Reviewby Matthew Jong
Super Dimensional Fortress Macross II The Movie
Hibiki Kanzazi, an investigative reporter for Scramble News Network (SNN), is caught up in the battle when he inadvertently allies himself with Ishtar, an enigmatic Zentraedi princess. Enlisting the help of spirited Valkyrie pilot Silvie Gena, Hibiki rushes to save Ishtar from imminent reprogramming by hostile Zentraedi. Silvie and Hibiki must also broadcast the truth about Zentraedi invasion and convince the powerful military complex U.N. Spacey to reactivate the Macross fortress and defend Earth one last time.
Note: Macross II is not considered canon (and treated as a parallel universe story) by many Macross fans due to the absence of Studio Nue's input on this part of the Macross universe. Although
Studio Nue originally created and developed Macross, Big West owned the rights because it was the financial backer. So it licensed and created Macross II without Studio Nue's consultation (thus
the DVDs credit to Studio Nue simply for design inspiration and association).
So the original series creators, such as Shoji Kawamori, Kenichi Matsuzaki and Ichiroh Itano did not work on it.
Thankfully, all of these elements have returned to Macross II: The Movie. However, enter this parallel world (I say parallel for a reason) of transformable fighters, missile smoke trails, deadly singing, and big cannons, and be prepared for some disappointment, especially if you were a die-hard fan of the original Macross series.
The setting of the movie supposedly takes place sometime after the events of the original Macross (the back cover says 80 years). Earth is peaceful, the UN Spacy arms itself with several fleets, five or six Super Dimensional Fortresses (or "Macross Cannons" as the movie calls them), and the "Minmay Defense." The Spacy is quite successful at defending the Earth from rogue Zentran aliens. However, the dilemma this time is a new race of aliens, called the Marduk, who invade the Solar System, using Zentran foot soldiers that are, amazingly, immune to the "Minmay Defense." On top of that, these Zentran soldiers are controlled and enhanced by their own brand of singing. How ironic!
The plot, for those of you that have seen the original Macross (or that respective arc from Robotech) will seem very similar. More overpowering aliens with their ships, young brash pilots with their fighter jets, a little love triangle thrown in and some multi-faceted message about war, love, friendship and truth. Sound familiar? The story comes off as very contrived and unoriginal. The problem is that this incarnation attempts to contain all the epic tenets of Macross crammed in a near-three hour movie. As a result the movie seems like an unoriginal attempt to show planes and ships blowing up. It appears as though it was cobbled together just to market more toys and appease fans crying for a sequel. Those of you that haven't seen the original Macross, in one form or another, might be confused by the concept of a "singing attack" and may not understand anything about the huge robot-like ship (the Macross) in the center of the city. While still viewable, the nostalgic feeling will be lost and the similarities to the original Macross will go unnoticed. Many parts will even seem downright corny, contrived, and unrealistic. And whether you've seen Macross or not, some parts will have you rolling your eyes in disbelief. Granted there were some parts in Macross that stretched reality, but in Macross II, some pivotal turning points hinge on weak and implausible plot devices.
Aside from the plot, however, the action is quite exciting. It does stir some nostalgia and wonderment to see the Macross (and the Macross Cannons) firing the main gun. The action is, in a word (well, two), really cool. And there is no better word for it. Seeing the Spacy ships exchanging volleys with the Marduk dreadnoughts and the armored valkyries loosing missile after missile, gun pods blazing just inspires you to run to the nearest toy store and buy some action figures. Any mecha nut will appreciate the dogfights and fleet battles in this movie and there's plenty of them to enjoy. There is one part of particular note. In one part, a new fighter, the Metal Siren, tears through ship after ship, seemingly invincible, and strangely resembling a Gundam. Homage, rip-off or coincidence?
The video on the DVD is ok. Granted Macross II was made in 1992, so the animation shows its age. It's not really sharp like most new anime done with special computer effects. One bad thing, though is the re-use of the old subtitles here and there mixed in with newer ones. The old original have a have a very old, rugged look and look very strange in contrast to the modern digital subtitles. On the upside, the characters were creatively drawn and the aliens come across as very exotic, particularly the almost naked females [Naturally. --Ed]. The Marduk prince/king/god was interestingly drawn, and looks like a true, disgusting prince of destruction, with metal plates, tentacles encased in a metal torso, and an elfin face. The UN Spacy outfits of the human characters have that similar Macross look and feel, with the ornamental gadgetry thrown in. The animation is nothing to write home about, but it is creative.
The audio on the DVD is clear in Dolby Stereo for English and Japanese. However, the English voice acting is quite poor. The very first words out of the main character's mouth sound cheesy and forced. Sometimes, for a brief second, the voice actors do a realistic job of sounding emotional and believable but for the most part they sound very flat and don't fit the tone of the scene. For example, when the aliens overrun the orbital defenses and enter the atmosphere, a commander informs one of the ace pilots that the earth is being invaded, all the while sounding rather like a clown robot. On the other hand, the Japanese audio track was well done and seems to be on par with typical Japanese anime tracks. One very neat thing is the use of Zentran language (or Marduk??) and subtitles for the aliens. In both English and Japanese, the alien voice acting (ironically enough) was very well done. It sounds a lot like Star Wars in the Jabba's palace or the cantina. The music is pretty good, although not memorable by any standards. It fits the scene well and does a decent job of setting the mood. The alien's haunting war song appropriately fits the desperate mood of the UN Spacy and the mysteriousness of the Marduk. The music is nothing to whistle down the street nor will it evoke feelings of nostalgia when you hear it again ten years later, but it does what good movie music should do, it sets the mood. are adequate. They include a sketch gallery and a music video of the opening song. That's definitely more effort than some anime companies. But they did fall into the annoying habit of calling promo ads and trailers "extras."
Overall, this movie is a little disappointing. The story lacks originality. The same tenets of the original Macross are simply reused, but poorly. For example, the alien singer Ishtar, makes a poor replacement for Minmay. The age-old message of "make peace, not war" and cliches of love triangles to push that message is not innovative at all here. The movie is essentially a remake of Macross squeezed into three hours. Same plot devices, same message, same character typecasts, right down to a supporting trio of girls reminiscent of the bridge bunnies from Macross. This lack of originality may be because of the lack of Studio Nue's input into this chapter of the Macross saga (see note). However, the action (and the robots, too), is sweet, which is really half of what makes shows like these really enjoyable. It's exciting and fun to watch the valkyries rip through space and seeing the Spacy and the Marduk fleets square off. But watch this movie only if the action in the original Macross or Macross Plus bores you.
Overall : B-
Animation : B
+ Mecha, mecha, mecha, cool action and battle scenes, creative invention of Zentran language.
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