Macross is a Story of Space Whales, or, Macross Is a Space Whale (Let’s Also Love Macross Dynamite 7)!

Macross 7 Basara Mylene sleeping

In Macross Dynamite 7, Basara sang to space whales. This isn’t the spoiler. The spoiler is how the biggest Moby Dick of the space whales sang along. This moment is a very divisive thing among Macross fans. For those who already hate Macross 7, this is the pinnacle of everything wrong with it. For those who love it, it is the most crowning moment of awesome for the sub-franchise, and of Macross itself.

Infinite Ryvius had space whales too (or according to some, galactic squid) but no one takes it against that show. It’s always taken seriously for good or bad. No one takes Macross 7 seriously, or rather, gives it any real credit, even fans who like it. It’s as if there was something intrinsically wrong with the very idea of space whales and how it shouldn’t be part of a show the fans oh so want to take seriously like Macross.

Well, I’m telling you that the Macross itself, is a big fucking space whale. The first act of Super Dimension Fortress Macross is a play on the story of being in the belly of the whale. The Bible did it in the Book of Jonah. Disney did it with Pinocchio. The belly of the whale is a place like purgatory, it’s a place to both despair, repent, and make dreams. Here is where we find Hikaru and Minmay.

Macross SDF-1 in space

In discussions of Macross, I seldom come across mentions of the whole trapped in the hold affair. Informally I get references about “fishing in space” where the space tuna visible from the giant window. I recall the school of tuna being frightened by the giant eye of Monstro the Whale from Disney’s Pinocchio only here the tuna is dead, and the only threat from Macross the Whale is Hikaru on a rope.

Both Hikaru and Minmay are faced with the idea that life as they knew it has ended. They are now in a new world – uncertainty for both obviously, but Minmay would eventually see this as opportunity, while Hikaru would think of it as loss – of his past life as a pilot? Sure, but also the loss of that innocent moment with Minmay when he fell for her, where he was the only man left for her.

They pretended to have a wedding ceremony and would’ve kissed!

Macross: Do You Remember Love? did it very differently. Both characters are already professionals. Here it’s unclear why Minmay was attracted to Hikaru only that she really did take an obvious interest in him. She was coquettish and teasing, but here she actually kissed him. There was no wishy-washiness about Minmay here. She had it for Hikaru and likewise, obviously.

The production values were also through the roof – the film really treated this episode as an important set-piece and it showed.

Have some gorgeous Disney animation!

Jonah was swallowed by the sea monster because he disobeyed God. He wanted no part of preaching to Niniveh so God sent the beast to swallow him until he broke. Pinocchio got swallowed by Monstro because he was trying to rescue Gepetto. In both cases, being in the belly was the culmination of the struggle. Upon escape they had less if not no conflicts left to resolve in their respective narratives.

In Macross, the belly of the whale incident happens to set up much of the narrative. It is a launching device rather than the height of the drama.

The point of this is, the space whale is important in Macross. The space whale is Macross itself.

The Zentraedi ships… particularly Britai’s flagship has the silhouette of a sperm whale. The main cast gets trapped in the belly of that whale too! Misa, Hikaru, in SDFM, Minmay was with them in DYRL. It’s not climactic, but it is definitely pivotal.

Macross Zentraedi Capital Ships

This brings us to Macross Dynamite 7. This side story has no bearing on any of the main narratives. Macross Plus introduced technology that became part of future shows. MD7 is pretty much an open-ended dead end. It resolves nothing important to the narrative, so what is its value? It is a kind of fanservice. Better production values due being an OVA is one, having that whole Mylene almost raped by a psycho lesbian is another…

This too IS fanservice.

But the real juice is Basara singing to the space whales. He already turned Gepelnitch to his song, so what’s next? Why space whales? For whatever other reason, it’s also because whales are a symbol of Macross. The Megaroads, the Macross Class colony ships, they’re all space whales spreading culture to the ends of the galaxy.

