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Macross Frontier 1–Now that’s what I call a big bang!

Don’t ya feel so manly watching them fast fighter planes?
Don’t ya feel so manly watching them fast fighter planes?

I’ve seen most of the original Macross TV series, the movie Do You Remember Love?, and Macross Plus. This new series, Macross Frontier, was exciting to me for simply one reason–it marks the return of Yoko Kanno to the helm of the music department (she also wrote the music to Macross Plus). Who knew it would have some of the most exciting aerial battles I’ve seen in a while, too?

The Macross franchise has been one that I’ve always respected, but never quite loved. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it; it just wasn’t quite my genre, even the much more dramatic and adult Macross Plus (which was one of my earliest anime, by the way). I was more a fan of Shoji Kawamori’s other big creation Escaflowne, which also had Kanno involved with the music, and while I enjoyed my run through the original Macross as a piece of anime history, it wasn’t something I held up as an ultimate example of greatness–even though I knew that Hideaki Anno was greatly inspired by it.

Play it again, Kann–I mean, Gabriela Robin

This brand new series looks promising simply partly because it’s been a long time since I’ve heard Kanno’s glorious orchestral work–she’s been concentrating more on electronica these days, with the superb Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex. This is a big return to the grand John Williams-inspired style and it shows best during the fluid, well-animated battle sequences. In true Macross fashion, they are the highlights of the episode, as the unknown alien enemy penetrates the colony’s defenses. And just as in Macross Plus it is mixed in with electronica-influenced J-pop, though the songs aren’t as memorable as the Sharon Apple ones. Most interestingly is the rearrangement of “Do You Remember Love?” during the ED, which is recognizable and faithful to all of us who watched the 80s Macross incarnation and yet also very recognizably Kanno too. Sounds like she’s returning to her roots in a way. I can’t wait to buy the soundtrack to this one.

You’re not very cute for a Minmei

The character designs, though, leave something to be desired–as are also the character parallels so far. If Michael Alto is supposed to be this show’s Ichijo, I’m not impressed, especially since he gets called “princess” by his buddies and looks like a typical angsty bishounen. (I know, I know, you can stop the jokes now about how we’re so similar after all.) I’m also not impressed with the Minmei doppelganger, who this time has green hair but still is in a Chinese restaurant. Then again, we’ve barely gotten to know her yet…

And you’re too confused to be an Ichijo!

Storywise, it doesn’t seem terribly original yet, but again it’s just begun so no judgments now. The choice to set it in space colonies seems to be a bow, in some ways, to the Gundam franchise; I wonder if we are going to have the traveling generation ship as we did in the original Macross, and just how much the pop star is going to contribute to the SAVING OF THE UNIVERSE THROUGH THE POWER OF SONG! I guess if it worked on the Zentradi, it might work on these insectoid aliens, unless they don’t have ears. Then this universe is in deep sh–

Oh what the heck. It’s a Macross series. I’m just going to be watching it just for the Valkyrie battles!

EDIT: I now understand that this series isn’t actually airing regularly until the spring. A shame. I need some of this action in my diet, too!

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