Cho Jikuu Yosai Macross: Remembering the Killer Episodes (05-08)

macross sdf 07 minmay hikaru roy
How easy it is to forget how good this show actually is, even without apologizing for animation, illustrations, datedness, and what have you. These four episodes (and beyond) just smashed my expectations of how much I’d enjoy the rewatch. But yeah I’m a Macross Overfag so it goes without saying right? No. Quite the opposite. It’s actually more likely that someone who’s watched a show many times (even when it’s a favorite) to eschew enjoying the show as a direct experience and instead derive most of the fulfillment from the enjoyment of the people he’s sharing the show with.

The enjoyment of these others validates his love for the show, among other things. While much of this is true for me, I enjoyed the show as a direct experience. Why? I had to concentrate on the thing in front of me because as is the case when watching a good show with others, a lot of shit gets said that can cripple your enjoyment. It’s the opposite of watching a terrible show with others, then all the shit that gets said makes the show enjoyable to watch. So on to the episodes!

Episode 05 “Transformation”

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With solid consistency, the (Over)technology repurposed by the humans continue in its clusterfucking ways. Having rebuilt Macross City in the belly of the SDF, it finds itself unable to fire its main gun without transforming itself from a naval-type ship into an “upright” humanoid form. It’s a delicious piece of anthropomorphic conceit that is wholly consistent with what makes robot anime as entertaining as it is:

The projection of the (male)human form into incredible sizes. But back to what makes this Macross show in particular so interesting, is how things keep going wrong for them technologically. It amounts to an incredible level of verisimilitude – that the humans don’t get to operate something so complex in very complex ways without problems.

The Gundam franchise is infuriating in contrast in how new technology continues to get rolled out practically untested, with untested pilots and then work with deadly perfection from the first episode onwards. The first transformation of the SDF resulted in the destruction of the city it just built, along with loss of life and property.

Episode 06: “Daedalus Attack”

I can’t not mention my extensive work on this episode more than 2 years ago. The Battle of Saturn’s Rings is one of the great ones in anime history. Do enjoy that rather comprehensive post – one of the special ones here on We Remember Love.

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Here however, I’ll say more about the anthropomorphic conceit I mentioned earlier. Not only does the SDF transform into a giant humanoid, the namesake attack – which in itself is compounded innovation after innovation under extreme circumstances is a ridiculously human move: thrusting attacks via an appendage is a very rare occurrence in nature. Other primates do not deliver straight punches (clubbing overhands are more likely). Insects, reptiles, marsupials (Kangaroos “punch” with a high-to-low action, no jabs or straights), and mollusks do not punch the way boxers and karateka do.

The human bested the monster (a leviathan-like space carrier of giants) by a most human-like attack. This is piercing the heavens of fantastic projection.

LOL Even I got confused with the romanization of Minmay (my AOL handle is minmeicomehome). I was also told that the correct romanization of this very Chinese name (Minmay is indeed half-Chinese) would read Ling Mingmei. Whatevs, she’s perfect the way she is (which is, flawed and lacking in sensibility, as lead characters go).

Episode 07: “Bye Bye Mars”

SDF Macross Episode 07 Remastered [Galaxy Network].mkv_snapshot_22.07_[2011.04.18_08.20.14]

The first thing that stood out for me in this episode is how much Misa’s flashback reminded me of Legend of the Galactic Heroes when portraying the childhoods of Sigfried Kircheis, Reinhard and Annerose Von Musel. There’s nothing specific I can point to, and it may well be some bias or fallacious thinking on my part because I do know that Ishiguro Noboru went on to direct LotGH.  In any case, I was reminded of such scenes.

This episode accomplished many things in the narrative:

  • It set the stage for the Misa x Hikaru side of the love triangle due to—
    • Misa shown to be not only capable of love, but feeling it intensely,
    • Whatever prior love affair that existed for Misa is dead (making her free to start a new romance), and
    • Hikaru rescuing Misa who clearly wanted to die.
  • Hikaru’s growth as a military ace pilot (srsly he dove into a middle of a Regult squad and killed everyone), and valor.
  • Zentraedi fighting ability – setting a trap of their own instead of their primary method of combat: rush and swarm.
  • Kamujin being a volatile and unpredictable and very human opponent in contrast to the cautious and alien pair of Britai and Exsedol.

