Friday, April 8, 2011

Macross Zero Anime Review

Macross Zero
Bandai Visual
Complete Collection - 5 episodes
175 minutes
MSRP - n/a (no official US release available)
¥21,000 (2008) Blu-Ray
¥5,250 (2002-2004) Vol. 1-5/ea.
ISBN - n/a
Japanese Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Shoji Kawamori
Studio - Satelight
TO BUY: Macross Zero

Synopsis: In 1999 an alien spacecraft crash lands on South Ataria Island on Earth proving we are not alone. The world is divided between the constant fighting of U.N. and Anti-U.N. factions, but now a new battle has begun to harness the alien technology.
Pilot Shin Kudo first encounters Sara Nome
By 2008 both sides have secretly developed variable aircraft - the U.N. Spacy through research of the alien artifacts and the Anti-U.N. by stealing that information. Pilot Shin Kudo is shot down by an incredible plane which transforms itself into a robot. He lands on Mayan Island where the inhabitants lead a mostly tribal lifestyle and greatly shun modern technology.
Meet the Focker!
Here he meets Sara Nome - the young priestess of the Mayan people. She distrusts outsiders, but her sister Mao secretly wishes to leave the island and journey to a modern city. The island and its people hold a startling link to the downed spacecraft and both groups of outsiders desperately seek to uncover it.

The VF-0S piloted by Roy Focker
Shin rejoins his fleet and begins training with ace test pilot Roy Focker on the top secret U.N. variable fighter plane - the VF-0 Phoenix! Just in time as the Anti-U.N. forces converge on Mayan Island.  It's a dogfight to the finish with Shin and Sara in the middle as the U.N. Wars come to a spectacular close!
"Oh, hey. I didn't see you singing naked there.  What's up?"
Pros: Roy Focker! - we get some worthy backstory on our favorite Senpai, Sara Nome sings in the buff, great mecha designs for the prototype valkyries, even better design for the Anti-U.N. fighter, soundtrack is decent
The VF-0S in action
Cons: Subtitles were awful - barely understood what
Shin and Roy let loose in their new Valkyries
was happening in some crucial scenes, story was confusing (probably due to the subtitles) - especially the ending, CG mecha rendering and dogfights don't feel flawless, color choices for some visual effects are questionable (neon green/pink thruster flames on the missiles?)
Nora Polyansky flies her SV-51 against the U.N. forces
Mike Tells It Straight: This show ain't no Macross Plus. Lush visuals (Satelight went on to create Macross Frontier) and some great dogfight sequences, but the overall plot was a bit unclear. The ending left me scratching my head. I really enjoyed seeing old favorite Roy Focker back in action and the mecha designs were top notch (the prototype Monster and GBP armor were incredible).
"Listen to my song...and stop looking at my boobs!"
Having original creator Shoji Kawamori at the helm had me completely psyched, but it felt like too much was being crammed into this five episode OVA. It's an interesting entry into Macross canon and worth a viewing for the stunning visuals, but won't leave you satisfied at the end.  What the heck is a Bird-Human anyway!?  I was left scratching my head a bit after the dust settled.  Watch Macross Zero before Macross Frontier as episode 10 of MF pays homage to the OVA.  Ranka Lee plays Mao Nome in a movie version of the events of this story!  
1/60 scale VF-0S perfect transformation 'toy' by Yamato
* Note: Macross Zero is not available as an official US release due to the continuing copyright battle between Harmony Gold (licensees of the original Super Dimension Fortress Macross in the US/outside of Japan - aka Robotech season one) and Big West (original license owners of Macross).  For purposes of this review I watched the HK unofficial version because it was relatively cheap and had subtitles (the Japanese official versions don't have English subtitles).  Bah!
Just imagine Ride of the Valkyries playing in the background ;)

Site recommendations: Macross World, Macross Compendium

TO BUY and Recommendations: Macross Zero FX Macross Frontier FX
Macross: Do You Remember Love Perfect Edition