Macross 2: Lovers Again is on my mind (but does this count as remembering love?)

Macross 2 poster

[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?)

Macross DYRL VF-1S Strike MMM

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)

Macross Plus YF-19 MMM

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)

Macross 2 VF-2SS MMM

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:

Macross 2 VF-2SS dotcom

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)

Macross Frontier VF-25 MMM

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:

Macross Frontier VF-25 ghoslightning toys

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.

Further Reading

¹Yes, I’ve completed the ‘Super-Dimensional Journey of Love Remembered.’ [->]
²I endorse Sean’s review, but disagree with him completely that Lovers Again is better than Macross Zero. My reflections on Macross Zero. [->]
³Completist behavior? I mean it as a subset of Accumulating behavior as part of my theory on otaku habits. [->]

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in fanboy, how to remember love, Macross and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Macross 2: Lovers Again is on my mind (but does this count as remembering love?)

  1. LostMarbles says:

    Lovers Again was the second Macross series I saw and the first was Plus, so I had absolutely no clue about the usual Macross tropes. I enjoyed it while I watched it, but it wasn’t anything special and I’ve never really wanted to revisit it. I do wonder how it’ll feel now that I’ve seen more Macross.

    As for your VF-25F kit, did it not come with decals? Why do you leave it so plain and unlined? I have no words. You know what? I’m just going to go back to slaving over my VF-25S and praying to the Bandai gods for a VF-27 Lucifer kit.

    • ghostlightning says:

      I have the decals, only that I have no skills to apply them (and panel lines). I may try at some point, but the bareness you see is completely due to my own incompetence. Acknowledging this liability, I’ve reached out to friends just to outsource the work on my RX-78-2 Gundam and my Zaku II Char Custom.

      I only saw this show after a lot of consideration. I saw Macross as a 7-year old kid as well as all of the old Robotech. You have a fine introduction in Plus, but yes it won’t establish the Macross tropes in that it was more ‘remembering love’ than boldly creating a new or at least new aspects to the mythology.

  2. Sean says:

    You mention the VF-2SS justifying the existence of the series, but I think the aesthetics alone of Macross II justify it. In addition to the mecha designs, it’s the last time Mikimoto’s character designs really showed up in a Macross anime (I’m hesitant to say the final designs for 7 were his, as they were so painfully worked over for TV animation). But in general, despite some questionable animation it’s a good looking cartoon.

    The biggest shame of it being non-canon may be that we’re never going to get any real model kits or toys from it, aside from a VF-2SS here or there.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Well, you got me. It does look gorgeous. I am quite interested in the ‘painfully worked over’ part of the process by which Mikimoto’s designs were subjected to for Macross 7. While I don’t have a big problem with the designs, I do feel that the stills used in the ED(s) look more vintage Mikimoto than any of the images in the anime itself.

      If there was a moment where there should be a near 1:1 correspondence, it should’ve happened when Mylene was cosplaying Minmay, and outside of her clothes she hardly gave off a Minmay look.

      With regards with the mecha designs in Lovers Again, I was initially taken aback by what I felt was ‘more is more’ aesthetic. Not even taking the Macross Cannon into account, the variations on the Destroids/Monster all look well, monstrous. Now that I think about it, I would welcome them had they appeared in Frontier or any other of the sequels.

      Is it feasible that a latter sequel could use or adopt mechanical designs from Lovers Again the same way it did from DYRL? I’d be interested, though it wouldn’t be the same for your collector’s purposes.

      • Sean says:

        All I meant is that after Mikimoto designed the characters, another artist simplified them for TV animation (as is fairly common with more complicated designs, look at Yoshitaka Amano’s designs for MOSPEADA). If you have the TIA Macross 7 book they have a lot of Mikimoto’s original work, and it looks fairly different than what made it onto the show.

        The images from the ED, as far as I know, were actually done by Mikimoto.

        • ghostlightning says:

          Gotcha. Those books were never available here in the Philippines, but I’ll find a way to get hold of them somehow. Thanks.

          Comparing the ED and the mainline character designs, I find it easy to believe that the ED images are Mikimoto original drawings.

  3. vendredi says:

    Variable Fighter-wise, I actually think I like the General Galaxy YF-21 most of all (funky brainwave control mechanism notwithstanding). To be honest though, I think my favourite Macross mecha is probably the Queadluun-Rau/Rea (also probably my favourite mecha with the most unpronounceable name), which the YF-21 resembles a great deal.

    One of the things I think that made me rather leery of Macross initially was the entire premise of transforming mecha – fighter planes are fine, and so are mecha, but not in the same machine, if you would. I have to say though having tried it: I doubt that few other series can pull off transforming mecha as convincingly and aesthetically pleasing as Macross does (perhaps that is why we see very few of them).

