Episode 6

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 6 of

There are so many ways to describe EX-ARM. Adventurous. Astonishing. Dumbfounding. Unprecedented. But today we are lucky enough to add a new and altogether unexpected one to the list: Proof that capitalism works. For you see dear viewers, this week EX-ARM and its proud producers at Crunchyroll have done more than simply provide an episode of anime to a throng of slavering viewers. They've performed one of the greatest acts of benevolence in the 21st century:

Yes indeed. You, me, and everyone we know watched EX-ARM so hard that Crunchyroll finally made enough money to purchase ALL of Macross. And then they burned down the Harmony Gold offices for good measure. Such a glorious act of kindness is so unexpected I at first suspected it was a prank, or some kind of sick fever dream caused by sitting through 5 minutes of Alma kicking and shooting bunny girl maid robots and catgirl androids. But no, it really is truly true, and so instead of a typical review I'll be giving a quick and dirty rundown of the entire Macross franchise so we can ALL partake in this wonderful bounty.

The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: The first entry in the franchise, a TV series clocking in at 36 episodes in total. While formative and worthwhile for historians, it certainly shows its age in places. Particularly the animation, which features some ambitious action scenes but is most known for a number of genuinely awful-looking episodes. Still, if you can make it through that speedbump there's a unique, supremely interesting sci-fi anime here that manages to explore some genuinely compelling ideas about cultural exchange and its role in stopping war. Plus there's a lot of goofy comedy that I consider a hallmark of the series.

Macross: Do You Remember Love?: A feature-length re-imagining of SDF and an absolute visual wonder. Easily the most breathtaking entry in the franchise in terms of art, animation, and in some ways music. What it cuts out of the TV series it more than makes up for in atmosphere, energy, and its legendary final sequence. If you only see one entry in this franchise, it should be this one.

Macross II: Lovers Again: A 6-part OVA series set several decades after DYRL. This is strictly for completionists, and you should only bother checking it out after you've seen every other scrap and second of footage from the franchise. This is not only a distant, non-canon sequel, but also the only entry to have no contribution by any of the original creators. It's a cheap, cynical money-grab that lacks any of the charm that characterizes even the weakest entries of the series, and while not actively bad it's the most forgettable by a wide, wide margin.

Macross Plus: An OVA series (later edited into a movie) that takes place some time after the events of DYRL. Probably the second most well-known entry thanks to being co-directed by Shinichiro Watanabe and written by Keiko Nobumoto. It certainly looks fantastic, but to be honest I'm not a huge fan. I don't care for most of the characters, and while there's certainly humor there it's a lot more cynical and mean-spirited than the goofy, sit-com level shenanigans that made me fall in love with the series. I seem to be a minority on this one, but I recommend trying it out later.

Macross 7: A 49-episode TV series with a number of OVAs and a feature film. One of my personal favorites just for the music – shifting from pop idol to hard rock courtesy of the central band FIRE BOMBER – but also just a really endearing and charming cast. It can be slow at times, and whether you find the loudmouthed space hippy protagonist charming or insufferable will determine if you're on its wavelength. For me though, its wild, high-concept central conflict and especially its finale more than make up for any faults. Plus it gives us Best Boy Gamlin, king of the nerds. The film and OVAs are extraneous but largely enjoyable, but I will warn folks that there's a prominent attempted rape subplot in the Dynamite OVA series that really sours the whole affair. Otherwise though, this is a rockin' good time.

Macross Zero: A 5-part OVA series that acts as a prequel to the original SDF/DYRL storyline. It's a weird one, an entry in what I call Shoji Kawamori's “Green Period” where he made several buckwild shows of questionable quality centered on themes of environmentalism. While this never reaches Earth Maiden Arjuna levels of crazy, there's a lot of weird ideas that don't always mesh, and the CG used for the mechanical animation is VERY early 2000s. Still, it's a unique entry and a relatively short watch, so I think it's worth giving a look.

Macross Frontier: A 25-episode TV series accompanied by 2 feature films that greatly re-imagine and alter the story of the TV entry. I have mixed feelings on this one. It features some interesting ideas, and is the most blatant entry in calling out the inherent comorbidity of late capitalism and modern warfare. But it features perhaps the least likable main character in the entire franchise, and never really does anything with him to make suffering through his screentime worth it. There are at least some banger songs though. “What Bout My Star” slaps and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. I haven't made time to see the films yet, but what I've heard is polarizing on whether they're a great new take on the original, or just a muddled mess. One day I'll find out!

Macross Delta: A 26-episode TV series with 1 feature-length recap film and an upcoming sequel film on the way. This one is equally polarizing. There are a lot of people who hate it, but those who click with it absolutely love it. I'm part of the latter crowd, as I found the themes it plays with really resonant. I'm also a diehard Mirage Farina Jenius stan and I cannot wait until Zettai Live!!!!!! is finally out so I can inject it into my veins. It's also got probably my favorite music in the franchise outside of 7, and if you at all enjoy guitar-lead pop or arena rock, you should definitely check out some Walkure albums.

This of course isn't a perfect primer, but it's a good place to start in breaching this franchise. And I for one can't thank EX-ARM for finally allowing me to share this wonderful passion with all of you. See you next week, when we find out what wonders this show will work next!


EX-ARM is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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