THANK YOU, Shoji Kawamori. Thank you for getting crap like Macross 7 out of your system and finally giving us another fantastic tale in the same vein as SDF Macross, Macross: DYRL?, and Macross Plus. No more cheeziness in the form of Macross 7's very gay glam-rocker Basara, a guitar-playing Valkyrie fighter, or space vampires; instead, with Macross Frontier (the 1/4 Century Anniversary Macross Event) we get glorious drama (not angsty drama [well not much], just some well needed tension), and absolutely beautiful J-Pop by the master of the genre herself, Yoko Kanno, that's filled with energy, spirit, and tons of awkward Engrish phrases — everything that a Macross show was always meant to be.
Yes, THIS is the sequel to SDF Macross that we've waited 25 years for. Don't get me wrong, Macross Plus is really damn good in its own right, but it's a short and sweet story. Macross is meant to be GRAND and OPERATIC. That is exactly what Frontier nailed. It's tone is closest to DYRL?, only more tense in places. Very rarely does it go the "hokey" route, and that's mainly just in the idol singer scenes, and even then it never goes full-on retard, like Mac 7 constantly found itself doing. (Did I mention that I loathe Macross 7? And especially Basara?)
For those of you out of the know, new to Macross, or you're simply one who got lost and landed on this page while Googling for "horse cock" (horse cock, horse cock, horse cock... There, now this page ought to be pretty high for that result), the original SDF Macross is all about a giant spacecraft that crash lands on Earth in 1999, is fixed up and transformed into a titanic super dimensional battle fortress in preparation for when its original giant operators come looking for it, and then the ensuing war that takes place between humanity and the alien Zentradi (the giants in question), who only know war and destruction and not a thing about love and pop music. With the power of bubblegum J-pop songs (as powered by one Lynn Minmay) the humans form a truce with some of the giant invaders and defeat the rest of the giant armada that surrounds the Earth (after the bad Zentradi utterly annihilate the surface of the planet with nukes from orbit).
Then the survivors start reconstruction, and the SDF-2 (the Megaroad-01) takes off with the heroes of the Great Space War I on a mission to colonize the galaxy. After a few years the Megaroad stops contacting the Earth.
A few decades later a military contract for a new form of Valkyrie fighter is up for grabs on newly colonized Planet Eden. This leads to the Sharon Apple Incident involving the restored SDF Macross on the 30th anniversary of the armistice to the Great Space War. It's this event that convinces the powers that be that unmanned weapons may not be in humanity's best interest.
Anyway, a few years after that and the events with the space vampires occur around the Macross 7 colonization fleet. Honestly, just pretend that Macross Zero, Macross 7, and Macross 2 never really happened and you'll be happy. Hell, everybody who was involved in Macross 2 already ignores it in the official continuity. Someday they will do the same with Zero and 7. Mark my words.
So, this brings us to the year 2059. The Macross Frontier is on its way to the center of the galaxy when all of a sudden a ton of weird and bad shit bears down upon the crew and the civvies (that make up the population living and working inside the giant Earth-environment pods that form the fleet). Then things get interesting with the virtually indestructible space insects known as the Vajra that unexpectedly begin attacking the Frontier, the heavy-duty political intrigue and backstabbings that permeate the highest offices of the Frontier city and the military, and the inexplicable rise of two (count 'em, TWO) idol singers who eat fame for breakfast, and crap out applause by the sheep-like general public for their afternoon constitutional. Of course everything is related, and in the end it's all tied together so well that you go into immediate Macross withdrawal ten minutes after the final credits roll, and you wonder when your next fantastic fix of Macross will come, and if you'll even be alive to see it... My GOD do they take their time getting these shows out. (And as we've seen with Mac 7 that doesn't even guarantee a quality final product.)
Sorry, no real plot spoilers this time. It's good stuff (it's GREAT stuff if you're familiar with the whole story behind the Macross universe though), and that's all you need to know. I WILL however spoil some of the character spoilers just because I think that the showrunners went a little overboard with reenacting certain specific scenes and players from earlier Macross series.
First of all, Ranka Lee's a good Minmay — the cute, but not too annoying, and part Chinese (at least in name) girl working in a Chinese restaurant (actually, the Nyan Nyan restaurant, the one that Minmay's aunt and uncle first started in the original series); Alto Saotome's a prettier Hikaru — the young pilot in training with oodles of natural talent, and in this case long flowing hair; Ozma is Roy Focker — the tough but fun to hang with older brother, only he's Ranka's nii-san here (though he becomes Hikaru's senpai soon enough), and he's kinda gay 'cause he's waaaay too into Fire Bomber music; Sheryl is pretty much a flesh and blood Sharon Apple — the total diva/idol singer who gets things her way a little too often; Cathy is Misa — in hair, looks, job, and personality (honestly, they didn't even try here. Just surprised they didn't call her "Misa" too); Michael is the Max of the group — ace pilot with glasses who's kind of a douchebag "player" at times; Cathy's fiance is Minmay's dicky cousin (well, the manager side of Lynn Kaifun is played by Sheryl's cunt of a manager Grace), with that murdering douchebag admiral from Nadesico's goofy bowl-cut; then there's also the returning bridge bunnies, Claudia's token black woman character, the Minmay dolls, the moving and talking vending machines (which are awesome!), and even Captain Global's mustache makes an appearance.