It was a desperate and intense fight, showcasing a lot of good action and violence on a massive scale. At this point I feel that the show is still very excellently paced, considering that it has at least one episode (from the previous batch) wholly without fighting – a rather risky proposition for a robot show. But the premise of a love story in a not so serious robot show is risky enough to begin with, so no big deal right?

Episode 08: “Longest Birthday”

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The production staff are known to be WWII history fans (one wonders at their opinion of Japan’s role in it) and the title of the episode remembers love for the film, The Longest Day which was about the Normandy invasion (particularly D-Day) by the allied troops. A character piece that inches the Hikaru x Minmay side of the love triangle forward, it also serves to introduce new supporting characters, both with lots of personality: the uncharismatic but well-meaning Kakizaki Hayao, and the falsely modest Maximilian Jenius.

This begins the transition in Hikaru’s characterization as an “ace” pilot in robot anime meta. One of the things I appreciate in the Hikaru character is that he isn’t THE ace in Macross, the way the lead character must have that destiny in every other mecha anime (yes, Gundam). Hikaru now begins his journey to become a competent combat leader, as the ace pilot of the show (and the rest of real robot anime) role is taken over by Max. Still, Hikaru had the privilege of the ace vs. ace encounter when he dogfought with Kamujin who continues his volatile and haphazard, if incisive way of fighting.

The matching obnoxiousness of both Minmay (who coquettishly and insensitively demands a birthday present from Mr. Friendzoned) and Hikaru (who for someone infatuated with Minmay boneheadedly forgot about her birthday) is particularly delicious. Hikaru’s gesture of giving Minmay his medal (for his valor in the Battle of Salla Base in Mars) underscores a few significant things: Minmay’s lack of sensibility in how such a medal is actually won (fighting and life-risking), and the apparent one-sidedness of the romance. Sure there are special feelings involved: Hikaru thinks Minmay is special, and so does Minmay.

Next episode will be freaking awesome: “Miss Macross!”

I feel brutally old.

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.
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37 Responses to Cho Jikuu Yosai Macross: Remembering the Killer Episodes (05-08)

  1. Matt Wells says:

    From what little I’ve seen of this and Macross 7, I really have to wonder why Max didn’t end up getting his own proper spin off. He’s probably best used sparingly, but still…its not like the manga Macross 7 Trash counts, despite the main charcter, and besides, only the first few chapters were scanlated.

    • Macross 7 is also pretty much Max’s show (even more than SDFM is Global’s show), though not as much as it is Millya’s show. Macross 7 Trash is fully scanlated, and is fully craptastic.

      • Matt Wells says:

        I meant a spin off where Max and his family ARE the main focus, not a series where they steal the show from a dozen crappy ancilliary characters. Basara though is beyond criticism. And Milliya is awesome full stop. Thanks for the correction and warning regarding Trash.

  2. JELEINEN says:

    It’s too bad that the main character not being the best pilot thing got lost in the rest of the franchise.

    • schneider says:

      I don’t think Shin Kudo was the best pilot in Zero, or Basara in 7 (though one could argue that having survived all those episodes while in his peacenik plane is REAL SKILL).

      • JELEINEN says:

        They pretty much say straight out that Basara is amazingly good, if not the best. It was part of the reason that Gamalin had such a problem with him.

        Shin did play second to Focker, but Focker was the mentor, so I don’t think he counts trope-wise. Shin was certainly better than every other pilot on his side.

        The only exception I can think of is Plus, which didn’t really have a single lead.

      • His VF is b0rk3n with super robot powers, as I’ve seen more than one occassion when it just stands there and uses its barrier to take missiles. No other VF has, can, and will thereafter do this.

    • Alto is 8999 points below Brera Sterne in the piloting department. Enough said.

