Archive for the 'macross' Category



Macross Frontier: Why Is The Quarter a Macross-Class Ship When It Is Only 400 Meters Long, You Ask?

This is why.

I am now fully convinced that Kawamori Shouji has lost his mind, and this is a glorious thing indeed. We have: some of the most ridiculous Itano circuses ever. I mean, an Itano circus is already pretty awesome, but the only way they could have made a better Itano circus in episode 7 was by having an Itano circus of missiles that release their own Itano circuses, creating a stream of missiles that crisscross each other in a giant missilegasm. And, as ridiculous as this idea sounds, this is a very possible reality in a Macross series where the main Macross-class ship not only undergoes Transformation but can actually move like a Valkyrie after undergoing Transformation. I mean, seriously. The Quarter is essentially a gigantic Valkyrie, except it’s a Macross. It alwayts bugged me in SDF/7 that, after undergoing Transformation, the Macross ships just kind of floated through space in a ludicrous and fixed pose, which kind of made the whole “battleship turns into a mech” aspect of Transformation fairly disappointing. If I had been a child of the proper age when the Macross part of Robotech was airing on American TV, this episode would have been like a childhood dream come true. It’s somehow more impressive than all the variants upon the Gurren-Lagann towards the end of the series, where it just got bigger and bigger, but that’s mostly because it’s Macross doing it.

Considering the explosion-fest that was episode 7, it might be hard to forget some important points, one being whatever it was that happened with Sheryl’s earring in Alto’s cockpit. It’s unknown whether it was primarily Sheryl’s fault or Ranka’s fault that the music transmitted and created such a powerful reaction in both Alto and Mysterious Humanoid Alien Enemy (who strangely faintly resembles Gavil from Macross 7 for some reason, which is a good thing because Gavil was hilarious). [SPECULATION WARNING] It also, too, could be both of their faults, with the duet triggering some kind of base instict in both human and alien alike, which, of course, since this is Macross and the love triangle is between Alto, Ranka, and Sheryl, means that we could be in for some serious drama later on as Alto perhaps has to perform a difficult balancing act keeping Ranka and Sheryl on good terms with each other while still being true to his feelings (whatever they end up being).

That setup seems somewhat similar to the original SDF, or, well, Do You Remember Love? (since that’s much fresher in my memory), where you had Hikaru having to convince a distraught and heartbroken MInmei that she had to sing to bring an end to the war with the Zentradi. It also sounds much more fun from a straight-up drama perspective, but, as that is entirely speculation, we really don’t know how things are going to proceed from here. I don’t usually engage in prediction of plot patterns, but equally usually when I do do it, I’m rarely dissatissfied with the results, as when a series doesn’t go the way you expect it to go but instead down a different and surprising route it’s more fun than the imaginary series you had in your head (and it also shows that the writers are one step ahead of the viewers), even when the direction taken doesn’t always work out that well.

Whatever happens, though, it will probably be incredibly awesome in the way that only a Macross series can be incredibly awesome. I may prefer Gundam on a personal level, maybe, but as the two really aren’t compatible series at all (Macross is a true bona-fide old-school space opera that’s primarily about having a ton of fun, whereas Gundam strives to be somewhat philosophical to varying degrees of success, and is quite a bit more “realistic”) and therefore shouldn’t be compared quite as much as they usually are, they’re both excellent franchises whose initial series had lasting influence upon anime in general since their broadcast in the late 70s/early 80s. I really don’t think that either one would have caught on with the public if it hadn’t been for the other, as it’s always been said that Gundam created the “real robot” genre, and SDF Macross popularized it (the original Gundam was cancelled, with most of its fame coming after broadcast; Macross was a thorough success practically from the start), so they exist in a kind of symbiotic relationship. I find it criminal how little attention Macross seems to get in the States in general (although I run into far more people who go “Hey, Macross is cool!” than “Hey, Gundam is cool!”, but neither franchise is that popular here), although I can report from firsthand experience that Macross Frontier is getting people who haven’t given the Macross franchise a shot yet the incentive to go back and watch its origins. And this is always a good thing.

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Macross Frontier: I Wanna Be a Pop Star

Yes, I just referenced Hirai Ken. I hope that song is stuck in your head for a nice, long time.

I actually had the chance to finally watch Macross: Do You Remember Love? this morning, and the experience of first watching that and then, later in the same day, watching Macross Frontier has been quite interesting, to say the least. The differences between the two decades is amazingly apparent, yet there’s still a kind of bond between them, that runs a bit deeper than simple sharing of plot elements.

