find ways to get around being stressed out, and, honestly, our brains need conscious down-time just as much as they need unconscious down-time.

Escape, of course, comes in many forms–watching Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu, for instance, or reading A la recherche du temps purdu or The Lord of the Rings, or following eight daily newspapers and seventeen news websites. As long as you aren’t actually stressing yourself out over something of pressing and unavoidable importance and are relishing the pure enjoyment of totally inappropriate pantyshots or ravishingly philosophical prose or the lyrical nature of Elvish or constantly being reminded every day how horrible life is in Rwanda (it’s Darfur, these days, isn’t it?) and how there’s nothing anyone can really do about it, you’re escaping. It’s stress relief, and we all have different ways of blowing it off.

Haruka’s use of anime as escape is quite legitimate, considering her position–rich daughter, excellent at everything, etc. etc.–but equally distressing as the reasons for the escape is the fact that one must keep it secret, because there are looming hordes of faceless bit characters waiting to whisper things as you walk past them in the hall ready to mock you for your disgusting anime habit. What perhaps makes the already-existent problems for closeted otaku even more traumatizing is the social stigma they get when people find out they are an otaku. Haruka, of course, exaggerated this to an almost ludicrous extent (as it has been exaggerating everything to an almost ludicrous extent, and not in a Imagawa Yasuhiro way) with the school being completely full of people eager to hate on the filthy otaku in the school.

The funny thing being, of course, that neither Haruka nor Yuuto are actually “filthy”–they’re quite decent and (get this) normal people, if rather bland characters–but Haruka has certainly internalized the notion that she is inferior to everyone else due to her hobbies and other such things. Which just goes to show that stereotypes hurt those that don’t fit the stereotype more than those who do. If fitting a stereotype is even possible. It’s actually a good thing–and probably the most genuine bit of moe that she’s been shown to have in these three episodes–that Haruka completely threw caution to the wind and put her secret right out there in the open.

I am 100% certain that I’m taking this show entirely too seriously, but that’s my God-given right and if you think this is ridiculous, there’s probably worse taking-it-far-too-seriously posts yet to come. I still think the series is pretty much fluff, and any benefit the above analysis brings is rendered almost completely worthess under the sheer mass of fanservice. I’d actually love this series if it wasn’t the Moetan of trying to fix some of the psychological problems of otaku. But that’s a more noble goal than teaching otaku bad English, and since I’ve been inspired by series that I don’t think were really trying to inspire people in the first place, I can’t really fault it for trying. I’m happy it tried, and that it seems to be partially succeeding in some weird way.

Also, I just noticed something: Mamiko’s Haruka voice sounds eerily similar to a form of Ayako’s voice, but maybe that’s because I was just watching a To Heart episode earlier and had to hear the ED again.

Xam’d: Lost Memories: The “Orikasa Fumiko Character in a ‘Mecha’ Series” Clause Still Holds True

IN THE BEGINNING, THERE WAS MEYRIN HAWKE.

THEN, THERE WAS SHIRLEY FENETTE:

AND, NOW, I SUBMIT HARU NISHIMURA:

I swear–swear–I don’t do this on purpose. Really, I don’t. I didn’t realize Shirley was voiced by Fumiko until episode two or three, and I’d already declared her made of more awesome and win than everyone else in Code Geass at the time, and in the case of Haru, she was prominently in the first promo art released–long before we knew who’d be playing her in the anime or even her name or even what Xam’d was actually about–and it was love at first sight*. It just happens that whenever Fumiko plays a major female character (who inevitably ends up doing nothing) in a show involving mecha (or mecha-like things designed by Kawamori Shoji), I like her character. However, I hold high hopes for Haru breaking the “useless” trend exhibited by the other two examples of this bizarre inexplicable phenomenon–see screenshot above.

In news that actually pertains to the actual content of Xam’d: Lost Memories, I am slightly unsure–it’s cool, I like it, but it’s also kind of confusing at the moment. Eureka Seven**, arguably, was the same way–confusing at the start, and the process of watching the series was like pieces falling into place and watching the whole get progressively more engrossing from its rather humble starting point. Xam’d, however, opted to go for a more “THIS IS AWESOME” approach to the story setting up, rather than the Eureka Seven approach, which made the series seem almost inauspicious at the start, meaning that when (by series end) people were talking about how awesome and great Eureka Seven was, people started watching the first episodes and saying ‘this isn’t awesome” and bailing.

At this stage (episode 3 of either 26 or 50 episodes, I’m not sure it’s been announced yet) it’s hard to tell much about this series, the world, or anything yet–but it’s definitely a Series to Watch Out For. The best part of the series for me, thus far, doesn’t even involve Haru–it’s the somewhat strained relationship between Akiyuki’s estranged parents. His mother still cares for his father, and he for her, but the two don’t seem to see eye to eye. The whole scene at the end of the second episode where she runs to his office to tell him Akiyuki didn’t come home eclipsed the crazy action and Haru spin-kicking that was the first half of the episode. There’s definitely some World-Saving Butt-Kicking For Justice afoot, but they aren’t forgetting that there’s more to a hero than simply saving the world. Even though we don’t really know that much about Akiyuki. Yet.

* the special kind of shallow love reserved for characters you know nothing about except their external appearance
** Last I checked, the two series were supposed to share a good deal of staff amongst the two–and they do–but most of the important roles are filled by different people, which makes that comparison somewhat unfair, but I think it’s pretty shoved in my head at this point so I’m going to leave it there and stir up controversy!

A Grand Unified Macross Theory

That title sounds more grandiose than this post is, but that’s okay. I’d been thinking about where Frontier fits in the whole Totally Arbitrary Macross Continuity which I have expressly made up for the purposes of this post. I actually just tried to explain it in actual spoken words to cuchlann not an hour or so ago, but didn’t actually get anywhere because he started laughing when I said Macross 7 and started laughing even more when I said G Gundam and then there were fisticuffs and I’m actually dead of severe blunt trauma to the head but I hired the crack team of children from the hit PBS series Ghostwriter to use that ball of light thing to write this post and all future posts so you can rest assured that even though I am dead, you aren’t rid of me that easily. And free meal to boot, even though I couldn’t enjoy it because I was dead.

Anyway.

The three Macross TV series made to date (Super Dimsnsional Fortress Macross, Macross 7, and Macross Frontier) all seem to have a similar plot structure and layout–aliens come up and attack things, idols are made and start to sing and singing actually helps the war effort, and then there is resolution. That’s a horribly simplified layout, but that’s essentially it, with the traditional love triangle. The thing is, even though each Macross series is, on an extremely simplified level, the same thing, these three TV series have taken different approaches to the same premise. (I am ignoring Plus and Zero because I haven’t seen them all yet, and also they are OVAs and I don’t know how they’d fit into this continuity, but they probably do) I’ll go through the series one by one (with images!) starting now.

Super Dimensional Fortress Macross

Here is the precise reason everyone loves SDF:

The appeal of SDF, especially to a generation of anime fans who cut their teeth on the Robotech version of the Macross story, is that there’s these planes, see, and they’ve got these three modes–one which is a plane, the Valkyrie, one which is a plane with legs, the Gerwalk, and one which is actually a full-out robot, the Battroid. That’s not to diminish all the other aspects of SDF, which are very strong–no matter how awesome Valkyries are, SDF wouldn’t be enduringly popular without the people who piloted, commanded, or sung in them. But yet, it always seems to me–and I presume to other Macross fans–that part of the reason SDF was so awesome was because there were these crazy dogfights and Itano circuses and the Pin Point Barrier which is the greatest defense system ever, doubly so because it was controlled via trackballs. Especially considering people always seem to dislike a certain part of Macross I found as likable as the Valkyries themselves (planes are pretty cool after all):


THAT’S RIGHT. I LIKE LYNN MINMEI. AND I THINK SHAO PAI LON IS A GREAT SONG.

More on this later! But now:

Macross 7

Whereas SDF, having been made in the 80s, during a phase of mecha mania follwing the post-cancellation success of Mobile Suit Gundam, put the spotlight on the awesome yet lifeless plane/robot/things, Macross 7 instead places a much greater focus on the aspect of SDF that played a key role in the plot, but only accidentally: music. Tapping the talents of HUMMING BIRD, Yoshiki Fukuyama’s band at the time, to play Fire Bomber,- Kawamori forged from his deranged, insane mind (saying that makes me wonder how much he was involved in the storyline for Bonen no Xamdou, or Xam’d: Lost Memories, or “that show with the X name that I don’t know what’s going on in it–yeah, that one” aside from doing the “mechanical” designs) Macross 7, which, no matter what people will tell you, is a great Macross series. Of course, people don’t like Macross 7 because it almost completely left out the part about SDF that everyone loved (see above) in favor of amazing rock music (FIre Bomber is pretty much the greatest fictional band ever, and I’ve yet to get tired of their songs–even Totsugeki Love Heart and Planet Dance) and, more importantly, shifting the focus away from the military and into “civilian” life, as Basara and Mylene and Ray struggle to get recogized and deal with Basara’s random idiotic attempts to sing at invading aliens

Macross 7 wasn’t about the dogfights, but instead about the power music has over us–made easily quantifiable, of course, by Chiba Song Units–and the power music, or, more specfically, rock and roll, has to affect the course of events. This, of course, leads to an impressively nonsensical plot that would fall apart under even a casual perusal by Imagawa Yazuhiro, but, of course, that’s part of why I like it so much–it was the first Macross series I watched start to finish, and, even though it has some serious issues (the biggest one being that it was at least 10 episodes too long), I can totally get along with anything that’s about how awesome rock ‘n’ roll is and how it can save the universe. And, yes. The whole universe. Try Again must be the most amazing song in history if it has the power to halt universal destruction.

Of course, that leaves us with today’s still-airing Macross installment:

Macross Frontier

If SDF focused on the Valkyries, and 7 focused on the music, then Frontier is taking yet another angle–it’s focusing on the characters. Sure, there’s big flashy showing-off-Satelite’s-CG-skills Valkyrie dogfights, and there’s killer music from not one but two idols, the focus isn’t on the war, the alien menace looming over everyone, or even the songs themselves: it’s how the characters behave, act, and feel. Naturally, if one is vehemently anti-Ranka, a good deal of this element might be lost, but I think that Sheryl’s complexity (so complex that I have literally now idel how to divine her motives at this point, as has been proven time and time again in comments) and Alto’s own character with his own conflcted desires (and the even more ridiculously complex interplay between these three) should more than carry the show, even if you want to punch the screen out every time Ranka bakes Valkyrie cookies in her Valkyrie backpack and takes them to Alto in his Valkyrie. (and if this is the case, there is a special section of Hell reserved for you, and it involves doing just this over and over again for all eternity) It’s all dolled up in the latest advancements in moenetics (prehensile hair! Klan Klan! Sheryl being, well, Sheryl! Alto has a ponytail!), of course, but dolling itself up has always been something Macross has done from the get-go, so I don’t see much inconsistent in that. It’s doing a remarkably good job of dealing with the emotions of the main cast, and it’s been doing so without going overboard in the dolling-up.

The fact that Kawamori doesn’t want to retread the same series over and over again and wants to try something diffeent with every Macross series is something I respect, even if it doesn’t always work for everyone. it’s one thing to stick to the tried-and-true formula set by SDF–it’s entirely another to consistently break the mold you cast yourself. As I said, it doesn’t always work–but, at least for me, it’s worked so far.

Also:


THERE’S YOUR SHERYL, CUCHLANN. I HOPE YOU’LL BE HAPPY IN HELL.


NOTICE SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM G.K. CHESTERTON

I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

RSS Recent Songs

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

a ridiculously long and only partially organized list of subjects

Pages

August 2008
M T W T F S S
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031