Macross Plus is a terrific little mecha anime, but it's the music that makes it something special.
Released in 1994 as a direct sequel to the original Macross TV series, Macross Plus predates the mythology and themes that would start with Macross 7 and continue into subsequent series such as Macross Frontier and Macross Delta. Instead of the space opera that is the hallmark of those later series, it presents a more intimate tale, but still manages to weave in some high stakes for its climax.
By having a smaller scale, Macross Plus manages to invest its story with reasonable depth in 4 episodes. At its core, it's a story about lost friendship, woven around an external threat that provides the backdrop against which our protagonists - Myung, Isamu, and Guld - sort out their issues.
Macross Plus is not just a sequel in name only; it is steeped in Macross continuity. Fans of Macross get plenty of callouts to the original series, including the half-Zentraedi character Guld, heavy showcasing of the original Macross fortress amid the backdrop of the 30th anniversary of peace with the Zentraedi, and a blink-and-you'll-miss-it karaoke moment with Lynn Minmay's hit single "My Boyfriend is a Pilot".
The animation is mostly good, but there are some jarringly poor moments here and there. Character scenes bear this burden; the mecha action is sharp throughout. Mecha fans get some great action setpieces in episodes 1 and 2, and episode 4 is action-packed throughout. Though it predominantly uses cel animation, Macross Plus does integrate some early CG here and there without it being jarring. There are some really well-designed shots throughout, particularly in the concert scenes for virtual idol Sharon Apple and throughout the final episode.
Fun side note: Episode 1 of Macross Plus previews the starship designs that would comprise the Macross 7 fleet.
Macross Plus really shines with Yoko Kanno's outstanding music. From its sweeping orchestral score to its ecletic collection of original songs, the music of Macross Plus elevates it above being just another mecha anime. The importance of music to the story and in the production is the series' strongest tie to the feel of Macross.
The main characters are a deeply flawed bunch. Myung wallows in self-pity; Isamu is self-absorbed and doesn't really relate to other people; Guld's fawning need for Myung borders on the obsequious. In truth, they're not a really likeable trio, but that makes them a bit more real. Episode 3 dives a lot into the characters while setting up the climax to shock them out of their insular little world. The villains of the story don't get a lot of development, but they ably provide the conflict that helps resolve the story for the protagonists.
All in all, Macross Plus was a key moment in the rise of the 90s animation boom in North America, but unfortunately has become lost in the shuffle since. For any fan of mecha, music, or Macross, Macross Plus is well worth spending your time on.
Footnote: Macross Plus has no relationship to Robotech at all. None of the Macross sequels are related to Robotech. Harmony Gold incorporated the footage from the original Macross TV series into Robotech, and that is their only link. Harmony Gold did not release a sequel to Robotech until 2006, 12 years after Macross Plus.
Al tough having basically nothing to do with the original series apart from general setting and few terms derivative from that, Macross Plus presents a very solid project which actually deserves much more than just OVA/theatrical release. After disaster that was Lovers Again, Macross Plus takes franchise back to serious writing and development, with gorgeous, revolutionizing at the time animation and great soundtrack.
A pretty good short OVA series. I have two different opinions on the story. The overall plot is is just so-so. I did not find it particularly interesting, and it felt rushed. It felt like it was ending just as it finished getting started. For a show based around fighter jets that transform into mechas, there is surprisingly very little action. It was the characters' stories are what made the show interesting. Over the course of the show they gave little hints about the background of the characters, and I just felt like I wanted to know more. The characters were alright. They seemed kind of bland at first, but they really improved throughout the show.
The music was pretty good. It's composed by Yoko Kanno, so it has to be pretty good. Still, this isn't her best work. Wolf's Rain's and Cowboy Bebop's soundtracks were amazing. Overall the Macross Plus soundtrack is good, but nothing memorable.
The animation was good at times, and then it was bad at times. It was kind of inconsistent. The backgrounds always looked good, but sometimes they just screwed up the characters faces. When a character's face was seen at a certain angle it seemed like their nose grew twice it's size. Despite that, it's nothing that would take away from the overall quality of the series.
So, overall it was pretty good. It isn't something I would watch again or purchase. Macross Plus is a good series for a one time viewing.
Most casual and hardcore anime fans that I’ve met that aren’t really Macross fans tend to like this oav. Personally for me as a Macross fan, and keep in mind I’m not speaking for all Macross fans when I say this, is that even though this is fan friendly to non fans of the franchise, I feel it offers very little of what Macross is truly about. For the most part, it exclusively takes place on a planet similar to earth and the aliens are not really emphasized enough, so it’s value of being a space opera, especially taking place 30 years after theoriginal doesn’t really feel all that present.