The difference seem to be the most obvious at first glance. Do You Remember Love? is a condensation of the original 39 episode Super Dimensional Fortress Macross TV series (with changes made, of course, because Kawamori Shoji hates making the same thing multiple times) and it’s much more plot-oriented than character-oriented (but I’m willing to chalk that up to the fact that it’s the movie version; my memory is quite hazy on the TV series but I’m almost positive that they spent more time on the characters there). By contrast, Frontier is, and from the begining, has been primarily character-driven. Both series have elements of both, but it seems that in Frontier there is more emphasis placed on the characters themselves, and less focus placed on the characters driving the plot. I’m pretty sure that this character-driven approach is actually a feature of modern anime in general, as I’ve seen much less series that bank on plot over characters. Not to say that you can skimp on one and still be good; it’s just that I’ve noticed a growing trend to emphasize the characters of anime over the plot of anime.

The “bond” I talked about earlier running between Do You Remember Love? and Frontier seems to be a general sense of over-the-topness. It’s not quite over-the-top like Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann was over-the-top, but it’s a distinctly Kawamori brand of over-the-top. In the 80s, the focus of the over-the-topness seemed to be the battles (which in Do You Remember Love? were ridiculously large-scale) and in having Britol and Exedol stand around a lot and say “PROTOCULTURE” menacingly every fifteen minutes. In Frontier, the over-the-topness comes from the battles (but there’s not as many of them) and also from things like Sheryl hiding in a Zentradi shoe, Sheryl commandeering a giant pair of Zentradi panties as a scratchpad for lyrics, Ranka and her lovely prehensile hair, and various other cute moments that are the hallmark of modern anime. I don’t really think that one is better than the other, since I enjoy both, but it’s a bit easier for me to see the disconnect many old-school anime fans have for more modern material (barring a few I’ve seen around MAL and the likes who adapted nicely), since the transition even jarred me a bit. What’s strange about this is that many fans of modern anime seem to have no qualms about going back into the history of anime (barring those who complain that older series look too “old” for them or other trifiling quibbles), so the disconnect doesn’t seem to be two-way all the time. It’s two different sets of tropes designed to appeal to two different generations, and things have definitely changed.

On the actual episode itself, I’m pretty sure that Deculture is the new Anima Spiritia is the new Protoculture, but it seems that Ranka’s Deculture has the unpleasant effect of activating the Vajra, whereas in 7, Basara’s Anima Spiritia acheived the opposite, by bringing back humans from comas, and turning Gepelnitch’s men against him (I love you, Gigil, even if you can’t sing worth a damn). It will be interesting to see music save the day in Frontier, considering that it seems the odds are stacked against them at the moment. Of course, we don’t know that the Vajra was going to go on a massive evil rampage across the Frontier because they blew him up before he could break out.

Whatever happens, though, I have confidence in Macross to give me a solid story. And I need Ranka and Sheryl albums, STAT.

Macross Frontier: Miss Macross did not quite go as planned

Smooth, Ranka. Real smooth. But oh so adorable.

You can color me impressed with the result of the Miss Macross Frontier contest. I expected Ranka to somehow pull through and win against all the odds, although in retrospect I really shouldn’t have expected this. The expectance, and subsequent denial of said expectance, drove home with a vengance the level of the writing in Macross Frontier, especailly in the light of SDF Macross. In SDF, Minmei winning MIss Macross was an essential plot element to making her a pop idol so that she could sing Do You Remember Love? at the Zentradi until they rediscovered Culture and became good guys. Except for Kamlin, who likes to make Culture with his lady Zentradi friend, but that’s beside the point.

At any rate, in Frontier, Ranka loses in spectacular fashion. Kawamori Shoujo states that every Macross series will be different from the other ones, rather than a rehashing of the same basic formula (a fact made true with Macross 7, which, in the minds of some, isn’t a real Macross series because it lacks Itano circuses in high volumes), so obviously they won’t be pursuing the “end the war through song” angle. Rather, they seem to be going for a Ranka who is less of a plot point than Minmei was (apologies to SDF fans; this is merely for the sake of argument) and, instead, perhaps obtain a more detailed dive into her character and personality. It’s a small part of the difference in anime storytelling that has happened in the 25 years between SDF and Frontier. Or maybe I’m just delusional.

