The Hidden Fail of Macross Sequels

This is Mechafetish, and I too, remember love. I will be introducing myself in a later post, but for now I am a good friend of ghostlightning and co-conspirator in many things awesome. I will be posting here more and more.

An important idea in We Remember Love is that Macross Frontier is to real robot anime what Tenggen Toppa Gurren Lagann is to super robot anime.

I concede that ghostlightning made some sense in comparing the employment of the trope “Beyond the Impossible” in both shows. Indeed, TTGL in its use of “Beyond the Impossible” allowed the writers to fully explore one of the critical elements of Super Robot Anime. However, this trope is considerably more alien to the bounded universes often created for Real Robot Anime wherein the trappings of science, military organization and politics are used to maintain the audiences’ suspension of disbelief.

This Lady Went Beyond the Impossible... With Just Her Songs

This Lady Went Beyond the Impossible... With Just Her Songs

As such, I contend that, in their application of “Beyond the Impossible” to Frontier whether intentionally or otherwise, the writers of Frontier failed to properly qualify its use with the critical elements of the Real Robot genre, and of Macross itself as a sub-genre.

In particular, I’m here to discuss an important failure on the part of Macross Frontier and of other Macross sequels: the employment of music.

That said, I would like to say first that I unequivocally love all the soundtracks of Macross. In fact, when both MF OST were released, ghostlightning and I engage in an arms race of faggotry as to who would listen to the songs more. Please don’t ask me how many times I listened to the Nyan Nyan Service Medley today.

This post does not talk about the quality of the music in the series at all, but rather, it discusses how Macross sequels have failed to tackle Music as being of value in and of itself. In fact, rather than use Music in an honest and forthright manner, writers for Macross’ sequels have used it as a camouflage for any form of applied phlebotinum they would like to apply to the series.

It is generally accepted that the “Love Triangle”, “Transformable Mecha” and “Music” are the three critical elements that dominate the Macross saga. Were it not for Macross Plus (which I will discuss later as a unique case), I would also not hesitate to add “Aliens” to this list. Clearly, the love triangle angle is the outlier here. It is a personal struggle which serves to humanize the characters and bring them closer to the viewer. Music and Transformable Mecha on the other hand, are weapons which the main characters use to defeat the enemy. In fact, Music tends to be the deadlier weapon of the two.

This being the case, it is interesting to note that Minmei of SDF Macross is the only songstress whose songs were really just music without having some sort of mystic power or applied phlebotinum characteristics. In Macross Zero, Sarah’s song had mystical properties to bestow life, move objects and control the “Bird Human” alien mecha featured in the series. In Macross 7, Basara’s song produces “Sound Energy” which is anathema to the series’ Protodevlin antagonists. And in Macross Frontier of course, you have the V-type Virus infected Ranka and later, Sheryl, who are able to influence and control the behaviour of the Vajra. In fact, in Frontier, Sheryl’s songs are useless against the Vajra until they receive the magical qualities bestowed by the advanced stages of her V-type infection.

Theres Only One Badass Normal in this Pic

There's Only One Badass Normal in this Pic

The reason for this will become clear very shortly, but first, I would like to draw you attention to one of my favourite elements in the original SDF Macross which was the credible clash of civilizations between human and Zentreadi. SDF Macross is the only Macross which did more than lay the groundwork for a giant smackdown between humans and aliens. Had this been the case, the humans would surely have been overwhelmed by the more numerous and better armed Zentreadi. What felt unique for me was how SDF Macross pitted the very human way of life with all its wrinkles and flaws against the military efficiency of Zentreadi civilization. Further, the way the writers chose to embody all the best things about human culture was through music.

I would like to qualify that this was made possible because the writers decided to flesh out certain critical aspects of Zentreadi culture, such as the segregation of males and females, their command structure, their inability to repair damage to their equipment, cloning, and other basic aspects of their society. It was a sincere effort on the part of the writers to create a credible “war-based” society as best they could. The care that was taken in the construction of Zentreadi society in fact echoes another of my favourite anime “Crest of the Stars”. The Abh are initially very similar to Zentreadi when we first encounter them, nothing more than ominous invaders. It is later on, when their society is exposed to us, when we begin to feel for the very alien characters. In the same way, the exposure to Zentreadi society in the episodes wherein the lead characters were captured, provided us with a clearer knowledge of the aliens and made them come alive as characters in their own right.

