Macross Zero: the dawn of a new era

Perhaps fittingly, it’s been 10 years since the first Zero OVA – it was made in celebration of 20 years of Macross after all. A decade of Macross for me…that’s nothing compared to the 20+ years that some of the old hands have enjoyed, endured, and perhaps, slaved – for it is arguably thanks to them that the rest of us are now able to appreciate much of the franchise. If not for them, I may never have come across this OVA, which ended up being my gateway to Macross.

New faces…ably supported by some old hands…

‘Zero as a gateway to Macross’? That probably raises quite a few eyebrows, as Zero is deeply connected to the original SDFM. Besides depicting humanity’s first encounters with relics of the Protoculture, the first sentient humanoid race in the universe, and the race from which mankind eventually evolved, the series is set towards the end of the Unification Wars that are referred to in the first series. Furthermore, one of the main supporting characters is gallant womaniser Roy Focker, whom older fans fondly remember as Hikaru’s mentor in the original series. As a newcomer to the franchise, I was unable to appreciate any of these links at the time, though I finally corrected it last year by rewatching Zero after my SDFM experience.

What will it take for the conflict to end…?

But does enjoyment of Macross Zero hinge upon familiarity with previous Macross series? I would argue not, for the plot and characters are amongst the most tightly written entities in the entire franchise. The main trio and the supporting cast – none of them feel out of place, even if Mao might feel too young and perhaps precocious to be a serious contender in the love triangle. The rivalries against the backdrop of the war, the invasion and eventual destruction of a simple but self-sufficient culture in the name of science, the journey to love through the sharing of things that are important to oneself: each thread is masterfully interwoven into the canvas that allows Zero to stand on its own as an exemplary work.

Perhaps…the power of love? Though I’m not just talking about ‘eros’…

The music is perhaps the point at which Zero departs the most from all other parts of the franchise. Instead of a pop (or rock) star, we have a priestess; thus, influenced by tribal music, the music and singing is arguably ethereal, for nature rather than for man. In a sense, you could say it was a commercial failure, since the marketability of the music has been such a huge part of all other Macross productions. However, I personally think it achieved what it was meant to do – even if I can only barely remember the melody of the theme song ‘Arkan‘.

A new step in CG animation in the anime world…

But the greatest draw of Macross Zero remains, I would argue, the dogfights. Even now, when I’ve perused both Frontier films several times over, revisited the last episode of the TV series and seen the glory that was Macross Plus, I still think that Zero has the best dogfight sequences of the lot. Admittedly, they’re not perfect – the fighters sometimes look like plastic, a flaw which they’d thankfully overcome by the time Frontier came around. However, I simply have to reiterate what I said at the start of the year: Itano Ichirou is AWESOME!! If you haven’t seen it already, this is the only reason you need to watch Macross Zero, so get to it!

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

2 Responses to Macross Zero: the dawn of a new era

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

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

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