“Dedicated to all pioneers” reads the opening line to this Macross sidestory, and you can tell just from those words that this is a work with feeling behind it. Five years before 7th Colonization Fleet came under attack from a new enemy, the U.N. has begun testing on the next generation of Valkyrie variable fighter to replace the VF-11 Thunderbolt. Two designs are in competition with each other: Shinsei Industries YF-19, an updated but more conventional design, and General Galaxy’s YF-21, a highly advanced heavy fighter incorporating a wide variety of experimental systems. Chief among these is a direct telepathic link with its pilot that promises unheard of response times and situational awareness. Three old friends are brought together on the planet Eden by the Project Super Nova tests and by chance. Isamu Dyson, a fighter ace with a habit of disobeying orders and flying like a madman, and Guld Bowman, a test pilot for the YF-21, are reunited with Myung Fang Lone who is now an agent for a computer program ‘singer’. But the three apparently did not part under the best of circumstances and Isamu and Guld immediately start making their program rivalry personal while Myung seems to get caught in the middle. Trials for the two aircraft with their new pilots begin at New Edwards Air Base, a computer ‘singer’ named Sharon Apple arrives on the planet, and the YF-21′s brain-wave control system appears to be affecting its pilot. All in all we should be in for quite a ride.
Isamu, Myung, and Guld when they were younger on the planet Eden. Myung sings while Guld tries to launch Isamu on a homebuilt flying machine of questionable airworthiness.
Somehow it flies, though I’m not so sure about the landing. Isamu’s Hajime no Ippo outfit likely isn’t going to provide him with much protection.
Immediately after the flashback the time returns to 2040 where Isamu and his wingman are fighting against a flight of enemy Queadluun Rae.
His wingman lines up the shot only to have Isamu slide in front of him and steal the kill.
Isamu still showing off, scaring the hell out of his wingman but keeping him safe from their enemies, who outnumber them at least 3:1.
The bayonets on the gunpods were a cool touch. I also love to see the VF-11 get some love, in Macross 7 so far they’ve just been cannon fodder.
More of the Thunderbolt looking good in a very nicely animated dogfight.
Isamu’s piloting, while excellent, does not endear him to his superiors and after the mission he is standing before his displeased commanding officer. While at first he threatens Shin with a range of boring assignments, he seems to see the potential in the pilot and instead assigns him to New Edwards on Eden to be a test pilot for the YF-19 prototype. Needless to say he’s excited at the prospect of getting to pilot one of the newest, most advanced aircraft yet produced and sets off for his new assignment with enthusiasm. At New Edwards, named after the real life USAF base, a trial of the the YF-21 is already underway. Utilizing some sort of new variable geometry wings, the YF-21 is able to change and distort the shape of its fixed wings at the pilot’s mental command. Isamu arrives just in time to have the YF-21 blow right past his fighter before landing and reporting to the group of military officers and civilian personnel that run the program. His cocky attitude doesn’t make for the best first impression, but he doesn’t really put anyone off either until Guld arrives back from his flight. They sneer and yell at each other and Isamu even puts his fist through the glass tabletop when Grul questions his worthiness to be a test pilot. Over the next few days the two continue their activities separates, with Guld checking up on Isamu’s records and Isamu crashing the simulator pod, he’s just that good.
Very cool office. The scene also brings back memories of the Wing Commander games, when you’re ordered to report to the Squadron Commander’s office for reassignment, medals, or chewing out.
He’s certainly full of himself, cocky, and likes to get in the way, but he’s pretty likable. Reminds me a bit of Patrick Colasour pre-Kati.
Macross’s version of the Psy-Commu System. Or perhaps a better analogy would be the EXAM System from Gundam: Blue Destiny since I’m certain nothing good will come of this thing.
It’s very important to know your personnel’s bust and hip measurements. Kind of creepy, U.N. Spacy. Interesting that the measurements are in inches and pounds, guess they wanted to be very faithful to the US Air Force/Navy influence that Macross uses.
The two candidate fighters. I like that they gave them manufacturers, it adds a little bit of detail and realism, and they even took inspiration from General Dynamics (developer of the F-16 and F-111) for one of the names.
Judging by his service record the U.N. Spacy still has plenty of crises to keep it busy.
