THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH – City Police 24 Hours

7 PLUS 10

MACROSS SEVEN P*L*U*S
CITY POLICE 24 HOURS

ICONIC SCENE: PATLABOR!

RELEASE DATE: November 25, 1995

Okay, this one kinda comes out of left field. Included with Volume 10 (eps. 37 to 40) of the series on VHS and LD, it’s a mini-news report about the police and what they do, mostly using footage from the show itself rather than new animation. It’s mildly amusing, but other than that, not very interesting. Unless for some odd reason you’re really drawn to the police mecha.

(I mean, there must be SOMEONE who is, right?)

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THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH – Gubaba’s Planet

7 PLUS 9

MACROSS SEVEN P*L*U*S
Gubaba’s Planet

ICONIC SCENE: Poor li’l guy…

RELEASE DATE: October 25, 1995

Boy, with the last few posts, we keep moving backwards in time… the final episode of Macross 7 was set in February 2046, then I watched the Macross 7 movie, set in January 2046. After that came the Plus movie, set in 2040, and now there’s this, set in 2036.

So this short film, included with Vol. 9 of Macross 7 (eps. 33 to 36) on VHS or LD is about Max finding Gubaba. So Mylene’s about five when she gets her constant companion. And man, was Gubaba’s life ever rough. Predators! Predators everywhere! And it seems like the Gyararashi (Gubaba’s species) are pretty low on the food chain, getting eaten like popcorn by Tyrannosaurus-Rex-type things, as well as something that looks like a flying manta ray.

Anyway, poor Gubaba’s parent (mother? Father? I can’t tell) gets eaten in a rather horrifying scene, where Gubaba’s pulling on his parent’s tail to get it out of the T. Rex’s mouth, only to end up with… just a tail. Gubaba gets stepped on and left for dead, and then Max finds him. So… happy ending for Gubaba, getting to babysit Mylene for the rest of his life. Because (I think the point of this short is), as annoying as Mylene can be, the alternative is FAR WORSE.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 100 – MACROSS PLUS MOVIE EDITION

+ Movie

MACROSS PLUS: MOVIE EDITION

ICONIC SCENE: 2fast, 2furious

STORY DATE: 2040

RELEASE DATE: October 7, 1995

1. So, as I said in the last post, this movie debuted about three and a half months after Plus Vol. 4 had come out. It was a limited-release double feature with the Macross 7 movie (which itself was only about half an hour… watching both movies together takes less time than watching, say, any of the “Lord of the Rings” movies). It’s compilation film, more or less: a re-editing of the four OVA episodes with over thirty minutes cut out, and some new scenes added in, as well as a new Sharon Apple song. I remember renting the raw Japanese version many months before the English release came out, and when the American version hit the market, I remember some grumbling because there was no dub made of it; you could only get it in Japanese, subtitled.

Again, Macross Plus was initially proposed as a movie, and then some higher-ups decided to make it an OVA first to build interest in the eventual movie edition. I’m not sure that strategy worked, really, except maybe in the west. Not that it ever got a theatrical release outside of Japan (which is a real shame… I saw it at a midnight screening in Shinjuku once, and it’s absolutely astonishing on a big, big screen with a kick-ass sound system). It’s also worth noting that this is only the second feature-length theatrical Macross movie, and would be the last for fourteen more years, when the first Frontier movie came out.

2. It wastes no time getting into the story (and unfortunately cutting the absolutely awesome battle scene from the first OVA… Oh, and about that scene… I just realized that the other pilot’s “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon… YES!” line is taken wholesale from Terminator 2, when John Connor grabs three hundred bucks from an ATM). After a brief prologue (even briefer than the one that opened the OVA series… that one had all three main characters, this one just has Myung), we get to Sharon arriving on Eden, followed by Guld going up in the YF-21. This is all before the title comes up.

3. During Sharon’s set-up, instead of “Bad Dog” playing, we can hear a brief, scrambled preview of the new song for the movie, “Wanna Be an Angel.” Then, in a new scene, it turns out that the YF-19 is launching immediately after the YF-21 lands. Since the 19 didn’t even show up until Episode 2 of the OVA, it’s pretty clear that this movie is being free-handedly rearranged and compressed.

Oh, and for some reason, the YF-19 is now “Eagle One” instead of “Alpha One,” but the YF-21 is still “Omega One.” I’m not sure why. And I’d like to point out that the dialogue has been completely rerecorded, even where the lines are exactly the same as they were in the OVA.

And among Isamu’s first spoken lines are the immortal “kawaii-ko chan” (“pretty baby”) and “Yahoooooo!” This will become important later…

And a little more time is spent on the dino-bird that Isamu draws in the sky, including a flashback to high school showing a much more primitive one that he drew with his pedal-plane. The scene of Isamu riding the pedal-plane has some added resonance, since because of the camera angle, it almost looks like HE has wings. The message is clear from the outset: Isamu belongs in the sky.

And when the YF-19 come in for a “landing” of sorts, in a newly done scene, there’s a VF-17 on the ground.

4. I note that the character animation done expressly for the movie (like Isamu chatting up Lucy right after landing) is in a slightly different style and looks a little less detailed than the scenes that are from the OVA. This scene, by the way, is the first of several wholly new scenes in the movie. Most of the new footage is spliced in with animation from the OVA rather than completely new. This one just telescopes a few separate scenes together (Isamu and Lucy, Isamu re-meeting Guld, and establishing Isamu’s contempt for Jan (Yang…? Whose name, by the way, is only mentioned towards the end of the movie. Seriously, until ten minutes from the end of the film, if you didn’t already know his name, you’d’ve been wondering about it), but the others add more to the story.

5. Another new scene comes after that, loaded with foreshadowing, where Myung is talking with Reymond, Sharon’s owner, telling him that eventually Sharon will awake and won’t need her anymore. And of course that’s absolutely true. Reymond wonders why Sharon hasn’t awakened yet, since the program is complete. That’s… not as true.