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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33 Responses to Macross is a Story of Space Whales, or, Macross Is a Space Whale (Let’s Also Love Macross Dynamite 7)!

  1. schneider says:

    Great work in tying space whales and Macross together! Macross 7 haters are so blinded that they can’t accept the awesome.

    My favorite part of Dynamite 7 is SPACE AHAB. He’s actually even a playable unit in the Macross PSP game.

  2. Baka-Raptor says:

    No Flower Girl either.

    Dynamite felt unpleasantly fillerish until the Angel Voice scene, which redeemed the whole OVA several times over. Angel Voice may be my favorite Macross song.

    • I don’t know if ep 02 can be considered filler: a towering cathedral of perversion perhaps, but filler is a questionable tag.

      But yes, that ending and Angel Voice is a totally awesome song to favor. In general, Dynamite 7 songs are better crafted, more interestingly melodic, if less anthemic than the songs from the TV series.

    • universalbunny says:

      There is also Feel the Universe a wonderful piece which I think plays at the very end, soon after the Angel Voice.

  3. Reid says:

    I like how the animators didn’t even try to match the mouthflaps when Basara sings. Still, that whole scene is pretty freakin’ awesome. Spacewhales are too cool.

    Also, no animation firm on Earth will ever surpass Disney…even circa 1940. Monstro is the most sinister thing I can remember from my childhood until the tyrannosaur tries to kill Lex and Tim in Jurassic Park. That bit where it slides and turns around to chase Pinnochio and Gepetto, casting a huge furrow of water behind it is an amazing sight to behold.

  4. WhatSht says:

    I personally like Macross Dynamite 7, Basara singing to the whales is just plain awesome, and when the whales became singing, both the Zolan Patrol and the Pirates stopped shooting.

    Seriously, we need some hot-blooded singer to sing to real life whales.

    And I remember playing the Macross PSP game, in the “Chronicles” mission, one of it requires you to be Basara, pilot his VF-19P, and “sing” to the whales, by using the music attacks and shooting sound pods at the whales, while the whales try to kill you(by using shockwaves), instead of singing along.

    • Yesss, this is the thing right here. It’s one thing to see Gepelnitch sing along, that one was truly awesome but we were ready for that (not really). But we weren’t ready, we will never ever be ready for the finale of Dynamite 7. It’s awesomeness is truly unique.

  5. megaroad1 says:

    Angel Voice is Suugooiii!
    Have to confess that the first time I watched Dynamite 7 I thought it went a bit too far with the singing to the whales thing. But after watching again a couple of years later, it dawned on me that reaching out to whales by singing was the equivalent of piercing the heavens with a drill mystique of another well known anime. And you can say a lot of things about Basara, but when you can get your rival in love, to spontaneously risk his life covering your back in a shootout in outer space, you must be doing something right.

    I had never really thought of how first act of SDFM was such a play on the story of Jonah and the Whale. You’re tops when it comes to making these connections. Indeed Hikaru and Minmay were swallowed up by something like a whale and had to survive in those difficult circumstances. Hell, one could argue that the entire city/island went through the same thing, being caught up in the fold. And the subsequent Macross convoys (7 and Frontier) are a continuation of this play of course with the vital difference that the people inside choose to enter the ship.

    Just a quick question. Are you still continuing the CB blog, or are you taking a break?

    • Thank you.

      Indeed you can argue that the first residents of Macross City are such examples. They had a way of life, it was lost, then it was really REALLY lost (after Canada), then it was REALLY REALLY REALLY lost after Bodolle Zer. They had to make resolutions for not just themselves but for the future AND the Zentraedi. That’s quite Jonah-like come to think of it.

      I have posts up to ep 14 ready, but I’ve yet to make the My Funny Valentine post. I don’t like publishing when I have a post unwritten. Next week, I will.