      (arguably, Alto is not even as good as Ozma… not yet anyway).

      • WhatSht says:

        dude, Brera is a damned cyborg and he is literally piloting a VF-25 Super Messiah.

        • Cyborg… like GUY SHISHIO, and nobody hates on him.

          Brera’s being a cyborg doesn’t bother me.

          • Matt Wells says:

            To be fair though, Cyborg Guy doesn’t really ever have the edge over the competition. As badass cyborgs go, he’s really kind of crappy, constantly getting his assed handed to him, or going on life support just after using his ultimate attack. Only in GGG is he nigh on invincible.

  3. Reid says:

    I love that you included the image of Manny Pacquiao royally owning Ricky Hatton’s face in your discussion (and dissection)of the Daedalus Attack. Trap of the southpaw, indeed. Me being an amatuer fighter, (and lefty) Manny stands up as a hugely important sports figure for me. Truly, he is a triumphant example of a human being, having come up hard on the streets to achieve what he has today both in the ring and out. It’s remarkable. And now he’s giving back to his country as a congressman while still maintaining his standing as the best fighter in the world (and he’s still a nice guy!)
    Check out his cool article I pulled from the LA Times.
    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-manny-pacquiao-20110421,0,4257499.story

    • LOL I love Manny too, but here he is a member of the House of Representatives while being clearly not qualified to craft legislation of any kind. I think Mirko Flipovic (CroCop) was another fighter politician. In any case, Manny has embarrassed himself a whole lot since he began his “public servant” career in his ill-fated candidacy in 2007. He is a regular source of facepalms over here.

      But as a boxer, he is GOD.

      Wow, you’re an amateur fighter? Awesome! I grew up watching boxing and I got to watch incredibly historic fights (on TV): Duran-Hagler, Hagler-Hearns, Leonard-Hagler (omfg), Leornard-Hearns (oh wow), almost everything Mike Tyson, De la Hoya’s ascendance, etc.

      These days though I only watch Manny, as I’ve become a HUEG fan of MMA and the UFC since the 90s.

      • Reid says:

        I feel a little bad that I’m not so quick on the uptake when it comes to politics in the Philippines. You’ll have to forgive this over-zealous fanboy for over-simplifying (and flat-out not fully understanding) how Manny is viewed. I have some really close friends and a training partner who are Filipino and we talk about Pacquiao all the time, so my views reflect theirs’ which, unfortnately, doesn’t make me the most independent thinker on the topic. I really should do better, being a reporter (the day job) and all, at keeping up with world events.

        But now on to things I feel more confident talking about…I like to watch the fights, regardless of what kind of fighting it is. My training background is primarily in Muay Thai and in MMA, so I tend to watch more of that than anything else, but my first love was boxing. I’m younger than you so I don’t have the first-hand knowledge of watching those great fights like you do, but I’ve seen a good bit via rebroadcasts. The fights I “grew up on” were the Micky Ward and Arturo Gati matchups in the early part of the last decade (I was so disappointed that the Mark Wahlberg movie “The Fighter” completely glossed over these monumental fights).

        I desperately hope that one day Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny can work a deal out, because as it is, PacMan is running out of clowns to smash through. Even good fighters like Margarito (the cheating, no-class jerk that he is), Da La Hoya, Hatton (lol) didn’t stand a chance against Manny in the ring. Shane Mosley, who I really like a lot, is another poor match up and will likely be beaten in stylish fashion. Pacquiao/Mayweather is the ONLY fight that matters in boxing right now. If the two of them can’t work a deal out, then I fear the whole sport will wither up and die in the light of MMA’s growing (and deserved) popularity.

        • Due to brevity, there will be massive oversimplifications:

          1. No 2 party system; therefore, cults of personality reign. Parties are slapdash affairs with barely distinguishable platforms and inclinations. Parties are utterly useless as voting decision aids.

          2. Since elected officials are immune from litigation and prosecution during their term (unless impeached), this is the BEST way to protect one’s criminal activities. 3 years is too little time to get one guy impeached, let alone the whole Congress (everyone is crooked).