Reymond also makes a pass at Myung, which she politely rebuffs (in almost EXACTLY the same way I was rebuffed by a Japanese girl I came on to once, weirdly enough).

6. I mentioned before how nonsensical I find Myung’s actions, considering her past. One of my friends (who makes beautiful model kits and reviews them on CollectionDX as “ShowaPop”) recently hit on an idea that makes it all fit together better: that in high school, Guld and Myung were actually going out, and that Isamu really was horning in on their relationship (and that Myung really was beginning to fall for Isamu, and probably would’ve broken up with Guld sooner or later). It of course doesn’t excuse Guld, but it makes both his and Myung’s actions and decisions more relatable, especially her decision to sleep with him, and the air of possession that he seems to have towards her. It’s a great theory and I love it, but there’s one problem: I’m not sure that the Macross Plus novel (which, again, was written by Plus’s scriptwriter, Keiko Nobumoto) follows that idea, and that takes precedence over any fan theory, no matter how well-reasoned. I don’t know… I hope to get to the novel soon. As it stands, I haven’t read it yet, despite owning two copies of it…

There’s also Isamu’s line when the three of them meet up accidentally at Star Hill, “So you’re Guld’s woman now?” which, yeah, would indicate that she wasn’t before. I dunno… maybe they kept the relationship secret…? Anyway, as much I like the theory, I’ll remain agnostic on it until I read the novel. But I’m watching this movie taking that idea into account, and yeah… the story works A LOT better this way.

7. There’s an odd bit of contradiction here… generally, in writing the movie script (and even though the Plus project was envisioned first as a movie, I’m assuming the movie script came after the OVA series scripts… I might be wrong about that) Nobumoto was extremely careful to make everything fit, sometimes making very small changes to reflect the rearrangements and cuts (an example that I mentioned before: General Gomez is a minor character in the series whose scenes get cut for the movie. However, a scene that referenced him is still in the film, but the dialogue has been rewritten to remove his name). However, in the scene where Guld sees Myung on the TV, one of the other guys on the YF-21 team mentions that Isamu has been grounded for three days. Then we hear on the TV that Sharon’s concert is in three days. Then there’s a montage of Guld and Isamu going through flight tests before the concert happens. Oh well, just chalk it up to the mad pace of film-making, I guess. After all, I only noticed it because I’m doing these stupid write-ups and trying to go over everything with a fine-toothed comb.

8. At about half an hour into the film we get the next wholly new scene. In the OVA, it was implied that Lucy and Isamu were an item (or at least sleeping together), but here, it’s made very clear indeed. Unfortunately, it also makes Isamu look like more of a jerk, as it’s also clear that he’s just spending the night with Lucy to get his mind off of Myung. That said, I gotta admit that, given Isamu’s personality, this is more what he WOULD do, rather than (as in the OVA) sitting in his room alone, brooding. I mean, let’s face it – he IS a jerk, and never shows a whole lot of respect for the people around him, nor much restraint, nor does he seem to like being inactive, nor dwelling on stuff.

And THAT said, his armor isn’t up completely, and I have no reason to doubt that his answer to Lucy’s question about how it feels to fly isn’t sincere and deeply personal. So yeah… not quite a relationship, but more than just a booty call.

(If it seems like I’m overanalyzing this, all I can say is that I like Lucy a lot more than I like Myung, and it always bugged me that she (Lucy) gets tossed aside so easily.)

Anyway, the real purpose of this scene is twofold: first, in Isamu saying that when he’s flying full-throttle he can almost see another world, that helps set up the ending, where Sharon tries to give him exactly that. Second, it makes Lucy’s jealousy later on more explicable. And, I guess, it gives an excuse to show Lucy’s tits (in the first – and so far only – overt sex scene in any Macross series).

9. Thanks to an added line earlier about how the YF-19 needs to be overhauled, it’s explained why Isamu is in a VF-11 during the YF-21 tests taken from the first episode of the series. See what I mean about the careful scriptwriting?

Oh…and one thing that I’ve noticed that’s odd… in Japanese, there are two ways to pronounce the number nineteen: “ju-ku” and “ju-kyu.” Macross Plus consistently uses the first while Macross 7 consistently uses the second. No clue, folks…

But yeah, honestly, this scene (where Guld mostly-accidentally pushes down Isamu’s VF-11, causing him to crash) works better here, putting it in the middle of the movie, than it did in Episode 1 of the OVA. First off, it seems more reasonable that Isamu would survive but be hospitalized from this than from the shooting mishap in OVA Episode 2. Second, the tensions are running EXTREMELY high throughout this scene, and there’s been more build-up for that in the movie than there was in the first part of the series. Third, it completely eliminates the seriously (deliberately…?) confusing stuff about Guld putting live ammo in Isamu’s gun. That’s a subplot I’m not sorry to lose.

10. One thing that I really AM sorry to lose, though, is Millard’s line about a real fighter pilot being someone who thinks he can win in a fight, even if he’s injured. That added some resonance to the fight between Isamu and Guld outside the hospital.

Another thing I miss is all the security camera footage of Isamu acting nonchalant as he prepares to steal the 19.

A third thing I miss (to go back AND forwards) is Jan’s remark at the beginning that Isamu and Guld “seem like good friends.” He mentions this in the first OVA, and brings it up again at the end, when the two make up. In the movie, the first reference is cut, so the second is not referring back to anything (which, I think, helped give rise to the “What a bromance” line, which references nothing and is a completely anachronistic remark, in the subtitles for the Japanese remastered blu-ray. And yeah… about those subs, no one seems to know who did them. They’re not the original subs from the Manga Entertainment version, and none of the usual people who make subs for releases like this seem to be responsible for them, so… it’s a mystery).

11. Instead of immediately starting with “Information High,” Sharon starts her set with “Wanna Be an Angel,” which is a really great song, and actually sounds like something Sharon would sing. The new visuals that go along with it, especially the giant dino-bird, are also creepy and weird and impressive.

The Sharon in this scene is the one that now most often gets represented in official art, because hey, she’s got green hair and twin-tails. Just like Hatsune Miku.

And then we get “Information High,” which, for reasons I expounded on last time, I really don’t like. To summarize, it sounds nothing like Sharon. And it still makes me grimace when I see people say it’s their favorite Yoko Kanno song, since she had nothing to do with it. Might as well say that “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is your favorite Beatles song. I will say this for “Information High,” though: it fits perfectly with the scenes of Isamu getting past the defense net. It fits less well with the new scenes of Sharon’s holograms, I think, but that might just be me, since I think of Sharon’s imagery (thousands of birds flying through the city, for example) as very delicate and ethereal, and a pounding ’90s techno-dance song with powerful vocals is… kinda the opposite of that.

I also think it sounds much more dated (here, in 2016) than Sharon’s other songs, which to my ears still hold up quite well.

12. When Marj starts saying “Subarashii… Subarashii yo, Sharon…” (“It’s magnificent… it’s magnificent, Sharon…”), I’m always reminded of the little drama CD that was a give-away with early tickets for the Seven and Plus double feature. It features the Macross 7 cast (Fire Bomber, Max, and Milia) meeting Isamu, Guld, Myung, and Sharon. Again, the voice actor for Max is Sho Hayami, same as for Marj (so he’s already on hand). At one point, Sharon is demonstrating her power, and you hear Marj saying “Magnificent, Sharon…” and then Milia angrily spouts, “Max, what are you saying!?” Max gives a start and says, “Oh, uh… I don’t know what came over me…”

Oh, and for the record, on that CD, Basara and Sharon end up intensely disliking each other.

13.  Then we get the last of the completely new scenes, as Millard talks to Lucy about how he’ll keep Isamu out of trouble. Which is fine, except I’m sure he has no idea that Isamu and Guld are about to shoot up an entire city. I… guess Millard can pull it off…? Maybe…?

14. From here on, everything plays out pretty much the same as it does in the series, just expanded, with member of the main cast getting more screen time. The battle with the Ghost is greatly prolonged, as the YF-21 ends up ejecting its arms and legs to go faster. Guld is pushing himself past mortal endurance, and the the Ghost is pushing itself past its own limits just to stay ahead of him. Then Guld’s eyeball pops and he starts vomiting blood. He hits the Ghost and destroys it, but the YF-21 ends up in orbit, Guld dead inside it. For the first part, this is a great action scene, and then it gets faster and faster… and pretty grisly, to boot. But again, my impression with the OVA series is that Guld at that point WANTED to die. I don’t get that feeling here. I think he wanted to destroy the Ghost, and willing to do anything to accomplish that (shades of John Henry…?).

Sharon’s hypnosis of Isamu is also expanded, tying in with what he said to Lucy earlier about a distant world that he can’t quite reach.

And Myung, fittingly, is now the one who finally kills Sharon, by pulling out the bio-neural chip.

15. The addition of the scene towards the end with Millard and Lucy kind of answers the question of “Well… what happens to Isamu NOW?” question hanging over the end of the OVA. On the one hand, he saved Macross City. On the other, he virtually destroyed another city. At least we know now that whatever happens to him immediately after this, he’s still flying twenty years down the line.

But anyway, yeah… the movie. On the whole, I think it’s better than the OVA series, although there are some things (as I mentioned) that I miss. Also, those cliffhangers… seeing it all in one go, without having to wait months for the next episode… it simply doesn’t have the same impact (but that’s true of the OVA series now, too). But still, it was a great show, and it makes a great movie. And neither version feels superfluous; both, I think, are necessary for a complete grasp of the story. Again, truly one of the milestones in anime history, although it tends to get overshadowed by something that was starting at about the same time this movie came out. Namely, Evangelion. Which became THE series that permeated both the otaku and the mainstream cultures. So yes, Plus is not as well-remembered in Japan as it by rights should be, but I think it’s one of those perennial titles that keeps finding a new audience year after year.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 99 – The Macross 7 Movie

7 Movie

MACROSS SEVEN: THE MOVIE
The Galaxy is Calling Me!

ICONIC SCENE: The mysterious Emilia…

STORY DATE: January 2046

RELEASE DATE: October 7, 1995

1. So… roughly three and a half months after Plus Vol. 4 came out, and about two weeks after Macross 7 ended, the movie double-feature came out, although it’s probably more accurate to think of the Plus movie as the main feature, and the 7 movie as a bonus appetizer. Now, don’t kid yourself. This was not a wide release. I’m sure it only played in a few select cities at a handful of theaters, and most likely only for a week or two.

The two movies couldn’t be more different except in the Macross name and in their animation quality. And Ichiro Itano worked on both of them. As did Kawamori (he was the chief director of Plus, of course, and wrote the script for the Seven movie).

The Macross Plus movie is a two-hour re-edited version of the OVA series with some new footage. The Macross 7 movie is only half an hour long, and functions as an exceptionally high-quality extra episode. It’s even set during the series, although watching it in its chronological place (between episodes 38 and 39, right after the destruction of Planet Lux), it’s clear that it doesn’t quite work in that context. I think it’s best to think of it (like the Encore episodes) as just another Macross 7 story, and you shouldn’t worry too much about where it falls in the overall series. It doesn’t seem like the staff really cared much about strict continuity, so why should you?

2. It opens on a snowy planet, which we immediately know is NOT Varauta IV, because of the presence of houses and mining rigs. There’s a fold reaction, and the Fire Valk comes in tumbling through the snow. There’s already more dynamic motion in this first minute of the film than there is in any of the less-accomplished episodes of the TV series.