  6. CVPhased says:

    We’ve got the space whale from Macross 7, the space whale from Infinity Ryvius, and that space whale from Gundam SEED. Looks like space whales are indeed important in mecha anime after all. 😛

  7. Matt Wells says:

    So based on your writing, the secret equation of Macross is Kawamori redefining meta-fictional post-modernism/troll be trolling, the inherent fail of the characters and the universe itself, and… Whales?

    Huh. I really need to get through my Macross backlog. And I personally fail to see how something like Space Whales is a betrayal of the franchise. This is a series founded on the notion that you can end a war with a love song, the only thing even remotely resembling realism in Macross is in its depiction of mecha combat.

    • AHEM.

      The first contact of the Western world (or at least, the majority of Western anime fans) with real robot anime, was with Robotech. Robotech had 3-4 shitty songs in english and had the worst possible portrayal of Minmay. Thus, the “Love Story set against the backdrop of great battles” part doesn’t really come through, and instead the show pretty much was what Mobile Suit Gundam was for those who experienced it for the first time. It was a military science fiction robot space saga. It was taken quite seriously as much as kids and teens can take shows seriously.

      Macross Plus didn’t help because it was incredibly awesome in a dark, adult way.

      Then Macross 7 arrives, with all its well, AWESOME, and fans were utterly shocked. Some of course welcomed it, and these are fans who end up embracing the whole franchise. But many see it as the ruination of their classic military space saga.

      There you go.

      • Matt Wells says:

        THIS SHOW IS JAWESOME. Utterly retarded too, BUT STILL JAWESOME. That said I’m a guy who adores G Gundam, so I might not be the most balanced viewer to judge this show’s merits.

        • I hate this word. I won’t even type it.

          But I accept your love for Macross 7.

          One of the greatest moments in the franchise.

          • universalbunny says:

            Is this from the later episodes of the series? I remember something like this when Geppelnitche’s ship suffered similar attack, but the two characters here don’t look like G.

          • Oh my god I can’t believe you haven’t seen this. This is a special unaired episode that comes with the Macross Encore stuff. It is legendary: FLEET OF THE STRONGEST WOMEN. Chlore, Millya’s RIVAL from way back in Meltran flight academy attacks Macross 7 with her fleet. One of the singular greatest things in Macross ever.

  8. Wow, I’d never noticed the whale analogy for Hikaru and Minmay’s plight. Thanks for the insight; it’s quite a thought-provoking idea.

    Now I won’t deny I hated many, many things from Macross 7 (songs, teletubbie-esque repetition, limp love-triangle, space vamps, attempted yuri-rape, etc etc etc), but the space whale were one of the few things which didn’t bother me at all. Maybe I’d already accepted the show’s unique tone, or that the idea of whales in space just didn’t seem that strange, but to me, it was a perfectly logical conclusion to Basara’s ideals; singing to the universe!

    I would think if you’d already sat through the entirety of the tv series, than Basara’s tale wouldn’t be that shocking. By that stage most people would have surely given up, or accepted M7 for what it was. That’s what happened to me and I really enjoyed the sequence.

    Still, I’d have preferred it if he’d performed a private gig the Flower Girl

    • Thank you!

      All true, all true. There’s just so much to love that I sometimes find it difficult to articulate, and it takes years for me to come up with something like this. But thanks to TOTSUGEKI LOVE HEART I somehow make it!

  9. chii says:

    deep man…. deep

  10. squaresphere says:

    The whole concept of the “in the belly of the whale” as a jumping off point for character narratives is pretty interesting. Breaking it down, it’s basically the , “I know I’m gonna die, but god help me, if i make it through it, things will be different.” It could also be seen as the characters are now isolated and whatever “petty” outside story lines that were messing with them are now gone finally allowing their introspection to change their character and be shown as growth.

