The year is 2008 and the Unification Wars continue to rage between the U.N. and Anti-U.N. forces. In the face of evidence of advanced alien lifeforms in the form of the crashed ship that would one day become the SDF Macross, a movement to unite the Earth under one government begins so that humanity can be prepared for what may come. But there are many on the wrong side of history, who would rather fight to defend their petty interests even in the face of interplanetary warfare, and war has been ongoing for nearly eight years. And now, both sides are deploying a revolutionary new fighter, capable of transforming from fighter to intermediate to humanoid forms. In the middle of this conflict, Shin Kudo, a U.N. carrier fighter pilot, is shot down by one of these new aircraft and washes up on an island where the people worship strangely colored statues called ‘birdmen’. Here we are at the earliest series in the Macross saga, a prequel that predates the original series events by a year and promises to reveal much about the background of Protoculture involvement in Earth’s history, the development of the first Valkyries, and something of the past of characters, their relations, and ancestors of those aboard the future human colony ships. So here comes retroblogging project #3, venturing further into the Macross saga by starting at its chronological beginning. Veterans, newbies, and fellow newly minted fans, join me for another journey into the Macross universe!
A young Shin, as the Macross crashes to Earth on South Ataria island. The way they used a bunch of still images at for the start of the war, and the young protagonist looking out at the water as an explosion happens, reminded me a lot of the first narrative video in Ace Combat 4. Maybe they borrowed from it a little (AC4 was first by a year.)
Shin explains his motivations for becoming a pilot as the Unification Wars engulf the world.
Shin’s opening monologue is set against flashes of his F-14Kai preparing to launch.
The OVA series opens up with a mix of three (technically four) different visual styles, which if I had only read that last statement would’ve sounded like it could confuse the audience. But each served a purpose in that they differentiated the kinds of events going on. The first thing we see is the regular animation/CG style, a photograph of Shin’s family stuck to the controls in the cockpit of his F-14 Tomcat. The personal experiences of his youth flash back as he narrates them, in simpler lines and soft, watercolor tones and still images. And many of the images of the wars use real photographs to give a gritty edge to them. As opening sequences go, it certainly had style and worked to set the tone for Shin’s view of events. The way that a lot of still images were used also helped to give a sense of how Shin wandered through events hurried and confused, with only his desire to bring an end to it as his guiding principle.
After launching, Shin’s flight encounters a flight of enemy MiG-29 Fulcrums somewhere over the Pacific. The Tomcats have a slight numerical advantage, but the MiGs certainly have the edge in maneuverability (unless the fictitious ’Kai’ version of the F-14 somehow greatly improved the big fighter’s dogfighting abilities.) However Shin is a masterful pilot, and manages to outfly the more agile MiGs, downing all three and earning enough kills to add to his previous 8 and a half and make him a double ace. But just as his flight reenters formation, they’re attacked out of nowhere by a new model fighter, painted a bright purple and looking something like a Sukhoi Su-37 Flanker. But in the dogfight it changes forms, revealing itself as a Veritech fighter, downing Shin’s comrades. For a moment Shin almost manages to outfly the vastly superior craft, but even his skills are not enough when it surprises him by entering humanoid form and downing his Tomcat.
I remain impressed with Macross’s use of cockpit points of view, though I still think the original series did them the best.
Shin’s RIO, Edgar LaSalle. Related to Claudia LaSalle?
Thus begins (at least in in-universe chronology) the tradition of the nemesis in the bright purple, Flanker-esque fighter.
It’s a testament to Shin’s skill that he managed to get this close to getting a shot at the enemy Veritech.
Seems like Zeon is supplying the Anti-U.N. forces, judging from the head and machine gun. Along with Celestial Being, the three form the mecha Axis of Evil and must be dealt with preemptively.
With a gasp, Shin wakes up in some kind of wooden building built above water, with a sharpened wooden stick sitting next to him. He quickly remembers ejecting from his F-14, but he has no idea where he is or what happened to Edgar. Taking the sharpened stick he leaves the house, and eventually finds an old man and demands to know where he is. Then, out of the edge of the jungle, a woman appears with several people behind her. She’s not happy with his presence on the island, fearing that he can summon something called a Kaifun Kadun to her home. Things are confrontational until her younger sister intervenes on behalf of Shin and calms things down. He finds out that Edgar did not survive their fighter being shot down, and wreckage of his carrier washes up on shore, and in his sorrow the younger sister, Mao Nome, convinces her older sister, Sara, to let him stay. Elsewhere, on the U.N. carrier Asuka II, a briefing is being given concerning the island, an ancient alien artifact having been located in its vicinity. As Doctor Aries concludes her briefing and leaves, she runs into her old friend and ours, Roy Focker.
Shin awakes, apparently cared for by the locals while he was unconscious.
Funnier in hindsight.
Hi there Hare, I mean, Mao.