In addition, the aliens’ interaction with our own society served to cement them as a credible sentient species rather than just faceless mooks to be blown away by impossible cool mecha. I remember the story arc where the three Zentreadi spies infiltrated the SDF 1 and took back some human objects with them to the flagship. This sparked a rebellion that sounded the death knell for Zentreadi civilization. Their military way of life simply could not compete with the efficiency by which our own society delivers pleasure/amusement to its constituents.

The above underlines a single fact, the true weapon that the humans employed to defeat the Zentreadi was their culture. And while Music was most certainly critical in the humans’ victory, it was merely portrayed as the most moving and accessible aspect of a much deeper way of life.

Culture was More than Songs

Culture was More than Songs

I can surmise that this was an incidental but not critical element of that particular story, as evidenced in the fact that it did not receive serious treatment in any other Macross sequel. Something we could call accidental profundity. However, it was at this point that the reason for the subsequent inadequate treatment of music in the Macross sequels was made clear to me. It is a direct result of the failure of subsequent writers to create a credible enemy civilization against which human culture could clash. Without the clash of civilizations as an important qualifier, the idea of music as a weapon would be ridiculous, hence the need to give it some sort of magical properties in the story.

One of the complaints against Frontier was the lack of compelling villains. Although I love Grace Taisa, I am quite disappointed in the way the villains of the series as a whole were handled. For one, only a half-hearted attempt was made to explain the behaviour of the Vajra. Further, no compelling reason was given for their dramatic heel-face turn at the end of the last episode. They were just animals to be controlled by Grace’s network, or Ranka and Sheryl’s songs. This is clearly evidenced by the tug of war for control of the Vajra in the final battle. As such, Grace’s comment on how the Vajra were a super-dimensional species admired by even the Protoculture, rang hollow in my ears.

To be fair to the authors, the treatment of culture (and by extension, music) in SDF Macross was fresh, surprising, and not easily repeated. Unlike Gundam wherein the themes “War is Hell”, “Coming of Age” and “Evolved Humans” are easily recyclable, the treatment of Music as a critical element in the story must be different every time. Also, the creation of a viable alien society with every narrative would be extremely difficult. This presents quite a difficult set of challenges to meet in terms of creativity, and clearly one that subsequent Macross writers have failed to meet.

Going the way of “Beyond the Impossible” is cute, but is lacking. I wanted harder science fiction – not hard core, just at par with the original SDF Macross. I mentioned Macross Plus, a side story comparable to Stardust Memory from the Gundam franchise (just in terms of its insertion in the canon, and the development of prototype mecha). In Plus, the music is really just that, and the mind-control elements are technological in nature and not that far-fetched if the root technology is audiovisual hypnosis.

Macross 7, Frontier, and Zero (retroactively) imposed a mystical element in the music. This is really not that different from Jack McKinney’s shapings mumbo-jumbo in the later Robotech books. I really think it’s unnecessary. I would rather have liked to see real differences in culture, but not necessarily carbon copies of the Zentraedi. If not, would better exposition (in Frontier) have made a difference?

In future posts I’ll attempt to construct an alternative Macross Frontier story. I’m not here to say that what we’ll post here is better than Kawamori’s or that we’re better than him. We’ll just be rabid fans idealizing the story in our minds. We’re quite thankful for Mr. Kawamori for all the memories. And we want more.

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43 Responses to The Hidden Fail of Macross Sequels

  1. ghostlightning says:

    Serves you right for dumping on Macross, your font is inexplicably green like Ranka…

    No. No. NO! It’s one thing for me to rag Gundam about Newtype hocus pocus in Gundam, it’s supposed to be serious science fiction – especially Universal Century shows.

    The music can be beyond the impossible all it wants. Music is NOT FAIL. It is WIN. The clash of civilizations is secondary to Music, in the valuation of the franchise elements. I can argue that enemies exist to be won over by the songs.

    Now, does this make Furo bad science fiction? Why yes! But I never thought it wanted to be good science fiction anyway. What it exists for is to entertain, the same way Star Wars and other space operas are. Gundam should aspire to it, but Macross doesn’t have to.

    If Macross indeed produced a VOTOMS or 08th MS Team type of story – I would find it interesting too, because the focus would be the flying and the mecha (wasn’t Plus like this?). But it would lack a big part of the appeal of the franchise… how would the pop idol fit (again, Plus did really well to solve this come to think of it).

    Okay, I can imagine an 08th MS Team style of environment and the music really functions more like a soundtrack than a plot element. The pilots just listen to the tracks, and the pop idol never truly figures in the story – save for some triangle element. Would this have been your preferred Macross Frontier? Sheryl would be far less awesome.

