Type: TV (36 episodes)
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Embroiled in yet another war, hostilities on Earth cease when a huge alien space ship crash lands on an island. The now united forces of earth reverse engineer the ship and start reconstruction. A city emerges around the site with so many working on the project. Then just as the ship is set to launch, alien forces arrive to reclaim it.
To escape, the ship travels in hyperspace to an orbit around Pluto but ends up taking most of Macross city along with it. Civilians are brought aboard from shelters and now stuck on the ship. One of them is pacifist Hikaru Ichijyo. As the aliens continue to besiege the ship trying to return to earth, Hikaru feels conflicted with his ideals, and his desire to protect those around him. Aliens might be the least of his problems as he pursues a relationship with an aspiring pop star, and tries to avoid the tumultuous relationship with his commanding officer.
Released in 1982, Super Dimensional Fortress Macross hit a sweet spot in many ways. While nothing in Macross was new even in the 80s; the way things work together transformed it into something great. Macross was picked up for distribution in the U.S. by Harmony Gold and produced as Robotech. With no anime market in the U.S. at the time, no one particularly objected to major story rewrites, sanitizing Japanese references, dumbing it down to a kids show, no subtitled version, and packaging it with two completely unrelated series (Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospaesda). As someone introduced to anime by Robotech, I'm pretty forgiving about Harmony Gold mangled the original. While Robotech is a "kid's show", it's a pretty mind blowing kids show - actual romance, death, and somewhat philosophical plot. What kids show has all that these days? Anyway, keep in mind Macross and Robotech are similar, very related, but in the end feel very different when you watch them.
Like many early licenced series, Macross was held in a lock for quite some time. An agreement reached where Robotech became the official dub, while subtitled versions were released for the other three series.
The design and animation are fair for the time. Mostly decent, highlighted by a few brilliant animation sequences. Macross is most noted for the fighter plane designs, but really all designs in this anime are great. It's the music integration What differentiates Macross from other shows of the day. Minmay's songs and concerts become key points. They're not just generic backdrop tunes. The music is good enough believe they'd be popular as standard pop songs (in Japan). That was a pretty novel idea for the day.
As someone who experienced Robotech first, I admit the biggest surprise for me was my complete change in attitude towards Lynn Minmay. With so-so voice acting, a more annoying role in the story, and absolutely TERRIBLE singing; her Robotech version isn't fondly remembered. After watching Macross, I'd say she's among the best characters in anime. Minmay's story is a transformation from simple innocence, to the jaded reality of fame. For all her glamor and popularity, simple love eludes her, and she actually lives a pretty tortured existence. Her love interest, Hikaru; is a former pacifist who has lived his life voiced against the military, only to become a fighter pilot due to necessity.. and hormones. Caught between war, ideals, women, and duty - he's got a full plate. Also mixed in is Commander Misa Hayase, a woman who followed the military tradition of her family, lost her love to war, then cast aside her emotions to concentrate on duty. Still, even when she tried to focus on her duties she ended up falling for the crazy pilot that always got her so worked up.
Even alone, any of these characters has more depth than the combined cast in most anime. In Macross, they form the mother of all love triangles.
The overall story of Macross is very good, with exceptional depth in some points which are unusually philosophical for a show of this kind. Probably the biggest problem with Macross is that some parts become mind boggling dumb. These points are rare, and don't affect much, but man are there some face palm moments.
Macross is an easy show to recommend because it's a well known classic, and the first in a long franchise. It's good for mecha fans, and classic anime fans. But the reason I would personally recommend you pick up Macross is the love triangle character dynamic. Good stuff, worthy of classic status.
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