Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross has an interesting legacy to it.
It was the second show that was chosen to be part of the unofficial trilogy of show’s Robotech and it is the third show from the Super Dimension Trilogy.
Unlike Macross and to a less extent Orguss, Southern Cross was a critical and financial flop leading to its cancellation with only 23 episodes from its original 39 episodes.
It did receive a second chance by being part of the second instalment of Robotech aka Robotech the Masters however despite getting better toy sales Robotech the Masters is often viewed as the weakest instalment of the Robotech saga, which leads me to my curiosity of Southern Cross.
I wanted to know why this show got axed in Japan despite having an appealing, sexy and energetic female lead, a first of its kind mind you as all mecha leads prior to Southern Cross were male.
When I watched the first couple episodes, I liked it a lot however, as it went on I started to like it less and less to a point where after the final credits roll I came to a realisation that Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross is a forgettable and underwhelming failure of a show.
I’m not saying that Southern Cross is awful or anything like that, in fact, it’s decent, but I won’t pretend that Southern Cross has so much wasted potential. From its storytelling, characters to even mecha designs.
Right, out of the gate Southern Cross already sets its self for failure by telling a worse version of humans vs aliens story compares to most of its peers at the time. I don’t mind the plots being similar to other shows to pay it safe but Southern Cross doesn’t do a partially good job at distincting itself from its peers. It’s basically Macross, but it’s a bland cast, with worst writing and worse pacing. Everything that Southern Cross does have been done better in Macross.
The Zor race despite showing promise in the beginning isn’t as interesting nor fleshed out compared to the Zentradi race in Marcoss. The love triangle here is not as compelling as the love triangle in Macross mainly due to how forgettable the cast were.
What hurt Southern Cross dearly was the pacing. Dear god, the pacing is a mess. Even though the show has 23 episodes to work with Southern Cross somehow struggles to pace itself at the steady pace. It loves to present new plot threads, but Southern Cross has no idea how to execute them. Furthermore, many of these plot threads often get abandoned like a drop in the hat and it’s ultimately the biggest problem with Southern Cross that plagued it, the borderline non-existent writing.
Due to the messy pacing, the writing quality greatly suffers to a point where it barely has writing. Instead of events flowing naturally with good writing to boot, Southern Cross frequently puts itself in corners where the only way the story could advance is to create plot contrivances where the characters would do dumb things to trigger the next plot point, meaning a lot of misunderstandings to characters just being idiots. I end up bursting out laughing in one episode where Seifriet and Jennee are talking about their problems during downtime, Jennee gets mad at Seifriet and kicked the mirror board and falls to Jennee.
As she’s about to get hit, Seifreit goes and saves Jennee from getting hurt, then during the save act Seifriet starts getting PTSD flashbacks about his origin as he was fully anemisatic around that point of the story. Then the pacing suddenly moves a fast pace as the writers decided to use that contrivated moment as a major plot point of the story. I know that all stories are contrived, but that moment was ridiculous. It’s like the writers didn’t have enough time.
I give Southern Cross this, however. It did try to introduce a handful of interesting story elements in the latter half of the show and the story was close to be intriguing, but I feel around that point the show was going to be great and make up the messy storytelling in the first half, the show got cancelled. Thus instead of building up potential intriguing plot threads the show decides to rushed everything so it can meet the deadline of September. Leaving us with a half baked unsatisfying ending that deserved better. The story was so close to being good, but the poor TV rating and toy lines ruined it.
The characters are Southern Cross are forgetful at best.
Jennee is the female lead of the show, and she’s decent. Barring her annoying moments which come her breaking military rules she was a fun and entertaining character that made me giggle a couple of times.
The other two female leads accompanying Jennee are a disappointment. Mary and Lana. Outside of their debut episodes as well as some decent scenes, they don’t much to the overall plot and they immediately devolved into background characters in the second half.
The rest of the characters are a collection of half-baked caricatures that don’t offer much to the story other than being blatant plot devices (Looking at you Seifriet) or background noise (Looking at you Bowie)
Southern’s Cross visuals are for the most part solid. Aside from the typical 80s stock footage is still an appealing looking show. The characters designs were solid and distinctive from one other especially the main 3 three girls. The background scenery were pleasant to look at.
Sadly the majority of the mecha are awful.
Terrible looking, uninspired and impractical. I understand the mecha designers were trying for originality, but having a cockpit exposed like that is just wrong. To its credit, they do get slightly better as the show progressed mainly due to the characters fighting in space, but the damage has already been done.
No wonder why the Southern Cross toyline flooped in Japan barring the financial issues that the toyline company was facing in 1984.
Least we got some tasteful 80s fan-service to make up the embarrassing mecha designs
If there’s one thing that Southern Cross nails it would be the soundtrack. The soundtrack is excellent filled with nicely composed 80s sci-fi pop that complements the tone of the show perfectly.
Oh, the opening and ending theme are memorable bangers.
The only issue I had with the soundtrack was how repetitive it was at times. You will notice that certain tracks are often played in certain scenes more than others.
I don’t much about the Seiyuus here mainly due to them only having a handful of voice acting roles, but I do recognize Jennee Seiyuu Michie Tomizawa who played Sailor Mars. She did a competent job of capturing the energetic and stubborn leader Jennee.
Sure her voice at times can being annoying at times, but I heard much worse.
Southern Cross is a prime example of why some anime shouldn’t have seen the light of day. It’s not because it was bad, but rather how unfinished and unpolished it is.
It’s a tragic shame because Southern Cross is a harmless decent fun show from the early 80s all things considered. It just needed more polish in the story-boarding and mecha design department.
Maybe someday we will get super robot wars story overhaul treatment of this, but as it stands now Southern Cross is a harmless, but forgettable show that could have much more than it actually is.