  2. mechafetish says:

    @ Ghostlightning

    The clash of civilizations is secondary to Music, in the valuation of the franchise elements.

    I agree with this wholeheartedly.

    I can argue that enemies exist to be won over by the songs.

    I also agree, however what we are seeing in Macross sequels are enemies literally being BLASTED AWAY by the music, not because it is music, but because of some hidden super saiyan power that the singers seem to have. The aliens are not in fact won over by the music, but rather, beaten into submission.

    Now, does this make Furo bad science fiction? Why yes! But I never thought it wanted to be good science fiction anyway. What it exists for is to entertain, the same way Star Wars and other space operas are. Gundam should aspire to it, but Macross doesn’t have to.

    I just feel this is sad because SDF was excellent Science Fiction, hence its timelessness. But the failure of Frontier to qualify its use of this critical element of the Macross Franchise renders it inaccessible to new viewers. For Macross Fans like you and me, its AWESOME no doubt, but for pickier people with no background in the story, it may be Meh because of this. Macross Frontier is no doubt Very Good. But it could have been GREAT beyond the fanbase.

    Okay, I can imagine an 08th MS Team style of environment and the music really functions more like a soundtrack than a plot element. The pilots just listen to the tracks, and the pop idol never truly figures in the story – save for some triangle element. Would this have been your preferred Macross Frontier? Sheryl would be far less awesome.

    Sacrilege! I never suggested this! The pop-idol and music must be a central element of the story! All I’m saying is that all a lazy writer will do is give the idol super powers and turn the music into some sort of ki blast. To make these elements a more meaningful part of the story in and of themselves is a greater challenge. One that hopefully future Macross writers will be able to meet.

  3. ghostlightning says:

    Magic girl Sheryl during her “Northern Cross” performance in ep 25 was AWESOME.

    Songs are MAGIC. There’s nothing wrong with this! If they did make a sequel wherein the pop idol is the lead character and she is for all intents and purposes a magic girl, WANT ANYWAY.

    Her songs would give buffs to pilots, discombobulate enemies, and win battles with sheer awesomeness. See: Tear in Tales of the Abyss. But instead of faux-Latin chanting: TENSHI NO ENOGU!

    I wouldn’t mind seing a wrecked VF rebuilt into an awesome (i.e. Cornelia Brittannia mod) mecha IN A CAVE, FROM SCRAPS aided by some magic Aimo meets Totsugeki Love Heart aural monstrosity. Beyond the impossible? Hell yeah…

  4. mechafetish says:

    Well thats ok. But then we should change critical elements of Macross to be “Love Triangle”, Transformable Mecha” and “Musical Super Powers”.

    You are missing the point! By all means, want anyway! We are Macross Fags, but as long as Macross is hobbled by these flaws in writing, it will never be able to hang with the likes of Gurren Lagann.

  5. ghostlightning says:

    You are giving Gurren Lagann too much credit, nonetheless it is sublime. It’s purposes are different. It was a homage, send-up, and subversion of the entire mecha anime tradition. It aimed higher and reached it, but not without its own flaws…

    Frontier is fanservice first, with ME THE FAN in mind. But for all the complaints that it’s so self-referential that fans can’t find it accessible, look at how big a hit it is!

    The soundtracks are Yoko Kanno’s best selling music EVER! How can that happen if the series wasn’t embraced by new viewers? Macross Ace Frontier is doing splendidly for the PSP. Even without making things more convenient for new fans, there are new fans anyway.

    So a winner is ME.

    Look, consider that Kawamori and co. played things this way: To get at new viewers, attack them with a powerful modern convention: MOE. Ranka reeled in countless shipping-centric fans who may or may not stay fans of the franchise or what it’s supposedly about. This allowed K to service us old fags with impunity.

    And in some cases, like mine – oldfags got hooked by Ranka anyway. So Kawamori slapped us in the face by turning Ranka into a dunderhead, but it’s all deculture…

  6. mechafetish says:

    We are rapidly going nowhere here. I will not discount the huge commercial success that Frontier is. Or that it hauled in countless Otaku (including myself) and Lolicon due to its effective use of modern popular anime conventions such as the Ranka character type. COMMERCIAL SUCCESS does not equate to good writing or vice versa. Nor does it mean that a work will achieve a lasting contribution to our culture.

    I give up. Lets talk about this in 10 years if Frontier is held in the same reverence as the likes of SDF Macross, Eva and TTGL.

  7. ghostlightning says:

    Commercial success I only use as a measurable indicator of consumption. Especially since awards haven’t been given. Maybe you’d want to quantify the reviews it got all over the blogosphere – maybe you’ll find some tepidness, and agreement for your complaints.

