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…

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In memory of 2011 その12: サヨナラノツバサ

And my favourite of the year is…Macross Frontier: Sayonara no Tsubasa. Representing, of course, the entire Frontier experience.

It was obvious, wasn’t it? That it would come to this. Right from the end of last year, where Macross Frontier took the first spot on my first ’12 days of fandom’ review.

That said, it was only in 2011 that I really dove into Macross, particularly Macross Frontier. After seeing the first film at the cinema in January 2010, I really put it aside completely until October of that year (when the DVD/BD came out), to the extent that only one of the books, magazines and media that I brought home from Japan was about Macross – the Perfect Triangle guidebook for the first film. (A friend of mine in Japan has recently been finding out just how stupid that decision was – there has been a fair amount of eye-rolling and laying into me for that.) And then the Frontier Rewatch began, and I started to see the series and characters in different ways.

Perhaps it would help to take a look at my Macross ‘obsession’ over the last year:

  • Finishing of the Rewatch on AS
  • Making a detour to Ikebukuro to watch the 2nd film, and backtracking again a week later to visit the Sunshine 60 exibition
  • Translating comments, interviews and information to share with the non-literate
  • Watching SDFM, DYRL, Macross Plus and rewatching Macross Zero
  • Committing myself to clarifying the ‘canon’ issue
  • Rewatching both films several times once October 20th came by
  • Heavily editing the translation for the 2nd film because the first sub was…incredibly disappointing (I will also be editing the most recent one out, even though it’s much better)
  • Listening to the soundtrack over and over and over and over again

Hm…I think that’s about it. But it’s certainly a far greater involvement in the franchise and the fandom than I expected when I walked into that cinema on February 28.

And so, the story of two songstresses,
and also of a sword dancer, continues out of our reach…

Ultimately though, that one detour is what it comes down to. If I had to do the impossible and narrow it down to one moment that represents 2011 in anime for me, it would be the giddiness I felt when I walked out of the cinema, the feeling encapsulated by “OMG Kawamori-sensei, you didn’t just do that…”

But that’s precisely what he did. Give us the perfect way to end the Frontier story, that is. Though whether you feel that way or not may well depend, IMHO, on whether you ‘get’ what he has done. It’s taken me just over three years to make my way from weekly anticipation, through great disappointment, and ambivalence…all the way to possibly the greatest satisfaction I’ve ever felt for a series. Yes, it rivals Code Geass, Hagaren and Honey and Clover in my book. Technically, Macross Frontier is not perfect – is anything ever? – but basically, the feeling I had when I finished the Hagaren manga – that’s what I feel for Frontier now. Thank you, Kawamori Shouji, and お疲れ様でした!! I’ll definitely be looking forward to whatever you have in store for us this year!

p.s. That said, the one thing that Frontier did not achieve, at least in my book: better dogfights than the king of them all, Macross Zero… Even though he completely dissed the series that made my year, I have only one word for Itano Ichiro: AWESOME!

Translation: misc Macross F stuff その5

Disclaimer:
These translations are entirely my own work. Feel free to quote, link etc if you wish, but please don’t claim it as your own. Also, there may well be a few mistakes here and there…do let me know if you happen to spot something ^^

Director Interview – Kawamori Shouji

pp.120-123 of the “Official Complete Book”

SnT_Kawamori_interview_01
Kawamori showing his cast his lego valkyrie model…

Notes:

For simplicity’s sake, after the first reference, I am calling the films False Diva and Wings. ——karice

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Translation: misc Macross F stuff その4

Disclaimer:
These translations are entirely my own work. There is a bit of extrapolation, but well, that’s the nature of Japanese, unfortunately – at least until someone asks Kawamori himself. Feel free to quote, link etc if you wish, but please don’t claim it as your own.

From Animedia, May 2011 issue, “After tea, it’s time to solve to mysteries…”

Please note that the block quotes represent comments made by Kawamori. Although these comments were originally ‘leaked’ and translated back in May, because of that Shaloom fiasco, I chose not to post them here until the article had been verified by myself and two other members of AS. Many, many thanks are due to the LJ acquaintance who kindly scanned it for me.

The young mistress: Pray tell me, what happened to Alto?! Is Sheryl ok? What happened to the triangle between Alto, Sheryl and Ranka?!
The butler: Please calm down. After you’ve had your tea, how about we resolve all of these questions? … Let’s start with the question about the triangle. Alto’s line was “I just want to tell you that I …” You weren’t able to hear the rest of that sentence, is that right? What do you think he said?
The young mistress: Well…um, “I just want to tell you that I…Ai-kun is cute ♥”
The butler: Amazing, my lady. Your character and taste come out clearly in those words. Here’s what director Kawamori said.

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Translation: misc Macross F stuff その3

Disclaimer:
These translations are entirely my own work. Feel free to quote, link etc if you wish, but please don’t claim it as your own.

Voice Actor Interview, Endo Aya x Nakamura Yuuichi x Nakajima Megumi

Sayonara no Tsubasa “Official Complete Book”, p.54-57

Notes:

There is some extrapolation in a few places. Hopefully, it’s generally accurate otherwise – but if anyone spots any mistakes, please let me know!

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Translation: misc Macross F stuff その2

Disclaimer:
These translations are entirely my own work. Feel free to quote, link etc if you wish, but please don’t claim it as your own. Also, there may well be a few mistakes here and there…do let me know if you happen to spot something ^^

Kawamori Shouji’s first interview on Macross Frontier. First published in Newtype, July 2007 issue; also available in the Official Complete Book for Sayonara no Tsubasa, pp.114-5.

If there’s no challenge,
there’s no point in making a new work.

October 3rd, 1982, Sunday. In a special television slot, the first and second episodes of “Super Dimensional Fortress Macross” were broadcast. Distinguishing itself from its contemporaries, SDFM raised the curtain on a history that has now spanned a quarter of a century. At the time, Japan was in the middle of a SF boom, and even amidst that boom, the symbolic, creative SF company, Studio Nue became the talk of the town with that one work.

“The first ten years seemed long, now that I’m looking back on it, and I also aged a fair bit, but after that, time seemed to fly by. Right from the start, I’d said that I didn’t ever want to do the same thing twice, so I never expected that I would continue with this series for so long (laughs).” So says Kawamori Shouji, who is deep in planning and production as the director of the new anime series, “Macross 25” (tentative title). His voice conveys a sense of nostalgia over the 25 years of Macross.

“Even though the overarching title is the same, I never want to start off in the same way. If we’re just redoing it, then there is no meaning in making a new series. Besides that, I want something fresh to motivate me. The satisfaction demanded by the audience also increases with each new work – even with twice the amount of labour, you can only get around 20% more satisfaction. “Macross 25” is the first new TV series since “Macross 7”, not to mention it’s also the 25th anniversary. Hence, we’re wondering what would happen if we made all the Macross series up til now into a compilation and then ‘added something extra’ (プラスアルファ). That’s the basis of our current challenge.”

“One of the special features of the Macross series is that they always reach out for new things. In the first series, the story and music were proactively linked; in ~7, the protagonist did not fire a single bullet; in ~Plus, we had digital imagery/software; and in ~Zero, we used CG for the first time for the battle scenes. Basically, we tried something new each time. From a technical standpoint, we have many trials ahead, but other than that, we’re all talking about the auditions for the heroine role(s).”

“I’m someone who likes prototypes, so rather than someone who’s already ‘perfected’ as a voice actor or as a singer, I’d rather trust the role to someone who will mature along with the work, who will cross the critical moment along with us in the process of creating it. Putting aside movies, for a television series, I think it’d be great if the actors and the work, along with the audience, come together in an interactive way to create it. The results of the audition will be presented on August 18th, at the 25th anniversary memorial live, so please keep an eye out for that.”

What kind of work “Macross 25” will turn out to be is something all the fans are curious about, so we asked the director what the story will be about.

“This time, we’re having it centered around school life with a story about youths as its nucleus. For example, in the original series, we focused on normal, everyday lives, whilst the movie was more like a play/performance. ~7 was like a manga, ~Plus like a Western film, and ~Zero a myth. So this time, we’re aiming for a ‘high school story’. I especially want teenagers to watch it. It’s a story about boys and girls of their generation, living with the danger, the uncertainty that even if they’re happily going through school together today, it doesn’t mean they’ll be able to meet there again. In all of my works, the previous one always contains within it something like a prototype for the next one. For some time, Macross has been away from the stage we call television, because we raised the quality with the OVA. In contrast, a TV series has many time and budget restrictions, and we didn’t want to create anything until we had the means to produce something that even those who’d seen the OVA would be satisfied. The technology we used to make ~Zero was primed for TV when we were working on “Genesis of Aquarion”. 25 years on from the first series, we’re finally reached an era where we have the ability to make the TV series I wanted to see.”

The new Macross series has thrown off those shackles, and many people anxiously await its completion.

Translation: misc Macross F stuff その1

Disclaimer:
these translations are entirely my own work.
Feel free to quote, link etc if you wish, but please don’t claim it as your own.

==========

Director’s Comment by Kawamori Shouji.
From p.12 of the Official Complete Book for Sayonara no Tsubasa.

The events of “Sayonara no Tsubasa” take place roughly three months after Itsuwari no Utahime. What happened during those three months?

In Itsuwari no Utahime, the Vajra attacked the city and a hole was created in the outer wall/shell of Island 1, which caused the air pressure in the city to drop. As a result, in the last scene, the climate went crazy and it started snowing. The Frontier government spent around three months returning it to its original condition.

