Super Dimensional Fortress Macross

Tagged: Film | TV

Japanese animated tv series (1982-1983). Also known as Chōjikū Yōsai Makurosu. Studio Nue, Tatsunoko Production. Directed by Noboru Ishiguro. Written by Ken'ichi Matsuzaki. Voice cast includes Mika Doi, Michio Hazama, Arihiro Hase and Mari Iijima. 36 25-minute episodes. Colour.

In 1999 a deserted space battleship (see Starship) crashes into the Earth, proof both of intelligent Alien life and a War in space. A united Earth government is formed and ten years later the enormous battleship, named the Macross, has been rebuilt. Its Captain is Bruno J. Global (Hazama), though the emotional focus of the show is the love triangle of Hikaru Ichijo (Haze), a young civilian pilot who gets caught up events and finds himself joining the military; Lynn Minmay (Iijima), winner of the Miss Macross beauty contest who becomes a successful pop singer (as did her voice actress) and Misa Hayase (Doi), the Macross's second in command and the show's most interesting character.

As the Macross is preparing for launch, the ships of giant humanoid aliens called Zentradi approach the Earth, whereupon the Macross's automatic defence system fires upon them: the aliens respond by invading Earth (see Invasion). The Macross lifts off, carrying 50,000 refugees, with the Zentradi in pursuit – who learn to their cost that the Macross is able to transform into a very, very large Mecha with powerful weaponry (the ship's aircraft can also become mecha).

Battles ensue (see Space Opera), with some earthlings being captured: they discover the Zentradi have no civilians, segregate the sexes and know nothing of love: kissing shocks but fascinates them. We learn the Zentradi are an artificial species, designed for war (see Cultural Engineering), originally created 500,000 years ago by the universe's first civilization, the Protoculture, who had also Genetically Engineered the human race. Shrunken (see Miniaturization) Zentradi spies infiltrate the Macross: some find Earth culture and society convivial, so defect. The massive Zentradi fleet attacks the Earth, wiping out most of the population. The Macross responds by broadcasting Minmay singing and kissing her boyfriend in the hope of inducing culture shock in the Zentradi forces and breaking up their chain of command: the tactic succeeds and the distracted fleet is destroyed. Misa finally wins Hikaru's heart and gets to captain Earth's first colony ship, which will peaceably spread the human race across the galaxy, to reduce the likelihood of it being wiped out in the future (see Colonization of Other Worlds).

This is an important Anime: along with Mobile Suit Gundam (1979-1980) it shaped the nature of modern mecha anime in Japan, whilst – as part of Robotech (see below) – it helped popularize the genre in the west. Despite its age and soap opera elements, the series still stands up reasonably well: the characterization is not deep, but the social and political issues that arise are not always dealt with simplistically; the animation, though variable, can impress.

In the USA this series had an odd history: the number of episodes was not sufficient for syndication, so it was combined with two other "mecha with invading aliens" anime: Genesis Climber Mospeada (25 episodes, 1983) and Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross (23 episodes, 1984), to become Robotech (1985), an 85-episode series – plus an extended pilot, Codename: Robotech (1985) – which was divided into three segments, each covering a different Robotech war on Earth. Needless to say, much editing and script alteration was required; for example, the action of Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross had been set on a distant, terraformed (see Terraforming) planet, not Earth.

Super Dimensional Fortress Macross was the first of a long-running franchise. Three further Macross animated tv series followed: Macross 7 (1994-1995), set in 2045-2046 (49 episodes); Macross Frontier (2008), set in 2059 (25 episodes, plus the 2007 pilot); and Macross Delta (2016), set in 2067 (26 episodes).

There were also several films: Macross: Do You Remember Love (1984), set in 2009-2012 and 2031, an alternative retelling of part of the original television series; Macross Plus: Movie Edition (1995), a reworking of the original video release of that title (see below); Macross 7 The Movie: The Galaxy Is Calling Me! (1995), a 30-minute short set in 2046; Macross Frontier The Movie: The False Songstress (2009), an adaption of the television series; Macross Frontier Movie: The Wings of Goodbye (2011) set in 2059; Macross FB 7: Ore no Uta o Kike! (2012), set in 2059 (its story is a framing device to show clips from the Macross 7 television series); Macross Delta the Movie: Passionate Walküre (2018), an adaption of the television series. A further Macross Delta movie has been announced.

There were also many original video releases: The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Flash Back 2012 (1987), an epilogue to the 1984 movie, set in 2012; Super Dimensional Fortress Macross II: Lovers Again (1992), set in 2092 (6 episodes); Macross Plus (1994-1995), set in 2040 (4 episodes); Macross 7: Encore (1995), set in 2046 (3 episodes); Macross Dynamite 7 (1997-1998), set in 2047 (4 episodes) and Macross Zero (2002-2004), a prequel to the original series, set in 2008 (5 episodes). Further spinoffs include Manga and Light Novels, Videogames and a musical (there are many songs in the franchise). [SP]

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