I don’t make a custom of regarding quotations from the creator about the subject work as definitive interpretations of the created product. I don’t think it’s unimportant either, but no I don’t privilege it as “Word of God” as a practice.
However, there are certain assumptions I can’t do without: when the production team says show X is a sequel to show W, I believe that the story in show X is part of the continuity of show W. The events in both story happen in the same world at different times.
I cannot make the same assumptions for the Macross franchise.
Macross creator Kawamori Shoji stated in an interview back in 1998 that every show in the Macross franchise is actually a show in the continuity of Macross. This means that Super Dimension Fortress Macross is in fact a television program shown to people in the fictional universe of Macross. What we viewers watched, is what the people in the Macross universe watched.
DYRL? is a movie, as attested by the Max Jenius character in Macross 7 – which in turn is a TV show. The same applies to Macross Plus, and Macross Zer0 is actually a mini-series that eventually became a film where Ranka Lee played Mao as depicted by the fictional TV series Macross Frontier.
We see characters, but never as they really are. We don’t really know how Ichijo Hikaru looks like, because what we see is an actor playing his role. We don’t know what Mao Nome looks like, nor what Nekki Basara really looks like. Roy Focker? Possibly really blonde.
Check that, we don’t really even see actors. We see animated illustrations representing fictional characters. DYRL? isn’t just a ‘real’ fictional film, it’s a ‘real’ fictional animated film.
Big Question #1: The people in the Macross universe sure love their anime don’t they?
Here is the source interview: (click image to go to linked forum thread)
A transcript for the lazy:
Next, I’d like to ask about DYRL… The design for Exedore is green all throughout the rest of the Macross shows. How is this explained in terms of the timeline?
You know… This is something I have trouble getting people to understand in magazine interviews. For example, you’ve got World War II, and then you have lots of movies based on that event, right? They are all fictional. They’re all based on a war that actually took place, but they are all different. For example, in period dramas you have Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu, but there are so many Oda Nobunagas and Tokugawa Ieyasus. The producers look at the real event and adapt the character according to their wishes. The actors and lines also change, so the character changes. It’s that kind of feeling. OK, so in the timeline you have a movie called DYRL that was released, does that mean that the TV series is the true story? Well, you have the SDF-1 that supposedly fell from the sky, and then a story was made about the subsequent history and was televised. Then that became a movie. Then later, there was a “Macross 7 incident”, and a TV series was made about that. That’s basically how I see it.
So… “Macross 7” is also a TV series broadcast within the Macross timeline?
That’s right, that’s the interpretation. It’s not just the movie, they are ALL works of fiction.
None of them are real?
None of them are real.
In the teaser for DYRL, there is a line that goes, “I am Lynn Minmay, I will be playing the lead in this movie”. It does make you feel that there was a TV show which then became a movie.
Exactly. That’s what I have trouble getting people to understand. The real truth is somewhere else. They studied the history and made the fiction after the fact. While reasoning the facts, they have to make many compromises, like the limitations of a TV format, like the fact they have to sell toys, and so they have to adapt the story that way. So, in that respect, it doesn’t matter if all the productions differ.
The same goes for Macross Plus, too?
Yeah, that too. You have a similar incident that occurred. There may have been some virtual reality character like Sharon. Like, “she probably did exist”.
The real truth is somewhere else, he says. If so, just to indulge him, then the official timeline and chronology for the Macross continuity that he must have approved of is “the real truth.” Whatever. How differently do we end up watching Macross shows under this set-up?
It makes the discussion of what is “canon” in the continuity difficult. Did Claudia really make pineapple salad the day Roy died? Did Minmay really ask Hikaru to quit flying? Did Basara really make the Fleet of the Strongest Women listen to his song? Did Guld really treat Isamu to lunch 13 times? Did Bobby really haze Alto by painting his face? Did George Yamamori really direct Bird Human?
What about character portrayals? Is Ranka Lee really as immature as the character in Macross Frontier TV, or is she the less annoyingly childish one in MF:TFS?
There as as many Lynn Minmays as there are Macross shows. Each show refers to her in some way and each show portrays a history that may not be very different from that of the other shows, but isn’t the same history nonetheless. In at least three shows (SDFM, Macross Frontier, MF:TFS), Lynn Minmay won Miss Macross (arguably for MF:TFS).
But we can’t really know can we? We have no way of verifying if Macross Plus was written and directed by people who are like Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher, who took liberties with the historical nature of their real subject (Mark Zuckerberg) in their film The Social Network but otherwise attempted to be accurate. Or, is Macross 7 every bit as ridiculous as 300 is as a history of the Battle of Thermopylae?