Macross Plus: Macross for adults

Eden. A quiet planet where nature still dominates. A place where wayward pilots are sent to cool their heads by being restricted to fighter development. And the planet that will host the next performance of Sharon Apple, the virtual galactic superstar. These events bring a trio of childhood friends back together, forcing them to remember a buried past. At the same time, various authorities are making both public and secret preparations for the 30th anniversary of the end of Space War I…

I was going to use the title shot, but I like this one better...^^

In the entire Macross universe – as seen from the real world, anyway – Macross Plus seems to be the most universally acclaimed. There are few complaints about a lack of character development, of immature and obnoxious main characters, of fanservice, nor of bittersweet/unresolved endings. Fans express love for its music, plot and, most prominently in my own experience, its dogfights. It’s taken me far too long to fill this gap in my Macross education, but all I can say is that I’m going to have to join the ranks of those singing its praises – though admittedly, I may not be as positive as many others.

So what’s appealing about Macross Plus? First, let’s look at each of the three core elements of Macross: music, dogfights and relationships.

The 'two' divas: Myung Fang Long and Sharon Apple

Music-wise, I don’t really like the style of Sharon’s music. It’s not a problem with Kanno Youko herself (many of the songs she’s created for Frontier are on my favourites playlist), but I’m simply not a fan of techno-beat type music. On the other hand, Voices is one of the most beautiful Macross theme songs ever produced.

Jaw-dropping animation – for that time

As for the mecha and dogfights, a little anecdote seems appropriate. My first encounter with Macross Plus was as follows: having seen the 2nd episode of the Macross Zero OVA, where Kawamori and his production team used CG to bring a new dimension animation of the classic Macross dogfight, a friend of mine blurted out a huge squee and pretty much begged for them to ‘”REMAKE PLUS PLEASE” x infinity’. Now, I understand why: for traditional animation, what they achieved with this OVA and movie was amazing.

What makes us human? Friendship and love, perhaps?

However, what stood out most for me were the relationships. From little things like the complications that misunderstandings and unrequited love bring, acts that may be selfish, reaching out to comfort each other with words or actions – it all played out in a far more mature manner than what we see in any other Macross series, perhaps even in comparison to most anime productions.

Story-wise, Plus is also one of the meatier Macross offerings. The triangular relationship, rivalry between Isamu and Guld for both the project and Myung, and the love and feelings of friendship of each of the trio for each other were arguably the core of the story, but it also touched on issues such as the ethics of artificial intelligence and, to a lesser extent, the use of UCAV in war and self-defense. Kawamori has said that Macross Plus was created in the style of a Western film, and whilst there are many types of Western films, I do think that’s a pretty good description for it, if only because this OVA really isn’t like most Japanese stories that I’ve personally come across.

On the other hand, Plus is arguably the offering that departs most from original message of Macross, which is, IMHO, that the key to understanding others is by trying to communicate with others, to understand them, and to compromise. Whilst a lot of the conflict between the characters did stem from lack of understanding, the resolution of these conflicts did not really involve communication and compromise, or, at least, not to the extent that the other series do. This is even more apparent with regards to the main antagonist of Plus. Although it doesn’t detract from Plus as a stand-alone work in any way, it’s interesting food-for-thought. Anyway, in the end, Plus joins Zero as behind Frontier in my appreciation of Kawamori’s work.

p.s. Another thing I have wondered about is whether Macross will ever delve more deeply into the politics of security privitisation – but that’s a debate for another day.

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

4 Responses to Macross Plus: Macross for adults

  1. Matts says:

    And little did Kawamori and crew know at the time they envisioned Sharon Apple, that the future would bring us our own holographic, computer generated idols, the monsters that are Hatsune Miku and co. Sorry, if you or anyone reading this is a fan.

    I don’t like Sharon’s music either for the same reasons you listed. I personaly prefer the dogfights in Plus and at the end of Frontier’s last episode to Zero’s though. I wouldn’t want them to remake Plus with CGi technology, to me the main appeal is that they did an amazing job with what they had. It feels more natural than the video game feeling Zero gave me the first time around, though I fell in love with it eventually.

    Agree with the rest of your post and love that you posted a picture of Lucy.♥

    Like

    • karice says:

      Ah, Vocaloid never even crossed my mind when I wrote that review!

      You have a point about some of the Valks in Zero looking a bit too much like plastic (IMHO), but I really did find the motion animation absolutely amazing – I’ll always be grateful to Itano Ichiro for that ^^

      I really liked that scene. Rather than Myung’s relationship with either Guld or Isamu, I felt that Lucy’s part in the story was what really gave me the impression that Plus has the most realistic love story in the Macross universe.

      And thanks for reading and commenting ^^

      Like

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

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