Super Dimensional Fortress Macross and Do You Remember Love?: it’s sacriligeous, I know…

…but can I be different from most other Macross fans?

And so I finally come, to the original...

In the current Macross fandom, saying that one prefers Frontier to all of the older series is quite possibly a death wish. At least, I get the impression that older fans would roll their eyes and mutter about ‘n00bs’ who cannot appreciate a true classic.

The classic that introduced some of the best transforming units the world has seen…

But I have to admit it: I prefer Frontier to all the others. It’s not the most well-written of all the series (the ones I think worthy of that accolade will be revealed at a later time), but for more practical reasons – the music, the characters, the graphics – I like them all better. The last factor, of course, can’t really be helped, and nor can my partiality to the seiyuu involved in Frontier.

The original triangle – an idol, a pilot, and a senior officer…

To be honest, however, I think the greatest factor of all is that I don’t really like any of the characters in the original. Hikaru was basically a jerk in many of his words and actions, especially to Misa, Minmay was just incredibly inconsiderate for most of the series, and I really did not like how even Misa allowed love to rule her. I read a fascinating post about “good female characters” last year, where the writer asked for more female characters that

  • fall down hilariously
  • say the wrong things
  • are emotionally repressed
  • are depressed
  • etc etc

Applying that list of flaws to SDFM, you can definitely say that each of the three mains is flawed. My problem is that their flaws are all ones that I can hardly tolerate, whether in myself or in others. The character arcs make sense to me – how their flaws are overcome fits with their personalities, the developments within the show, and also the context of the 1980s in which SDFM was made. But unlike many older fans, I simply do not like them and thus cannot appreciate them fully. For Minmay and Hikaru, this applies even for their improved selves in DYRL (Misa arguably regresses). As for the supporting characters: perhaps my relative youth is showing, but I found Exsedol and even Max and Milia, rather theatrical, and thus, mostly just sources of amusement.

That said, there is one aspect of the original series that I personally feel is under-appreciated by old and new fans alike. Most people I’ve encountered focus on at least one of the three things that form the basis of a Macross story: the mecha and the dogfights, the music, the character relationships. Perhaps I’ve been hanging out in the wrong circles, but I’ve never seen anyone talk or write about the intent of Macross, the overall message behind the story built on dogfights, character relationships, and music.

The ultimate representation of the core message of Macross:
communication, understanding and compromise.

Does it matter? I’m sure that fans will have differing opinions about that. But watching the Gundam00 film shortly after ‘The Wings of Farewell’, followed by almost a year of reflection on the latter, has led me to the realisation that the overall message of Macross is quite simple. In my humble opinion, it’s about the idea that we do not have to fight, so long as we are willing to open our minds, to try to communicate with others, to understand them, and finally, to compromise. That’s what Macross is all about. In SDFM, Minmay’s music was the key that opened the channel for communication. And instead of following her father’s preoccupation with exchanging fire, taking an eye for an eye, Misa took the lead in trying to understand the Zentraedi, and used that understanding to reach for a compromise, to pave the way for peace.

In sum, the original series is iconic. It was the one that started it all – the transforming planes, possibly the most memorable anime music the world has ever witnessed. What time and technology have improved is the spectacle of it all. Only now, with the great developments that computing power and software has brought, can the dogfights and concerts look as splendid as they do in Frontier, but it was SDFM that first brought it together on the screen. But even more importantly, SDFM was probably one of the forerunners in emphasising the great importance of communication, of understanding, and of compromise. And for that, it has my utmost respect.

I did love the futuristic technology though – if only that really were possible today!

About karice
MAG fan, translator, and localization project manager. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

3 Responses to Super Dimensional Fortress Macross and Do You Remember Love?: it’s sacriligeous, I know…

  1. Xard says:

    Well, you’re not alone. I think Kawamori surpassed even the all time classic DYRL with Frontier film duology like he intended to and if I had to name what I consider the best “Macross storyline” (not sure how to otherwise separate between Frontier films and series, SDFM and DYRL, Plus OVA and film as separate entities for evaluation) followed closely by two, largerly identical takes on Plus. I think these two are the best single incarnations from Macross franchise. The writing is tight and neither case suffers from obvious flaws one can find from others. Visually Frontier films crush all that came before while musically only the Frontier tv series and Plus compare if one asks me. I also prefer the cast, even if I love the original triangle too.

    What also helps me in my pretty clear preference for Plus and especially Frontier is its thematic depth and richness lurking under the surface. While there are large degrees of similarities between themes of Macross titles about power of love and all you can tell Kawamori who wrote and directed DYRL was a very different, younger man from Kawamori who directed the titles that came afterwards.

    I simply think there’s more going on under the surface with Plus and (esp.) Frontier which is not to say there isn’t such stuff going on in original but I think the volume is simply much larger.


    • karice says:

      I do remember GL saying something about you liking Frontier over the older series…with a non-too-positive slant. It really makes me wonder what they base their opinions on, because, like you, I see so much depth in Frontier that a lot of them miss in the way they talk about it. Despite the flaws it does have, of course. (For the Frontier films, I’d say that the flaws are more that viewers need far greater suspension of disbelief – like, the quick ‘take a cloak off’ costume changes of Sheryl in the first film and Alto in the second, the survival of certain characters through so many near-misses etc etc were rather eyebrow raising for me at first…although I’ve long gotten over them ^^)

      Also, the Frontier films were a little too obvious with some things for my liking, with regards to things like fold communication, Alto’s identity issues etc etc. Of course, I understand why they had to be (time restrictions, people not realising them because of the subtlety of the series), and even then, we still get people saying things like “I wish they’d made (the fold communication stuff) more obvious” !! I mean – how obvious do they want it?! Gah!

      Hm…’the power of love’ as a theme in Macross? To be honest, I don’t think it is a theme in this franchise. Or, at least, not a significant one. The various Macross series do explore love, the various forms it takes, and how it influences people etc, and of course, the songs that ‘win’ battles, or that represent the original, DYRL and Frontier are all songs about love. However, I would argue that plays second fiddle to the far more important ideas of communication, understanding and compromise. Alternatively, I might say that ‘love’ is just one part of these more expansive themes.

      I haven’t quite finished with Plus yet – I’ve seen the OVA, but not the movie – it’s the next one up after I finish watching Karigurashi no Arrietty. So I might wait until I look at it again before commenting on its themes and what not ^^


  2. Pingback: For the record: Yack Deculture! | HOT CHOCOLATE IN A BOWL

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