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 – 25th Anniversary Special

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MACROSS 25TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL! MACROSS IS COMING BACK!

ICONIC SCENE: “Real Songs! Real Love! Real Transformations!”

BROADCAST DATE: December 23, 2007

Sorry for the doinky picture quality… unlike the previous specials I’ve covered, this one has not been released on home video, and so I got stuck with the YouTube version (which will probably be taken down any moment now).

This is also the first time I’ve seen it since it originally aired, since at that time I was actually in Tokyo and saw it on TV. I had arrived in early November of 2007, initially hoping to find a job as an English teacher. Unfortunately, my timing was disastrous: a week or so before I arrived, the largest chain English school in the country, NOVA, with hundreds of branches all over Japan, has gone out of business quite suddenly, leaving thousands of English teachers out of work and without their final paychecks (I’m not exaggerating; Gaijinpot, the main website for finding work in Japan, has a feature which tells you how many other people have applied for a job, and everything I tried told me that there were over five thousand other people trying for the same job… and of course, most of them, unlike me, had work visas. I had absolutely no chance).

It was a weird, exciting time. I was staying at a cheap but very friendly hotel, Hotel Juyoh in Taito-ku (which I highly recommend to anyone visiting Tokyo. It’s close to the anime district of Akihabara and to Tokyo Sky Tree, although that didn’t exist in 2007. The immediate area around the hotel isn’t as great, although the last time I was in the area, on New Year’s Day, 2012, it had modernized considerably thanks to Sky Tree being close by. And right across the street from the hotel is the best coffee shop I have ever been to, Cafe Bach, where five dollars for a cup does not feel exorbitant. The coffee is THAT good).

Anyway, when I arrived, I was much more in an Evangelion mood, the first of the New Eva movies having opened a couple of months before and still (amazingly) playing in the first-run theaters. At one point at the hotel, a guy I was talking to mentioned Macross F. I had heard that a new Macross series was coming out, but knew nothing about it. He called me over to one of the computers the hotel had and showed me the trailer on YouTube, and yes, it looked stunning.

Still, Macross at this point was virtually dead, even though it was the twenty-fifth anniversary year. Checking Animate, the primary chain shop for anime goods, revealed no merchandise, although I heard “Daybreak’s Bell,” the first opening theme for Gundam 00, so many times that it really got drummed into my head, and still reminds me of those days. The used-goods shops were a little better. In Nakano, I found the second volume of the TV novelization (what? I hadn’t known that there were Macross novels… (see the category “Translations”) and I found a cheap copy (my second… later joined by a third) of the little picture book “Macross Love Story” at a used book store in Jimbocho (the owner, who looked to be about five or six years older than I, chuckled with fondness when I placed the book by the cash register, and said that he used to watch Macross as a kid).

The strangest thing I found, quite early on (and as I’ve said before), was that the original TV series was being rerun. At three AM, Thursday mornings. Since I didn’t have a job, I could catch it if I happened to be awake at that time (which happened a lot at the beginning, and less so as I adjusted to the time change).

But again, Macross just wasn’t really on my radar at the time. It had been three years since Zero ended, and I was collecting (but not building) the Hasegawa kits (which I had been picking up at a place called “Best 1 Hobby” in Alhambra (RIP) that I just happened to come across one day). It was nice to see Macross on TV (even if it was at such an inconvenient hour) and the Macross F trailer looked really good, but, as I said, my mind was on Evangelion, and this was at the point when Gainax (err, I mean “Khara”) had announced three movies, the second of which would be coming out in December (remember that? The first Eva movie was announced for August 2007, the second for December 2007, and the third and fourth, which were each supposed to be 45 minutes long and released as a double feature (and thus, effectively a single film), were supposed to be Spring 2008. THAT schedule got thrown out the window quickly enough, didn’t it…? And indeed, it was clear by this point that no, the second movie wouldn’t be arriving in December).

So it was with virtually no expectations, that, still a little drunk from the birthday party the hotel staff and friends had thrown me, I turned on the TV to see the 25th anniversary special and the “preview” (“Deculture Edition”) of Episode 1 of Macross F.

I’ll talk about Frontier next time. The preceding show is pretty much in line with the “Macross Fastest Liftoff” special which aired a couple of weeks before Macross 7, with one big difference: one of the “celebrity” hosts, Hiroyuki Mayasako (who also appeared in that weird Macross Zero commercial that I linked to before) is actually a Macross fan. The other three know nothing about it and don’t really care. One of them even gives Mayasako a lot of shit for liking it.

(Mayasako, as a kid, apparently saw Do You Remember Love in the theaters in 1984. I kinda envy him that.)

So the hosts sit down and, as often (always) happens on Japanese TV, they watch a video about the history of Macross. It’s nothing that you wouldn’t already know, although I find it interesting that they emphasize that the last battle scene in Do You Remember Love has the song playing over it for its entire seven-minute running time. And even the three who don’t care are impressed that Kawamori directed the movie when he was twenty-three (which, yeah, really IS pretty amazing. I mean, what were YOU doing at twenty-three?), turning twenty-four during production.