It comes to a stop and Basara flies out of the cockpit, to be confronted by a bunch of serious-looking guys with guns. Then a little kid, Pedro, comes out and recognizes him. Pedro is great. Director Tetsuro Amino said he based him on his own son, wanting to get the real movements of a small, excitable child on film. And, if the kids I’ve met are anything to go by, he succeeded completely… which is mixed blessing, honestly. But I like Pedro more than I dislike him, so I’ll forgive the fact that’s he’s totally hyper and addicted to MTV.

3. Then we go back to the reason Basara is on the planet in the first place: on Sunny Flower (where Billy, the Mylene fan, lives, but they haven’t met him yet), Dr. Chiba is trying an experiment to get Fire Bomber’s music (Mylene especially) to make sunflowers move. I’d like to point out this this EXACT scenario got recycled by Kawamori in the Aquarion OVA and movie.

Anyway, they hear a strange noise that actually does make the sunflowers turn, so Basara goes after it. And about that noise… it sounds nothing like what it’ll turn out to be (Emilia). Instead, it sounds like the modulated voice of an opera singer warming up. At one point, you can even hear it sing a bit of the Rossini aria “Largo al Factotum”… just, y’know, heavily altered sonically.

Oh, and the version of “My Friends” heard here seems to be a different vocal take than the version heard in the series.

4. For such snowy scenery, there’s an oddly “old west” vibe to the whole environment. There’s a saloon (which is even labeled “SALOON”), all the buildings are made out of wood, everyone’s hispanic and wearing vaguely cowboy-type gear, and they definitely “don’t like strangers ’round these parts.” Basara approaches some guys in the saloon who think he’s about to attack them, but instead, he picks up the dusty silver guitar behind them, singing the line from “Remember 16” about, you guessed it, a dusty silver guitar. This movie never had a full soundtrack (it doesn’t need one, honestly) but there is the “Heart & Soul” single, which contains “Heart & Soul,” Emilia’s song “Flash in the Dark,” and an acoustic rendition of “Remember 16,” which is what he sings next. And unlike in the series, Basara is actually shown making chords here, so for I think the first time since the opening credits of the series, it looks like he’s actually PLAYING his guitar, rather than just strumming the same chord over and over again.

One thing that ISN’T convincing, though, is Pedro’s crayon art. But I’ve never seen a convincing “child’s drawing” done by an adult in any film. These are pretty good, for the most part.

5. Basara takes Pedro out with him to investigate the strange noise. Without his Mom’s permission or knowledge. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal… Oh well, at least there’s a great scene of the the VF-19 transforming from battroid to fighter, and the flight scene here is (again) more dynamic than pretty much anything in the TV series. I mean, this is Macross Plus level stuff.

Basara gets attacked by what looks like a Queadluun-Rau (it’s actually a Queadluun-Kilka, since you asked so nicely) and starts singing “Try Again,” which wouldn’t, I think, have existed yet between Episodes 38 and 39… Again, best not to worry about it. (The song debuts in Episode 40 of the series.)

6. As soon as the Queadluun-Kilka starts spouting jets of colored smoke, you KNOW Itano is in charge. This movie, by the way, is the only portion of Macross 7 that he had a hand in, but as always, he adds a sense of detail and (as I explained before) “seriousness” to the mecha scenes that makes them really stand out.

Anyway, the Queadluun is really aggressive, although it doesn’t use any weapons, and I don’t understand why Pedro isn’t puking all over the place as Basara pulls a lot of Gs and swiftly changes directions (although the little tyke does look slightly sick towards the end).

Then comes the second-best scene in the movie. Basara lands, gets out, pulls out his guitar, and starts playing “Power to the Dream” at the Queadluun. The female Zentradi pilot gets out, and pulls out what looks like a rifle, but which then transforms into a guitar, and starts singing “Flash in the Dark.” An epic song battle so powerful that it FUCKIN’ CREATES AVALANCHES AND MAKES ROCK FORMATIONS FUCKIN’ EXPLODE ensues. Truly awesome stuff.

Basara wins, but it’s not an easy contest. And the woman bursts into tears.

Everyone, meet Emilia. She’s great. I’m a total Basara/Emilia shipper, and you should be, too.

(A note about Emilia: since her singer is not credited in the movie or on the single, for a long time, no one knew who she was. It was pretty clear that it wasn’t Michiko Neya, who did her speaking voice. I didn’t find out until 2010, when, after a Chie Kajiura gig, we had a Macross fan drinking party. There, I met the generally-accepted “Number One Macross Fan,” who had taken some kind of Macross trivia test and not only got a perfect score, but found a mistake in the test itself, giving him a “more-than-perfect” score. Renato asked him who sang Emilia’s songs, and he said, with no hesitation, “Mica Okudoi.” I looked her up later, and she’s mostly a jazz singer, but recently she’s been performing at Fire Bomber concerts as well.)

So they end up at Emilia’s place, with Minmay posters on the wall (while listening to “Do You Remember Love”… not the original version, but, weirdly, the “Mylene Jenius Sings Lynn Minmay” version). There’s also an interesting family portrait on her wall, if you look closely…

They almost kiss (how they would do so, I have no clue… but I bet DeviantArt could teach me), but then Pedro jumps into her mouth. I’m sure this is SOMEONE’S fetish, gratified…

7. Unfortunately, all this activity gets the attention of Geperunitchi, who sends Gavil, Glavil, and something called “Natter-Valgo” to check it out.

Gavil and Glavil attack, and Emilia attacks right back, Basara ends up blocking one of her Itano Circuses and teaches her how to REALLY attack the Protodeviln, with SONG. But Natter-Valgo gets Pedro.