    Just thinking about MF there were a couple scenes like this. The obvious one are the ones featuring escape pods/shelters. There are interesting in that unlike most “in the belly” there a lot of other people in the same area but for all intents and purposes our heroes/heroines are alone with their thoughts or the scene shares them with a select few. My favorite one is when Sheryl decides to finally sing her song for those in despair.

    But the two others that jumped out at me that I hadn’t notice before actually feature Alto. The first one being when he goes all GAR and actually “enters the belly of the beast” to save Luca. This was when we see Alto’s first change as a professional solider albeit still a bit headstrong. He comes out of it with a bit more confidence in his newly chosen profession. Later, the next Belly scene is Michel’s death. All the little side stories fall to the way side when he and Michel talk about love while blasting the corridors of death. When he dies, everything drops away leaving only Klan and Alto screaming at the darkness. This right here is where we see Alto make up his mind to defend the colony no matter what and by extension want to put “roots” down.

    But back to M7 and space whales, Angel Voice is a great song but my favorite version of it is the Basara+Minmay duet version along with the extend karaoke guitar solo that positively SINGS TO MY SOUL. And that’s how I saw Basara play it. He was singing to his soul making the mountains move with his voice. I suppose it could be said that the Space Whale is really just a “dark moment” narrative that either gives an opportunity for the despair to consume them or for them to spark a light in the soul that fights the darkness and lets them shine.

    Lucky for us Marcoss is a mix of both. At the best of times, lets us see our heroes hit the lowest of lows but come shining back with the force of a thousand Itano circuses and Macross class speaker pods set to 11.

    • Excellent! Comments like this justify this hobby many times over.

      All this Macross Frontier awesomeness is getting me excited for Sayonara no Tsubasa which is soooo close. I feel like a chapter of my life is coming to pass after I watch that film.

      • megaroad1 says:

        I feel the same way. The moment one finishes watching it, one is probably seen the last of this particular chapter in the Macross saga. A chapter which has been enormously gratifying for Macross fans since it kind of put all things Macross back under the limelight.

        I’m hoping that they start off something great for the 30 year anniversary next year. Frontier will be hard to surpass.

  11. Pingback: squaresphere on Macross and Space Whales | The Ghosts of Discussions

  12. SignOfZeta says:

    For people that hate Macross 7 (I was certainly one of them when it came out) this show is the answer to the question they were afraid to ask. How do you make a sequel to Macross?

    The show is about a military conflict that was, like all wars, stupid. They fix is by establishing communications with the enemy. Once they realize they are all the same species, its easy to resolve the conflict.

    How do you make a sequel to this? New aliens that will senselessly attack the Earth only to also be defeated by singing? Did we all (that is the viewer, and the fictional characters) learn nothing from this story!?

    I really don’t think Dynamite is a side story, or a meaningly diversion at all. I think its the ultimate conclusion of the original Macross ideal. The people wanted peace, and they got it. They didn’t get it by building the biggest hyper mega launcher, they got it through cultural understanding. Basara understands this is and is FULLY committed to, and comfortable with, his pacifism. Instead of Amuro or Camile whining about killing people bothers them, Basara simply refuses to do it, and he’s obviously way more comfortable with that. He may be a big doofus, but at least he’s not constantly angst-ing all over the damned place like so many other mecha pilots. (His polar opposite might be Hero Yui, who is perfectly comfortable mowing down thousands of people with zero regret).

    Also, space whales are totally rad, the near-rape scene was %100 un-appreciated by me, and the giant Zentran diver suit was really cool.

    • Excellent.

      Applause.

      Thank you for articulating what I want to believe about Basara and Macross 7, and thank you for making me reconsider the franchise as a whole. If you’re ever in Manila I want to buy you a beer.

  13. Pingback: SignOf Zeta on Macross Sequels | The Ghosts of Discussions

  14. Pingback: Going Beyond The Impossible: The Reconstruction of the Macross Frontier Canon—The 5th of 6 Posts on The Wings of Goodbye | We Remember Love

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