Mecha Fridays: Do you remember Macross?

I love you so…

At some point in life we are introduced to one anime series that we feel is able to transcend boundaries and go beyond the usual norms of the animated genre by introducing new elements that define and redefine our expectations of both animation and storytelling with compelling plots, unforgettable characters, brilliant scenes, and even great music.

Other times, we get a series that introduces something new to our tastes while also leaving marks in our memory, ones that we can never forget whether we like or not and one of those said series or shows or franchises is the ever memorable Macross.

Or, you know, ROBOTECH ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

The Macross franchise was originally conceived by Shōji Kawamori back in 1982 when he was with Studio Nue with the first series in the ever growing franchise being Super Dimension Fortress Macross. The franchise mostly revolves around the futuristic Space Age wherein Humanity, through their new found tech which is obtained originally by reverse engineering an Alien Ship that crashed on Earth. Throughout its different series iterations, Macross protagonist encounter different adversaries, mostly another humanoid alien race that wants to take over the universe be it because of their ancient heritage or as a manifestation of their supposed destiny, with the encounters and skirmishes almost always gets decided by the power of music.

Provided it tries to integrate the power of music in it’s story that combines a few Super Robot tropes with the Gundam-redefined Real Robot elements, given that Kawamori himself IS a Gundam fan, Macross was easily able to gain a massive following fanbase, critical reception, although mixed and varies depending on which series you wanna talk about when it comes to “critique”, and even the either dreaded or appreciated Western amalgamation that is Robotech.

What is Robotech Anyway?

Robotech is an animated series produced by Harmony Gold which is described to as “derived from three original and unrelated, though visually similar, Japanese anime television series Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospeada”. The Robotech series can also be described, and I’ve said it before, as an amalgamation of the Macross series being that it utilizes some of the scenes from the original anime series together with new scenes to create a “new and original story”, kinda similar to what was done with the original Power Rangers show. The story goes that while Harmony Gold wanted to show the dubbed version of the original, and already popular, Super Dimension Fortress Macross in the USA, they decided that “Why not add our own touch to it instead?” and instead of just plainly re-dubbing the show for the English audience, they combined 3 different animes together, extended the Episode count to 85 and what resulted was a series that forever divided Macross fans for generations to come.

But how can you really define the Macross appeal?

Macross is a series that is able to go (slightly) beyond the usual Super Robot and Real Robot, and even combining some key elements from both Anime Genres creating its own identity in the ever massive pile of different Mecha or Robot anime shows. Why Super Robot? I mean come on, using the power of song to defeat enemies, and create the common “I will defeat you with the power of love and friendship” element is rather common in many Super Robot series, well, not the song part but the sudden Power Surge to get out of a tight situation and ultimately win a battle. Now if you’re wondering why Real Robot? Well, as much as the technology is highly advanced compared to what we have today, which is rather obvious, in contrast to the Chogokin titans, the idea behind Variable Fighters is not too far off from reality, not to mention all the outer space dogfighting which somehow uses the laws of physics applicable to actual, real fight, in-Earth dogfights.

But the fights aside, the borrowed and combined elements from other Mecha Anime genres which we can forever debate about as to which really stands out in the Macross series, there is one absolute thing that is able to separate the Macross franchise from other shows, such as Gundam, and that is the MUSIC.

From Lynn Minmay’s ballad Do You Remember Love?, Fire Bomber’s energetic space concerts, Ranka Lee’s vibrant Seikan Hikou, to Walkure’s Ikenai Borderline,  almost each and every Macross series has left a mark on the popular music culture, not only to Japanese fans but also to the international audience. The soulful performances of Voice Actors and Actresses and Pop Singers such as Mari Iijima, Megumi Nakajima, Minori Suzuki and JUNNA was able to give life to the concept of using the “Power of Song” to break enemies and win battles, as well as to spread love, hope and daringly crossing the forbidden emotional borderlines, if you know what I mean.

Although as much as the music becomes its compelling element, its music has also become the bane of most Macross series iterations as it somehow overpowers one of the biggest key elements of the Mecha genre and that is the Mechas. While we have Messiahs and Siegfrieds running across the screen during dogfight sequences, there isn’t much emphasis on their variations, or the “Custom” as we call it, when compared to one of its closest cousins, the Gundam series, and we are filled mostly with generic looking-antagonist robots being peppered by bullets and rockets.

I mean honestly, can you really name more than 5 mechs from any Macross Series within 10 seconds if I ask you to?

Still, despite its debatable elements, the ups and downs, Shoji Kawamori, with his obvious love for the Mecha genre, was able to create something very memorable for fans of Anime, and one that even once stood at the pinnacle of the TV and Movie animation genre.

BONUS:

Speaking of Shoji Kawamori, take note that the man himself will be visiting the Philippines this August at the Asia Pop Comicon Manila 2017. Now if you’re a Macross fan then you should definitely be there to take a glimpse and maybe even have your kits signed by the man that started it all, plus, the guy is also responsible behind other memorable Anime series under the Mecha genre like The Vision of Escafowne and Eureka Seven.

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