SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS
EPISODE 1: BOOBY TRAP
ICONIC SCENE: A battroid, resting.
STORY DATE: July 1, 1999~February 7, 2009
BROADCAST DATE: October 3, 1982
Look, I assume y’all have already seen this before, so I’ll forget the summary. Watch along with me…
1. The first thing we see is the giant spaceship spreading destruction as it falls to the earth. I didn’t realize until a few years ago that the skyscrapers we see destroyed are in Shinjuku (the Sompo Japan Nipponkoa building on the far left clinches it), the big center for business and finance in Tokyo. I’ll assume this is Ichiro Itano’s first “F*ck the Man!” moment (cf. Megazone Part II).
2. According to a couple of sources (the Macross novelization and one of the stories in Macross Perfect Memory), the Macross hit our atmosphere at a shallow angle, and took a week of orbiting the globe several times to finally crash. You’d never know that watching this.
3. It’s kind of disappointing (as Robotech commentator Captain JLS has said) that none of this is the future anymore. The Macross crashed on July 1, 1999 (in deliberate accordance with Nostradamus), and the main story takes place from 2009~2012. As of Macross Zero (released in 2002), it became clear that the creators weren’t budging in their time frame, and viewed this as alternate history, but I remember calculating how old I’d be when the Macross crashed, and I’ve had a moment of silence for each milestone from the show that passes us by.
Oh well, we have iPhones, and they don’t. And we didn’t nearly get wiped out a few years ago. I guess I’ll take our future.
4. As Captain JLS has ALSO said, this is virtually a perfect first episode. Everyone’s character is delineated in a way that seems logical and makes sense, the animation is (almost) uniformly excellent, and the sense of grandeur with the mecha is (strangely) unusual. The staff really wants us to SEE these ships and planes (even the Mistral and the Lancer II, which show up here and nowhere else). Heck, they even redesigned soda cans, because why not? It’s the far-flung future year of 2009, after all! Although I don’t understand how Yot-chan is clapping over his huge head. Or the huge coincidence of aliens attacking on the same day the restoration of the alien space ship is complete.
5. The Macross main cannon’s ability to change direction is pretty cool… and completely unexplored in later episodes. Oh, and this is also the only time we’ll ever see the cannon firing when the ship’s in Cruiser Mode (apart from the opening).
6. I note that Focker says to himself that it’s been two years since the last war. This of course flies in the face of Macross Zero, and I’m not surprised that that line was cut from Mikimoto’s much-later manga adaptation, “Macross the First.”
7. We see the unmanned Ghost fighters launch here, for only three times in the entire series. Heck, we wouldn’t even know they were unmanned if secondary sources hadn’t told us… they’ll play an important role MUCH later.
8. Why does Misa advise Hikaru into turning into a battroid in mid-air? That seems like a bad idea…
9. Good stuff for those with a pause button as the battroid crashes to earth, destroying Anime Friend, Artland, and Studio Nue… well, I guess that would explain the poorer-looking episodes… Oh, and Hikaru kills a guy onscreen when he stops.
10. So… Let’s talk about me, shall we? I first stumbled over Macross in a 1984 issue of Starlog bought for me by my Mom (with the reversible Ghostbusters/Splash poster. I initially put up the Ghostbusters side, but as my adolescence continued, I flipped it), with the ad for the pre-Robotech Macross videotape. I didn’t get that until a year or so later, but it put the name on my personal map. Then, that December, the LA Times magazine had an article about Japanese robot toys and their connection to anime, which spent a large amount of time on Macross. My interest was definitely piqued.
By this point, I’d been getting Revell’s Robotech model kits, so the word “Robotech” was also one well-known to me. In early 1985, a friend informed me that there was something coming up on TV called “Codename: Robotech,” so we made plans, and he came over to my house to watch it. To those of you who HAVEN’T seen it, it’s an awful introduction to the series, basically an extended “Global’s Report.” All I really remember about it is that I was out in the kitchen making making ice-cream cookie sandwiches for us when the show started. I was walking back into the TV room when my friend (John) exclaimed, “That big spaceship turned into a robot!” I, cynical even then, retorted, “I bet everything turns into a robot in this show.”
I sat down, handed him his ice cream sandwich, took a few bites from mine, and then noticed the Valkyries from the LA Times article. I shouted, “Oh my God, this is Macross!” and a love story instantly blossomed.
Later, I found the pre-Robotech Macross VHS tape that had initially got me interested, and there was still stuff cut out of it… Namely, the biplane scene. To this day, I have no idea why. Oh… and it convinced me for a few months (until my katakana got stronger) that “Gerwalk” was pronounced with a soft G. Thankfully, I learned better quickly.
More about that later.