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!

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH – FASTEST LIFTOFF

7 Ep.0

MACROSS FASTEST LIFTOFF

BROADCAST DATE: October 2, 1994

This is an odd little teaser for Macross Seven that aired two weeks before the series started (and almost exactly twelve years after the debut of the original SDF Macross series). Our hosts on this odyssey of fantasy and wonder are LaSalle Ishii, a popular TV variety host, and Nana Horie, an actress. It’s an unusual choice, for sure. Ishii, at that point, was approaching forty, Horie was sixteen, and neither of them know anything about Macross. There doesn’t seem to be any script; it looks like they were given topics and info and just told to discuss it, which leads to a number of embarrassing and/or hilarious moments (my favorite is when Ishii is handed a Bandai Valkyrie and tries to transform it, even though he has no idea how to do so). Ishii is still around, although he tends to do TV dramas rather than variety shows these days, but Horie seems to have had a very brief career and has vanished from show business. She doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. The show is narrated by Kenji Utsumi, who played MIllard in Macross Plus, but is probably better known as Raoh in Fist of the North Star. He passed away in 2013.

Anyway, they’re in some kind of Egyptian-themed (???) set, with Macross merchandise placed all around them, talking about the history of Macross (“I can’t believe it’s been twelve years already!” Ishii says at the beginning, mock-sobbing as Horie comforts him, before she points out that she doesn’t know anything about Macross because she was only four years old when it debuted… Only twelve years…? Horie was four…? Man, I feel old…). But mostly, it’s hype for Macross Seven.

Again, it’s pretty weird, but kind of interesting. Early on, Ishii likens Macross to a “trendy drama,” the nickname for TV serials that appealed to young working women, and he stresses the “human interest” of the series. At the time of this writing, a bunch of dudes are still miffed that Delta is aimed primarily at young women rather than men in their forties, but clearly that trend goes back a lot further than they thought.

When they get to the mecha, you can tell this was made before the second episode of Plus came out, because they show the VF-1 and the YF-21, and then skip to Basara’s VF-19. The YF-19 is nowhere to be seen.

There’s an interview with Kawamori, as well (where he’s given the vague credit “Original Creator/Supervisor” of Macross Seven… more about that next time) and he shows off his model of of the VF-17 (not made out of Legos, although there’s a Lego VF (is it a 19…?) behind him).

There are also a lot of clips from the original series, but oddly, they seem to mostly use the awful Star Pro scenes… were they trying to make Seven’s animation look good by comparison? I have no idea…

The “Making of Macross 7” is kind of cool, showing the animation and voice recording studios, but yeah… other than that, its primary value is for comedy in how amateurish the whole thing is. I’m not sure how fired up for Macross Seven I’d be if I’d seen this first…

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH – A FUTURE CHRONICLE

+ Ep.0

MACROSS – A FUTURE CHRONICLE

STORY DATE: 1999-2045

RELEASE DATE: August 25, 1994

I’ll get to Plus in just a moment, but first, I want to talk about this, since it introduces us to the revamped Macross timeline. It was originally released on the laser disc (and VHS…? I’m not sure…) of Macross Plus Vol. 1, but wasn’t included on any of the western versions.

It’s short – a mere seventeen minutes – and is mostly narrated by the most “movie voice” English-speaking guy they could find. Anyway, it presents the major events of Macross so far and briefly sketches the main characters.

Of top interest for my purposes is the section, “A.D. 2031 – Space War I made into a movie: Do You Remember Love.” Now, this is, I believe, the first mention of this, although it also shows up in the timeline that comes with Macross 7 Trash. The idea, well-known at this point, is that the TV series is canonical, and the movie is ACTUALLY A MOVIE in the Macross universe. Now, there’s a question of whether THEIR Do You Remember Love is the same as OUR Do You Remember Love, and if it’s not, I guess that’s fine. But if it is, the idea doesn’t sit well with me and never has. There’s been a lot of talk of “propaganda films” in order to justify it, but if the TV series is “what happened,” then “the movie-within-the-movie” gets virtually nothing right, from uniforms to Valks to what actually happened. It’s WAY less accurate than even, say, Michael Bay’s “historical” efforts.

Moreover, if has the effect of shunting Do You Remember Love off into some “non-canonical” ghetto, which is a sad fate for a glorious film (in one Facebook Macross group I’m in, someone at one point said tersely, “I saw it. I reject it as non-canon” which, to me, shows that he was going about everything the wrong way).

I much prefer Kawamori’s take that they’re both equally valid, and later series bear that out, but taking plot and visual cues from both the series and the movie. Experience and enjoy both of them, I say, and don’t worry too much about which one “happened.” It’s not that big a deal, honestly.

Oh, and this is also where Macross II gets pushed into the “Parallel Story” box, but I talked about that last time.

SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS – Suggestions for Further Reading (and Listening)

Outside StorySUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS
EXTRA: BOOKS AND ALBUMS

I’d like to note that if you want more of the original Macross, there is more to be had, in a few books and albums, most of which (*ahem*) have been translated.

