Amending a review for a show you originally thought was a mediocre mess only to be surprised by a solid second act, is very rare. In fact, I am not sure it has happened to me yet.
Ah Macross... You big beautiful mix of warfare and dancy pop numbers. Shredded mecha roar by with explosions everywhere all the while a songstress (or plural) belt out love ballads. meanwhile a love triangle (mostly 2 girls and 1 guy, with a couple exceptions) forms and causes for great soapy drama.
Originally I noted the fact that in the first 10-12 episodes it felt like the creators threw in everything but the kitchen sink. They Jam it with not only 1 or 2 pop stars, they up the ante and give us a whole pop group, while even the opposing antagonists have their own boy singer! Protoculture talk gets more screen time, we add in a virus, and some more political intrigue.
I felt like the title did not know where to stop with the layers. And there was the ultimate issue. It never seemed to have the time in 26 episodes to fully fill out any one aspect of the show. Build up of the love triangle falls apart, and so does any possibility of a true goal.
Example right from the begining: (Slightly spoilerish for only episode 1-2)
Apparently, a pop group called Walkure can defeat this infection/syndrome with trans-dimensional music and have a mecha wing called Delta to help combat shit. Meanwhile a capable forklift-mecha driving boy (who knows how to keep a beat) helps out a stowaway named Freyja who hopped an apple container heading to where Walkure are based out of, to become one of the group.
Bad guys show up in the way of a massive infestation in the brains of some old-school Zentradi/Meltrandi as they decide to go ballistic in some Regult Pods. Magical girl pop band are sent in to save the day. (the magic is more technology, as their outfits sparkle and shimmer into pop-idol sherbet outfits.)
Now, in the course of Episode 0-1 to 2 there is so much coming at you, it is hard to take it all in. The direction seems to not know how to slowly build a moment what-so-ever and just toss you into a lake of story and hope you can swim.
I know it is because I am a cranky old cuss, but it does not “feel” Macross-y. In fact it feels like Shoji Kawamori, Macross creator, wanted to get as much in during the first episodes as possible.
Sure it is cheesy as hell, having all this glorious singing while the Walkre change outfits and glam out during combat. The reasoning takes a bit of just going with it, type of mentality. But here is where the title rights the ship a bit. About episode 10 I found myself starting to like the cast and the show started to gain traction. By episode 12/13 it hits the end of what could be a great half point The buildup of the Windermerians back story adds weight to their plight. Also, the overall threat builds to a more believable level. But when you get to the end of episode 26, so much shit is coming at you, and everysong is belted out, that by the end you are left not really caring what happens. it was either too many things happening, or everything was happening too quickly.
Now all that said, the action is fast and furious. Maybe too fast and furious, for the only battle you will end up caring about is the occasional fight between the White Knight and Hayete. The pop-songs are fun, and could make for a heck of a soundtrack. But god, the cheese is even worse than Macross 7 with the Sound force.
The Animation for the most part was solid and sharp. But it does not feel special. In fact it feels like the progress since Macross Frontier was non-existant, and not that impressive. The only “better” part would be the CG rendered Mecha. Let’s face it, Kawamori, knows how to design mecha. The character designs are super glossy and not very original in my book.
Now , it might be good to have some familiarity with the franchise before jumping in. You will not understand the giant Zentradi much, or the fact that “culture” has a lot to do with the title.
I might put up a watching order of shows someday, but you will probably want to see the original macross, Macross Love Do You Remember, Macross 7 and Macross Frontier and it's two movies to get the full effect of the title.
Spoiler free and a non-negative review for all shows :)
The story is a bit different form the conventional Macross shows. It's got the same ideas-- fighter jet mechas, singing and love triangles. It might confuse some at first, but it's easily understandable through the episodes.
The animation sorta reminds me of Kiznaiver (of which I watched first). It's not a TRIGGER made anime, I know, but it really does reminds me of that for some reason. However, the fight scenes between Delta/Walküre and the Windermere's are sensational, well, at least recently.
The soundtrack, like Macross Frontier, seems to talk a lot about sex. It's really weird listening to it and understanding that they're talking about intimate things. However weird the lyrics are, I personally like the new songs better than the ones of other Macross shows (From Lynn Minmay, to Fire Bombed, to Frontier's singing, Walküre is personally better).