Oh, and the "homages" don't stop there. Really though, did they need to recreate not only the characters but the same situations over again? Granted, most are done as just winks to the audience like "Hey, did you see that? We just redid that entire scene from SDF Macross episode 2 where Hikaru carries Minmay away in the hand of his Valkyrie in GERWALK mode, and the arm gets shot off, and then he's got to catch her from the cockpit before she dies! Isn't that awesome?!".... And yeah, it kind of is, but it's distracting. Though I'll take "distracting yet awesome" any day over non-distracting and shitty. Anyway, beyond that cockpit rescue there's also the recreation of other famous events such as the time that Hikaru and Minmay (and Sharon) get trapped in a vacant part of the ship during an enemy attack; the several love triangles that pop up; the Miss Macross pageant that Hikaru misses due to an alien attack (where Minmay-clone sings "Kyun, kyun! Kyun, KYUN! My Boyfriend's a Pilot!"); Alto's quick take on Isamu's "hand flying"; and the reference to a pineapple dish that was honestly just a cheap shot... Really, unnecessary. They just fucking toyed with us on that one. Bastards!
The writers did get creative though, and they took some of the old cliches and really gave them a new life (which really made me smile). Por ejemplo: In episode 2, Alto (the Hikaru character) demands that the Roy character let him get into the newest Valkyrie jet fighter in order to fight when the bloodthirsty Vajra attack again, despite the fact that he's just a civvie pilot-in-training with no actual combat experience. Roy smiles, and then PUNCHES the shit out of him saying something like, "What the fuck do YOU think?! This is a billion dollar weapon of war, and you've only flown in simulators before! Fuck you, kid!" Then he orders some security guards to throw the bum out of the hangar. (Of course in any other robot anime the newbie who's never piloted the newest weapon is given the keys to the thing and thumbs up as he climbs into the cockpit on his way to unstoppable greater glory.) Frontier really does take on a life of its own very quickly, and I'd say the ratio of awesomeness to gayness in Macross Frontier is about 95% to 5%. This is pretty incredible when you think that most average shows are lucky with a 30% to 70% awesome to gay quotient.
There were a few things that I didn't like about Frontier though... Well, that might be too harsh. What I mean to say is there are a few things that I had hoped for from Frontier that didn't come to pass. Number 1 is (and this isn't really a spoiler, unless invisible plots that never take place scare you) my desire to FINALLY find out what the fuck happened to Hikaru, Misa, Minmay and the Megaroad-01 is still unfulfilled. I only got my hopes up in this regard knowing that the Megaroad disappeared near the center of the galaxy and that the Frontier's original stated mission was to explore and settle in the same place. Close, but no cigar. I also wished that Mikimoto came back with character designs for Frontier. I'm not complaining about the very good design job that Risa Ebata and Yeichi Takahashi did, but they're no Mikimotos. I was also disturbed by Alto's lack of a hetero backbone. He's the universe's new Tenchi Masaki: He's got all these hot, hot babes throwing themselves at him, but he does't even make a move on one of them, let alone try his hardest to get a ménage à trois going. He just runs away from these hot pieces of tail like they have herpes-AIDS all over their faces. Jesus, man, just PICK one and BONE her! THEN bone the other!
That's it really — that's the only bad stuff I can say about this show. I loved the characters (the good, the dorky, and the evil fuckers), I loved the music (both the J-Pop and the BGM), I loved the visuals (the animation budget is planetary), I loved the frenetic and furious space battles (with some really good 3D CG melded with the hand-drawn animation), I loved the use of the X-9/V-9, I loved seeing full-sized Zentradi again, I loved the new Daedalus Attack, I loved seeing an idol singer belt a galaxy-saving song out in the middle of some hectic and hopeless combat, I loved how HUGE and dire the last episode got and how much was shown to be at stake, I loved Minmay's tiny cameo, and I LOVED loved the ending song to episode 12 (well played, Clerks...), and I blew my load over the awesomeness of the final opening song ("Lion") and animation. It was Macross exemplified.
Don't look at me like that... I just put the thought in Kawamori's head. I never FORCED him to do anything. I simply said, "You know what would be really cool, and what's never been done before?... You could be the first. You could be the one who everybody for years to come would say 'Hey, didn't HE invent that? Isn't that HIS idea?' Yes, Kawamori, you could be the one who CREATES the very first IDOL SINGER... And you would call her MINMAY."
Don't give me that look. I've whispered many better and more terrible things into other people's minds over the millennia, and they've not run with those ideas. If they did you'd have lots of things that kick you in the nads to watch out for in the world today. LOTS of things... As an example, there are no socialist, racist Muslims-in-hiding running for the most powerful position in the world (with their own secret agendas) today... Oh... Wait.
Bad ass, my bitches. This show was so very fly for THIS white guy. Kick ass planes, hot chicks performing on stage in scantily-clad S&M outfits, that Klan-Klan Zentradi chick, slick CGI, and of course Sheryl Nome.
I also liked the slutty Ranka Lee pin up art on the side of that giant flying thing (Note from the Rossman: I think he means on that there aeroplane). Actually, speakin' of flying things, fool, I think it's interesting that the VF design has gone back toward older plane models... you don't have the obvious futuristic looks of the 19, 21 and 117 which all looked like versions of modern fighters -- the messiah looks more like a mid 90s russian jet than anything else. What the hell? Is this a matter of "everything old is new again?" No sir, I don't buy it. You know what this means, don't you? Communism has made a giant recovery in the future, whore! We're all red like a sled! Maybe it's the Zentradi who brought this line of thinking back... Goddamn commie pinko giant asshats!!!! Grrrrrrrrrrr!