The albums aren’t terribly rewarding, unless you’re really starving for more, but the books are (mostly) great.

The books:

1. Dreaming Prelude ~ My Fair Minmay (by the Macross Scenario Staff): released during the end of the series, it’s probably my favorite, telling the story of what happens to Minmay that we didn’t see, from her birthday up until Hikaru, Misa, and the team escape from being Zentradi prisoners. It’s WAY more interesting than it sounds, mostly because it’s written by the same people who wrote the show, and manages to incorporate a lot of ideas that never made it into the series.

My Fair Minmay (Ver.4)

2. Misa Hayase – White Reminiscences (by Hiroshi Ohnogi): nominally a novella about Misa and Riber, it also gives a lot of backstory and information about the Unification Wars. And even Macross the First references it. And again, being written by one of the show’s writers, it feels completely authoritative.

Misa_Hayase_-_White_Reminiscences_sml

3. Macross Perfect Memory: The “Outside Story” section has two short stories, one by series script editor Kenichi Matsuzaki (about Global as a sub captain during the Unification Wars) and one by Kawamori (and what happened in the two years between episodes 27 and 28). These aren’t QUITE as good as the other books (I find the sub story rather dull, and dislike the way Kawamori sets about cracking the love triangle back open) but there’s still some nice details, and at least they’re short.

Macross Outside Story

4. The novelization trilogy (by Toshiki Inoue): I started translating these a few years ago, and got about fifty pages into the first one, before I realized there wasn’t really anything special or interesting about them, except for the first chapter, which tells a bit about what happened before the first episode. They’re very thinly written, almost like the script of the show with just enough narration added to explain what’s going on. Minimalist novels, if you will. All the books are the same length, but Book One covers episodes 1 through 5, Book Two covers 6 through 13, and Book Three crams in everything else up to Episode 27. Ugh.

For me, the weirdest part about these is how they begin. In the mid-’90s, swept up by Macross fever, and thinking it was “almost perfect, but not quite,” I started planning a fanfic novel series that would harmonize the TV series and DYRL (three books), fill in the timeline between 2012 and 2040 (one book), and adapt Plus (one book) and Macross 7 (four books), making the later more “serious” and “realistic.” I had it mostly planned out and had even written some of it before I realized that it was mostly my ego talking (thinking I could swoop in and “fix” all the story problems I saw, like I’m goddamned Mighty Mouse or something), and that writing NINE novels based on Macross really wasn’t the most productive use of my writing time. But one of the parts that I had finished was the prologue, about the Macross crashing. Instead of just a dry narration, like in the series, I wanted to add a little something to it, and so wrote it from the point of view of Minmay, at five years old, in a sandbox in a playground, seeing a bright star in the sky which just got brighter and brighter…

At this point, I had no idea that actual novelizations of the series existed. It wasn’t until years later, when I was visiting Tokyo in 2007, that I happened across them at Nakano Broadway. Six months later or so, I started translating them, and discovered that first chapter involves the Macross crashing… witnessed by five-year-old Minmay… playing in a sandbox. Weird feeling…

Anyway, the author, unlike the other books here, has no real connection to the Macross staff, so I finally just settled on translating the beginning, and leaving the rest alone. Here’s the first chapter:

Before the Launch(v2)

5. The Do You Remember Love novelization (by Sukehiro Tomita): I, uh, haven’t read this one yet, although it’s high on my list. Looks interesting, though. And the fact that it’s written by the movie’s scriptwriter bodes well.

DYRL Chapter 1

The albums (all of which have scripts by Sukehiro Tomita):

1. Macross Vol. III – Miss DJ: not quite a drama album, but not quite a soundtrack, either, it purports to be an episode of Minmay’s radio show aboard the Macross. Again, like the books, it manages to fit some ideas in that had to be cut from the show, which is kinda cool, but also has a lot of stretches where very little of interest is happening. I dunno, maybe it’s not as excruciating if you’re not listening to it over and over trying to catch what they’re saying in order to translate it. The songs are nice, though, and the ads are pretty funny.

Miss DJ(v2)

2. Macross Vol. IV – Distantly Fading Memories: also not quite a drama album, this one focuses on Misa. I haven’t finished translating it yet (I’m about three-quarters of the way through) (UPDATE: AS OF JULY 10, I’M DONE), and the story is… okay, I guess. Nothing special. The real draw, I think, are the two new songs (sung by Misa!!) and the background piano music by Kentaro Haneda, composer for the show, which, maddeningly, is unavailable without the character chattering over it.

Macross Vol. IV – Distantly Fading Memories

3. Macross Vol. V – Rhapsody in Love/Macross Love: the first disc is new music (including a wonderful medley that was used for one of DYRL’s trailers), the second is just a dramatization of highlights from the series. Trying to cram everything into forty minutes leaves it rather incoherent as a narrative. Like the novels, I started translating it, but lost interest quickly. I might finish it one of these days.