The characters are a bit bland. Freyja is the girl that's getting beat up in the triangle, Mirage is getting the Hayate D, and Hayate is being a sorta shit character. However much the characters may be bland, they somehow make up for it and become non-bland characters. Yeah, I have no way of saying that better.
Since Macross Delta is currently ongoing as of the time of writing, this is more of a first impression of the first few episodes rather than a review.
Story: Because it mainly revolves on combating "Var syndrome", it contains more of person vs. person battles instead of people vs. monster-like interstellar lifeforms. In this Macross we see the blur between the lines of races (with the exception of one, I think) and a whole girl group whose songs have the ability to supress the mentioned syndrome. It's getting weirder and weirder, I know, but we have yet to see the end of the series. One big thing that I noticed is that it is very, very similar to AKB0048 (with the feel, the characters, the settings) which was directed and written by Shoji Kawamori (who also directed Macross Delta).
Animation: As usual, the animation for Macross Delta is breathtaking as always, just like its predecessors. The variable fighters, the sky, everything. The only thing that bothers me is the transformation that each Walkure member has in every show. It feels kind of wrong because it is not of the "magical girl" genre. They have a science-y explanation to the effect of their songs, and it's definitely not "magic" in Macross language.
Sound: I like it everytime that Walkure is singing while there are fights ongoing. The songs make me feel the action more and more. Some songs are not memorable, though, but the very, very good songs make up for them. This is what makes me love Walkure despite their shortcomings.
Characters: There are two types of characters in Macross Delta in my opinion: similar to other characters from other anime (one big example is AKB0048) or similar to other characters from Macross predecessors. I don't really know, but it feels like there is a big lack of originality when it comes to the characters. Mikumo feels a lot like Sheryl Nome, Freyja is a mixture of Sonata and Nagisa (AKB0048) and Ranka Lee, Mirage is totally like her grandma Milia Fallyna Jenius! But I think it's kind of okay.
TL;DR Don't watch this if you have something better to do. Make sure you watch SDF Macross, Macross 7, and Macross Frontier before watching this to avoid suffocation.
As a giant macross fan (6'3''), this one was almost as disappointing as macross 7. It feels more like a mahou shoujo for the first 6 or so episodes, reaches a macross level peak in perfomance at 12/13. And then has a truly dull ending. I felt a slight rush of emotion right at the very beginning of 26, but then it quickly died out, and i just sort of sat there waiting for it to end.
This show doesn't seem to know what it is. There is an idea for a story, but they also feel like they have to reference every other macross ever, which was... not necessary. It really bogs things down with useless clips, and then, because they do that so much around 17, they have an episode with an exposition dump. Which in film is just TERRRRRIIIIIIBBBBLLLLLLLEEEEEEEE. I wanted to skip that episode, but the information seemed important. Maybe they should have just shown us that info and let us infer it instead of telling us about past singers.
The sonds are... sometimes exciting, and adhere to the strong macross tradition of naming the songs stupid stuff like "Love's Halation the War." Wtf does that even mean? Then they also have songs that very cleverly have lyrics that match exactly what is happening on the screeen. yessssssss. Was good. HOWEVER, a big part of macross is the masterpiece of the background music being solid enough to just play by itself and be an enjoyable experience. Every other macross has done this, with Yoko Kano's work in frontier being the best, but this one just doesn't. It has sounds from older series woven in, but it is just mood music. Nothing to captivate. Oh, and the climax song isn't energetic. I mean.... no, the big battle song always sends chills down the spine. Overall, I'll be buying the soundtrack, and skipping 3/4 of it.
Animation tries and fails. Its like a straight copy of frontier, except that this time you can't see anything in the fights because theres a giant girl face in the way. wooooo! I have no idea whats going on in this battle. Also, each macross had something unique to each character to show their expression. The girl character i mean. Minmay had an amazing voice actress, macross 7's girl had that puffy thing that mirrored her emotions, and ranka had the hair that moved on its own. Freya has the hair again...
i seen this on youtube but i was hopeing to beable to watch it here but sadly it wont let me due to the episodes not being there for me but it is a good story i just realy wanted to know what all they said because when i watched it on youtube there were no subtiteds nor dubbed viersions
Macross Delta is a prime example of a creator losing all passion for his art. Shoji Kawamori has been kind of vocal about his disappointments with Delta and how a lot of the blame goes to his sponsors. A series altered from its original vision enough to the point you might as well say it was made by nothing but corporate decisions will never turn out well under any circumstance. The art is completely lost - not that I think Delta finds much reason to exist in the first place.
