Thursday, March 29, 2012

Macross Plus Anime Review

Macross Plus
Manga Entertainment
Complete Collection - 2 discs
180 mins. - 4 episodes
$39.98 (2005)
$29.95 (1999) Pts 1+2
$29.95 (1999) Pts 3+4
ISBN 013138200693
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Shoji Kawamori/Shinichiro Watanabe
Studio - Triangle Staff

Synopsis: It's the year 2040 and humanity has spread across the galaxy in the three decades since their first interstellar war with the Zentraedi.  On the planet Eden the U.N. Spacy is developing a new generation of valkyrie fighters to replace the VF-11 Thunderbolt. 
Kinda says it all, huh?
In deep space the reckless, but incredibly talented pilot Isamu Dyson is reassigned to planet Eden as the new test pilot for the YF-19 advanced variable fighter.  He's originally from Eden and his return is a homecoming after many years.  The rival test plane competing to usurp the VF-11 is the YF-21 piloted by Guld Bowman, Isamu's former childhood friend.  The two suffered a falling out prior to their leaving Eden to join the U.N. Spacy and harbor bitter resentments. 
Myung gets between the two former friends Guld and Isamu
Adding fuel to the fire is the simultaneous return of Myung Lone, the current producer of Sharon Apple, the galaxy's most popular music sensation and first A.I. (artificial intelligence, i.e. computer) star.  Myung is the former friend of both pilots and the cause of their falling out.  Tensions run high as the two men battle on the test field and for Myung's affections. 
The YF-21 and YF-19 battle it out on the test ground
Sharon's concert on Eden becomes a catalyst for dire events concerning the three reunited friends.  Myung sacrificed her singing career to become the voice behind Sharon until her (or its) A.I. can be perfected.  A dangerous bio-component is added to Sharon's hardware causing her to become unstable and a final concert/showdown on Earth ushers in the final resolution to the friends' conflict.  Now Macross City and the dormant Macross are ground zero for a defining battle between former friends and lovers.
Sharon Apple revives the Macross
Pros: Incredible new Valkyrie designs (at the time) for the VF-11B/YF-19/YF-21; soundtrack by Yoko Kanno is probably the best I've heard in an anime (runners up are Cowboy Bebop, Wolf's Rain and Ghost in the Shell - all composed by Kanno as well), fascinating love triangle between Isamu/Myung/Guld (well, guess it's a quadrangle if you include Sharon), great use of CG for a 15-year-old+ anime
Cons: Characters designs by MASAYUKI didn't blow me away - the faces were too angular (especially Guld with his weird 'cheek chops'), it's too short!

Isamu enters Earth's atmosphere
Mike Tells It Straight: Shoji Kawamori and Studio Nue revive the Macross franchise in 1994 after the critical failure of Macross II in 1992 (which lacked both Kawamori and Studio Nue).  Often called the 'Top Gun' of anime this show is a spectacular showcase of imaginative variable airplane mecha, incredible soundtrack, and intense emotional characterization.  Easily one of my favorite anime of all time and a true classic.  I'm very biased due to growing up with Robotech (the American bastardization of Super Dimension Fortress Macross) as a major influence.
Guld and Isamu get up close and personal
Some people may complain about the love triangle detracting from the action and slowing down the pace, but sorry folks, the story is really about these three people's lives and the resolution of their childhood dreams.  Myung gave up her dreams to become the voice and talent behind Sharon Apple, Guld suppresses the violent nature of his Zentraedi heritage, and Isamu stays pretty much the same - a self-destructive, thrill-seeker with no consideration to the consequences.
Guld and the YF-21 battle the Ghost X-9
It's a beautiful thrill ride of mecha action while Isamu and Guld battle for supremacy on the test battlefield, but countered with emotionally charged music from Myung and Sharon Apple.  Garnered enough interest in Macross to produce a television series/OVA/movie Macross 7 (now that's a review for another day) and eventually the current Macross Frontier efforts.  Absolutely worth checking out if you like mecha, airplanes, or music. 

The Movie Edition has a few differences and I'll hopefully get a review of it up soon (check the 'browse by franchise' section for Macross).

TO BUY and Recommendations: