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.