But let me not be too harsh on Delta. I do consider it the worst Macross series, but there's actually some stuff I like about Macross Delta. It was always a shaky series, but I wouldn't say it actually became bad until some time into the second half.
The first thing to make clear is that Delta is nothing new for Macross. In fact, it has basically nothing to offer. The story is a rehash of Frontier through and through. On the surface, Delta tries to change a lot; but aesthetics only get you so far when you start realizing you can guess every plot point beat for beat.
This may mean very little to you if you haven't seen any Macross before, but in that case, let me warn you. THIS IS AN AWFUL ENTRY TO START MACROSS WITH! It is incredibly reliant on the previous entries to shape its story, and I will continue on with the review from that perspective. There will not be spoilers, but that doesn't change the fact that if you're looking to get into Macross, either start with the original Super Dimension Fortress Macross or Macross Zero. Now on with the review proper.
If you're like me, you may believe that Macross Frontier felt like the best we were gonna get as a means to having the themes of Macross reach an ultimate peak and come together for one explosive finale. Even if the fate of the universe had been at stake before, it was the ultimate conclusion to the themes that mattered. Macross was essentially forever going to be pro-war for the sake of humans always being able to identify themselves as individuals. It was a wonderful closure to the journey through space, and anything to come afterwards would just be an unnecessary work as Frontier more or less set up the audience to always expect the same thing. No matter the odds, conflict will not resolve itself because all life is equal and has the right to be different.
But oh how Delta came out anyway. Delta takes place eight years after Frontier, and a lot of Frontier's revelations have become common knowledge. Fold waves, a power source expressed through sound that can manipulate minds and occasionally other phenomena, have become a standardized weapon of war. And by no means should that seem unnatural. It is in fact the most natural progress Macross can make. However, wherein most of the time Macross's idols and rock stars, to play their part in battles, were either on the ship, in a mech, or were in a heavily guarded and armored shuttle, idols are now being deployed onto the battle field. Why? Beats me. Common sense takes a back seat to the appeal of idols and magical girls. I'm actually not kidding; the sole reason these girls even dress as they do and have concerts is just to make themselves look cuter.
Which is just an absurd idea when the basis of this premise is to utulize sound as a weapon. NO ONE IS GOING TO CARE WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE! Regardless, try as it might, and however occasionally dark this series may get, it's a disasterous wreck as the tone is always fighting itself and there never ends up being a comfortable medium.
It's even harder to get invested when characters involved in the heart of drama tend to have very blasé reactions to it all. Rarely anything that you would think should matter ever really does.
And I cannot stress enough the part of how nothing matters; because by the end of the series, nothing is accomplished. You just might have to see it to believe it and understand what I really mean, but I do not exaggerate when I say NOTHING.
BUT, and there is always a "but", it's not like this series spends 26 episodes just twiddling with its thumbs. What appeal there is to Macross Delta can only be found in the characters and the setting. The setting is a nice place to start as we can return to that point on Macross's natural evolution after Frontier. The journey across space has ended and humanity has settled on its plethora of planets. And oh boy, seeing every planet and its native race is actually incredibly delightful. It's like being on a playground as you just get to have fun and see the sci-fi universe Macross has built for itself expand to greater heights than ever seen before. I personally loved it, and ate the setting all right up. That can also be largely attributed to my love for water-based settings - in which Delta's typical homestead is of a gorgeous planet full of water and tropical environments.
The characters on the other hand are a mixed bag.
The most notable thing on this subject is that the two main characters, Hayate Immelmann and Freyja Wion, service in telling two different stories with two different themes to accompany them. They are intertwined, but that's not really the point. You see, both characters are essentially students in whatever field they're specializing in; but Hayate's story is more focused on the subject of inheritance, while Freyja is your more typical definition of hard work.
