Macross Frontier: Hands in the Air


The first episode of Macross Frontier – the Deculture Edition of the first episode – was my first contact with Macross, excepting a dimly-remembered trailer for (I think) Plus, which I saw on a rented DVD ages ago. I’m not counting that trailer because I didn’t pay much attention to it, on the grounds that ‘you promised me giant robots, and these are definitely planes, not giant robots’.

How little I knew!

It’s difficult to select a particular part from the first episode, though the clear winner in adrenaline terms is the BREACHING OF THE FINAL DEFENSIVE LINE near the close. That was excellent, but I suppose the really significant moment was shot of the flying club’s hand movements. It’s not earthshaking in itself, but it made people on the internet say things. I didn’t grasp most of what they said because I knew nothing about Macross, so all I heard was ‘raaaagh raaaagh Plus raaaagh’. That, and the revelation that Martin knew things about, and liked, this ‘Macross’ thing, opened up the prospect of exploring a whole franchise while waiting for more of Frontier.

I’m a sucker for extensive franchises which offer variations on a theme. Once you have easily-identified variations there are lots of instructive comparisons just waiting to be made – you could insert a point about language being a system of differences here if you really wanted – so that, for example, Sheryl and Ranka suddenly become more interesting when juxtaposed with Minmay, Sharon, and the members of Fire Bomber.

Maybe Frontier didn’t turn out as good as some had hoped, but without it I might have missed Plus and Do You Remember Love?, which were great fun, and Zero, which had amazing robots. I’m stalled exactly halfway through the original SDF Macross, because I’m still mourning for a certain character.

Actually, speaking of that certain character, some will also remember Frontier for breaking the Pineapple Salad Jinx. However, an intelligent /m/an was swift to point out the deadly salad in Char’s Counter Attack, proving that while the Pineapple Salad Jinx was a lie, it was a lie covering a deeper and wider-reaching truth affecting both Macross and Gundam. Whatever Frontier‘s quality, it has at least proved that the danger’s in the salad, not the pineapple.


16 responses to “Macross Frontier: Hands in the Air

  1. I hope you move through this one in fairly short order. Though I am surprised that you were not following it given your preference for mecha.

    Prepare to say YAKKK DECULTURE a lot…

  2. Sorry, maybe I didn’t make it clear that I watched Frontier as it aired: this is part of the ‘twelve days’ retrospective business.

  3. What Crusader said.

    Beat me again, that guy! However, I’m actually in a conundrum on what advice to give… (not that you asked for any).

    For one thing, Macross Frontier is nostalgial fanservice at its very best. I’m hard pressed to think of another anime (Diebuster? TTGL? Giant Robo? Gundam 00) who does nostalgia homage well, in both obviouse and clever (and subtle!) ways. If you haven’t completed SDF-Macross, you will miss on some of the goodness.

    On the other hand, I am interested in your take as a ‘new’ viewer of the show, which is designed to introduce a new generation to the franchise. I want to know how well do you think it works towards this end.

    Do have fun!

  4. Your experience sounds remarkably similar to mine. I watched the Deculture version of Frontier ep 1, and at the time the entirety of my Macross experience was vague recollections of watching part of Plus dubbed on VHS not long after I got into anime – I wasn’t impressed with it at the time.

    However that Frontier episode inspired me to go back and re-evaluate the franchise. I watched the original, then zero, then DYRL, then plus, then 7 and then finished Dynamite 7 a few days before Frontier opened. And I’m glad I did it, because the whole thing was fresh in my memory and I picked up a ton of inside jokes and references in Frontier. Plus I’d gotten my priorities sorted out – Macross is the best mecha franchise after all, not Gundam. :P

  5. I’m legitimately impressed you hadn’t seen any Macross up until Frontier, I didn’t even know that was possible.

  6. I 3rd z comment of Crusader…

    >>I’m stalled exactly halfway through the original SDF Macross, because I’m still mourning for a certain character.

    No, you have to finish it ASAP! lol

    Seriously, the last half is actually the best part. At least for me. :)

  7. I was actually really impressed right until the (let’s see if I can do spoiler tags on this blog) massive non-answer that was the ending. I did like it significantly more than gundam 00 though, so I guess that’s something.

  8. Ok, not only can I not do spoiler tags but it seems to want to remove the evidence that I even tried. Weird.

  9. @ ghostlightning: I thought Frontier worked quite well at getting me interested in the franchise, as the post itself suggests. At the same time, I didn’t feel that there were lots of obvious in-jokes flying past my head, so it was quite well-managed. I don’t really know how to read the assessments of F by long-term Macross fans. I think I can see how finding moe intruding into one’s beloved music-mecha-love-triangle franchise might be very irritating, but then again it doesn’t seem to have hurt your enjoyment or OGT’s.

    @ NegativeZero: Wow, your jaunt through the franchise was much more comprehensive than mine! I agree with you that it was fun to watch F with lots of older Macross fresh in the mind. As for Macross and Gundam . . . I’ve written on the subject before, and I’ll leave it to people who are better at detecting quality than I am to decide which is superior. All I’ll say is that for the kind of enjoyment I mentioned in this post – making connections between different shows – Gundam is superior, simply because there’s more of it, and because it’s spread across several different universes.

    @ Sean: Actually, while I have a lot of affection for old anime, I’m a (relatively) new anime fan. My first Gundam was SEED, for example.