    Or, just head over at /m/ and find your fellows…

    I believe that Frontier has given us something to remember, and something beyond SDF Macross. I’m not saying it’s better, just that it’s awesome too even with the choices they made in the dialogue, characterizations, plotting, and world-building.

    It’s not like I don’t have my want list: I want Ranka to be Lafiel-like! But it’s looking forward and not a wish to repair what apparently is (to some viewers) a flawed cultural product.

  8. mechafetish says:

    Again, I never said it wasn’t awesome. For people like you and me who are already steeped in anime and japanese culture, its impossible not to like. But that doesn’t mean its a quality work in term of storytelling. You wouldn’t put the Robotech novels next to Shakespeare would you?

    Perhaps I’m being unfair to Kawamori. SDF Macross was a gateway anime like Eva, Cowboy Bebop. I wanted Frontier to be that good, the way I believe Gurren Lagann is that good. Good enough to convert well educated middle to upper class college students/workers and the like who have a predisposition not to watch “cartoons” which are for kids. I wanted it to reach demographics beyond those intended. And the sad fact is that, it probably wont.

    Now if you will excuse me, I think I;m going to listen to the Nyan Nyan Service Medley again.

  9. Sean says:

    Macross Frontier is to Macross what Gurren Lagann is to Super Robot anime.

  10. I think the Macross franchise perhaps suffers from the fact that lightning can’t strike twice. What I am sure of is that it started off with something groundbreaking and special, then Kawamori spent the next quarter of a century racking his brains to think of a way of matching it. Macross Plus does this very well I think – it manages to reinvent (recycle?) the ideas behind the original series while bringing enough fresh ideas to the table to make it stand on its own. It’s one of my all time fave anime series/movies actually, so I look forward to your thoughts on it. ^_^

    “What felt unique for me was how SDF Macross pitted the very human way of life with all its wrinkles and flaws against the military efficiency of Zentreadi civilization. Further, the way the writers chose to embody all the best things about human culture was through music.”

    Man, that’s poetic! I don’t know how this could be reiterated in sequels, without coming across as repetitive or just plain daft. To this day I STILL don’t know how they pulled off a story about a girl singing pop songs that could save the human race from alien invasion.

    Thinking of new ways to marry music, aliens, romance and mecha is tough; the latter is easy I suppose but as for making music integral to the mechanics of the story…I can see how the writers could have a problem with this. A lack of definite enemy apart from the delightfully evil Grace was Frontier’s biggest flaw in that regard, I think.

    A good post though. Keep it up!

  11. asher_langley says:

    Seeing first hand how the discussion between ghostlightning and mechafetish can literally come to life, I’d like to share my two-cents worth on this issue.

    I’m predominantly a Gundam person, despite having only Wing, Seed and 00 for serious reference and very little Macross backgound. I prefer Gundam not because of their compelling plots and mind blowing ideologies (or lack thereof sometimes) but because I find those that I happen to stumble upon as pseudo-realistic, that is, despite the science-*fiction-ness* of it, there was some rationalization on some key events (i.e., “coordinators”, “GN Drives”). It’s a little different in the case of Macross.

    I watched MF because a friend of mine told me that the “background music during the fight scenes were so good” – which was true. I liked it, but at the same time, while Ranka and Sheryl *needed* to sing because their singing *can* suppress the Vajras, the little voice in my head insisted that this was the reason why Macross generally never won me over. The singing as “battle-integral in an almost too mystical way” aspect of MF was just too “up there” for me to rationalize—and it didn’t help that the moment I saw a couple of episodes of Macross 7 previously, my excitement went…somewhere else. Hence, my schema for Macross was reinforced, and I think which was the point of mechafetish—the Fail of MF was that it didn’t do more to entice others in the fandom, the way its predecessor, SDF, has (and which I have yet to see).

    So, was watching MF a waste of my time? Hell, no! ^_^ I enjoyed what it had to offer—good music, a sniper (that got killed AGAIN), a better appreciation of what Macross could be in the genre of mecha and many uber-oh-my-effin’-god! fight animation sequences (see, it’s that good I’m making words up @_@ and which, I dare say, is better than Gundam). So, ghostlightning, for me, MF has not failed the “spread-the-love-of-macross-genre” I think you speak of. At least not completely—curiosity and some marvel got me but not enough to push me to start Googling about Macross and putting it beside Gundam.

