[This post contains no spoilers]
After watching every single episode in the Macross canon¹, I watched the Macross II: Lovers Again. It’s remarkable in that the series creator Kawamori Shoji, did not participate in this project. Honestly, I expected it to be terrible. However I merely found it pedestrian and boring despite featuring many of the tropes that characterize the Macross franchise. While watching it, I got fixated on rooting out the impact of Kawamori’s absence.
This isn’t a review of the OVA, for that I can refer you to Colony Drop² [->]. Reading that review solidified my interest in watching the show beyond acting out my completist behavior³ as a Macross fagfanboy. You’ll find there a good number of points that you can consider should the show interest you in any way. However, I’m a bit obsessed with how Kawamori factors (or is not a factor). Sean’s review mentions:
It’s worth noting that while Macross II is highly derivative of its Macross predecessors (mostlyMacross: Do You Remember Love?), the story was penned by Sukehiro Tomita, who worked on the original Macross TV series, wrote the screen play for Do You Remember Love? and was on staff for Macross 7.
He’ll go on to say that Lovers Again ended up being too similar to the original series or at least DYRL, and I am sympathetic to that view. What interests me further is when Sean adds,
Following Kawamori’s return to the Macross franchise prior to the pre-production of Macross 7and Macross Plus (which was originally developed as a non-Macross project), he sat down and drew out an official continuity for the series. The great irony of this is that Kawamori often tends to ignore continuity and prefers to change things as he sees fit, but for the time being he was trying to straighten out the Macross canon. Since leaving Macross, an OAV series (Macross II) and a number of video games had been made and these were all relegated to an “alternate dimension” to make way for his own productions.
This pretty much dictated the lack of interest I had in watching Lovers Again, though Sean makes a good case that if we remove the Macross branding on the OVA, it could stand up as one of the competent shows of the early 1990s. I’m tempted to agree, but I won’t. The brand of the Macross franchise is indelible on this show: ace plots, love triangles, idol singers, transforming mecha, etc. Most of these would have to go if it would be considered a good (read: more original) stand-alone anime.
Anyway, that’s not too much my concern. It was worth watching for me as it satisfied my curiosity which is a form of entertainment in itself. I really won’t recommend it to anyone save fellow completists among Macross fans, and if they indeed watch this, make sure it’s not at the expense of any canon show.
Beyond being the series creator, and being the director of DYRL, Kawamori is distinguished as a mechanical designer. Along with Kazutaka Miyatake he made the trademark mechanical designs of the franchise. Lovers Again’s staff of mecha designer are mostly Sunrise/Gundam veterans. I think they did a good job, especially on the Destroid/non-VF classes of mecha (those that Kazutaka originally designed), though it seemed that the prevalent aesthetic was ‘more is more’ (see the Macross Cannon). It may be okay to say that Lovers Again, is when Gundam does Macross (much the same way that Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory can be said to be when Macross does Gundam; but either way, both statements are stretches).
I didn’t like the VF-2SS, the variable fighter in Lovers Again. I still kind of don’t like it, but I feel like I’m being forced to reconsider. Here are some of my favorite Kawamori designs:
VF-1S Strike “Focker” (Macross: Do You Remember Love?)
Revoltech toy version [->]
Along with the SDF-Macross itself, this bird is the business card of the franchise. It has been my favorite for all these years, a souped-up version of the original VF-1S that flew me through space as a 7 year old kid.
YF-19 (Macross Plus)
Revoltech toy version [->]
One of the few prototypes featured in the Macross franchise, I like this bird primarily due to its swept-forward wing design. I don’t care much for the Battloid mode, being to chunky for my tastes. I easily remember love for Isamu Dyson’s exploits while piloting it.
VF-2SS (Macross II: Lovers Again)
Mecha designers: Atsushi Okuda, Junichi Akutsu, Kazumi Fujita, Koichi Ohata. It doesn’t look much on first glance. But look closer. I think there’s a lot to appreciate. The battloid head is much like the VF-1S only with two guns instead of four; it looks great, and better than the VF-1J‘s head IMO. It has a great overall line to it, with long smooth curves. However, I really didn’t appreciate the design until I came upon the VF-2SS fan-created homepage. Here’s a sample of what I saw there:
Gorgeous, if you ask me. The whole thing looks solid and substantial, and if you look at the profile view of the valkyrie mode – how delicate it all seems! Check the homepage link above to see the different looks that the model kits can provide.
So okay, Kawamori doesn’t have a monopoly on good VF design. The VF-2SS justifies the existence of Lovers Again in my fanboy eyes. It doesn’t mean that it looks awesome in the OVA though. After all I disliked it when I watched it. Perhaps it won’t be as unpleasant to look at anymore now that I am aware of its aesthetic possibility. But I don’t think it’s going to crack my top 3 favorites. If the VF-1S Strike and the YF-19 are part of this triumvirate, the third one also happens to be one of the newest:
VF-25F Messiah (Macross Frontier)
Oooh, so smechxy! It’s the slimmest design, and possibly also the sleekest in valkyrie mode (along with the YF-19 above). Not a lot to say really, it speaks for itself. Here’s the model kit my wife and I built:
Kawamori outdid himself here, going back to a design that resembles older aircraft as opposed to contemporary ones that rely on passive stealth (with the shorter noses, boxy fuselages, and narrow wingspans like those of the F-22 Raptor’s), which he used in Macross 7 (e.g. VF-17D Nightmare). Those designs aren’t bad, only that there really isn’t stealth in outer space where the VF-25s are deployed as part of expeditionary fleets.
Part of being a mecha anime fan is an appreciation of mechanical design, and Macross is a source of joy from a design perspective. It can be enough reason to appreciate a show like Macross 2: Lovers Again.