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”
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.
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”
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”
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.