THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH – CONCLUSION

Conclusion

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH – CONCLUSION

It feels weird to be writing a “conclusion” when the newest series is right in the middle of airing. And yeah, this is more of a long pause than a total wrap-up (it’ll probably be a few years before I do a full Delta rewatch). I’ve still got lots more material for the blog, but for now, the Great Macross Rewatch is done. It’s been an interesting journey to watch, for me at least, as the original series (which was never really an underdog) managed to generate so many years of anime, and stands now as, well, not quite a household name, but very highly-regarded in many circles. Pretty good for a series that was designed as a merchandise-friendly throwaway series so that Studio Nue could then do what they REALLY wanted to do: Genocidas (which of course, they never did).

This last weekend, Shoji Kawamori was, of course, a guest at Anime Expo, and I was lucky enough to help out a bit at the booth for Satelight, which is his animation studio. It was the second time I’d done so, the first being the previous year, when Satelight designer Thomas Romain was one of the guests of honor. I was introduced to him as “a big Macross fan,” and his response, “Ah, yes… Zat is what zhey dragged me away from to come ‘ere,” was the ONLY thing anyone told me about Delta. This time, Kawamori was pretty busy the entire time, and so I only got to meet him once, when he came by the booth Sunday morning. We didn’t talk much; I was introduced to him by the other Satelight employees, and I thanked him for his work.

The previous night, Saturday, July Second, had been his big panel, mostly talking about his childhood and the development of Macross, and in particular the VF-1. Much of the content of the talk would not have been a surprise to anyone who has followed this blog from the start, but one thing that I hadn’t known was that after trying to get Genocidas funded and having no luck, Macross (which he termed a “dummy project”) was basically created in a single night. Of course, it went through many changes during pre-production, but most of the core concepts were decided upon in that one session.

(There was a great bit after the talk, when he came out and posed for a big group photograph with all the cosplayers who were there. The cosplay was mostly Delta (lots of Walküre members, plus a Hayate and a Mirage), but there was also a Minmay, a Basara, a Sheryl, a Ranka, and a Shin Kudo. Only Macross II and Plus were not represented.)

I think it’s indisputable that as far as the history of anime goes, the first series (with Do You Remember Love) is the most important, both at home (as the flagship series produced by the first generation of what would become “otaku”) and abroad (even in somewhat muffled form, as Robotech, the first series retains most of its force and power, and remains popular, despite Harmony Gold’s constant inadvertent attempts to sabotage it). Following that I would say that, for Japan, Frontier is the second-most important, for ushering in the “ani-son boom,” whereas in the west, it’s Macross Plus, for being an absolutely must-see series at a time when anime was first really beginning to take off in the US.

But really, if there’s anything I hope you take away from this Rewatch project, it’s how central the concept of music was even for the first series (although, again, Carl Macek downplayed its importance in Robotech). It fits squarely into the history of idol anime as much as it does mecha anime, and as I said during Episode 12 of the original series, the use of idol music during the space battle was one of the things, apparently, that the fans really went nuts about, since no one had ever tried anything like that before. The music is one of Macross’s signature features, and one of the things that makes it different from other mecha anime.

THE END.

Okay, not quite.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I’ve had A LOT of help on this. The SpeakerPODCast Crew (Adrian, Gwyn, and Renato), VF5SS, and Karice67 have all been extremely generous with their time and knowledge, and generally helped me look a lot smarter than I actually am.

Thanks to the Facebook groups Robits, Macross Fans US, Macross Fans of Malaysia, Macross △ Delta, and Robotech Freedom for putting up with my twice-weekly invasions (and often being kind enough to actually READ the blog post before commenting… well, in Robits, at any rate).

And thanks to CaptainJLS, whose acknowledgment here probably surprises him as much as it does you, for inspiring the whole thing in the first place. Years ago, I stumbled over his wonderful “365 Days of Robotech” blog posts, and thought, “Huh… I wish someone would do something like this for Macross…”

And thanks to YOU for reading this, especially if you’ve actually made it through the entire Rewatch. Your dedication is impressive, especially considering my digressive, self-interrupting, and completely tangled and annoying writing style. I really appreciate it!

Okay, NOW… THE END.

