On October 3, 1982, the first episode of SDF Macross was broadcast on Japanese TV. Of course, I wouldn’t have known that; I was too young to remember. It’s strange to think though that one of my favourite shows, and one that had such an influence on my fandom, is as old as I am.
I wasn’t sure how to mark the anniversary, but since my previous post was looong I’ll make this a short one. Why is Macross so good, and so important? Much of the historical context is lost on me, but I’ll try anyway.
Since it’s a bank holiday weekend, there are two inescapable facts. One: it’s raining. Two: I have an extra day when I’m not at work. Since I’ve not written much on this blog lately I might as well say something about the main thing that’s kept my interest in recent weeks…namely Macross 7.
It’s the last part of the franchise I’ve watched but as clunky and cheap-looking as Macross 7 is, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Basara Nekki is an interesting hero, Mylene Jenius is a worthy female lead and I’m generally having a blast with the music of Fire Bomber and working through the intimidating forty-nine instalments. But for now, fourteen episodes in, I ought to stop for a moment to mention two important details in its appeal: the coolest anime parents ever.
Groups of friends often develop in-jokes and running gags over time, like memes on a localised scale. One of the most well-used in my experience crops up when a fictional character dies in tragic, dramatic and heroic style: we refer to such an admirable and Manly Tear-inducing exit as getting the ‘Pineapple Salad’. It’s given a passing reference in TV Tropes under Fundamentally Funny Fruit, but there’s nothing funny about getting the Pineapple Salad. Nevertheless, it’s the best kind of tragic.
This accolade is never given lightly. Given its origin, it demands to be an award of the highest order as a recognition of epic courage, selflessness and sheer badassery; spoilers for Super Dimensional Fortress Macross are coming up, by the way.
Super Dimensional Fortress Macross and Good Luck Yukikaze are two offerings in the diverse and well-trodden region of speculative fiction in which humanity tries to come to terms with, and survive, an alien invasion. Although they have not directly influenced one another as far as I know, they do share a similar level of care and attention devoted to showing how the events affect individuals.
Macross is renowned for being a character-driven romance rather than a political space opera; for all the loving detail lavished on the hardware and military tactics Yukikaze still has plenty of time for humans and their relationships (even when the relationships are with machines!). The war is of course for the whole of humanity, but often for the combatants very personal issues are what matter.
It’s fair to say that the anime industry’s track record for feature film adaptations of TV shows isn’t a good one. For the first Macross Frontier movie I was torn between the idea that another Macross cinematic outing helmed by Kawamori himself could only be a good thing and the opposing notion that similar efforts from other franchises have left me disappointed. This one could well polarise opinion among the Macross fandom but for me at least it’s not the waste of time the nay-sayers claim it to be.
The inescapable factor is the Serial Narrative Compression Effect or, to put it simply, the fact that an episodic TV series has to be squeezed into two hours or less of screen time. Certain details have to to be left on the cutting room floor, others are shuffled around and the thematic emphasis shifts too. Itsuwari no Utahime (a.k.a. The False Songstress) does suffer from these limitations but the streamlined plotline and the production values stemming from the feature film budget are where it really shines.