After crashing the simulator Isamu makes enough of an impression on one of the engineers working on the program, Lucy Macmillan, to go out on a date with her. Driving his 3x faster motorcycle like a maniac down the highway, the two reach the nearby city. They have a pretty good day out, and the computer program singer, which I guess we may as well call some sort of advanced vocaloid, Sharon arrives to a big reception despite being no more charismatic than one of those SEELE monoliths from Evangelion. Sharon’s manager, Myung, runs into Guld and the two get to talking up on Star Hill, an area with lots of windmills that looks like the place from the opening flashback. It seems like there is/was something between them romantically that didn’t end well, but the two don’t directly confront it. Guld asks her if she sings anymore, and she replies no, words that seem to come out with a masked sense of loss. Just as she’s singing the praises of Sharon Guld grabs her and hugs her, saying that she should forget what happened in the past and that he would help her forget. Just then Isamu and Lucy show up, and not to the warmest greeting by Guld. He picks Isamu up by the collar when he implies that Guld and Myung are a couple and a fight is only averted by her physically getting between the two of them. The competition between the two comes up again, with Guld vowing to not let Isamu have the new fighter program or Myung.
This OVA could only have more Top Gun influence/references if a Valkyrie took off parallel to them and “Danger Zone” started playing.
You think Kawamori likes San Francisco much? The hilly terrain, broad streets, and architecture is all over the Macross series.
Somewhere in the background, a monkey throws a bone into the air.
See how many horrible late 1980′s-early 1990′s mistakes of fashion you can find. Reminds me of when I played GTA: Vice City.
Setting up the mystery for us.
Seems like there’s more to their rivalry than the usual love triangle.
The next day the YF-21 has another test flight, and Isamu is piloting one of the chase aircraft, a VF-11 with booster attached. Things proceed smoothly through one test and into a second missile avoidance test, but when some of the dummy missiles lose track of Guld and start homing in on Isamu’s VF-11 he has to showboat and refuses to get hit by the harmless missiles. Instead he tries to outmaneuver them to show that he’s just as good of a pilot and drops one of his boosters as a decoy. It works, but he’s now unable to control his plane since the second booster was meant to work with the first to balance it. Just as Guld is about to finish off the last target drone Isamu drops his second booster into it, destroying it but enraging Guld so much that he loses control of his mental connection to the YF-21 as his anger brings back old memories. Isamu circles him on his descent, teasing him about who is the better pilot, until ordered to catch the falling variable fighter. He manages to catch and slow the YF-21, but a stray thought from Guld about how he could wreck Isamu and possibly kill him prompts the YF-21 to react, pushing the VF-11 to the ground and putting Isamu into a crash tumble. He manages to survive and is picked up by Guld, and another fight nearly breaks out back at base. It really was an accident and Guld casually mentions this, not that Isamu is likely to believe him.
Isamu just can’t let a chance to showoff pass him by.
Something serious obviously went down to sour their friendship, but at this point there’s too little information to jump to conclusions. Though I get the impression that jump to a conclusion is exactly what Guld did at the time.
Seeing the YF-21 in battroid form illustrates how much bulkier it is compared to the VF-11
He’s lucky he could walk away from that one.
Final Thoughts: – This show had me hooked right from that beautiful hand-drawn dogfight. As good as some of the best modern CG can look, I always enjoy well done hand-drawn battles more. It has details like textures and shadows that just haven’t been captured yet in CG. Plus it featured my favorite variable fighter since the original VF-1, the VF-11 Thunderbolt. In the first episodes of Macross 7 that I’ve watched so far it’s always just been cannon fodder, being destroyed in scores by the Protodeviln. But the design is among my favorites, I might even like it more than the VF-25.
- Despite my usual preferences for more serious characters I definitely like Isamu more than Guld. Isamu might be full of himself and more than a bit of a yahoo, but he doesn’t seem like a bad guy. He pulls his stunts but he took care of his wingman and rescued Guld when the time came. He was flirty with Lucy but didn’t act like a jackass on their date. Guld on the other hand is more serious, but he seems overly so and very stubborn to boot. He’s much more antagonistic than Isamu and has less control of his emotions despite trying to act cool.
- The whole Sharon Apple computer program thing is just beyond weird. Unless some beautiful android emerges from that big black box, then I might understand people’s infatuation with the virtual idol. It could be commentary on pop music though, since a computer program idol would be the ultimate in manufactured, artificial music. This remains to be seen, but maybe it’s an acknowledgement of how fake pop culture can be, even if it might serve some purpose. I also expect this AI singer to figure into the mental control system for the YF-21 somehow.
- Myung is kind of creeping me out visually. She seems like a good character and all, but her hairstyle and oddly drawn, thin, pointy nose is reminding me of Michael Jackson. And I am squarely from the generation that regarded him as a creepy, self-deformed pedophile, not as the king of pop.
- Music is great, as expected of a soundtrack put together by Yoko Kanno.
Special announcement: I am currently looking for a series to retroblog after I finish with Macross Plus, so if you have any suggestions feel free to make them. I’m looking for something non-mecha, pre-2000, and no longer than 52 episodes. While I could go with another mecha series, and I’d certainly enjoy it, I don’t want to only retroblog mecha series. So if you have any ideas go ahead and suggest them in the comments.