Macross Vol. V – Macross Love

4. Snow Falling in the Galaxy: the first Macross Christmas album, based on the TV series, but released in 1985. It’s not very good, honestly. The songs are pretty cheesy, and the drama sections spin their wheels without going anywhere. The short story included in the liner notes, by Noboru Ishiguro, is fun, though.

The album: Snow Falling in the Galaxy(v2)

The short story: Macross White Christmas

So yeah, if, as I said before, Macross is a sundae, with the series as the ice cream, the movie as the hot fudge, and Flashback 2012 as the cherry, I guess these are the nuts and sprinkles: not really necessary for making a good sundae, but still tasty in their own right. Dig in!

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 39 – FLASHBACK 2012

FB2012

SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS
FLASHBACK 2012

ICONIC SCENE: Farewell, Minmay…

STORY DATE: September 2012

RELEASE DATE: June 21, 1987

1. So it’s 1987, and nearing the fifth anniversary of the Macross TV series. Shoji Kawamori decides he needs to learn how to edit video, and thus, this release is born. These days, it doesn’t really seem like much, I’m sure, since virtually anyone can make an AMV. At the time, it was pretty cool, though, and it’s heaps better than, say, the Mospeada music video collection, “Love Live Alive” or the earlier Macross Mech Graffiti, both of which mostly played scenes from the shows with little regard for how they fit the music. Flashback 2012 is definitely more MTV style, with lots of quick cuts timed to the songs.

But even in 1987, the anime landscape had changed from what it had been in 1982. The easy availability of VCRs had created a market for direct-to-video animation, which was where the “Anime Generation” showed off the best, with more personal projects that didn’t have to cater to toy companies and the like. And of course, many of these involved staff from Macross, although Studio Nue never created a show after 1983’s Super Dimension Century Orguss.

After Orguss ended, Tatsunoko attempted to turn the “Super Dimension” label into an ongoing thing, with 1984’s Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, but when the toy sponsor for that show went bust, the funding vanished and the show was quickly wrapped up. The (again, highly unusual for anime) two PM slot that all the Super Dimension shows had run in was filled with a quiz show.

All of which has very little to do with Flashback 2012, really, although it has a lot to do with my experience with it. By 1987, I was a full-fledged anime nerd with a network of sources who I had met at cons and the local comic book shop (no longer Another World in Eagle Rock, but Book Village near Pasadena City College). I was still in the honeymoon stage where absolutely everything seemed awesome, and I was amassing a huge collection of OVAs and movies, and some scattered TV show episodes (it was nearly impossible to track down EVERY episode of a TV series at this point… remember, even Macross didn’t come out on home video, complete, until 1989). Anyway, one day one of my friends told me there was a new Macross, and I got really excited… until he told me it was only half an hour long. He hadn’t seen it himself, he was waiting to get a copy from HIS source, and then he would loan it to me. So we didn’t know yet that it was mostly a clip show. To me, 30 minutes REALLY didn’t seem long enough. Macross was a sprawling epic, and any follow-up needed to be at least as long as the original series.

A few weeks later, I saw it, and was initially disappointed, but thrilled at the same time. Everyone talks now about what a great send-off  Flashback is, but at the time, I thought it was primarily a prelude to a new series that would eventually come.

And of course, it wasn’t.

2. The new animation at the beginning and the end is stunning, easily equal to anything from Do You Remember Love, and with new designs that never get used again. I especially love the pull back from the concert at the beginning and seeing the Macross, with crowds just hanging out on the outside of it, applauding Minmay’s performance… Now THOSE are nosebleed seats…

3. As for the music videos, they lean far more on Do You Remember Love than they do on the TV series, and who can blame them? The movie just looks better. But even in the new animation, all of the visual style comes from the movie, which, back in ’87, convinced me that the movie was “canonical” (later, of course, I’d learn that that term meant nothing in Macross).

Of the videos, “Zero-G Love” is probably my favorite, just because it’s so clever and fast-paced and downright funny. The weirdest one is definitely “Cinderella,” with its images of handcuffs and clown doll spinning on top of a record. Is that supposed to be somehow symbolic of Minmay…? If so, I don’t quite get it.

4. It’s also interesting that the version of “Love Drifts Away” here is a different recording than the one used in the series. I think it’s also slightly better, with its ironic use of military-sounding snare drums. The ending duet of “Runner” is also new, although it sounds awful when the two voices are blended together. Thankfully, the version released on “Macross the Complete” a few years later just has Minmay singing that part solo.

5. And then we get to the good stuff. The new scenes showing the Megaroad-01 taking off. Everyone loves the Megaroad and VF-4 designs, and the characters look great as well. There’s a bit of confusion about whether Minmay is on the ship or not, but every source on the subject agrees that she is.

The VF-4 is especially sought-after and enigmatic. Hell, it was ten years before we even saw what the gerwalk and battroid modes looked like. It was also the final toy made by Yamato for they went under, and the news that Arcadia is going to reissue it was met with joy.

So yeah, they take off. And we’ll never see them again.