And, while we’re talking Macross in general here, I think the Vajra are pretty much the most hardcore antagonists in a Macross series yet, although, again, I’ve yet to see 2, Plus, and Zero. The Zentradi were basically giant humans, which was cool, especially when the Zentradi in question was Britol,  but that’s all they were. Macross 7 had perhaps the most ridiculous antagonists, whose main threat to humanity was sucking out the Spirita of a human, but that amounted to nothing because all it took to bring them back was to have Basara sing a song. The Vajra, by contrast, are incredibly hard to defeat. I don’t know if they’re spacefaring aliens of some kind, or just a bizarre mecha design, but you have to pound at the thing until something gives. A point-blank cannon shot at the thing just barely scratches it. And when they finally do go, it’s a massive explosion that can rip a Valkyrie to shreds. The total impossibllity of killing these things turns Macross Frontier into something that may potentially be more epic than any previous Macross series. I mean, you have to try really hard to top the war-arc ending of SDF, and, likewise, Basara singing Try Again at Gepelnitch is also hard to beat, but only beacuse Try Again is an awesome song. But Macross has always been about succeeding against seemingly insurmountable odds, but it’s the getting there that matters. As an anniversary project, I have high hopes, but all signs point to those hopes being filled, and I’m rarely disappointed anyway.

At any rate, even outside the context of Macross, Frontier is shaping up to be an excellent series in general. It’s kind of amusing to me that both of the major franchises–Gundam and Macross–have their anniversary series airing in close succession. It certainly provides a sense of justice to fans of one but not the other, and to fans of both, well, this is a wonderful time to be alive.

Final thought: Ranka’s backpack (the Valkyrie one) is pretty much the best backpack ever and we need a mass-produced version of it. I would wear one to school. I would be laughed off campus, true, but awesome backpacks are worth the price.

Macross Frontier: Suggestive Tuna Buns & Clever Character Development

I am showing a clear Ranka bias here. Go, Nakajima Megumi, go!

I’m still extremely technically impressed with Macross Frontier–it’s got everything going right for it at the moment (more later). I’m not quite feeling the Macross oomph, but we’re essentially still in plot setup, so I’m not too terribly worried about that. And on that topic, it’s always been said that Kawamori tries his best to make every Macross series something totally different from the other Macross series, which is something I can respect (and already do, since I’m a Macross 7 fan, which is probably the least Macross of all the Macross series. Or the most Macross. Or something). Since that’s the case, it might just be a case of getting adjusted to Frontier’s particular brand of Macross, which, again, isn’t really a problem.

The absolute best thing about this episode was the confinement in the shelter, where you lock the three major personalities of the series in the same room and have them bounce off each other, with repercussions that reverberate across the rest of the episode. The first is Alto, who spends the entire time frustrated that there’s nothing he can do to help either Sheryl or Ranka. In fact, he’s spent most of the previous two episodes busy being confronted with how useless and superfluous he really is. Even when he gets out of the shelter, he finds out that his acrobatics partners are secretly piloting Valkyries on the side, which just reinforces how useless he feels. On top of that, Ozma (who similarly thinks himself useless) constantly saves him, whether he’s in a Valkyrie or just a hapless bystander. I expect that he’ll be contending with his perceived uselessness for several episodes to come, or even throughout the entire series.

Sheryl, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be useless, but she certainly seems to be forced into the useless role due to her popularity as a singer. And speaking of her popularity as a singer, she’s embarassed about Alto catching a glimpse, despite the fact that she goes onstage in highly revealing virtual constumes, a point which Alto brings up (The nifty virtual costume thing was the best part of episode 1. No longer do stage performers have to hastily change outfits in a green room while everyone else stalls for time!). It almost seems to me, from just that small tidbit in the shelter, that she’s resentful of being shoehorned into the role of useless yet famous pretty girl. I don’t know what she would have done had her rescue crew not shown up, but she was certainly determined to do all she could. And she fights against this forced uselessness in small ways, too: telling Ranka about the Miss Macross contest seemed to be ever so slightly more about her than altruism for Ranka, although I can’t define quite how.

Ranka has probably the harshest situation in the series yet, with her entire family dead without her knowing it. In the shelter, she simply does whatever she can to make Alto and Sheryl feel more comfortable and at-ease, including providing dangerously suggestive tuna buns which lightens the tension between the other two some. She’s genuinely friendly and helpful to just about anyone, and is certainly cute as a button. This all belies her agonizing mental pain whenever reminded slightly of the death of her family, which says something about her tenacity. For her to keep a positive attitude despite the trauma means two things: one, Ozma’s plan to shelter her from harm is working; two, she’s much stronger than she looks. In her obvious function as a Lynn Minmei for the modern day, she’s already showing a more depth than I recall Minmei having at this early phase (or possibly at all, but I’m tempering that statement with the fact that I haven’t seen SDF Macross in over three years and specifics are fuzzy, and surely there’s a diehard Macross fan who’ll point out the error of this statement).

