NOTICE: This review covers both seasons, as they are part of the same story.
- Animated by that piece of shit studio GONZO. But hey, even a broken clock is right twice every day and even GONZO makes a watchable anime once every one hundred attempts. An example of which is VanDread.
- Conceived and directed by Mori Takeshi, and stands as his best work. Meaning, the only watchable show of everything he ever made.
When it comes to this show, I was mostly fascinated with its premise rather than anything else. It was stupid and captivating at the same time, something that I rarely fall for. It’s just that it came out at a time when the sircumstances were right and thus managed to win me over.
So the story is about a world where men and women live apart and are even hostile to each other. Reproduction happens artificially and practically everybody is homosexual. And then weird aliens attack and one ship from each side crash and combine with a mystical force to form a new power for fending off the aliens. They now need to work together in order to find a way back and prevent the alien threat.
Seriously, the premise is to die for. Seeing them trying to trust each other and even trying to study each other (since they have no idea how things are going on with each side) was not only highly comical but also even educational in a way. The whole purpose of the story is in fact to have an open mind to try new things, to learn, to evolve, and to cooperate for a common goal. And for once the deviance was about turning from a completely homosexual crew back to… heterosexuals. For some weird reason I kept making comparisons to Macross and the first old Star Trek movie. The themes are a twisted form of those two features, with the aliens being… humans of the opposite genre and aliens being… mechanized humans. And it was all some allusion to evolution, life, love and coexistence. Isn’t that something to die for? Everything is reversed in this show; right is wrong and wrong is… left.
Ok, premise aside there are other things I liked in this show as well. The cast for example is highly likable. Each one begins as a stereotype and slowly evolves through interactions with the other side into a unique personality. Some of them are highly memorable as well, such as the robot mascot and the curious bimbo “Mr. Alien” Dita. The show makes them act as idiotically as possible but for a change this is nothing but means to excuse their ignorance over what is going on beyond their tiny world and to begin a learning procedure. And even if you don’t see them as such, they are still fine ecchi material for superficial laughs. Since most of the crew is gorgeous girls and the lead pilot is Hibiki, a neurotic teenager, you can just imagine the silliness that comes from having to share the cockpit on every battle… in a humorous ecchi way as always. Meaning, I liked the cast for not being an archetypical harem cast or a token space crew. They were both and they gradually evolved past their mold. Whole episodes are dedicated into fleshing them individually and any learning process is not nullified by the next episode. That is what a good cast is all about.
GONZO was always good at this department but almost always messed in the CGI. Well no surprise that most people hate the CGI in the series for looking too crude. The 2D is otherwise great (the characters that is). I will be lenient here since VanDread was amongst the first shows to be heavy on computer animated battles and did fine with what was available at the time. I ensure you that later GONZO works feel a lot worse for trying to turn their human models to 3D. Over here it remains purely during mecha action in space and once again contributes to the alien feeling of the show. I mean, when I first watched the show I thought it was all too weird. Just like the setting. Just like the characters. It was part of the themes too; cooperation and having an open mind to new things. And 3D was so new back then you also needed an open mind to accept the possibilities; thus I was not annoyed by it.
The OST feels kinda weak and voice acting is full of retarded dialogue and erotic humor but as I said, it was all part of the same package and I was not annoyed by it.
It is a zanny space adventure with various funny characters, interesting settings, and side stories that gradually enrich both the cast and the story. It starts all silly and goofy and by the finale in the second season it turns to an epic scale war for the salvation of mankind from… itself. It was just too awesome.
It’s not as if I fully enjoyed the anime though. Its weakest part is the plot, which is chaotic and messy in the least. For the most part it feels like it lacks direction and most problems are resolved with deus ex machina cheap tricks. Seriously, that glowing crystal super computer in their ship would constantly offer power ups when they needed them and even teleport them or enemies away… on its own. Yup, that was just the scriptwriter being lazy; it would be a lot better if the characters were being more strategically smart about it, other than using superior weaponry fueled by the power of love or something corny like that. Even the finale does not feel that solid as the aliens are still there and Hibiki didn’t “experiment” yet on how heterosexuals make babies.
This anime was never appreciated much for its deconstruction of the ecchi/space adventure formulas. I guess it was all too silly and the CGI alienated most (lol, alienated, like the opposite of what the show … shows?). I consider it amongst the better sci-fi adventures of the turn of the century and I recommend it to anyone who wants to open his mind to ideas, stupid ones like how homosexuals learn to make babies, or intriguing ones like how too much reliance on technology ends up being self destructive. It is not very common in themes amongst anime and it’s even rarer to find something that good by GONZO.
Super Dimensional Fortress Macross
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 7/10
Analysis: General Artwork 2/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 1/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 2/2
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Analysis: Voice Acting 2/3, Music Themes 2/4, Sound Effects 2/3
STORY SECTION: 6/10
Analysis: Premise 2/2, Pacing 1/2, Complexity 2/2, Plausibility 0/2, Conclusion 1/2
CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10
Analysis: Presence 2/2, Personality 2/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 1/2, Catharsis 1/2
VALUE SECTION: 5/10
Analysis: Historical Value 0/3, Rewatchability 1/3, Memorability 4/4
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 4/10
Analysis: Art 0/1, Sound 0/2, Story 1/3, Characters 3/4