MACROSS II, PLUS, and SEVEN
EXTRA: BOOKS AND ALBUMS
Sorry, folks – this isn’t the embarrassment of translation riches the last post of this type was, because I’m still working on stuff from that post and haven’t reached this material yet. That said, I intend to do all (or at least most) of the stuff presented here, but it’s not going to be immediate. Maybe in a few years, if all goes smoothly.
Super Dimension Fortress Macross II
As I said before, there are five novels for Macross II. The first two (or maybe two and a half) adapt the series, the next three tell a sequel, as Hibiki investigates a Chinese mafia group called “Black Panda.” Some of the illustrations are intriguing (Ishtar holding a baby…?), but I don’t know much about them yet.
There’s also a manga adaptation by Tsuguo Okazaki (creator of Cosmopolice Justy), which is completely faithful to the OVA. I get the feeling, but haven’t been able to confirm, that it was actually requested by Viz (or at least SOMEONE on the American side of the business) and created primarily so that an English version could be released. It was put out in the US as ten monthly issues which were later collected in book form. A drawback (perhaps): this was at the point in time when manga was routinely “flopped” to read left-to-right. So yeah, everything’s backwards in it (it wouldn’t be until a few years later when keeping the original right-to-left format of manga became the norm. Viz experimented by releasing two different versions of the Evangelion manga, one flopped and one unflopped. The unflopped one apparently outsold the flopped one by wide margin, and that gave them the go-ahead to present everything in its original format. The late, kinda-lamented Tokyo Pop was really the first company to fully embrace right-to-left books, as a cost-saving device, and it worked).
There’s also a made-in-America manga sequel, called “Macross II: The Micron Conspiracy,” which I haven’t read. It’s got a good creative team, though (written by James Hudnall, who adapted a lot of the early Viz manga, and art by Schuloff Tam, who used to draw the covers for Animag).
There isn’t a whole lot on the Plus front, especially in the ’90s (a Plus manga was made later, but I’ll get to that in due course). Basically, there’s just a novel, titled simply “Macross Plus Vol. 1,” written by scriptwriter Keiko Nobumoto. As the title indicates, it was meant to be the first of two volumes. In an afterword, though, she states that writing this book was so difficult that she couldn’t face writing another, and thus, there would be no Volume 2.
What’s interesting about it is that the adaptation of the OVA/Movie story would’ve been mostly in the second book, and the first half of Volume 1 instead tells the story of Isamu, Guld, and Myung in high school. Of all the books on my list to translate, this one is probably at the top of ones I’m eager to get to.
Here’s where everything goes crazy… Macross 7 never had any novelizations until the two-volume adaptation of Dynamite 7 (written by Fumihiko Iino, otherwise unaffiliated with Macross, although his debut was a novelization of “Godzilla 1984”), which I’m not terribly interested in. But everything else… Jeez.
Okay, there is a short story, called “Fire to Tomorrow!” that’s included in the Fire Bomber Roman Album. And there were two manga series. the first, “Valkyrie Rock,” was a four-panel gag manga series that was serialized in “Comic Bon Bon” Magazine and has never been collected in book form (although I’ve seen scans of some strips online… it doesn’t look very good), but what was meant to be the real gem was “Macross 7 Trash” by Haruhiko Mikimoto. This debuted in late ’94 in the first issue of a new magazine, “Shonen Ace” (Or “Shonen AAAAAAAAAAAAACE!” if you saw the ads from any Evangelion episode taped off of TV). Shonen Ace was aimed squarely at the otaku crowd, and contained mostly series either derived from anime or that were already being developed as anime. Other series in it from very early on included “Tenchi Muyo,” “Crossbone Gundam,” “Escaflowne,” and “B’t X.” “Evangelion” joined it very soon (and probably kept the magazine afloat during those early years).
So anyway, Macross 7 Trash doesn’t adapt the series, instead being a story what happens elsewhere in City 7. But honestly, despite occasional appearances from Captain Max, Mayor Milia, vampires, and the Flower Girl, it could’ve been set anywhere, in any universe, and it would’ve been much the same. In other words, there’s very little about it that screams “Macross.” We’ve got a sport called “Tornado Crush,” which is a violent race on “air blades” (hovering roller blades, essentially) and it follows the trials of one of the star players, Shiba Midou. I don’t really want to rehash the story, and there is a (not very good) translation out there if you’re curious. I started collecting the series soon after Volume 1 came out, and by Volume 5, I was really hoping it would end soon so that I wouldn’t have to keep buying the books. Mikimoto, initially making thirty-page chapters per month, slowed down, and it appeared sporadically in the magazine (often presenting shortened chapters, or skipping issues entirely) as the story dragged on and on with very little seeming to actually happen. At the time, it was excruciating (I had a serious sense of deja vu when trying to follow “Ecole du Ceil,” which had (has?) similar problems, and I’ll get to “Macross the First” later…).
