Some final comments on Macross Frontier part 1: ‘Canon’, creators and the fan community

Would the real Lynn Minmay please step forward?

Would the real Lynn Minmay please step forward?

Partake in the enjoyment of a franchise with works that span several different types of media, and you will inevitably encounter what I call the ‘canon obsession’. As one of the most well known Macross bloggers on the internet observed:

We also are, rightly or wrongly, continuity fanboys. We like our coherence, consistently, and symmetry. This is why Kawamori’s cavalier attitude towards canon is a curse upon our houses. We like looking back, remembering love for a single narrative continuity.

The “cavalier attitude” that ghostlightning refers to is what some derise as the ‘anything goes’ approach, which is how many fans interpret the various statements by series creator Kawamori Shouji, dating back to the 1980s, that all shows the shows and films produced in the Macross franchise are in-universe fictional takes based on events and individuals in the ‘real’ Macross history. The author’s notes for the Frontier novels, along with Kawamori’s endorsement of several manga iterations of Frontier, suggest that this approach extends to the other products that have his approval. That is to say, the TV show, the films, the manga and the novels all have the same level of validity in Macross ‘canon’. Which is also to say, given the many differences and inconsistencies across all these versions of the story, that there is no coherent and consistent ‘canon’ that fans can count on as being factual history. We will never know exactly what Hikaru, Minmay and Misa were like. We will never know if Michel actually died or not, nor if Alto really disappeared and never came back…

At least, that’s what some fans are concerned about. To those taking a quick look at the Macross fandom today, there might appear to be one question that everyone is concerned with: what was the real outcome of the main love triangle? Did Alto and Sheryl really get together? Or did real Ranka actually have a chance sometime after those real events in the history of the Macross universe? Using various interpretations of Kawamori’s ‘they’re all fictional’ comments, along with their own interpretations of what happened in one iteration or another, fans continue to argue for their own ship.

Which is mostly all fine and dandy in my book…well, the shipping part at least. I can largely ignore that and happily keep exploring the universe on my own. However, I have seen far too many people twist and interpret Kawamori’s words to fit their own theories about particular works. Given that I am one of the people who make his words available for the perusal of those in the West, the fact that my work has been used to perpetuate misperceptions and untruths about Kawamori and the people he works with gravely concerns me. Hence, I would just like to offer some research and comments on ‘canon’ and ‘canon’ in Macross that will hopefully help straighten the foundation of the debate. Pardon the long introduction, but so begins the first of three posts on Macross ‘canon’.

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The ninth memory of 2012: a certain unboxing…

Finally getting my paws on the Blu-rays for The False Diva and Wings of Farewell is something that almost had me singing on my recent trip to Japan. The main reason being that the film strips I found in them were from two of my favourite scenes:

...that date...

…that date…

AND

...and that first meeting...

…that first meeting…

I was somewhat nervous that I might be one of the unlucky ones that got saddled with the ‘no piracy’ video, so it was an extra-pleasant surprise not to get some shots of scenery or of the Galaxy moguls, for example!

(Summary/Translation) Macross Frontier Episode 25 Staff/Cast Commentary

with Nakamura Yuuichi, Endou Aya, Nakajima Megumi and Kawamori Shouji.

Hm…I wonder if it is a good idea to use this pic…

Note 1 This summary-translation is completely my own work. Please DO NOT reproduce it anywhere else, though you are quite welcome to link to it if you wish.

Note 2: Don’t take these as straight-out translations, but as paraphrases of what the commentators say. I simply don’t have the time to note down everything that they say. Furthermore, I’ve probably misheard or mistyped something somewhere, but well, sue me. (^_^)

Note 3: I’m sure you remember that nickname by now…

Bit of trivia which some might or might not find interesting: this commentary was recorded on Valentine’s Day, about 10 weeks before the BD was released. Note that there are also a few shots added here and there, which really lengthened the episode. I’ve noted one below – can you spot any of the others?

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(Summary/Translation) Macross Frontier Episode 20 Staff/Cast Commentary

with Nakamura Yuuichi (Alto), Kamiya Hiroshi (Michel) and Toyoguchi Megumi (Klan).

…Klan?

Note 1 This summary-translation is completely my own work. Please DO NOT reproduce it anywhere else, though you are quite welcome to link to it if you wish.

Note 2: Don’t take these as straight-out translations, but as paraphrases of what the commentators say. I simply don’t have the time to note down everything that they say. Furthermore, I’ve probably misheard or mistyped something somewhere, but well, sue me. (^_^)

Note 3: Remember, You-kyan is Nakamura, and HiroC is Kamiya. Additionally, HiroC calls Toyoguchi Megumi “Megu”…though I don’t use that nickname. I’m not sure if she has a common one that seiyuu fans use…

Also, a note before we start: this commentary may not be what you expect. It’s something that really should be listened to, rather than read off a page, because the atmosphere is completely lost in translation and transcription. I’ve subbed two short clips as a taste…but if you’re annoyed by the first, I’m not entirely sure you should listen to the second…or even continue reading, for that matter. If you’re up for it, please continue. If not…well, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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For the record: Yack Deculture!