No, wait…

Okay, now that the Rewatch is all nicely wrapped up, there are going to be some changes. First, the updates to the blog will be less frequent, probably once a week (or less) rather than the twice a week I’ve been doing. I’ve got a few topics that spiraled out of control and had to be pruned while I was doing the the Rewatch, and there are other topics that got spread out over many posts that I would like to consolidate. And there’s the post about the  dRobotech/Macross rights issue, which I’ve been working on for a while, and which is getting fearsomely long (It’s looking like it’ll be at least two parts. Maybe three). And also, I’ve got a few translations I’ve finished (or started) and nowhere to put them. So that’s what’s coming up in the next while.

SEE YOU NEXT DECULTURE.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 139 – NYAN KURI

F Nyan Kuri

MACROSS FRONTIER – NYAN KURI (NYANx2 MUSIC CLIP)

ICONIC SCENE: They want to survive… so why are they standing right on the runway…?

STORY DATE: 2059

RELEASE DATE: December 15, 2010

1. Now the second Frontier movie was initially scheduled for release in late 2010. We didn’t get it then, but received this instead. And indeed, the movie was apparently deliberately delayed while the staff was moved over to this project.

(Oh, and the title is one of those untranslatable puns, since “Clip” would be, in Japanse-English, “kurippu,” and “kuri,” the abbreviation, means “chestnut,” which is why there’s a chestnut in the logo.)

Now at this point, I’d been living in Tokyo since late June of 2010, teaching English, and scraping by (barely). I had met up with what would eventually become the Macross SpeakerPODCast Crew… First Renato (at Shibuya Station), then Adrian (the same day, in Shibuya Mandarake), then Gwyn (sometime later, in Akihabara Excelsior Café). Already, Gwyn was showing almost inexhaustible zeal as the English-language historian of Macross (and Yamato 2199) events and celebrations, appendicitis notwithstanding. As he rightly points out, often he would be the only non-Japanese person present at these events, and if he didn’t document the proceedings, they would be lost to the English-speaking fandom forever (this would become especially important during the 30th Anniversary in 2012, which was very little EXCEPT a series of events… but more about that later).

That said, I was the only member of the soon-to-be-formed podcast crew (and, likewise, the only non-Japanese person, at least among the people I saw) who, on November 26, showed up at Sunshine Cinema in Ikebukuro to see a special advance screening of this. I had been lucky to get a ticket, since it was the first time I’d gotten a ticket from the ATM-like ticket vendor that every convenience store has, and I initially made a mistake, getting a ticket for the screening in Nagoya rather than in Tokyo. Thankfully, there were still seats available in Tokyo by the time I had realized my error. Also thankfully, the tickets had been cheap (¥1000, about thirteen US dollars at that time), so I wasn’t out by TOO much. The screening (which was over four nights: November 26 and 27, and a week later, December 3 and 4) on that first night wasn’t sold out, but it was nearly full. So yeah, it started and there was a projector mix-up, where only the bottom half of the picture was on the screen… They fixed it soon, though (before the trailer for “May’n the Movie” was finished, if I recall correctly).

2. I initially figured that this would be a lot like Flashback 2012, and in a way it is. It’s a collection of music videos for various Sheryl and Ranka songs, but instead of being presented as a concert, as Flashback was, this is more of a miscellany, featuring also interviews with both singers as well as number of fake ads.

It begins rather unpromisingly… after a short interview with Sheryl (untranslatable: she says she hates “jikan,” one word for time, but loves “toki,” another word for time. For you hardcore Madeleine L’Engle fans, she hates “Chronos” but loves “Kairos”… but there’s no good English equivalent), it goes right into “Universal Bunny,” and it’s almost exactly the same as it was in the movie, just with the Vajra and VF-171 scenes cut out (and a few short cuts added). Thankfully, it gets (A LOT) more creative after that.

There’s plenty of reused footage, but even then (like the “Lion” opening titles for the series) it gets manipulated, filtered, and essentially altered so that it feels “familiar” but not like a clip show. And some of the videos (like “Anata no Oto,” in which Ranka LITERALLY walks on water, and “Diamond Crevasse,” with Sheryl gliding through what looks like Venice) are all or nearly-all new animation.