    I understand that my current position can be considered as half-baked (maybe even less), and that perhaps I am missing A LOT on what Macross is really all about. But I suppose that’s the price of my preferences being a bit mismatched with the recent Macross franchise…or maybe such franchise not living up to better standards when it could, as expressed in this case by someone who highly appreciates Macross.

  12. @ concretevajra

    I’m looking forward to a Macross Plus post as well, maybe I’ll beat Mechafetish to it.

    @ asher_langley

    The blog is also a way to make our (ghoslightning and mechafetish) arguments about anime public. We argue a great deal, but it’s all gorgeous, delicious, deculture. I arrogate that these will be intersting to some other fans and so, We Remember Love. See my Gundam post as we are similar (me:macross:you:gundam). I too, ended up liking 00 first among the many Gundam shows.

  13. mechafetish says:

    @ Concretebadger

    Thank you very much for the kind words. I am in fact working on an post re: Macross +, but would like to put it off until I watch it again. + occupies a special place in my heart because it is the reason I started watching anime again 4 years after I thought I outgrew “cartoons”, hence I would like to do it justice.

    Part of the planned article will be an extension of the themes of this article, and why Macross + is an outlier with regard to the rest of the series. In particular, out of all of Macross, this is the only series that does not feature music as a weapon used by the good guys. Still thinking hard about it, but I hope to have the post up soon.

    On your comment:

    “Thinking of new ways to marry music, aliens, romance and mecha is tough; the latter is easy I suppose but as for making music integral to the mechanics of the story…I can see how the writers could have a problem with this.”

    Excellent point. I do respect the difficulty of the challenge that any future writers of Macross would have to face in order to come up with something at once faithful to the spirit/elements of the original series, yet fresh and up to date. I love Macross Frontier and it will stay with me forever. Its just that sometimes, I cant help by think, Frontier had the necessary budget to provide awesome animation, an awesome cast of seiyu and YOKO KANNO! What if Kawamori had risen to the challenge and been able to call up the magic one more time…

    Thanks again for reading!

  14. gloval says:

    while i tend to agree with the entry, let me just clarify some points:

    first, when elmo the manager says “music is culture, culture is love, therefore music is love” he is actually summarizing a fundamental theme in macross. another fundamental theme is “make love not war” which i am glad true macross fans are practicing like the civil discussion up here. refer to the movie “do you remember love” which is a streamlined and compact exposition of macross themes. (btw, macross actually influences my opinions on the mindanao problem!)

    second, music is not a weapon like the mecha. instead the mecha is the antithesis to the music. remember that for all the flashy battles, macross is primarily about peace and harmony. note that when music is used to destroy, it fails. note also that no matter how awesome the mecha is, what decisively wins the war, or to be more accurate, wins the peace is music=culture=love.

  15. ghostlightning says:

    @ gloval

    Thanks for dropping by! True Macross fans are welcome in this blog!

    What do you think of Basara Nekki’s use of his song to blast away enemy ships?

  16. Sakura says:

    Do we perceive the music in the battles as mystical because they are in the form of songs?

    If you look at it from a scientific point of view, they aren’t attacking with a mere song, but with sound waves.

    Sound can be quite a formidable weapon if used as one. Of course the kind of high amplitude sound wave required to be used as a weapon is not the kind a human ear could hear.
    But then that’s where we have to suspend our belief right? 🙂

    Which is the beauty of Macross because they have found a weapon which not only can effectively counter the enemy, but at the same time bring hope to their people 🙂

  17. ghostlightning says:

    @ Sakura

    Yes, I only drink and serve Macross Kool-aid here on this blog so your comments only stir the pitcher better.

    While I wanted to identify with Hikaru, idolized Roy, was in awe of Max, went “Kyaa!” over Isamu, and envied Alto,

    BASARA is my idol.

    He brings super-robot anime heroic moron awesomeness to my already fruity Macross. And he’s the only singing ace, so he’s beyond the impossible in my book.

  18. mechafetish says:

    @ Gloval

    I think we are talking about the same thing. You say:

    “no matter how awesome the mecha is, what decisively wins the war, or to be more accurate, wins the peace is music=culture=love”

    Recall, in SDF Macross, Minmei’s concert in the final battle was not a strategy to bring peace/culture/love to Bodolza’s fleet. It was EXPLICITLY used as a means (read: weapon) to distract the enemy so that the earth fleet could BLOW THEM AWAY. If this isn’t weaponizing music, I dont know what is.