Now, what the hell IS Natter-Valgo, anyway? According to Macross Chronicle magazine, it’s apparently Valgo resurrected as a robot. You may remember that the original Valgo was extremely at odds with Gavil. Natter-Valgo has no such issues. Heck, he can even combine with Gavil and Glavil to create GaviGlaGo… which is one of the main reasons I wouldn’t put too much thought into when in the series this movie happens, since it was Episode 42 (four episodes PAST the point where this is supposed to have happened) where Gavil and Glavil first combined, and EVERYONE was surprised by it (but nobody is surprised here).

8. Now comes the BEST part of the movie. Emilia starts singing “Heart & Soul” (one of the best Macross songs ever), and Basara joins in. GaviGlaGo throws off enough power to melt a lot of the ice, and a flood starts rushing towards the town. All of this is absolutely gorgeously animated.

9. It all ends happily, of course, with everybody safe, and a family connection revealed. Strangely, Natter-Valgo is not destroyed, so that his non-appearance in the series itself kinda becomes an issue. Oh well. And instead of “to be continued” or “to be Fire,” the cut-to-black ending card says, “bye bye.”

10. So yeah, a really fun little movie. It looks great and absolutely embraces everything that makes Macross 7 so sublimely ridiculous and ridiculously sublime. I’d say it even tops the finale of the series for sheer awesomeness.

THIS MOVIE’S GAVIL-ISMS: “No beauty,” “suddenness beauty,” “excitement beauty,” “modification beauty,” :”three-in-one beauty,” “competence beauty,” “charging beauty,” “destruction beauty,” “time-limit beauty.”

FLOWER GIRL SIGHTING: Waiting in the forest. Basara runs right past her, and he’s gone before she can do anything.

7 Movief

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH – SPIRITIA DREAMING

7 PLUS 8

MACROSS SEVEN P*L*U*S
SPIRITIA DREAMING

ICONIC SCENE: Gunther, meet Geperunitchi.

RELEASE DATE: September 25, 1995

So the very day after Macross 7 ended it’s first-run broadcast, Volume 8 of the series on LD and VHS (containing episodes 29 to 32) was released, and this short included with it is one of the best of the P*L*U*S shorts. Interestingly, some footage from it (of Iwano Gunther) premiered in the final episode of the series, although the scene itself was surely made for this.

And hey! It’s got the VF-14 in it!

It tells the story of the ill-fated Varauta expedition that accidentally awakened the Protodeviln. Irina Hayakawa is our POV character, as he reacts with horror to everything around him. And we ARE in a horror movie here. The whole thing is creepy as hell. We also meet the newly-named and never-before-seen guy who Gigil possessed, Lt. Autolmauer, and Advisor Iwano Gunther, who became the host body for Geperunitchi (and yes, Gunther is a man, as well. As I said before, I have no idea why he looks like a woman and has the voice of Sayla Mass).

That makes me wonder, though… what ended up happening to Gunther? Geperunitchi never abandoned his body, and is still using it as the series finishes. If a Protodeviln possesses you, do “you” die after a while, leaving only the Protodeviln? If not, it seems kind of dickish of Gepernunitchi to keep using a body that he doesn’t need. Presumably, Gunther has someone who loves him back home and misses him…

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 98 – A Singing Voice that Reaches Across the Galaxy

7 Ep.49

MACROSS SEVEN
EPISODE 49:  A Singing Voice that Reaches Across the Galaxy

ICONIC SCENE: “Mountain! Galaxy! LISTEN TO MY SONG!!”

STORY DATE: February 2046

BROADCAST DATE: September 24, 1995

1. Well, here we are… the end. Sort of. It’s not really the end… there’s a lot more Macross 7 to come (and it seems like once you think you’ve found everything, there’s always still more, usually in audio-drama format. Or maybe in the pages of “Comic Bon-Bon” magazine, and never reprinted). But this is the end of the weekly TV series, and what a grand finale it is.

2. We begin with cross-cutting between Basara as a child trying to move a mountain with singing, and the attack on Battle 7. Interestingly, Max commands “pinpoint barriers at maximum!” and we see that the ship has at least nine of them. Something tells me they’re no longer controlled by shrieking girls with trackballs any more…

The fight on the planet’s surface is pretty fierce, from what we see of it. Gavil’s VF gets blown up for the last time and some VF-11s get destroyed, but the important thing is that Battle 7 gets hit too many times and Max commands everyone to abandon ship.

And then the entire Macross 7 Fleet folds to Varauta IV.

3. Docker’s VF-19 gets destroyed by Gavil. It seems like he dies, but we’ll find out he’s okay during the end credits. Kinryu and Physica were really the only main good guys who died during the series (and honestly, neither of them really count as main characters).

4. Oh hey, Milia has a VF-22 also! For the first time in the series, we see Max and Milia together in battle, and it’s glorious.

Meanwhile, their daughter gets hurt pretty badly, and her Valk is pretty much destroyed. So Veffidas has to create song energy through her drumming, which seems like it’s a difficult thing to do.

5. And Gamlin starts singing “Planet Dance” (badly) in an effort to wake Basara up. Mylene joins in, and then Basara’s mouth starts moving. He wakes up, and then we hear all the citizens of City 7 singing “Planet Dance” as well. Including the Flower Girl… making this the only time (in the show, at least) where we hear her speaking (er, singing) instead of gasping or sighing, as she usually does.

6. Geperunitchi’s body explodes with tentacles that destroy a bunch of ships and pull Zomd and Goram to their deaths. Thankfully, they never laugh at all during this episode.

But yeah, Geperunitchi is now a threat to all life in the galaxy, which not even he wants to be. Honestly, I think this is pushing things a little too far (which also will happen in Frontier). We’re invested enough in the fate of the present characters that a threat to them is strong enough… they didn’t need to make the threat SO all-encompassing.

7. So while Basara is attacking Geperunitchi directly, Mylene leads the Jamming Birds in the only effective singing they’ve done in this entire series. Even Max and Milia join in and start singing.

And again, it doesn’t work. Soon everyone is drained of spiritia, even Basara, and one of Geperunitchi’s tentacles smashes through the Fire Valk.

Only GaviGla and Sivil are left. And then Sivil starts singing “Power to the Dream.” And suddenly gains power.

8. Basara flashes back again to trying to move the mountain with his singing when he was a child, and starts singing “Try Again,” and creates new spiritia for himself. What follows is one of my favorite scenes in the entire show, as he shouts for the mountain and galaxy to listen to his song.

Seriously, the first time I watched the series, I didn’t enjoy it much. It seemed too silly, it was too meandering, the songs were repetitive, and Basara was beyond annoying. But then, with that line (“Yama yo! Ginga yo! ORE NO UTA WO KIKÉ!” i.e. “Mountain! Galaxy! LISTEN TO MY SONG!”) I smiled, and a part of me thought, “Good for him!” And suddenly, I got it. A little bit late, but the show got through to me. The next time I watched it was much less painful, and every time I’ve seen it since, I’ve liked it more (although, I admit, I never want to do this kind of episode-by-episode analysis for it ever again. For some of these episodes, it REALLY was not easy to come up with ten points of discussion).

9. The Fire Valk gets completely destroyed, but Basara is rescued by Sivil, they both sing “Try Again” to Geperunitchi, and even Geperunitchi starts singing. Again, this is all totally ridiculous. It’s also totally awesome, in pretty much exactly the same way that Hikaru rescuing Minmay in midair in episode 2 of the first Macross is ridiculous and awesome. No, it’s not “realistic,” but I don’t demand realism from giant robot cartoons. All I demand (and this is a much taller order, I think) is TO SEE SOMETHING AMAZING THAT I’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE, AND COULD NEVER HAVE IMAGINED ON MY OWN.

10. And this show certainly delivers that.

In the end, Geperunitchi realizes he can create spiritia himself, and suddenly, the Protodeviln no longer have a need to hunt for it. From what he says, it seems like they’re leaving the galaxy, but sometime later, one of them (at least) will come back.

Sivil tells Basara she’ll never forget his song, everyone reunites, and Basara says “the galaxy is singing.” We see everyone picking up the pieces during the end credits (including discovering that Docker survived), and then the final card reads “to be Fire.”

Bravo! Bravo! Encore! Encore!

FINAL. When reviewing the original Macross, the contrarian point that I argued throughout is that Minmay really doesn’t deserve all the hate she gets from western fans. During this series, my contrarian point has been that the series as a whole doesn’t deserve the hate it gets from western fans. And boy, does it ever get a lot of hate. Is it perfect? No. The story could’ve been tightened up A LOT, and there’s much too much filler. But, honestly, I’ve never seen a four-cour anime (or even a THREE-cour, not even the original Macross, in the post-war section) that didn’t suffer from the same problem. A lot of longer series (like, say, nearly any ’80s mecha anime) usually start out strong, sag in the middle, and then either arrive at a strong ending or an incoherent ending. That’s just how it works. With Seven, each of the four climaxes is great and better than the last one, and the ending truly brings it all home in an immensely satisfying way. One thing that’s clear upon rewatching the series is that the staff definitely had everything planned out beforehand. Every set-up has a payoff, every payoff has been set up, and every mystifying reference gets revealed. On an episode-by-episode level, yes, it sometimes gets tedious or trite, but it’s still a very well-constructed show, one of the best I’ve ever seen. BOMBAA!!

THIS EPISODE’S GAVIL-ISMS: “Pillage beauty,” “frenzy beauty,” “combine beauty,” “the end of beauty,” “all beauty,” “overwhelming beauty,” “ultimate truth and beauty.”

FLOWER GIRL SIGHTING: Outside the hospital at the beginning, but the important point is when Basara leaves the hospital on his hang glider. She runs towards him with a really determined look on her face and throws him the bouquet. In a hilarious anticlimax, he catches it and just keeps flying. Forty-nine episodes of hard work and effort finally paid off, and she gets… very little out of it.

7 Ep.49f

EYECATCH: A lot of Bridge Bunnies/Basara and Mylene

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 97 – Mylene’s Passionate Song of Tears

7 Ep.48

MACROSS SEVEN
EPISODE 48: Mylene’s Passionate Song of Tears

ICONIC SCENE:

STORY DATE: February 2046

BROADCAST DATE: September 17, 1995

1. I realize it’s the night shift, but this hospital seems WAY too dark.

(Yes, I know it’s symbolism…)

Anyway, Mylene’s singing “Kimi ni Todoke” to Basara, but it’s not really helping. Rex is there, looking distraught, and even Gubaba is sobbing.

2. We get a flashback to Ray, some time after Stefan died, and he’s a drunken mess. Then he sees the little boy with the big guitar who will help him turn his life around.

3. Basara’s dying and Gamlin’s jealous of the attention Mylene’s giving him… Dude, you should’ve seen her when she thought YOU were dead. She was sobbing then, too. She even sang the same song.

4. Geperunitchi’s true form finally awakes! We don’t get a good look at him yet, but he’s basically a sentient black hole. Now, I get that the Protoculture honestly thought they could control the EVIL series, but making a living black hole seems WAY too destructive… Indeed, Exsedol later explains that Geperunitchi could pretty easily kill all life in the galaxy.

Oh, and we get proof that yes, Iwano Gunther/Geperunitchi was indeed a man. Nice pecs, dude.

I still have no idea why he looks like a woman and has the voice of Sayla Mass.

5. Dr. Chiba has a plan, using the new “Sound Buster,” for sealing the Protodeviln away again. It won’t work, but it’s a cool idea.

Speaking of new inventions, Burton has supervised a spiritia absorption gun for the Valks to use.

6. While Gamlin is trying to kill Glavil with the spiritia absorption gun, Zomd and Goram sneak in and steal the Riviera resort ship. Battle 7 goes in pursuit.