Probably the most notable feature of the special is that it spends a lot of time talking about the original series and Do You Remember Love, and then skips over everything else to talk briefly about Aquarion (?!?) before getting to Macross F. And then it ends with talking about the robot dog Aibo, which is something that all the hosts seem to know (and finally, something they all care about).

It does point to an issue that I haven’t really brought up, though, in that the original Macross was absolutely monumental in the history and development of anime, and that that’s something which none of the sequels have really been, except subliminally. Macross Plus probably comes the closest, with its revolutionary use of CGI and the fact that it’s, in the West, at least, one of THE series that it seems like nearly every anime fan has seen (maybe not so much anymore, but certainly in the ’90s when anime was finally really breaking through and finding a western audience). But in Japan, none of the sequels had had anything like the same impact as that first series.

That, however, is about to change, as Frontier really will make history, of a sort.

(NOTE: There was another part to this post, initially, detailing my personal adventures with Robotech during the 2004-2007 period, but that was making this post WAY too long, so I snipped it out and may post it separately after the Rewatch is done. It’s…. not kind.)

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH – 20th Anniversary Premium Collection

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MACROSS 20TH ANNIVERSARY PREMIUM COLLECTION

ICONIC SCENE: Indeed, “Macross will advance.” Just not immediately.

RELEASE DATE: August 25, 2002

I can’t really say that Macross came roaring back with a vengeance for its 20th anniversary in 2002, but there was a small current of momentum. The big news, of course, was a new OVA series, a prequel of sorts, called “Macross Zero.” And the big news about that was that, first, Akira Kamiya would be reprising his role of Roy Focker, and, second, that the mecha was all meant to be pure CGI. I don’t think I was alone in looking forward to the former news and having some trepidation about the latter. CGI had, over the previous two or three years, become more prominent in anime, and sometimes it looked great, but more often it didn’t.

Now, I don’t ascribe to the idea, which seems common among people who got into anime in the ’80s (and ’90s), that CGI is inherently impersonal and lacks “heart.” I mean, it’s like synthesizers, in a way… my generation grew up hearing a lot of electronic sounds on the radio, which we dug, but which the generation above us often decried as not REAL music. And yes, plenty of times synthesizers and computers and drum machines were used unimaginatively, or in ways that sound WAY more dated now than non-electronic music of the same time period does, but if used effectively, they could help create some really amazing music. It’s the same with animation, really.

Kawamori, of course, had been something of a vanguard on the computer animation front, incorporating a lot of it into Macross Plus (and a little bit into Seven). By this point, he actually had his own CGI animation studio, Satelight, and Macross Zero was, among other things, meant to be a demonstration of what they could accomplish.

This DVD, a limited edition released four months before the premiere of Macross Zero, manages to show both the good and the bad of CGI anime. On the good side, there’s a short promo clip (done, not by Satelight, but by Gonzo, like the Dynamite 7 OP and ED) devised for the 20th anniversary, showing Valkyries flitting about, and looking totally great. Some of the shots are filtered and very stylized, others are ripped right out of their respective series. All of them look wonderful. There’s a slight mistake, though, on the shot of the VF-11. It says that it’s a MAXL, but it’s really just an 11B or C.

On the bad side, there’s the trailer for the (mercifully?) unreleased “3D-VFX” game. It started life as a movie, then was downgraded to game status, and then vanished completely.

(Sunrise, by the way, was doing their own very public CGI experimentation and learning at this time, with their Gundam Evolve shorts and MS Igloo, and both those and 3D-VFX have the same major problem: the mecha look great, but the characters fall deep into the uncanny valley (MS Igloo probably fares the best with its people, but still doesn’t look very good). 3D-VFX goes for an almost puppet-like look for its characters, like a Supermarionation series, but that almost adds to creepiness.)

Still… although it doesn’t look wonderful, I’m always sad to lose a piece of Macross history, so I wish it could’ve been revived some form or other.

Next on the DVD, there’s a brief history of all the Macross series and movies so far, ending with a short trailer for Zero, in which they emphatically do not show the VF-0. And the rest of the DVD is plumped out with all of the OPs from every Macross series, the beginnings from some of the games, and a few Macross-themed commercials.

Now, in the summer of 2002, I was still reeling from an extremely bad break-up, and Macross wasn’t really on my radar for a while. I didn’t get Macross Zero Episodes 1 and 2 until the following year, and didn’t get this DVD until after that, which is a pity, as it probably would’ve assuaged some of my fears about all-CGI for the Valks. It was definitely in 2003 that I also did my first comprehensive Macross rewatch, using the US releases for SDF Macross, II, and Plus, the Japanese release for this, and Hong Kong bootlegs for everything else.

And although I was a member of Macross World at the time, I didn’t visit it terribly often. And if I did, I never checked the toy news, so the first news of Harmony Gold beginning to block Macross toys flew past me. Indeed, while I had given up on Macross 7 ever being released in the US, I felt sure that Zero would be licensed soon, and looked forward to an official Western release…

HA! As if!

MACROSS II, PLUS, and SEVEN – Suggestions for Further Reading (and Listening!)

books

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).

Macross Plus
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.

Macross Seven
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.

1. Books:
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.

2. Albums
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?)

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.