Also gone is that it isn’t really taking place during a war, but whatever action is present will mostly be between Isamu and Guld, but I’ll get into that a little later. But what’s still present in the tradition of Macross are of course the love triangles. But since the love triangle this time is between 3 former friends there’s a whole lot more directly involved in this one, while the love triangle between Hikaru, Minmei, and Misa in comparison to this feels more superficial which is the only thing I can say in which this installment is superior to the original. In this case, Myung is of course very hesitant who she loves, and seems to be more open to Guld, but still shows concern and care for Isamu. Guld is very more open about his feelings for Myung, while Isamu shows he does care, but seems to be more of a big brother figure to her and doesn’t seem to exhibit any romantic interest directly as much as Guld does.
The pacing overall is very balanced, though I think in the end with some of the twists needs more explanation rather than the convenience of speeding up to the ending. There’s really no explanation of some of the motivations of the guy who runs Sharon or anything and things get a little too convoluted at the end, and didn’t really feel necessary. But if you concentrated on the foundation of the love triangle, and the Top Gun competition in this oav, then this should be ok for you.
The character designs are simple, but still very stylistic with the costume designs and the resolution. All human races are well represented whether black, white, Hispanic or Asian, but I felt the series needed more Zentradis to expose newbies to the wonderful world culture of Macross. The pilot suit is more reminiscent to the style used in the old movie, Do You Remember Love with the shoulder pads, the color scheme, and the helmets. It still works pretty well and doesn’t at all look dated despite a 10-year age difference between the two. The design of the Valkyrie’s are more or less the same and still contain the same engineering features. The action is well coordinated, explosive, fun, and easy to follow. At some capacity, it’s what you could ask for in mech anime. Both Isamu and Guld are equally excellent pilots in their own way with their respective mechs which keeps the battles going. But despite their good skills, they got nothing on Max or Roy. Compared to them, Isamu and Guld are simply breakfast. But anyway just like in some AMVs out there, you’ll certainly have the Top Gun soundtrack playing in your mind when watching the high flying battles.
What also stands out in this anime being made in the mid-1990s is the use of cgi in certain scenes, especially in light speed mode. Granted they do look a little primitive and a little trippy, but I think it adds some novelty to this oav. It is appropriately used and it’s not really much to complain about rather than the superficial qualities of it.
And to conclude this part of the review, I’ll talk about the design of Sharon Apple. I’ll admit she’s quite original and quite exotic. It’s like somebody was playing too much Idolmaster and all of a sudden, he beat the game and makes big money off his idol. Her concept really takes advantage of how Macross always had a stand out soundtrack, which I will now transition to.
The music done by the great Yoko Kanno isn’t as uppity or as energetic as the original Macross, but it’s quieter and softer music is more invoking and more appropriate to the darker and emotional atmosphere this installment will have throughout. A certain song will also sound a lot like the opening theme of the first Ghost in the Shell movie and really suits the cerebral mood in which it stands out.
The voice acting is also appropriate to the characters and captures their personalities very well. Yamazaki Takumi, who I only remember as the voice of Ferrio from Rayearth plays Isamu. He can make him sound arrogant and passionate when appropriate. And also casted is Unshou Ishizuka, the voice of Jet from Cowboy Bebop comes across pretty well as Guld. He makes him sound more mature and serious, but knows how to express his anger when appropriate. And one last name I like to highlight is Fukami Rica, the voice of Sailor Venus as Myung. She really makes you feel for her character and can make you react to her both positively and negatively in relation to her situation and I thought the voice acting really highlighted on that.
Like I said before, this is probably the most friendly to non Macross fans because it’s a short OAV and covers a descent amount. Even though I do give this anime a high score which I’ll give soon, but compared to other Macross installments, I don’t think this is the best Macross has to offer. It sort of falls apart at the end and I can’t elaborate why because they would be spoilers. But it’s other qualities are still an eye catcher.
Do not think this has anything to do with the Macross series. This IS NOT related. This actually ties into Robotech for anyone who's curious. Great for its age, while short. The story likes to get all over at times with how it paces its delivery. but I've watched this many times before heh. It feels a bit rushed at times and totally could've gone longer but it not going longer makes sense. Great music, the characters are a nice contrast to each other. Sure there's not too many characters but they all fill the gaps for what each other needs to grow. It's not strictly a mecha for those who tend to steer clear of the genre, this one it very light on that and they're not evven important to the focus of the show itself. The show centers around an AI more then it does the "mechs" you see, that and the relationship between 3 characters in particular and the past they share. It's sadly lost in the sea of OVAs that came out in the 80's and 90's for most people. Good gem, but again disregard the name yes it has Macross, yes it talks about Macross City and a Macross...it leads to Robotech despite all that.