Collected here is all the translated material for the Macross franchise that I know of. It is split into two parts – translations done by myself, and those by others. Many of them are far more qualified and prolific than I am, so let’s begin with those:

Translations by others, and some general links

Macross wiki (Japanese site)
Sketchley’s Translations – the biggest collection of translations of ‘canon’ material such as mecha stats and character descriptions/biographies. Sketchley’s current project is to translate as much of the renewed Macross Chronicle as possible. There’s a lot of information there, about characters, the mecha and about the Macross universe. But whichever of these floats your boat, I recommend that you start with Kawamori’s foreward to the updated, 2013 Chronicle. (p.s. the Chronicle’s TOC.)
The Macross Mecha Manual
Shawn & Graham’s Macross World
Egan Loo’s Macross Compendium

Interviews/Translations/Summaries by others: specifics

1983-08 Interview with SDFM producer Iwata Hiroshi
1984-10 Animage “Minmay: Ai Miemashita ka Book” supplement
1985-12 Shōji Kawamori’s Advanced Valkyrie
1998-09 Kawamori Shouji, from Macross 7 Fun Net
2005-07 BS Anime Yawa: Macross Do You Remember Love” TV special (summary).
2008-06 Macross Frontier OST 1 Nyan Fro, Kawamori Shōji & Kanno Youko; Liner Notes
2008-09 Otona Anime #9, Kawamori Shōji (commentary on MW)
2008-11 Otona Anime #10, Ebata Risa & Takahashi Yuuichi
2009-09 Interview with May’n during AFA 2009, Singapore
2009-11 Macross the First 1, Tenjin Hidetaka: “I’m like a backlash against Kawamori-san and Mikimoto-san”
2010-?? “Blackout” (Itano Ichirō on authenticity in Macross Plus), from NEO magazine #69
2010-?? “Entering the Itano Circus,” from SFX Total Anime #3
2012-11 Watanabe Shinichirō (Macross Plus) at AFA 2012
2015-02 SDF-1 Macross: Thorough Dissection, Miyatake Kazutaka: “Working on Macross was nothing but fun!”
2015-11 “Shoji Kawamori, The Creator Hollywood Copies But Never Credits.”
2016-05 “Shōji Kawamori On ‘Macross Delta’ And His Hopes For The Series.”

Also, some important discussions about ‘translated’ material online:
The Ohnogi/Shaloom Question (Macross World, AnimeSuki Forums)

SpeakerPodcast highlights

Ep.8-1 (and 2): Egan Loo speaks
Ep.14-1: Tom Bateman on working at Harmony Gold
Ep.14-3: Macross Mythbusters
Ep.19: A report on a Kawamori x Tenjin talkshow
Ep.25: Talkin’ Takani
Ep.29: Triple Encore! (Mari Iijima in concert)
Ep.31-1 (and 2): Shoji Kawamori’s ‘The HENKEI’
Ep.33: US Renditions Orguss Panel at Macross World Convention 2015
Ep.36 and Ep.37: The Macross Live Action Movie Treatment
Ep.39: SDF-1 Macross Designer Kazutaka Miyatake-on a BOAT!

Translations/summaries by yours truly

Macross Delta

Yasuda Kenji on Macross ∆ (from his Bandai Channel interview, March 25, 2016)
My coverage of the Macross ∆ radio show, “Gori Gori Radio Shicharu Kara ne!”

Macross Frontier

Kawamori x Yoshino on Creating Macross Frontier, from Animage Original vol.1, Aug 2008
Kawamori Shōji’s interview from 2059: Memories (Oct 2008): Talking ‘story’ in Macross Frontier (and his episode commentary)
Kawamori Shōji’s Fan Book interview: on conceptualising Macross Frontier
Kikuchi Yasuhito’s Fan Book interview: Remembering Love via Macross Frontier
Yoshino Hiroyuki’s Fan Book interview: on triangles, loli characters and working with Kawamori
Macross F The Movie Official Guidebook: Perfect Triangle
   Kikuchi Yasuhito on making The False Diva
   Kawamori Shōji interview on bringing Macross F from TV to theater
Wings of Farewell Official Complete Book
   Director’s Comment, p.12
   Voice Actor Interview, Endo Aya x Nakamura Yuuichi x Nakajima Megumi, p.54-7
   Kanno Youko, p.92-5 – including Kanno’s comments on many of the songs from the Frontier films.
   The very first interview, reprinted from the July 2007 issue of Newtype, p.114-5
   Director Interview, p.120-3
From Sheryl ~Kiss in the Galaxy~
   vol 1: Kawamori Shouji’s Special Interview
   vol 3: A Threeway Conversation with Ebata Risa, Kawamori Shouji and Koyama Kariko
   vol 4: “Now we can finally lay it bare! Juicy quips about the couples of Macross F!”, with Kawamori Shouji
Misc
   A Day in Alcatraz, the short story from the Sheryl Nome Visual Collection Final
   “After tea, it’s time to solve to mysteries…” from the May 2011 issue of Animedia
   Some of the “Special Talk” from “The Wings of Farewell” Blu-Ray
Episode commentaries
   Episode 1: Close Encounter (Yack Deculture Edition)
   Episode 4: Miss Macross
   Episode 7: First Attack
   Episode 10: Legend of Zero
   Episode 12: Fastest Delivery
   Episode 16: Ranka Attack
   Episode 18: Fold Fame
   Episode 20: Diamond Crevasse
   Episode 25: Your Sound
And some brief notes on the Macross F Radio Show

