Mobile Suit Gundam is one of the most influential anime ever made. It was the show that kicked off the real robot genre as every show prior to Gundam was a super robot. It was the show that showcased the horrors of war as people’s mindsets can change just by being part of a war. Most importantly it was the show that showcased characters from both sides of the war that aren’t black and white. Further adding to the realism as just like real life there are people in the grey.
Even with its faults I still love Mobile Suit Gundam 0079 as well the majority of its follow-ups.
Due to my love of the Universal Century Gundam franchise being strong, I decided to check out other mecha series from the time period such as Aura Battler Dumbline, Space Runaway Ideon, Patlabor and of course Macross. The show that was originally a Gundam rival, became its own unique thing that also inspired some future Gundam entries such as Gundam X, Seed and 00.
Now my exposure to Macross goes way back to childhood as I knew it as part of the now-infamous Robotech series.
Unless you have been living under a rock Robotech is the compilation of three unrelated shows squelched into one.
Super-Dimension Fortress Macross
Genesis Climber MOSPEADA
It was done to meet the TV broadcasting requirements of 65 episodes which Robotech has 85 while the individual series only have 36, 23 and 25 respectively.
With that said I refuse to acknowledge the existence of Robotech.
It’s not like I hate Robotech or anything in fact I appreciate its historic impact on anime and US television, but I feel like Robotech is the product way past its time and I feel like most anime fans will loathe Robotech today and I don’t want people to view these 80s animes as an outdated completion.
Enter my Super Dimension Project M where not I will be reviewing every Macross show, but I will be reviewing MOSPEADA, Southern Cross and Orguss.
Part 1 Super-Dimension Fortress Macross
Part 2 Super-Dimension Fortress Macross Do You Remember Love
Part 3 Macross 7
Part 4 Macross Frontier
Part 5 Macross Delta
Bonus Part Macross II + Plus
Super Dimension Fortress Macross has aged like fine wine. I adore how unique and charming the story is for the majority of its run. Unlike Mobile Suit Gundam 0079 where it was story mecha driven, Macross is a character-driven mecha anime, a first of its kind.
Unlike Gundam 0079 the characters feel like general people with personal struggles and ambitions that they have to solve on their own. This is not a knock on Gundam 0079 as the characters in that show were excellent, but Macross was the show that perfected the human war mentality. Throughout the show, we see different perspectives of war and seeing these people’s viewpoints clash was intriguing.
We get plenty of scenes of the civilians that are boarding lash out of the military for putting the people onboard the Macross despite not knowing that these pilots are risking their lives to save humanity every day. This aspect alone made Macross stand out from its peers as it made the world of Macross feel alive.
This leads me to Macross’s main unique feature. The love triangle. For those who don’t know love triangles are basically a complex situation where two people are in love with another person and they will do anything to fight for the person that they love. Enter the love triangle of Hikaru, Misa and Minmay, one of the better love triangles I’ve seen. Over the course of the show, we see the highs and lows of this developing love triangle, you see female completers being Misa and Minmay trying to win Hikaru’s heart while having natural healthy respect for each other. It’s a compelling and healthy love triangle for the most part.
Despite having the love triangle as its primary feature in the latter half of the show Macross still manages to tell an effective and touching war story. Sure it’s not a multi-layered Gundam 0079 war story, but it is still an engaging one, nevertheless. Themes of war, loss, understanding one another are present in Macross and executed very well. Add up the excellent writing and pacing your end with an amazing story that is filled with charm and passion. At least in the first 26 episodes.
The final 9 episodes, while interesting, are problematic.
You see Macross was meant to have 26 episodes, but due to the show being popular the show was extended to 36 episodes. Thus, a new story arc had to be created to fill in the 9 episodes and honestly, these nine episodes were the low point of the series. It was meant to expand and close off the ongoing love triangle plotline of Hikaru, Misa and Minmay.