One of the biggest surprises, though, is a full version of “Koi wa Dogfight” (which, I noticed for the first time on THIS rewatch, has lyrics written by Kawamori’s alter-ego, Eiji Kurokawa…) which only got a snippet on the “CM Ranka” album. And this is still the only place to hear the studio version, in all its auto-tune glory, since the (overlong) version that’s on the NEXT album has “live” vocals. It’s also the video that, although we didn’t know it yet, has the most hints for the second movie, since it features the debut of Ranka’s concert costume for the song and also has a lot of pop-up book effects (like “Rainbow Bear-Bear” will). Although “Diamond Crevasse” also shows us the cathedral which appears at the beginning of that film.

Speaking of which… of the videos, I think “Diamond Crevasse” is probably my favorite… it’s elegant, beautiful, and evocative (and shows up during a pivotal scene in the next movie). As far as recycling footage in new and surprising ways, I think “Iteza Gogo Kuji Don’t Be Late” is probably the best. Although I also really like “Lion,” because it seems, unlike the others, like a deliberate throwback to the type of video made for Flashback 2012, even to the point of having a cheering crowd that abruptly goes silent. It’s not the most inventive video in the group, but it’s got old-school style.

The carrot ad is appropriately adorable, and the natto ad is appropriately nauseating.

And I note that “Universal Bunny” and “Northern Cross” were storyboarded by Kawamori, and “Lion” was storyboarded by Frontier TV director Kikuchi.

3. One of the “selling points” for the video before it came out was that there would be some CGI dancing scenes (in “Anata no Oto” for Ranka and “Northern Cross” for Sheryl), deliberately reminiscent of the “Miku Miku Dance” animation program (in which you can create a character and choreograph your own music video for them… just search for “MMD” on YouTube, and you’re sure to come across MANY examples. Link “MMD” with “Everybody” in the search and you’re sure to come across most of the best… although if you’re an ’80s anime fan, you might prefer (as I do) “MMD” and “Twilight”). I think the point of this (here and in the scenes added to the credits of the movie blu-ray re-release) was lost on most western fans, who just complained that it looked cheap and unrealistic. Well, yes… it does. Because they were trying to make it look like Miku Miku Dance. I even saw a few people who thought that the ENTIRE DVD would be done this way, but no, both scenes are extremely short.

4. It’s kind of funny when both Ranka and Sheryl get flustered during their respective interviews. Ranka when she’s asked about what “love” means to her, and she lets slip that there’s a guy she likes, which causes the interviewer to press her about it; Sheryl when she’s asked about her earring, and she lets slip that only one of them is currently in her possession. Both of the girls try their best to cover over having said too much, and neither is terribly successful.

5. So yeah… hardly a necessary addition to the canon, but a really entertaining one. It’s much more varied than its closest relative, Flashback 2012, with no two videos really looking all that much alike (indeed, each one had different Satelight staff working on it, and thus each one has a unique, personal style to it).

But my question, which I kinda brought up last time but put off for here… if people often (apparently) try to introduce their friends to Macross through the movies rather than the TV shows, because the movies are shorter, why does no one suggest starting with the clip videos, which are the shortest of all? Many people castigate Do You Remember Love, saying some variation of, “If you saw this before you saw the TV series, you’d be totally lost!” And yet no one says that about Flashback 2012, even though it’s even more true there. I mean, I know the answer (they don’t tell a story), but you’d think SOMEONE would’ve suggested it at SOME point… and these ARE the shortest segments… (My point here, and I do have one, is that rather than agonizing about whether or not the movie or the series (or the OVA) is the best way to introduce someone to Macross, just give them the first TV series disc. If they like it, they’ll WANT to continue. If not, oh well…  move on to what’s next.)

But back to the main subject, though… again, the thing that always impresses me about the Macross works done by Satelight (i.e. everything from Zero onwards) is the amount of care and effort put into every project. As Adrian has been saying on the Macross SpeakerPODcast regarding Delta, this is clearly a staff of real professionals who love the work and want to make it look as good as possible. And this video is a great place to see them at the very top of their game. The eye for detail really comes through, and there’s something wonderful and, yes, touching about it. If Flashback 2012 was always the video I’d go to whenever I needed a little Macross “jolt” (as I often did in the late ’80s and early ’90s), this is the one I go to now when I want to be CHARMED by Macross, which is just as important. And perhaps even more so as I get older, and charm becomes more necessary than jolt.