Reviews and reflections

Macross Frontier TV
SDFM and DYRL
Macross Plus
Macross Zero
In memory of 2011 part 12 – the anime moment of the year
Macross Frontier: The False Diva and The Wings of Farewell
My threepost series on Macross Canon

(Summary/Translation) Macross Frontier Episode 18 Staff/Cast Commentary

with Yoshino Hiroyuki (script), Kikuchi Yasuhito (Director), Endou Aya (Sheryl) and Inoue Kikuko (Grace).

The pain of betrayal

Note 1: This summary-translation is completely my own work. Please DO NOT reproduce it anywhere else, though you are quite welcome to link to it if you wish.

Note 2: Don’t take these as translations, but as paraphrases of what the commentators say. I simply don’t have the time to note down everything that they say. Furthermore, I’ve probably misheard or mistyped something somewhere, but well, sue me. (^_^)

Note 3: I had A LOT of difficulty trying to figure out who was talking at particular times in this commentary, so some of the comments might not be attributed to the right people. To be honest…any help on this one would be particularly appreciated!

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(Summary/Translation) Macross Frontier Episode 16 Staff/Cast Commentary

with Nakamura Yuuichi, Endou Aya, Hoshi “Pappi” Souichirou and Yoshino Hiroyuki (script). This lot really had fun with the commentary, talking about everything from Brera’s clothes, the nose art on Kanaria’s Monster to the fact that Frontier songs were sung at the wrap party for another, rather famous series…

aka: the episode where Alto is forced to reassess the path in life that he wants to take

Note 1: This summary-translation is completely my own work. Please DO NOT reproduce it anywhere else, though you are quite welcome to link to it if you wish.

Note 2: Don’t take these as translations, but as paraphrases of what the commentators say. I simply don’t have the time to note down everything that they say. Furthermore, I’ve probably misheard or mistyped something somewhere, but well, sue me. (^_^)

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(Summary/Translation) Macross Frontier Episode 12 Staff/Cast Commentary

With Nakajima Megumi, Kawamori Shouji and Kikuchi Yasuhito (the director).

kira!☆

Summary based on a little comment made at the end of this commentary: 12 was probably the most important episode of the series for Ranka, wasn’t it?

Note 1: This summary-translation is completely my own work. Please DO NOT reproduce it anywhere else, though you are quite welcome to link to it if you wish.

Note 2: Don’t take these as translations, but as paraphrases of what the commentators say. I simply don’t have the time to note down everything that they say. Furthermore, I’ve probably misheard or mistyped something somewhere, but well, sue me. (^_^)

[Megumi-chan begins this episode commentary the same way they did ep. 10…and it’s really somewhat amusing to hear Kawamori and Kikuchi try to join in!]

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Guilty Crown: ‘Political realities in my anime? Never!’

There is a certain rule on a forum I frequent that puzzles me a little, particularly now that I’ve spent just over a year tasting from the pot of Japanese politics. It’s that political discussions are actively discouraged because they are likely to descend into pointless debates and cycles of flaming. However, anyone with even a broad understanding of what’s been going on in Japan over the last half a century – the controversy over Article 9 and Japan’s place in the world; Japan’s push to be a permanent member of the Security Council; the minefield of apology politics; the depressing social effects of two decades of stagnation etc etc – would recognize that political themes run through a fair number of series. Gundam, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Code Geass, C, No.6, UN-GO – to name just a few of those I’ve seen. And that’s not counting the series where it’s ‘merely’ part of the background, but nevertheless grants those who are aware of it a deeper understanding on what’s going on in a particular show.

GHQ…doesn’t that remind you of anything…?

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(Summary/Translation) Macross Frontier Episode 10 Staff/Cast Commentary

with Nakajima Megumi, Endou Aya (Sheryl) and Kawamori Shouji. IMHO, this is one of the more interesting commentaries, because Kawamori explains some of the thinking that went into the creation of the character of Alto. There is another interview, released shortly after the end of the series, that goes into it a bit further, and which I hope to get to eventually. In any case however, I’ll let other fans make of it what they will, as they always have done.

The turning point…

Note 1: This summary-translation is completely my own work. Please DO NOT reproduce it anywhere else, though you are quite welcome to link to it if you wish.

Note 2: Don’t take these as translations, but as paraphrases of what the commentators say. I simply don’t have the time to note down everything that they say. Furthermore, I’ve probably misheard or mistyped something somewhere, but well, sue me. (^_^)

[Eto…firstly, the way that Megumi-chan and Aya-chan say “Hajimaru you~”…can someone tell me what that’s a reference to? I swear I’ve heard that singsong tone somewhere before…]

Nakajima: The episode commentary
Endou: for the 10th episode
Nakajima & Endou: begins here!

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