    @ Sakura

    Yes. the fact that there is some sort of mystical “sound wave” weapon underlying their music undercuts its importance to the story. Yes I can suspend my disbelief that far, but then you start to think, couldn’t Sheryl and Ranka’s screaming or even amplified talking done just as well? If the music was necessary to inspire their fleet, could they have shown more normal soldiers doing awesome things instead of just that one time with the diamond force? All the NUNS redshirts did (by definition) was die. It doesn’t add up.

    The concert seemed unnecessary in light of the characteristics of the weapon you so ably pointed out. The authors failed to justify the use of music, so it felt tacked on as a Macross convention rather than a central point of the story.

  19. gloval says:

    ghostlightning:

    thanks for the welcome! i haven’t really sat down to watch macross 7, but from what i’ve heard, basara hates it. he hates being dictated by the un spacy on what to do with his music. all he wanted was for everyone and he means everyone to “LISTEN TO MY SONG!” not to die from them. as some dialogue in macross frontier has shown, after the conflict with the protodeviln and earlier with the zentraedi, most do not know how exactly music has won the peace. which leads me to..

    mechafetish:

    yes, the intent was to distract the enemy. but would that be enough? would the firepower of SDF-1 be enough? there was another effect of minmei’s singing. remember that breetai and the zentradi who had interacted with humans were having second thoughts and breetai himself was wondering about being cultured. it was a gradual process and minmei’s singing of “do you remember love” amidst the threat of destruction was just the final straw that led the zentrans and meltrans to rally behind humans and protect culture from those who were threatening to destroy it, particularly bodolza. so it was not so much as killing bodolza but more of protecting culture.

  20. ghostlightning says:

    @ gloval

    You seem to know your Macross! I’ll get in touch with you and maybe you can help me come up with future Macross-related posts. I sense the spiritia is strong in you…

  21. gloval says:

    so if you view the space war 1 as that of zentradis protecting music=culture=love and eventually embracing it as a way of life that is better than their militaristic civilization, you will see that the thrust of music is more on winning peace rather than winning the war. note that if there were no pesky humans with their music=culture=love, the zentrans and meltrans would have annihilated each other.

    and when you view it as the zentradi transcending the purpose of their creation and achieving their true potential as children of protoculture, then it’s not about destruction but of growth.

    same with macross 7. the un spacy wanted to destroy the protodeviln and used even basara’s song and sound energy for that purpose but they all failed. it was only when basara won over the protodeviln to embrace music and not fear it that they fulfilled their true potential.

    so no, in macross, music is not a weapon. it is not used to destroy. look at sharon apple, the bird human and grace o’connor, they tried to use music to destroy and to deceive and they failed.

  22. ghostlightning says:

    @ gloval

    You have serious Super Dimension cred in my book! That’s all I’ve been saying here, my song (Macross) will fill the anime blogosphere with love.

  23. mechafetish says:

    @ gloval

    I wonder, are you are talking about Do You Remember Love (movie) rather than the TV series? If so, DYRL is only canon in the sense that its an actual movie in the Macross universe rather than an accurate retelling of the events of the war. In fact, the decision of Breetai and Laplamitz to defect had more to do with their assumption that Bodolza would destroy their fleets which had been already been affected by culture.

    That said, I’m definitely with you on how SDF Macross was a story on how cultures can come to understand each other through music (this is the central thesis of the above article). Indeed, most of the episodes leading up to the final battle had to do, as you pointed out, with the humans and the zentreadi coming together through music.

    However, in the final battle, it is undeniable that music was weaponized. Whether to kill someone or to protect someone, a weapon is a weapon.

    Here’s the thing, the weaponization of music in this battle did not detract from its culture/peacetime value. Something I loved about the series. For the most part, the humans didn’t even know until this point, that the music was affecting the zentreadi. The use of music as a weapon was pretty much a one time thing.

    What I’m saying is that in MF and other Macross sequels, music is explicitly intended to be weapon by the authors in order to fulfill the core themes of the series. If you don’t like the term weapon, lets replace it with “means to victory”.

    However, since the writers could not replicate the genius of the 1st series, they resorted to introducing powers that came with the music (anime spiritia in the case of Basara, V-type infection in the case of Ranka). This turned the music into something other than what it truly was (ki-blasts and mind-control powers), something I consider a great disservice to the heritage of the series.

  24. gloval says:

    ghostlightning:

    thanks, it’s a result of participating at animesuki (i’m CaptGloval in there, do you have an account there too?). btw, if you want to email me, use the one i provided in this comment instead 😉

  25. mechafetish says:

    P.S. If indeed you haven’t seen the TV series, you definitely owe it to yourself to watch it! It is transcendent.

  26. gloval says:

    mechafetish:

    as i’ve mentioned in my first comment, i do agree with the gist of your entry, especially that special powers part.

    i also agree with the “means to victory” term. and when i mean victory i mean peace with the enemy and not total annihilation of the enemy.

    yes, music can distract the zentradi, the fold waves can distract the vajra and the anima spiritia can torture the protodeviln. but that was not how the peace/victory was achieved. remember that once cultured the zentradi could ignore music and still choose to go back to their violent ways, not much on the vajra but theoretically they could ignore it too especially if they could replace aimo with another mating call, and the protodeviln merely became a spiritia black hole.

    again, how was the peace achieved? for the zentradi when they realized the importance of culture and their own potential as cultured beings, for the protodeviln when they embraced music rather than fear it and finally realizing their own spiritia-producing capabilities with it, for the vajra when they realized that it was basically a misunderstanding and sheryl’s song helped clear it.

  27. gloval says:

    and a minor note on DYRL. for purposes of discussing macross themes, i give more credence to DYRL because of its purpose as a more streamlined retelling of the first series, thus it’s more easy to identify the themes while watching the movie rather than the series. now if we were to discuss events, characters, etc., i’ll give more credence to the series.

    another note, which i got in animesuki, while it was of course absent in the series. the DYRL conflict of men vs women, zentran vs meltran was the main conflict of the protoculture. something they thought of when streamlining the story and stuck with it in later installations.

    i haven’t watched SDF Macross series for years! does anyone have a copy? and not the robotech one!

  28. mechafetish says:

    “i also agree with the “means to victory” term. and when i mean victory i mean peace with the enemy and not total annihilation of the enemy.”

    Ok. We are good here. Bottom line, music is HOW THE HUMANS WIN.

    “but that was not how the peace/victory was achieved. remember that once cultured the zentradi could ignore music and still choose to go back to their violent ways”

    This shows the fallacy of using DYRL continuity. In fact, the Zentreadi did go back to their violent ways. Music was the gateway to culture, not the cure-all.

    “for the zentradi when they realized the importance of culture and their own potential as cultured beings”

    No such realization was ever explicitly stated. Music and culture made them feel good/brought them pleasure, hence the attractiveness of culture. When the ‘uglier’/less appealing parts of culture such as work became a part of their lives, culture definitely lost some of its luster to the newly converted zentreadi.

    “for purposes of discussing macross themes, i give more credence to DYRL because of its purpose as a more streamlined retelling of the first series, thus it’s more easy to identify the themes while watching the movie rather than the series”

    Hmmmm… I cant say I agree with this. I felt like it missed the boat on far too many important themes and fails to emphasize the important process of cultural transformation at the heart of the story. But If you feel that way…

    “zentran vs meltran was the main conflict of the protoculture”

    I don’t believe this is the case. If I remember correctly, the term Meltran was invented for the movie and is not Cannon. But I may be wrong. Was Klan ever referred to as ‘Meltran’ in MF? Please point out the episode if so.

    Also, wasn’t the ancient main conflict between the protoculture and the supervision army (who were in turn wiped out or controlled by the protodevlin?)

  29. gloval says:

    oops, when i meant i haven’t watched SDFM for years, i meant i watched ep 1-26 (robotech) in tv back in 1996. yes i know the cliffhanger break is cruel, damn ABS-CBN!!! then i watched ep 27-36 via youtube in 2005. this year it’s hard to find and i don’t want to content myself with video streaming.

    and some further notes on the protoculture men vs women conflict, under threat from the protodeviln and its supervision army (which the protoculture unleashed when they developed more the powerful zentradi/evil series as escalation to their conflict), the protoculture reconciled their differences and some of their zentradi/meltrandi armies were then combined to fight the supervision army. in the series, this combined army was what humans encountered. in DYRL, it was the uncombined zentran and meltran armies still duking it out as originally instructed that humans encountered.

  30. gloval says:

    mechafetish:

    when i said “remember that once cultured the zentradi could ignore music and still choose to go back to their violent ways” i was well aware that they did. “Music was the gateway to culture, not the cure-all” — no disagreement with this, as you say, “Bottom line, music is HOW THE HUMANS WIN.”

    what i disagree with you is the point that the weaponized use of music (destructive, deceptive, distracting) is what won the peace. and i think i’ve elaborated on this above, except you have an objection to “for the zentradi when they realized the importance of culture and their own potential as cultured beings.” well, this was based on the “take back culture” rally of breetai near the end of DYRL, but since you seem to refuse to accept that movie as a source…

    actually, DYRL character, mecha and ship designs became canon, so are meltrans and so is that protoculture man vs woman conflict. basically, what you see in subsequent macross shows that clearly came from DYRL makes those DYRL elements canon. btw, this is what i got in animesuki.