          3. Manny has been backed (ever since he started winning belts) by the scum of Philippine gov’t who were in power at the time. The rapaciousness of these people in terms of graft, malversation, plunder, is epic. They may no longer be in power, but Manny who owes them favors IS.

          4. Manny isn’t an intellectual, he’s actually not very smart and depends on the advice of a lot of people for many things. His first campaign in 2007 pretty much was a farce (he lost, and got fleeced by many people). Bottom line I have no confidence he can read legislation much less write them, in consideration of the complex relationship of laws and policy, etc.

          5. Politics is the go-to career of everyone who’s been famous in some way. It’s disgusting, in that it’s a great means to make quick money. Dangerous, sure. But there’s nothing else that can give a single person incredible returns. The cost of getting elected however, is too large for the salary of the position to compensate — and especially not in 3 years. The best reason to run for office is to plunder it.

          Bottom line: Manny doesn’t need the money. Stay the fuck out of government. If he wants to help, he should just set up foundations/non-profits and staff it with the best people his cash can buy. If he wants his assets save, there are investment instruments for this purpose. Otherwise, he should get the fuck out of government.

          Floyd is a punk. I think he’d win, but he’s a punk who’s afraid and whose behavior is embarrassing to all humans.

          Btw, Great Boota is an even bigger MMA fan.

          • Reid says:

            Thanks for bringing me up to speed. I try to keep out of politics just because I think we can all agree that it’s all pretty much crooked on way or another. And yeah, Manny never really struck me as the brainiest of guys and it really shocked me when he actually won his seat in government, but who knows what goes on?

            I also agree that Floyd is a punk (a very very skillful one), but I think Pacman could take him. One way or another, that fight NEEDS to happen if boxing wants to remain a viable sport.

  4. Whatsht says:

    I’ve done 15 episodes, charging though macross was kinda awazing, even i was amazed that i can hold this long.

  5. vendredi says:

    I’ve always found it more than a little interesting how the two big mecha series handle hand-to-hand combat: Gundam has historically had at it with dedicated close-combat weapons like heat hawks and beam sabers. There’s the occasional body slam but it’s never really struck me as a primary offensive. On the other hand, Macross has always preferred fists, feet, and fancy aerobatic martial arts – although Macross does seem to get stuck in a lot less often.

    It’s kind of interesting to see some bleed-over in more recent series – you mentioned in your last post on Gundam Unicorn mecha (which I finally had a chance to comment on) how it incorporates a lot more “brutality” in it’s depiction of combat by having the mecha claw, kick, and slam each other. Hand-to-hand weapons are also making an appearance in the more recent Macross shows: the VF-0 came with a fixed bayonet to it’s rifle, and if I recall correctly, Macross Frontier has the VF-25 come standard with a combat vibro-knife.

    • WhatSht says:

      that knife that the Vf-25 has just makes it all the more awesome.

    • Indeed, there’s a lot more Gundam in Macross these days:

      1. H2H combat, though arguably it’s more Evangelion than Gundam due to the use of the knife. I was rather concerned that Diamond Leader in ep 14 of Frontier would open his palm (bolstered by the Pinpoint Barrier System) in an imitation of the Shining Finger (from G Gundam).
      2. Beam weapon use by VFs. Yikes. The VF-27 Lucifer shot down a pretty big Vajra carrier with one. That makes it not a lot different from say, the Wing Zero Gundam.

    • Reid says:

      I always thought about this too. Personally, I’ve never really understood the reason why a VF would need to become a fully humanoid robot when just having legs fold out of the back of the jet to form the GERWALK mode seemed a lot more plausible (and, to me, better looking). It kind of seems to me that the whole reason a robot would have hands is to hold a variety of objects, hand-to-hand weapons included (which is all part of the human-magnified-to-giant-size appeal of mecha anime). If all a Valkyrie is going to hold is a gun, why does it even need to have hands? I dunno. Macross super-fans feel free to trash me on this one, because I really think the battloid mode is a little redundant considering the GERWALK mode is not only more feasible but also seems to be better suited to combat operations (smaller target, less transformation time, better access to all the missiles etc.) as portrayed in the shows.

