ThatAnimeSnob's avatar

ThatAnimeSnob

  • Thessaloniki, Greece
  • Joined Dec 22, 2011
  • 42 / M

As I said in my previous entry, the early 80’s was the time the second generation of anime fans came by and they weren’t that fond of drama and high ideals. I can almost hear them saying:
“Hey anime industry! We really like space adventures and huge robots and action and relations between humans and aliens. But can we please have a series without the overblown drama which is pissing us off? And while you’re at it, can you please throw in some singing and pop idols? We like pop idols and pop is very in.”
And as if their wishes were heard, Macross came to be…

The thing I must begin with is that I and most others of my generation grew up thinking it was an American production named Robotech and that it was three seasons long. Well, no, that was actually a weird mix and blend and mutate thingy Harmony Gold did with three different and completely unrelated anime series.

But who cares? Back then Robotech or whatever it was called was the top action/space adventure ever made! I mean, seriously, who can point out another anime with more action and more interesting scenario that was broadcasting on television at that time? Hell, who can point out an anime with A BIGGER FORTRESS? I mean, the damn thing was big enough to fit in a huge city, plus double the space for military equipment and cannons powerful enough to blow alien armadas twice its size. Plus, it could transform into a robot that could ram its fists into enemy ships and fire a million missiles inside it! Plus, it could teleport in seconds to the other side of the solar system and taking along with it a whole island. So as you can tell it wasn’t just a big fortress. It was a COLOSSAL SUPER GODDAMN COOL DIMENSIONAL BLOWS EVERYTHING APART FORTRESS THAT HOLDS A WHOLE FREAKING CITY INSIDE AND CAN STILL TURN TO A MOUNTAIN TALL ROBOOOOT !!! And I loved it.

Many people say that it is not the size that matters but the way you use it. You know what I am talking about…
Many earlier anime also had big robots and big spaceships but the size there played little to no role in the story. I mean, sure, a huge robot is a lot cooler than a human-sized one and so are the explosions it creates but as far as the plot is involved, it didn’t matter one bit. But in this show, the proportions were really excused to be so… big. So big that even all the classical mecha grouped together look like ants before it. You see, the fortress houses an entire city full of several thousands of refugees, a thing that would be impossible to do without being THIS big. Maybe it would if it was a space armada moving separately from the main robot but under the circumstances the refugees came to be (their whole island teleporting to goddamn Pluto) this was plain impossible.

Another thing that excuses it is the size of the enemy armada, which more or less is several tens of thousands of ships, each bigger than a skyscraper, housing hundreds of enemy mecha, each piloted by a 30 meter tall green skinned alien. And unlike most mecha shows, where the aliens have huge armadas yet only attack with one robot at the time (man, for an advanced race they are complete idiots), here they pretty much attack in huge numbers. How could you fend off such an attack with just a big robot? Everything in this show is big; and I don’t mean just the size. The story is again big in scale of the things it involves, the character interaction is big with the things they do, the space in the galaxy all that affect is big.

A thing which I finally got to see for the first time in anime is the main ship getting damaged. The need for repeated footage was a lot smaller from here on, thus the animators could freely dent and pierce and blow up lots of parts of the Macross ship/robot, which in the long run was still so big it didn’t matter much.

Yet another thing I liked is how the mecha themselves are not indestructible. The Valkyries and the alien jumping pods were mass produced and could be destroyed or damaged easily, thus making the need for survival and maintenance all the more important. They were not like the lead mecha in earlier series which could never be damaged.

And the characters were not immortal either; several of them died throughout the course of the story and none in an overblown dramatic / patriotic way, like going kamikaze in order to save the rest. Hell, Earth itself is not indestructible! The alien armada actually manages to destroy most of it and kill most of mankind! All of which did not happen in the first or in the last episodes but MID-WAY! When was that ever shown before? Even some of the aliens themselves eventually seek truce because they find out about common heritage and take up arms against their kind. And even some of the aliens who do get accepted in Earth as renegades later on change their minds and again turn against humanity. THIS IS JUST UNTHINKABLE IN PREVIOUS ANIME!

Character interactions are also a very powerful part of the show. I mean aside from the typical cases of friendship and obedience to authority and the struggle for survival (themes quite powerful on their own) we have spicy romantic triangles between military people and pop idols, couples between white and black people (unthinkable and even insulting for some in the west), even couples between humans and aliens. Heck, the power of love, the sight of a kiss, the different way each kind would reproduce and the completely different interaction between the sexes is all a huge part of the core story and the origin of both cultures, creating a setting which is plain incredible to keep looking at. I mean a few years back Space Runaway Ideon did something similar with alien interactions but it was hardly THIS good.

Artwork and animation may seem bad today, as you occasionally see jerky animation and cross-eyed characters, while the colouring feels simplistic and with lack of much shading. But again, for its time it was the best thing ever. So do not be too critical of it and in case you want to see how it would look with modern animation there are always the various sequels and prequels.

Music is … erm … good I guess. The American intro and BGM simply kicks ass while the Japanese is rather meh… But the ending song is definitely more poetic and nostalgic in its original version. The voice acting is great in both languages, although as far as context goes the American version made them sound a bit more stupid, because the very story was mutated to be simpler and that affected all the rest.

The story from what I described above is the best you could find back then in the genre and still is today up to an extend. Everything is plain epic in size, has lots of progress and unexpected developments, the action is good and so are most of the moments the characters are having a normal life in the ship. It does have its share of silliness of course as it is still very hard to accept how a city would be having beauty contests and music festivals when they are hunted by aliens and every day hundreds of them get killed and their houses are constantly demolished. Also, the last third of the show had lots of budget issues and the plot there feels more simplistic and slow, while the ending will feel rushed and possibly bad for some. But in overall it is very good. The Japanese version is of course more mature and in-depth, plus it doesn’t really continue with Robotech Masters and Mospeada as it did in the American version. Both those shows were not as fun anyway.

It must be noted that the director of the series is Ishiguro Noboru, who also happens to have directed the older and most amazing space opera of all times, Legend of the Galactic Heroes. He is someone who knows how to deal with complicating and epic storilines. Of course, he also did Tytania but it was a completely meh show and I blame mostly his co-director for making a comedy out of it.

The cast is a wonderful blend of various personalities, each one being very distinctive and memorable even after all these years. Hell, there are even fun clubs about them. They too of course feel too naive with what is going on with the grave story and it is questionable if bridge bunnies and pop idols even fit in all that for any other reason than fan service. But hey, the girls at the bridge did all the communication fuss because they couldn’t board a mecha and the pop idol gave courage and morale to the troops. As for the pop idol, her singing blows up entire fleets later on and it is still somewhat excused with the genetic encoding the aliens received from their creators. Again, all that make a lot more sense in the Japanese version, which treats protoculture as a shared lineage and not some super awesome magic power. Damn you American version!

Its historical importance is huge since it was the show which hooked thousands of my generation to cartoons and anime, while over at Japan the theatrical release of the Macross movie became as big as a national celebration and is considered today as an all time favourite cult title.

Plus, I really liked that show…

6/10 story
10/10 animation
9/10 sound
7/10 characters
8/10 overall

You must be logged in to leave comments. or

casandra29 Jan 9, 2016

I'm going to try this one out just based on your review. It sounds interesting. Thanks.