Wildstar's Anime Review

Friday, May 09, 2003

Super Dimensional Fortress Macross TV (AnimeEigo)

I saw Robotech as a young teenager in the mid-80s. Like many others, I was enthralled by its story-line and complex characters. Rick, Lisa and Minmay , Roy and Claudia, Max and Miria were all deeply drawn characters with interesting motivations that captured my imagination. The epic scope of intergalactic warfare against the vastly more powerful Zentraedi, and the exciting battles with transforming "veritech" fighters gave me the greatest adrenaline rush of my young life. At the time, I thought there could be nothing as mysterious as Protoculture and no television show as great as Robotech.

But, having rewatched FHE's edited compilation of Robotech a couple years ago, I did not have much hope for this Macross set, because I did not find that Robotech lived up to the impression it had on me as a teenager.

Well, I was wrong. The original un-edited Macross series is a true classic that has withstood the test of time extremely well.

With this complete box set, AnimeEigo has graced Macross fans with a dream come true. Who ever thought that Macross would be digitally restored and released unedited, uncut, with the original music?

As I watched AnimeEigo's Macross set over the past week, I was surprised to find that the original Macross was head and shoulders above Robotech. As a matter of fact, I decided that Robotech was wretched in comparison. "Robotech sucks!" I repeated to myself as I saw the masterful direction, music and action of the original un-edited version. "Robotech Sucks?" I never thought I would ever utter those words. But as we have seen time after time, American companies have the distinctly amazing habit of completely ruining even the greatest of Japanese Anime masterpieces.

I would highly recommend this Macross box set to anyone of any background. I am certain that the combination of action and romance will captivate even the most demanding viewers. Macross is a prime example of what anime has to offer: truly heart-warming characters and impressively creative plots, beyond the ordinary, run-of-the-mill action shows we see on American television.

As a show that is more than 20 years old, it is surprisingly better written and better animated than most anime shows available today. I would hold up its detailed mecha action sequences against most any anime I have seen. Although some episodes suffer from a low budget, especially the two recap episodes and many of the episodes after the original ending of the magnificent episode 27. However, on the whole, there were so many more detailed flight combat scenes and beautiful character designs than I had anticipated. Shoji Kawamori's designs stand out as definite masterpieces in mecha design. His Valkyries are both sleek and lovingly detailed. Additionally, the giant SDF-1 Macross is one of the all time greatest anime battleships. Its revolutionary design manages to pay tribute to the 70's Space Cruiser Yamato, while itself gaining the stature of one of the great wonders of the world. At rest, lit by Christmas lights in the final episode, the SDF-1 Macross represents a significant mark in anime history and evokes bitter-sweet nostalgia.

What is extraordinary about Macross is not its mecha design alone. On the contrary, many fans of Macross are attracted to its story and romance more than its "technical" merits. With heroism, tragedy, love triangles, love rectangles, and maybe even love octagons, Macross develops several human dramas extremely well. All the characters are fleshed out very convincingly, with very important peeks at how their past led them to who they have become. As with any well written script, the audience quickly becomes invested in these characters and how their futures will turn out. The twists and turns in the character's lives are still surprising today, even after repeated viewings.

I believe that what finally set Macross apart from the rest as a historical event was the use of music. I can't think of a prior anime where music played such an important role. Minmei's character evolves and struggles with her performances just as the warriors face their own battles. And in the end, she sings for what she believes in.

It seems that every other sci-fi anime over the past twenty years has parodied or paid homage to Macross in one way or another. When you see the intelligent scripts, elegantly cinematic direction and wonderful use of music with Minmei's concerts, you will finally understand why Macross has had such a powerful influence on Japanese anime.

To top it all off, this box set contains a commentary track on the last two episodes by the chief director Noburo Ishiguro.

Macross is the best of the best. An anime for the ages. And AnimeEigo has delivered a home run.

L-O-V-E Happy Minmei!

My review at Mania.com


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