  6. WhatSht says:

    and also, i don’t think its “Choo Jikuu Yosai Macross” i think its “Cho Jikuu Yosai Macross” because, in english, “Choo” is my surname and google translate translate “Super Dimensional Fortress Macross” as “Chō jikū yōsai makurosu”

  7. Pterobat says:

    Ah….I once did a note-by-note by-play of SDFM, whatever thoughts came to mind at the moment. It was really fun.

    However, in the beginning I was too lazy to separate episode from episode, the problem being that they all tended to run together in my mind. It was very hard to pick favourites, except for picking THE favourite, which was “Messenger” (yes, I’m serious), because I could find something good in every episode, so that separating them into different parts was not that first priority.

    I really need to watch the Galaxy Network’s fansub of SDFM, too. I am not the type to compare translations section by section, but I love the video master that’s used here: it makes the AnimEigo one look garish and oversaturated.

    About Kamjin, though, the characterization of him as the “most human” Zentradi is something I’ve nodded along with at first, but the idea becomes less and less true the more I think about it. Such a statement presumes there is a larger human nature that can be described, one that happens to match Kamjin’s personality.

    My feeling is more that all the Zentradi characters are “human” in a sense beyond the biological. Even before they began allying with humanity, they have distinct personalities and emotional reactions rather than being the “warrior drones” you would expect. I really don’t see where Kamjin sticks out in that sense. His personality is not following orders, but the high command’s personality is following orders, at least at this stage. Human nature’s too complex to say which of the two is the most like us, IMO. Kamjin’s level of passion may be different, but are humans, by general nature, a passionate species to a Kamjin-esque extreme?

    • Re Kamjin:

      He is, at this point of the story at least, the most human in the sense that he is prone to insubordination, wild and self-indulgent, etc. Compared to every other Zentraedi so far who seem alien and distant, Kamjin is relatable not only because of his behavior, but also in how his kind of character seems very familiar from other media.

      • Pterobat says:

        I dunno, as I’ve said above, Exsedol and Britai still seem very “human” to me, not distant at all. Obviously they don’t have the freedom of humans to choose their own destiny, but in terms of the sense of personality they show, very human.

  8. Matt Wells says:

    I didn’t enjoy this set as much as the first 4 episodes, but I was still thoroughly entertained. Next comes Max sneaking around Metal Gear Solid style on a Zentraid ship, and Miclone Biology 101, so there’s that to look forward to!

    Episodes 5 and 6 were appropriately awesome space battles, though the ending to 6 seemed a little rushed. Relegating the rest of the fighting and Hikaru’s reaction to coming face to face with a living Zentradi soldier was a necessary evil off budget and time restraints no doubt. I particuarly liked that scene with Hikaru: our first encounter with a Zentradi foot soldier was an introduction to something horrifying and alien, this time it was something else entirely.

    Hikaru, becoming a hardened soldier of war, was confronted with the reailty, no matter how briefly, that the creatures they are fighting are humans, only slightly different from him. Well delivered sentiment on the horror of war, only magnified by the alien divide between the two cultures. Minmay continues to confound my expectations, much like she does to Hikaru’s. She’s flighty, indecisive, and liable to change her mind over anything. She acts with a curious combination of self obsession and friendliness. Even unaware of her portentious destiny, she acts every bit the Star she will become.

    Kamjin seems to be another deconstruction of the genre; far from the typical and noble Alien rival in your average Robot show, he’s a compulsive conniving imbecile, renowned not for his piloting skills but his talent for getting his subordinates massacred. Its an interesting subversion. Misa’s past was a bit too functional and quick for my liking, given how much time we’ve spent with the other members of the love triangle. Some quick denoument on how she’s finally found some acceptance with Riber’s death would be nice, rather than just longing for death when over 70,000 people depend on your leadership for survival.