    @ hayase: That bodes well for the second half of SDF, then. I’ll find time to fit it in somewhen.

    @ Shiri: I still haven’t figured out the right way to relate to 00 – I respect it, but it feels like a very cold show to me. I was half expecting F‘s non-ending ( blogs don’t do spoiler tags, unfortunately, but I doubt that’s a significant spoiler) because of its even-handedness and its popularity during its run, so I wasn’t as disappointed as many were, I think.

  10. *Sigh* I STILL haven’t started watching the original, despite enjoying every other part of the Macross franchise I’ve seen so far. I’ve watched Robotech of course, but after changing character names and certain plot points I’m not sure if it qualifies as ‘watching the original Macross’.

    But yeah, Frontier was one of my 2008 highlights too. I’m praying for a DVD release or, even better, a Blu-ray version to justify it over those HD fansubs that looked so wonderful in widescreen on my laptop every sunday morning. Good times.

  11. concretebadger: It doesn’t differ all that much – of the three series Macekred, this one was the one that held most closely to the original series it was derived from. Which means, in a sense, it kinda set the stage for the two following (unrelated series) since they had to splice things from one series into the other two… and also took stuff from the Southern Cross series into Macross (look at whenever they introduce the Robotech Masters).

    The whole thing about Frontier that worked is that it was both a loving tribute to past series, as a 25th anniversary edition of a franchise should be, while being accessible to people who had never before seen the original by sticking to the basic themes (love in the middle of war, and the power of communicating ideas between two fundamentally different groups), and adding in both a lot of mecha action as well as a lot of music which could be enjoyed in its own right (especially on the pop side). And it did so in a way which was accessible to both male and female viewers, by mixing in the proper amounts of dramatic elements and romance (which failed to be romantic half the time, IMO) with luscious visuals and missile-laden action.

    At the same time, it wasn’t afraid to poke fun at some of the stuff that’d come before, even as it recycled elements (the plane-mounted speakers, singing in the midst of battle, mid-air rescues) which are somewhat ridiculous on their own, but are iconic of various shows in the series. The Love Triangle elements are endemic to the series as a whole… although it didn’t get carried off too well here, in my books.

    However, I will say this – quantity does not automatically equal quality. Gundam has its own history, and it has both its highs as well as lows… but there’s a lot more of it out there, which means there’s also a lot more out there that can be described mildly as horrid (G-Gundam, the G-Saviour movies, SEED Destiny gets a lot of flak for how it carried off things).

  12. @ The Animanachronism

    Well, I’m not put off by moe as Crusader seems to be, at least in his writing on Frontier. Ranka’s character turns aside, and the shoehorning of various things to maintain symmetry, Frontier is very satisfying!

    I mourn with you. I think that episode is quite finely done. But, start watching again! The best is just coming up ^_^

    @ concretebadger

    There are three Minmeis:
    1. The dreamer who got her break, lost at love and almost lost her music as well from the original.
    2. The petulant star of Do You Remember Love who was all about getting her way.
    3. Robotech’s nitwit, whose discography was butchered down to 3 songs, horribly versed and sadistically sung. She really comes off terribly here.

    For Minmei’s sake watch the original.

    @ Haesslich

    That was quite the amazing summation of the franchise’s distinctive characteristics!

    I agree with most of your points, save for G-Gundam being horrid. I rather enjoy its shameless camp.

  13. Pineapple Salad? Ha! How about Pineapple Express?

  14. The deculture edition was what got me interested in the franchise. It did only one thing and it was to say that aliens were PEWPEWING TEH HUMANS but that was fine for me; the execution was impressive. Before the actual series began, I did a marathon of the original series and DYRL, and I am glad I did.

    I have to say, watching the original series before starting Macross F was essential in boosting my ability to enjoy the latter; not only because of the mischievous references to older works, the entirety of the Frontier setting invokes nostalgia of great magnitude because it is set in the future of a story that I have come to adore so much. The expansion of mankind into deep space; the vanguards of mankind, the Valkyrie fighter, such are the elements that render Macross F an emotional experience. As I have come to appreciate the original story so much, it gives me pleasure to witness the future which Hikaru, Minmay, Misa, Roy and Captain Global have fought to protect. Simple as that, it is.


  15. @ Sojourner


  16. @ concretebadger: I’m not sure what Frontier‘s prospects for a DVD release are, but it would be nice. I’d be prepared to pay money for it. I guess from a UK point of view we’re looking at several years wait even if there is one, unless you import, though.

    @ Haesslich: True, quantity doesn’t necessarily equal quality, but for the kind of link-drawing enjoyment (not quality, enjoyment – I can only speak for myself, but I’m capable of enjoying bad anime) that I was talking about in this post, I think quantity trumps quality.

    @ ghostlightning: I like the Triple Minmei theory. I’ll have to store that for future use.

    @ Omisyth: The meterological phenomenon or the movie?

    @ The Sojourner: Hmm. I suspect that while I picked up on a good number of the nods to what I’d already seen, I missed the nostalgia factor because the original SDF is still in abeyance for me.

    It may also be that I’m not as cut out for the franchise as some – my favourite part is Plus, which I’ve been told is not as ‘Macross-y’. On the other hand, I rather enjoy some of the songs from 7, without even having seen it, so it’s not like I’m deaf to Macross or anything.


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