  31. mechafetish says:

    @ gloval

    I apologize If I argued a bit strongly before. I’m at work and a bit stressed plus I get a bit passionate in debates. Thanks for the clarification re Zentran and Meltran.

    I can see that you are about as big a Macross Fag as the two of us. Its a bit late, but welcome to We Remember Love. Are you Filipino? I can easily give you a copy of my fansubbed versions. Ghostlightning has them as well. If not, they should be up on your friendly torrent site.

    Enjoy the blog!

  32. mechafetish says:

    “but since you seem to refuse to accept that movie as a source…”

    I don’t feel its a good enough source, but I don’t want to impose my opinion on you. Lets all love Macross together!

    “DYRL character, mecha and ship designs became canon, so are meltrans and so is that protoculture man vs woman conflict”

    Ok. But I don’t think the events did, did they? I know they retroactively made the movie designs canon as they are prettier, but don’t the events of SDF still hold? As far as I know, Do You Remember Love is literally a “movie” within the macross universe.

  33. gloval says:

    yes, for info on the events and characters i consult the series. anyway, this canon/not canon argument on DYRL is missing the point…

    “Hmmmm… I cant say I agree with this. I felt like it missed the boat on far too many important themes and fails to emphasize the important process of cultural transformation at the heart of the story. But If you feel that way…”

    no fundamental disagreement with this. when i said it was a gradual process how zentradis led by breetai was won over, it is indeed better shown in the series since the story of the infiltrators was well fleshed out. and instead of minmei’s “do you remember love” the final straw was the threat of destruction from their own main fleet (which could be seen as finally clarifying the choice between rejecting culture and going back to their warlike ways, which assures destruction, and accepting culture which gives them a chance to live–still the same thing as in DYRL just that in DYRL it was breetai’s statement that clarified the choice, a result of afterthought most probably, but of course DYRL is an afterthought, both in real life and in macross universe).

    and as for the post-space war events, it was acknowledged in DYRL in the final statements of the movie, that what comes after the destruction of bodolza was the hard job of reconstruction. of course, it was better shown in the series.

    if you had no problem identifying the themes of macross using just the series then good for you.

  34. ghostlightning says:

    I’m listening to the Nyan Nyan Service Medley while you two fags sex each other over Macross.

    Hot-blooded fanboying is music, music is culture, culture is love.

    THIS IS OUR SONG! My lovely boys and girls…

  35. gloval says:

    ghostlightning:

    nah, i think at least on my part, the debate is over and differences have been reconciled in true macross fashion lol.

    mechafetish:

    i’m also at work and a bit stressed lol. thanks for the welcome, yup i’m pinoy. ooh, i’d like a copy! a link to a torrent is already greatly appreciated 🙂 i just hope it’s a friendly file format and size can be handled by my connection at home.

  36. Pingback: Are Black Swans in Anime Bad Writing? A Comparative Analysis of Gundam 00 Episode 7 and Code Geass Episode 22 « We Remember Love

  37. mechafetish says:

    @ gloval

    Let me know how I can contact you for your requested info. I don’t feel its appropriate to link it from the blog.

    Cheers!

  38. gloval says:

    you could use the email in this comment. thanks!

  39. Pingback: ‘War Sucks!’ « The Animanachronism

  40. drmchsr0 says:

    Butbutbut

    MACROSS 7 IS SUPER ROBOT SERIES, MACROSS-STYLE.

    That’s what I think, anyway.

    • ghostlightning says:

      This was written way before I saw Macross 7 and the unhidden fail of mechafetish is that he still hasn’t seen it yet.

  41. Legend.EXENTSSVF says:

    Hey! Nice analysis! I can tell that your a true fan.

    The only thing I would disagree with is the way in which you call out the singing element in certain entries in the franchise as being mystical.

    The only one that’s truly far fetched is Mao’s older sister having an effect on that bird human.

    The V-type infection from Macross Frontier holds a scientific basis.

    who’s to say that in our own universe there isn’t a species of intelligent life that function similar to the vajrav? The way they explained it makes sense in theory. Therefore it shouldn’t be ruled out as mystical.

    Modern science is still young, there’s much we don’t know about the universe and everything within it.

    So, the elements that focus on alien life could hold true, including Basara being the anima spiritia. These elements are explained within their respective stories. So they shouldn’t come across as being weak elements when they work quite well with the universe.

    Keep blogging!

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