7. In a really amazing scene, Battle 7 transforms while entering the atmosphere of Varauta 4. This is, like, Battlestar Galactica Season 3 level stuff, here. Although the trigger used to fire the Sound Buster is much more Yamato-style.

And seeing Battle 7 land on Varauta IV is better than Battle 7 landing on Lux. The skidding-through-the-ice scene totally makes it.

8. Mylene starts singing “Light the Light,” and I think she’s sung this in the show more than Basara has… why is her version still unavailable? C’mon, Victor! “Mylene Jenius Sings Basara Nekki.” It would’ve been cheaper to make than that damn “English Fire!!” album.

9. The Sound Buster attack ends up failing. The Macross Cannon explodes, and Geperunitchi’s body starts growing out of control. Even the Protodeviln are scared.

10. So yeah, mostly build-up for the finale, but it’s great build-up. The ideas are cool, the action is good, and hey… Gamlin even kinda confesses his love, although Mylene is completely torn.

THIS EPISODE’S GAVIL-ISMS: “Awakening beauty,” “action beauty,” “pillaging beauty,” “patience beauty,” “attack beauty,” “conquest beauty,” “teamwork beauty,” “revival beauty,” “complete revival beauty,” “plunder beauty,” “this isn’t beauty.”

FLOWER GIRL SIGHTING: Standing across the street from the hospital.

7 Ep.48f

EYECATCH: Gamlin/Mylene

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 96 – Basara Dies

7 Ep.47

MACROSS SEVEN
EPISODE 47: Basara Dies

ICONIC SCENE: “Haw! Haw! Haw!” “Ho! Ho! Ho!”

STORY DATE: February 2046

SCENARIO TITLE: ANIMA SPIRITIA

BROADCAST DATE: September 10, 1995

1. We meet the last two Protodeviln, and holy hell, are they annoying. Zomd and Goram (whose names are a kinda-sorta scrambling of Sodom and Gomorrah), first off, have kinda cool body designs (very Indian looking), but extremely silly faces. And then there’s that LAUGH… You know, as much as I hate Gavil, it could’ve been worse. At least we didn’t have to suffer through these two for half the series. Goram, by the way, is voiced by Arihiro Hase, who (again) voiced Hikaru in the original series.

2. Max visits Milia in the hospital and tells her how beautiful she looks. They never really make a point of it, but it’s pretty clear they’re either back together by this point or will get back together soon.

3. Emerald Force now has two new members to replace the guys killed on Varauta IV. These new guys never even get names. And they get killed almost immediately after the commercial break.

4. Luckily, there’s more to Zomd and Goram than just being annoying. They also play hardball, materializing the Macross 5 civilians so that if Basara tries to attack the Protodeviln, he’ll also give them more spiritia.

5. Gamlin’s plan is interesting: fly in, attach fold boosters to the container with the civilians, fold them to safety, and then blast the Protodeviln with reaction weapons. Two-thirds of Emerald Force die in the attack, but they get the civilians away. And then an Itano Circus missile spam of reaction weapons hits Zomd and Goram.

And does virtually nothing to them. Oh, they LOOK bad at first, but that’s just for show. They regenerate themselves instantly.

So far, every single strategy for killing the Protodeviln has involved reaction weapons. The Varauta invasion a few episodes ago was depending on one single reaction warhead. Gamlin was about to be sacrificed last episode, as the thinking was that a reaction warhead would kill him, yes, but also kill Gavil. But here we see dozens of warheads hit the Protodeviln, and it doesn’t hurt them.

As I said before, it’s like trying to knock down the Empire State Building by blowing on it.

No luck…? Blow HARDER!!

6. They even start beating Basara… and then, Sivil shows up again.

7. Sivil’s attack alone STILL isn’t enough to defeat them, but when she and Basara join forces, it drives them off. It’s not the last we’ll see of them, but hey… there’s only two episodes left, so either way, we won’t have to suffer their presence long.

8. However, the attack seems to have killed Sivil. Basara screams at her to wake up, and then starts singing “My Soul for You” (accompanied by Veffidas on acoustic guitar…?).

Her hair comes to life and, by reflex, sucks all of Basara’s spiritia. She tries to shoot the spiritia back into him, but that doesn’t work, and she declares him dead. He’s not, of course. Again, we still have two episodes left. (As detractors of the show have said, more or less, “I was looking forward to the episode called ‘Basara Dies,’ but even there, HE DOESN’T DIE!”)

9. Sivil attacks Geperunitchi. Bad mistake, as Geperunitchi is way more powerful, and traps Sivil for the Anima Spiritia she now carries inside her. And Geperunitchi seems to go a little mad and looks… not quite human anymore.

10. So yeah, much better than the previous episode, although it seems a little drawn-out. As always, I wish the Protodeviln looked more intimidating. They’re not terrible villains by any stretch, but it’s hard to take them seriously sometimes (most of the time).

THIS EPISODE’S GAVIL-ISMS: “Strategy beauty.”

FLOWER GIRL SIGHTING: In the crowd at the Fire Bomber gig at the beginning.

7 Ep.47f

EYECATCH: Basara/Sivil

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 95 – Gamlin’s Rebellion

7 Ep.46

MACROSS SEVEN
EPISODE 46: Gamlin’s Rebellion

ICONIC SCENE: “‘What are YOU looking at.’ The innocent words of a drunken child.”

STORY DATE: February 2046

BROADCAST DATE: September 3, 1995

1. So our heroes arrive back from Varauta IV, and have somehow picked up a stowaway, Gavil, who immediately possesses Gamlin.

2. While the brass (except Max) requests having the reaction weapons for every ship unsealed, the scenes cross-cut to the weapons being primed, so I guess we know what the answer is.

3. Akiko has a toast to Fire Bomber’s return. She and Ray have wine glasses, Mylene has orange juice, and Veffidas has a beer stein full of wine. I imagine her constitution is considerable…

Mylene accidentally drinks Basara’s, not realizing that it’s wine, and gets immediately tipsy.