Thanks to Grace broadcasting Sheryl and Ranka’s concert live, Ranka is bathed in the spotlight on the Frontier fleet, rapidly becoming extremely popular – the ‘in-thing’. Actually, I’ve also heard from Ranka’s voice actress, Nakajima Megumi, that this is precisely what getting a break is like – you become really busy overnight. In the series, Ranka’s big break came when she acted in the movie, “The Bird Man”. In the films, it was the Vajra attack.

The three months or so that have passed amount to the approximate timeframe covered by the first cour of the series. And in the ‘white margins’ of these three months, Alto, Ranka and Sheryl, and all the others were involved in a range of ‘dramas’…

==========

Kanno Youko‘s comments on “Hoshi Kira” and “d-shudisuta-b”, on p.95 of the Official Complete Book.

Hoshikira [~~“Twinkling Star”]
This is one of the songs that suddenly came to me after the creation of the Christmas album. At the time, Megumi-chan had worked herself to the ground, so I wanted to give her a song of encouragement. Additionally, the final movie has Ranka, who used to sing only as she’d been told by her producer, becoming more independent. Because of that, to me, it became something that represented Megumi-chan singing a song that she herself wanted to sing. Rather than Ranka, this is a song that was written for Megumi-chan.

d-shudisuta-b [“d-shooting star-b”]
This is one of the last songs we recorded. As I wanted it to be timeless, a song that could be from the past or the future, I told hal, who also wrote the lyrics to “What ’bout my star?”, that I wanted something that feels like a delinquent Sheryl. In universe, it’s a song written by Sheryl, which she invites Ranka as a guest to sing with her during the encore of a live. And because it’s a live, I thought some MC work was needed, so I added a few lines of dialogue for the two of them.

[NB: in a blog entry, May’n notes that Kanno Youko allowed her to decide on the title of “d-shudisuta-b”, as a New Year’s present. By “shudisuta” 「シュディスタ」, she meant “shooting star” (see this AS post. I have a policy of not linking Japanese blogs on forums, because some Japanese people don’t like it (I doubt May’n would be that pedantic, but policy is policy), so please google if you’d like to check the entry directly.])

(Summary) Macross Frontier Episode 7 Staff/Cast Commentary

EPISODE 7
with Nakamura Yuuichi (Alto), Kamiya Hiroshi (Michel) and Fukuyama Jun (Luca)

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: New nicknames for this commentary

HiroC = Kamiya Hiroshi (also known to some as Kamiyan)
JunJun = Fukuyama Jun (also known as FukuJun)

Overall impressions:
they make fun of Alto throughout
Then they fanboy about the mecha
and everyone loves Bobby / Miyake Kenta

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(Summary) Macross Frontier Episode 4 Staff/Cast Commentary

EPISODE 4
with Konishi Katsuyuki (Ozma), Nakajima Megumi (Ranka) and Yoshino Hiroyuki (Series Composition).
In case anyone is wondering, Yoshino isn’t the same person as the seiyuu Yoshino Hiroyuki.

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: New nicknames for this commentary

Konitan = Konishi Katsuyuki
Yotchin = Yoshino Hiroyuki

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Gundam 00: from international to intergalactic relations?

What is it with mecha anime and the theme of communication these days? Not that I’m an expert – so this will be a huge simplification – but the original Macross was all about how culture crosses all alien boundaries; Evangelion and RahXephon both dealt with existentialism; Code Geass was a tongue-in-cheek commentary on a certain real world hegemon; and all the Gundam series I’ve seen so far have been dominated by political messages. At first glance, the most recent completed additions to both the Gundam and Macross series seem merely to be less impressive incarnations of their illustrious ancestors. But come the movies, and suddenly everything is clearly about communication with the extraterrestrial ‘other’. I’ll have to put aside Macross Frontier until Sayonara no Tsubasa is out later this year, but let me just say that I was quite bemused.

Characters with new looks, and completely new introductions…who don't really do anything *sweatdrops*

To give Gundam 00 a bit more credit, the idea of ‘communication’ was present throughout the TV series. I’m talking about Aeolia Schenberg’s ‘dialogues to come’ (来るべき対話), of course. Just look back on what he said in A.D. 2091 (in the series timeline):

I hate when knowledge gets misused and people who are taken in by perceptions and prejudice lose sight of reality. That is the source of misunderstanding, ignorance and conflict. I want us to understand each other… Humanity must learn to use knowledge properly. If they don’t, they’ll just rekindle the flame when they try to travel out into the vast world of space.

However, if there is indeed other life out there, and if humans encounter them one day (whether because of their technology or ours), then this concern is quite valid. If we can’t even get along with each other, how are we to get along with intelligent beings that may be completely different from us?

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