I’m perfectly fine with the love triangle being the primary focus of the final arc as I truly wanted to see how the relationships of the three evolve or break. It’s such a shame that the execution was a contrived mess that is plagued with poor planning. To begin with, the main three strangely have their love triangle status reset, completely shutting down the great love triangle elements that the show had going for. To make this even jarring progression even worse is that the three had their personalities watered down. All of them just come off as angsty idiots that don’t know how to solve a romantic love triangle properly. The girls spend half of the time either thinking about Hikaru or crying about Hikaru dumb angsty behaviour.
If that wasn’t frustrating enough, the final third had the nerve to introduce the worst character I’ve ever encountered in a retro anime. Meet Lynn’ Linmay’s half-cousin. He just exists create dumb misunderstandings and contrivances for the love triangle.
Sure 80s anime had its fair share of annoying characters, but I’m sure that none were as bad as him.
He is everything wrong with a fictional side character, Annoying, irreverent, poorly written, useless and most importantly a freaking plot device.
He’s the one that causes these characters to do stupid things for no reason, he’s the one that made the love triangle overstay its welcome, he’s the one that padded out the episode’s runtime every time that pacifist fool mouth of his, he’s the one that prevented Macross from being a truly great show. It’s all him, and I deeply loathe its existence. Heck, prior to re-watching Macross, I was hesitant to stop watching after episode 26 as I don’t want to hear his pacifist fool voice on my speakers.
Other than that, the story is good and compelling to follow.
The characters barring Lynn are excellent, nicely written and memorable.
Hikaru may start as a typical angsty pilot that only values warfare while being dense when it’s romantic feeling, but as the show progresses he grows into a mature and responsible individual man that understands love.
Misa may come off as a strict commander on the Macross ship, but she deeply cares for her crew members and later on starts to develop strong feelings for Hikaru.
Minmay is the idol/civilian that boards on the Macross that has strong romantic feelings with Hikaru. She’s the character that you either love or hate. I personally like Minmay. I like her relationship with Hikaru as all she wants to normalise Hikaru as she sees the potential of him being a husband for her instead of a mindless war soldier. Of course, she isn’t the horror of war as she’s primarily a civilian in the Macross that often gets involved with Hikaru’s military after a couple of encounters, but that’s what makes her interesting.
She ended up being favourite character in the show.
Some of her views may come off as annoying or even preachy to some, but you got to understand that she’s a civilian that got caught up in this space war. It makes sense for someone like Minmay to be native.
The rest of the characters were good as well. Noteworthy side characters include the badass ladies man Roy, the strategist veteran captain Global to the highly skilled pilot Maximilia.
The villains while not being as complex as the ZEON form are still competent villains and you can even sympathize with a couple of them.
The visuals are generally solid.
Sure it has its animation inconsistencies as well some stock footage, but I generally feel like Macross was a well-produced show for its time.
The mecha battles were executed to watch, containing some nice fight choreography, the characters were digestive and memorable and the show has that beautiful sci-fi futuristic etheric that I loved.
This was also the first mecha show that featured transforming mechs as both the Vavriles and Macross warship can transform mid-battle.
The staff at Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam took inspiration from this.
Speaking of that, the mecha designs are excellent as well. From iconic Valkyries, the small, but intimidating, Regult, to the badass Macross ship the show has very appealing mecha designs.
The soundtrack is outstanding. From the excellent orchestral/retro sci-fi track, the wonderfully composed J pop inserts songs sung by Minmay to the memorable opening and ending themes, music is a staple in the franchise and it will only get better with 7, Frontier and Delta.
Voice acting is great, filled with good seiyuu talent that did an excellent job voicing their respective characters.
Even with its flaws mainly from the last third Macross is an excellent and worthwhile classic that most anime fans should check out. The story and characters were intriguing, the music is phenomenal and the visuals while aged was impressive. It may not be a favourite Macross entry, but it’s still a great show that I respect.
Stay tune for part 2 where I review Macross Do You Remember Love.