    With 8 I took instantly to Max; getting double the kills of his experienced Team Leader in only his first real battle, and effortlessly hitting on his girlfriend beforehand. Poor Kakizaki has dead-on-arrival written all over his face, though whether he’s simple comedic relief or a standby dramatic pathos in a can like Ryu from Gundam, I couldn’t say. Hikaru’s attatchment to the medal was interesting; he’s not a career soldier yet, and as a testament to his earlier survival it was just as much a pretty bauble to him as it was to Minmay.

    While her reaction was pretty selfish (like friendzoning the guy who saved her life twice), and as petty and flawed she can be, she only became more realistic to me for it. She acts just like a REAL self-obsessed teenager, unaware of her own feelings or those of others. It made her a thousand times more real than today’s hideous moe-blob love interests, she’s an odd brew of infuriating and strangley loveable. Like a puppy proud that it’s ripped up your slippers.

    • As much as I appreciate your take on Minmay (it’s just good to see someone who just… gets it), I think I appreciate your take on Kamujin even more.

      I’ve been particularly harsh on Kamujin as you’ll eventually come to read in the future posts in this blogging series, but I think seeing him as a subversion of the ‘noble’ enemy rival is a generous but gratifying move. I realize that I won’t see another character like this until… Jerid.

      • Matt Wells says:

        Thanks for taking the time to respond to month old posts! I appreciate whatever thoughts and feedback you have to share. As far as the “Noble” enemy rival trope Kamjin seems to disparage, the earliest example I can think of would be Prince Sharkin in Brave Raideen; the character archetype was refined into its more modern form with none other than Prince Heinel in Voltes V, and Richter in Tosho Daimos. Note that all three are aliens, same as Kamjin. Its a common trope in older anime. Char merely branched out into the more modern “Masked Rival” sub-trope.

        Not that the idea that the rival figure in a series can be a figure of contempt is anything new, similar contemporary examples I can think of at the time would be Ypsilon in VOTOMS and Gostello (sort of) in SPT Layzner. I just read Kamjin that way from both how the series presents him (like his exchange with Hikaru in ep. 7 seeing them equally matched) and from the narrative role he seems to fit in the series. Kamjin is thrown into the rival role, ill fitting though it might be, so I saw him as a deliberate subversion of it.

        Macross seems to be all about referencing and subverting the Mecha shows that came before it, its creators remembering love just as Nadesico did to far more Post-Modern effect 15 years later. I apologise if I otherthink my reading of the series, thats just how it grabs me in light of your work.

        • I will respond to almost three year old posts. We Remember Love is my BURNING MANLY PASSION. Allow me to digress a bit:

          The ways of the anime blogging hobby is harsh. WRL is one of the lucky ones to have people like you who constantly engage its material. The posts that get much attention are the trendy current season anime variety, but of course this blog can’t be itself without talking about the old and sometimes obscure anime and manga. Thus, it relies more on google and word of mouth (mostly google) to drag in the occasional visitor looking for Faye Valentine pics (or Strike Freedom ones, for that matter) and discover something interesting to read, and perhaps comment on. Every now and then there’s this one lurker that shows up and reads like a post from every month of the blog’s existence in one sitting. I was like that when I discovered The Animanachronism, my blog idol.

          As such, we’re really throwing messages in a bottle in an ocean of stars. I certainly care about almost every damn post I publish here. I would engage anyone who picks up the conversation I started no matter how long ago.

          Now to go back to your point re: the rival in robot anime. I’m even more convinced that you’re saying something pretty damn cool here. I certainly did not consider this until you pointed it out. I’ll certainly keep it in mind when writing future posts.

          • Matt Wells says:

            Thanks for the praise man! Dedication like this is why you’re the best of the best, and why I went from one such lurker to a devoted follower of yours. Oh Captain my Captain! etc. If I’ve helped you with any future posts, than I’m glad my viewing experience was able to contribute in some small way to DYRL.

  9. Pingback: Matt Wells on Kamjin and the Alien Rivals in Robot Anime | The Ghosts of Discussions

  10. Pingback: Cho Jikuu Yosai Macross 33-36: The End of The Triangle | We Remember Love

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