For this rewatch, I actually sat down and read the whole series through again over a few days when I got to Episode 39 of the series, and it left a somewhat more favorable impression. Overall, though, I still think it’s pretty but pointless, drags on much too long, and doesn’t have enough of a connection to the series. Still, since Mikimoto did it, it’s as official as they come, and probably shouldn’t be ignored.
Oh my God… where to start? First off, there are a number of fan-club and exclusive drama CDs and tapes. Some of these appear on the Macross 7 DVD and blu-ray sets. Most of them are essentially advertisements, with a few funny skits thrown in.
(I’ve already mentioned the movie promo, which has the Macross Seven and Plus casts meeting. That’s probably the best of them.)
The first real Macross 7 drama album, which I’ve also mentioned, is “Macross 7 Docking Festival ~Singing Saves the Galaxy!?~” which I really enjoy. It’s a lot like “Miss DJ,” really. It skews heavily towards comedy, but also adds a lot of little details that may have been intended for the show but never quite made it in. It also features a great reunion of Shammy, Kim, and Vanessa. And it dates itself firmly to the early ’90s by having that old Nirvana gimmick of having the last track fade out, followed by too many minutes of silence, and then a hidden track (remember when it seemed like EVERY band was trying that…?).
I’ve briefly (well… briefly for me) mentioned the Macross radio show that ran concurrently with Seven. As far as I can tell, it was mostly a talk show, hosted by Akiko Nakagawa, who voiced the Flower Girl (and, I’m 99% sure, Sivil). However, they also had several series of radio dramas. Each episode was only about ten minutes, but they combine into stories of startling length. All of them (as far as I’m aware) have been released on CD, and I’m grateful for that. As unenthralling as they are, at least they haven’t been lost to history. But yeah… unenthralling they most definitely are. The first one, “Mellow Heart Beat,” for example, is a full, 70-minute CD all about the Flower Girl trying to access Fire Bomber’s homepage. Yes, really. The second, “Melodious Illusion,” is SLIGHTLY more interesting, about a sort of ghost that lives inside a computer, who tries to influence the Flower Girl. The third, which is so long that it sprawls out over three CDs, is “Galaxy Song Battle,” a symbolic story about the virtues of positive music, as Basara kinda/sorta fights with special guest singers Lark Skybeauty (representing “Songs of Sadness”) and Panther (representing “Songs of Rage”).
But the radio show didn’t ONLY do Macross 7 dramas. They also did a Macross 7 Trash drama album (which seems to start as a serious adaptation and then turns into a comedic portrayal of the Minmay Voice competition). It’s not very good, overall, but it does have one of the best covers of “Do You Remember Love” ever, which unfortunately has never been released in a “clean” version (in the drama, there’s a lot of chatter over the intro). It also features a character named “El Niño Gumpy,” which might be the greatest name ever. But the most interesting ones they did were “Macross Classic – Inside Story” and (theoretically, at least) “Macross Generation.” “Macross Classic” reunites nearly all the cast from the original Macross (Mari Iijima isn’t there, although there is a Minmay concert involved), and tells a story during the “lost two years” between episodes 27 and 28. So yes, it’s a story about the first Macross series, but very definitely made in the ’90s, since it features both Millard (as a Skull Squadron pilot) and the Flower Girl (???) (Incidentally, in a way, the Flower Girl has shown up in every major “generation” of Macross so far. She’s on this album, set in 2010 or 2011. She in the Macross 7 TV series (obviously), set in 2045, and in the Macross Frontier manga, in 2059, she’s at a Sheryl concert. She must be older than she looks…). And last, the radio show presented “Macross Generation,” a completely new story with a completely new cast, set on the Macross 9 Fleet in 2047. As I said before, it’s not as interesting as it sounds, although it starred a very young Yukari Tamura as the heroine, Tomo Sakurai as Canary Minmay, and also had Megumi Ogata (voice of Shinji Ikari) not only voicing the tough-guy cosmo-bike racer Rafarl, but also singing “Runner” at one point. So, if it’s been your lifelong dream to hear Shinji Ikari sing a Macross song, look no further.
Anyway, I’m sorry that all I can do is point you towards a bunch of untranslated books and albums, rather than, y’know, providing them, but be patient, and I’ll let everyone know when I make progress on them (hey, the Rewatch is nearing its final stretch… but the blog has to live on after that, right?)