From humbles beginnings on an undeveloped island in the Pacific, the Nome bloodline would one day produce a descendant that would use her song to save a fleet and send thousands of followers of the Great Traitor, Ranka Lee, to the depths of despair at her final victory!
The Protoculture just leaves all kinds of trash lying around, doesn’t it?
Since it’s the second Asuka, I had assumed the first was an actual aircraft carrier, but after checking it seems Japan never had a CV by that name.
Roy Focker: the legend begins.
Marooned on the island with no communication available, Shin recovers and starts learning more about the place and its customs from Mao. The residents believe that the island, Mayan, was the place where the birdmen came down from the sky, turned the ‘fishmen’ into humans, and are still worshiped. Sara is their priestess, and interprets the winds and seas to determine what is to come. The sharpened stick that Shin used is apparently a symbol used for declaring one’s affection, in effect a love letter. Shin has a good laugh after he’s informed of this, having previously threatened Sara and the old man with a love letter, and he and Mao are both pleasantly surprised to see him laughing for once. Though why a stick was left next to him while he was unconscious is uncertain, since it would be a little quick for someone on the island to declare their love for him when he hadn’t yet said a word to anyone. During that time Shin also notices a communications antenna, though he is informed that the generator is broken and anyone who knew how to fix it left for the war. To repay Mao for her kindness he gets to work on fixing it, the system being his only way of contacting the U.N. forces as well. Back aboard the Asuka, Roy speaks to engineer Nakajima about new fighters that have arrived: the U.N.’s own Veritech fighters. Incorporating the most advanced systems available including a particle/energy reinforced armor system, the ability to transform, and the latest weapons, they are top of the line, however were rushed to the front without their intended reactor engines, instead replaced by highly tuned, fuel guzzling standard type engines. Soon, Roy’s team will make its first sortie, intending to intercept a patrol of enemy Veritech fighters.
Ehh, I’m not so sure about this place.
The ‘secret midnight date’ is not very secret if everyone on the island knows that the sticks mean. Also, this item-based courtship reminds me a bit of the blue feather in the Harvest Moon games. Were love so easy…
The insight into the technical aspects of the Valkyrie predecessors was really cool, though my biggest question is how did the anti-U.N. forces get their hands on the same technology.
Engineer Nakajima, possibly a reference to the Nakajima Aircraft Company that produced, among others, the ‘Kate’ torpedo bomber. It wouldn’t be the first time a WWII aircraft reference was made in anime (Kai Shiden from the original Gundam.)
On the island Shin finds Sara carving the love letter sticks underneath one of the houses, and starts teasing her about having so many, first for having received so many, then switching to implying that she wanted to give out a bunch of them. And switching attacks yet again, he goes on to suggest that she’s making them to sell for a profit, as if she wasn’t tsun-tsun towards him enough! Though after he sits down and starts carving one, the two have a non-confrontational conversation for the first time as she explains to him how to carve one using the wind and sea as inspiration. But just as things are going well she cries out and seems to have a vision of both U.N. forces bringing fighting to the island and of something that looks like one of the birdmen statues flying over the island and bombing it. And not moments after this vision ends it part of it comes to pass. Roy’s flight of VF prototypes swoops in over the island in pursuit of their targets. The combat is a fierce back-and-forth, but Roy eventually proves the worth of the prototype he pilots and downs his first enemy VF. On the ground Shin runs off to bring Mao to safety while Sara goes to move the townspeople out of harm’s way, a prophecy of destruction spoken to herself as she watches the fighting.
Living on this island must suck if what you do for fun is carve sharpened sticks. No wonder Mao wants no part of its traditions.
Roy earns his daredevil reputation early on, this time nearly crashing into the ground as he chases an enemy fighter.
The new HUD has a nice way of displaying depth with those curving altitude indicators.
The new, all-digital instrument panel is a nice improvement as well. With all the complicated, multipurpose aspects of a transforming fighter I’m sure you’d need something that you can change on the fly.
Prototype Valkyrie in humanoid form for the first time. The transformation sequence was very cool, it even halfway convinced me that the way that the location of the cockpit changing could really work. Almost. The CG for the mecha is most impressive too, I think I like the style even more than what was used in Frontier.
Just as in Sara’s vision, Roy downs and enemy over the island before jetting off to help out his teammates.
Where have I heard similar phrases to this before?
Final Thoughts: - Even with the greater historical detail in Do You Remember Love there was still a lot unanswered about the recent and distant past. Which is why I’m glad that both are being dealt with in Macross Zero, even if not everything is being explained at the moment.
- The CG is just beautiful, and the dogfights are very fluid and nicely done. The regular animation is very nice too, and as mentioned the use of various visual styles in the opening scene was very effective at establishing the mood and character of Shin.
- I’m having an interesting experience having watched Frontier first, then the original series and DYRL. Details, people, events, and technologies from the most recent series are starting to make more sense now. The pieces are starting to fall into place for me, and it’s a fun way to watch things so far. It almost feels like I’m someone from the Frontier time period, learning about history. And I love history, real and in fictitious universes.