    • ghostlightning says:

      The YF-21’s ‘thinking cap’ is soooo… Robotech lol. My main problem with the YF-21 is that it cannot rotate from the waist. It is because the fuselage is constructed on the battloid’s back the way it is.

      No matter how you twist it (lol), it represents opportunity lost for the battloid’s maneuverability as well as for its firing arc (field of effective firing vision), and in terms of toys it limits pose-ability [->]

      This also applies to the Queadluun-Rau/Rea, who in addition to this inability to twist from its midsection, also does not transform.

      Transforming mecha is what first blew my 7-year old mind about Macross. It’s the best at portraying transforming aircraft. As for other vehicles, The Transformers as well as Gao Gai Gar have interesting transforming non-aircraft robots.

      • vendredi says:

        Both are definitely the most inflexible designs I’ve seen, but they project a certain sort of malevolence. Perhaps it’s just the hunched over, hooded, almost cyclopean appearance of the head.
        I think part of what makes Macross special is that it makes transforming mecha seem almost plausible; most transforming shows tend to be grounded firmly in the “super” genre, but Macross still keeps a foot in the real robot camp. If you stop and think about the practicality of it all then the illusion disappears, of course, but Macross’s strength of presentation is such that the thought never really crosses your mind.

        • ghostlightning says:

          The YF-21 is actually a variable fighter for the Principality of Zeon; the mono-eye makes it so.

  4. gloval says:

    The VF-2 looks fine by me, but I’d have to see how it performs to better appreciate it.

    I think the VF-17 is based more on the F-117 due to the bulky angular appearance. For me the F-22 has a good enough design, its front view can actually look menacing just like the B-2.

    • ghostlightning says:

      You’re right about the F-117 and the VF-17. As for the performance of the VF-2SS, I believe it would be somewhere along the lines of the YF-19, though it should be much farther in the future should the timelines be compared.

  5. SVince51 says:

    I agree with LostMarbles, you really should panel-line your model to bring out the details. As my gunpla sempai said to me: “There is no excuse for not panel-lining your kit; painting is a costly investment; decals and stickers can be hard and frustrating to make it look good. Panel-lines only need a .1 pen.” 🙂

    Panel-lining for dummies:
    1) Buy a .1 pen (or a smaller micropen if you can find one). Artline should be fine.
    2) Write/trace the panel lines.
    3) If the panel-line is too thick rub it with your thumb.
    3) Done! 🙂

  6. Einherjar says:

    Hope you didn’t watch the English dub of this OVA. The transition between a Japanese to English singer in the last episode really killed the experience for me.

    Anyway while the VF-2SS is okay by itself, I’m kind of impartial about the Super Armor Pack it had. While powerful, it looked so bulky that the plane definitely couldn’t support its weight in atmospheric flight.

    • ghostlightning says:

      I avoid dubs like the plague, and your hopes only validate my behavior.

      The thing to consider about Variable Fighters is that the overtechnology that makes them possible is characterized by superlight materials. They can look really heavy and yet remain a quarter of the mass of a Gundam. So bulky VFs should really have no problem even in terms of aerodynamics — even if they’re primarily designed for space (where their aerodynamic design is actually pointless).

  7. Danny says:

    Macross II was my second Macross series (after SDF, before M+) and the only good thing I got from it was the catchy OP. The series itself is quite forgettable and I already forgot most of the plot. Maybe I should re-watch it again… 🙂

  8. dy031101 says:

    Macross II was actually the first I’ve watched from the Macross series (my prior knowledge of the series actually came from video games……), and I actually liked what I saw (probably because I never watched the original or DYRL in full) despite the sometimes excessive English voice-overs (I agree with Einherjar’s accessment on the last episode though) and bought the OST.

    VF-2SS with external weapons modules actually satisfied my penchant for big guns, and the Metal Siren managed to sufficiently remind me of the venerable Valkyrie (none in my circle of acquaintances agrees, however) as long as the lance isn’t there…… I agree, mechanical designs alone are enough to work out for me.

  9. Pingback: On Enjoying Works You Don’t Like and liking works you didn’t enjoy « We Remember Love

  10. bonezai says:

    VF-2SS > VF-25F IMHO
    for me
    VF-1J Kawamori
    VF-1S Kawamori
    VF- 2SS whomever
    among Variable Fighters
    like in Gundam
    RX-78-2 Kunio
    RX-93 Izubuchi
    F-91 Kunio

  11. Jack Han says:

    Where did you get the lineart of the variable fighters from? Were they arranged like that originally, when you found them (tell me where)? Are there any more for example the YF-21, the VF-22S, VF-0 Phoenix?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s