4. Gavil/”Gamlin” is going on a real rampage, getting the rest of Diamond Force, a secretary, and Mayor Milia. He almost gets the Flower Girl, but Mylene shows up.

5. Luckily for her, an airship flies overhead blaring “Holy Lonely Light,” which makes Gavil/”Gamlin” run off.

Mylene just wonders, “What’s wrong with him…?” She’s not too bright in this episode.

6. Gavil, for his part, starts blowing up the hangars. Even the Jamming Birds’ units.

7. Docker is ready to kill Gamlin, arguing that he’s done some much damage that he wouldn’t even get a trial, but Sound Force realizes that he’s possessed and sings to try to get Gavil out.

Burton also argues to kill Gamlin, thinking that if they hit him with a reaction weapon, it will kill Gavil as well. I don’t think it works like that…

8. Using subterfuge-beauty, Gavil makes everyone think Gamlin’s back to normal, only to capture Mylene. It turns out that Gamlin’s body is now acting as a buffer between Gavil and the sound energy. It no longer affects him. Which makes sense if you think about Geperunitchi and Gigil, but doesn’t if you think about Sivil.

Or, as VF5SS pointed out, it could just be a joke about the fact that Gamlin never liked Basara’s music to begin with. I’m not sure.

9. So yes, they’re ready to launch reaction weapons at the VF-17, which would honestly probably kill everyone EXCEPT Gavil, but Mylene’s song wins through and forces Gavil out.

10. Okay, no two ways about it, I really dislike this episode. After the last incredible three, this one just seems a lame time-waster. It doesn’t even resolve Mylene’s feelings, which seems to be its primary purpose. And the Gavil-isms get REALLY over the top. (See below.)

THIS EPISODE’S GAVIL-ISMS: “Revival beauty,” “revenge beauty,” “coercion beauty,” “pure-blooded beauty,” “healthy beauty,” “innocent beauty,” “distraction beauty,” “stimulation beauty,” “conquest beauty,” “explosion beauty,” “stimulation beauty” (again), “patience beauty,” “trickery beauty,” “adaptation beauty,” “healthy beauty” (again), “obedience beauty.”

FLOWER GIRL SIGHTING: Watching the news monitor, hearing the news that Sound Force has returned safely. Later, Gavil/”Gamlin” goes after her.

7 Ep.46f

EYECATCH: Gamlin/Mylene

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 94 – The Ambition of Planet 4

7 Ep.45

MACROSS SEVEN
EPISODE 45: The Ambition of Planet 4

ICONIC SCENE: Captain Milia!

STORY DATE: February 2046

SCENARIO TITLE: Varauta Escape Plan

BROADCAST DATE: August 27, 1995

1. We pick up pretty much exactly where we left off. Basara and Max are surrounded, and the other survivors have no place to go. It isn’t too long, though, before we realize that Gamlin is probably still alive.

2. Geperunitchi meets them face-to-face, and Irina Hayakawa greets him as “Advisor Gunther,” explaining that Gunther was with the Varauta expedition that first awakened the Protodeviln. All of this will get a closer look in the Macross 7 P*L*U*S short, “Spiritia Dreaming,” but as of this episode’s airing, that release was still another month away.

3. Geperunitchi explains the Spiritia Farm for anyone who hasn’t caught on yet: the Protodeviln will drain people’s spiritia, Basara will sing to the people, regenerating the spiritia, and the process can start again. Basara tries to approach (I don’t want to say “attack”) Geperunitchi, who throws a glowing ring at him that makes him lose his voice.

Well, there goes their best chance for escape…

4. Does Geperunitchi remember being Gunther…? It seems like he does…

5. Mylene sings “Kimi ni Todoke” to distract the soldiers, while Gubaba sneaks into the control room. I know he can be incredibly helpful at times, but this seems extraordinary.

6. And then, yes, a hand comes out of the snow, and Gamlin’s not dead!

I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, I thought that killing him off was a pretty ballsy move, one which this episode undoes. It also fits his character story: he ends up sacrificing himself so that Basara can sing, something he never would’ve done when the series started. It completes him as a character.

On the other hand, he’s one of the best characters in the show, and it’d be a shame to lose him with several episodes still to go.

It IS too bad that they didn’t have anyone else they could’ve killed off and had it feel meaningful, but I honestly can’t think of who would fit that role. For a show with such a huge cast, the amount of characters here who really MATTER is pretty small.

7. Damn, we’re nearing the end of a really good episode, and then Gavil has to show up and almost ruin it. He’s in way too many episodes.

8. The big reveal comes next, as we finally find out what happened to the citizens of Macross 5. They’re all spiritia-drained in some kind of honeycomb-like prison. It’s absolutely massive, and pretty creepy.

In a great move, Gamlin hits Gavil with the spiritia-draining beam. It doesn’t kill him (and probably can’t, or else I’m sure Gamlin would’ve), but it sure does a number on him.

9. Did I say that honeycomb prison was creepy? It gets creepier, after Basara revives everyone and their spiritia just gets drained again. It still makes me shiver a bit. It’s probably the agonized screams.

10. Another great episode, and a fitting end to this three-part story. The animation is pretty stiff (lots of panning shots of still scenes, a lot of them silent – a sure sign of padding out an episode and cutting corners) and the art (especially for the mecha) is a little off-model, but having a good script helps ease that. Unfortunately, I can’t be as kind about the next episode.

THIS EPISODE’S GAVIL-ISMS: “Capture beauty,” “obedience beauty,” “destruction beauty,” “revenge beauty.”

FLOWER GIRL SIGHTING: The episode proper opens with her, still standing and waiting, looking very sad, and listening to “Spiral Answer.”

7 Ep.45f

EYECATCH: Geperunitchi/Mylene