Macross Frontier could be, in some ways, a rethinking of the original SDF Macross, in much the same way that Gundam 00 was a rethinking of the original Mobile Suit Gundam in terms of themes. That doesn’t mean I expect Frontier to be a perfect SDF clone (it can’t be, there’s no Captain Global), but it’d be interesting to see Macross revisit the basic themes of SDF and update and reshape them for the modern day. It’s too early to tell for this, but whatever it is, it’s certainly showing all the signs of being well-done. Hoping for a year-long run, as I don’t think it’s paced like a 26 episode series at this point, but it might be. I don’t think we quite know the length yet, though.

Macross Frontier: Heart and Soul


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Words cannot express how pleased I am that Ozma’s favorite band in the Macross-verse is none other than Fire Bomber. Yes, that Fire Bomber. Yes, I loved Macross 7. No, you may not tell me to go to hell for this sin against humanity. Even if Gepelnitch doesn’t listen to Basara’s song, I will, and be moved by it.

I skipped the re-broadcast first episode of Macross Frontier since I’d already seen a version of it three months ago as the special, so this one’s about 2. Which was made of the very reason I loved the original Super Dimensional Fortress Macross: Valkyries. IT’s worth noting that Frontier actually takes advantage of the three modes for a Valkyrie: Battroid, Gerwalk, and Valkyrie (although we haven’t seen the Battroid form yet, we have seen Alto use Gerwalk to dodge an attack, which was awesime). I’m not much for mecha, but Valkyries are much more airplane than mecha, and airplanes always look cool, especailly the fighter jets that Valkyries are based on. And there’s also the Itano circus to consider.

And the CG, oh, the CG. It’s seamlessly integrated with the regular animation, so that it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb like many, many other shows featuring CG mecha (including a certain unnamed series from this very season, you know who you are), but this is expected from Satelight, or so I’m told. I didn’t watch Aquarion past the first episode, as I wasn’t entirely sure whether Kawamori Shouji was in his right mind when he designed that series (I’m told the point of Aquarion was that it was Shouji being Shouji, except because it wasn’t Macross he didn’t have to bother to make any kind of sense whatsoever), but I do remember the brief moments I saw the mecha as being very well done. In Macross Frontier, they’re perfect, and it is a beauty to behold.

On the less mechanical side, the characters are already clearly developed this early on in the series, at least, as much as they can be. Ranka feels slightly more of an actual character than, say, Minmei felt in the early episodes of SDF Macross, especially given the first episode and the now-infamous jingle scene (I titled my Macross F special post after the jingle; I can only imagine that the hundreds of hits I’ve gotten as a result of that were expecting something more along the lines of a YouTube video of the scene and not, you know, as post as I usually do. Incidentally, the happy hardcore remix of the jingle is amazing). Alto is plently likable as well from just two episodes, and Sheryl is, well, Sheryl.

There’s not really that much else to say; this post probably sounds too much like “That was awesome!” repeated over and over again anyway, so I guess we’ll just have to check back in an episode or two and see how things are progressing. It’s more Macross–what more could you want?

Nyan nyan nyan nyan, ni hao nyan!

GREEN. PREHENSILE. HAIR. Also best commercial ever.

I am most pleased at the first episode (really a special) of Macross F(rontier). We have singers (in hot outfits). We have cute potential love interests. We have a guy with a ponytail. And the whole thing is so pretty I just sat there slack-jawed at the beauty of it all.

We unfortunately don’t know much about the story at all yet, which makes this special largely a 26 minute eye candy feast, but it’s an excellent first episode that sets the stage for what is to come. Judging from the special, Sheryl seems pretty sinister for a pop star. I mean normally pop stars don’t look all menacing and speak with an evil tone of voice, so the whole bit toward the end with her in the car was a bit…weird. I also give Sheryl’s two songs 7 out of 10 Fire Bombers. (No song Macross churns out will ever be as awesome as the songs in Macross 7)

The CG was really nicely done, as expected from Satelite. I only ever watched the one episode of Sousei no Aquarion (I somehow can’t muster the courage to watch more, despite not disliking the first episode), and CG mecha rarely look good, but Valkyries are about twice as awesome in CG as they are in not-CG. One of the best things about the Macross series is its combination of plane-style combat with the Valkyrie form (oh, you delicious Itano ciruses) and mecha-style combat with the Gerwalk and Battroid forms. Gerwalk is always fun because it’s a PLANE! WIth LEGS! The alien ship was quite nifty too, and certainly more imaginative than 7’s “oh the enemy pilots Valkyries too.”

In short: this series cannot broadcast fast enough for me.


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.

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