The most problematic of the two is Hayate. He's way too damn privileged for his good, and acts like a dick while piloting most of the time at the beginning of the story. That wouldn't be an issue if there were actual consequences, but there aren't. Rather his development to eventually finally get his act together has to come from other avenues than the initial discipline he should have deserved. He's just naturally gifted, shows it off, and is excused for it regularly to the point its repulsive. There's several times where I hate scenes with him in them, but one of the scenes that grinds my gears the most is the scene where he's excused from piloting without having a helmet on.
The technical explanation happens to be that the helmet has an AI assist in it that Hayate doesn't want to use. Of course, not like pilots where helmets for head protection and assistance in breathing at high altitudes and mach speeds or anything.
But the odd thing is, when a scene isn't about the story or fighting, Hayate can actually be really enjoyable. He's still somewhat snarky, but in a fun and charming way that isn't diluted as he gets to bounce off the personalities of all the other characters. Frankly, all of the slice-of-life scenes in Macross Delta are insanely better than the story itself.
And despite Macross Delta being a mecha series with lots of action, the relaxing and fun SOL scenes are still here in abundance. To go back to bringing up Shoji Kawamori's original vision, some of the things he has said imply Delta was always supposed to be a more character focused story before he was forced to add in villains to the story by corporate demand. And yeah, you'll feel it. Kawamori's sci-fi imagination combined with the peaceful charm of a SOL series makes Delta so much more fun to watch when all drama is avoided and you can you just immerse yourself in this enjoyable universe.
There are some characters who never get dragged down by Delta's tumbling structure though. Messer was always the most respectable character and had a great partnership with Kaname.
But the character who turned out the best to me would be Freyja.
Her journey was one the series could never squander despite how closely tied she is to everything that happens in this series. She has a story of leaving home in pursuit of her dreams, but it encompasses many more layers than only that. The most inspiring thing to take away from Freyja's arc is the theme of making your life fulfilling in the short time you have it. Time is something many of us are bound to take for granted, and Freyja serves as a counterweight to this thought process. “Life’s too short” is taken to a literal extreme here as Freyja’s life expectancy is to be about 30 years. She is of an alien race called Windermerians, and this life expectancy is true for all of them. So rather than living by the norms of her people, she ends up being a thrill seeker and goes as far as gladly accepting going on a journey to worlds and people unknown just to know she’s managed to live out her dream. Her gleeful personality and aspirations are infectious; and she has ended up being one of my favorite characters of all time.
A lot of other members of the cast don't deserve as much attention, but they're okay at serving their purpose and being enjoyable while on screen. However, I must make mention of the characters whom I think do in every way hurt this series with their existance.
For starters, there is Mirage.
I wouldn't really go to say she's the most useless of the hero characters, but she's only just as serviceable as most of them. And that's a problem when she has so much more predominant screen time. She starts out as Hayate's rival among his peers in the series; but once their disputes are behind them, she has no ground left to stand on. She's supposed to be an additional love interest to the series for Hayate, making one of Macross's signature love triangles, but that entire arc should have been completely cut due to its irrelevance in the development of anything and anyone.
However, worst of all are the villains. They are a humongous bore. They're all interchangeable and lack any noteworthy personalities. Nothing with them gets any resolution, just like most of everything else; and the sole reason we get from any of them to even have a final act to the story is an entirely recycled dilemma from Frontier nearly point for point.
This show is just too long for how little ambition it has. The show shamelessly uses loads of filler, recycled animation, and plot contrivances in whatever attempt it can to just keep things going when it loses all momentum - especially after the midway point.
At least the music can be considered a step up from most Macross entries. It's some of the best we've ever gotten in terms of insert music from the idols and an epic score. I know Yoko Kanno tends to get all the praise; but frankly, she didn't do it for me on either front of Plus's or Frontier's music. I much prefer Kuniaki Haishima's work on Zero; Shiro Sagisu's work on II; and the work of Saeko Suzuki, TOMISIRO, Mina Kubota, and Yusuke Kato specifically out of everyone who worked on this diverse soundtrack. I'll have a link below to Soundcloud with one of my favorites from each of the two music catergories to use as an example.
And there you have it. I only ever completely stuck with Delta for Freyja, the setting, some good SOL scenes, and because it's simply Macross. But Delta still has a story to tell that's both character and politically driven, and it gets so much more wrong than it does right in that delivery.