I blogged about how I’m part of the Robotech generation of anime fans. It was the series that really brought anime to my attention as a kid. And even though I became a full-fledged fan of Japanese animation about ten years after viewing the series, it made an impression on me. One of the anime series of the 1990s that helped pull me into fandom (after Rally and the Gunsmith Cats worked their magic) was a sequel to the Robotech saga. Of course Robotech was the American name for the series, in Japan it was known as Super Dimension Fortress: Macross.
Isamu Dyson (Lee Stone) is a young cocky mecha pilot. He has all the skills to make him great, but a reckless attitude that endangers others when he shows off. Because he’s a bit of an ass, his superiors decide to transfer him to New Edwards on the planet Eden, to be a test pilot for the experimental mecha they are working on. Isamu knows his ego is writing checks his body can’t cash, but he doesn’t care, and heads off for his new assignment with glee.
Little does he know that his old rival Guld Goa Bowman (Richard George) is also a test pilot at New Edwards. The two renew their dislike for each other, and Colonel Millard (Beau Billingslea) uses it to his advantage, forcing the two to compete with each other to determine which experimental fighter will be the best fit for the military.
To further complicate matters, Isamu and Guld both had a childhood crush on the same girl, Myung Fang Lone (Anne Sherman). She’s also returned to Eden as the manager of the hottest idol singer in the galaxy. The singer is named Sharon Apple (Melora Harte), but she is no ordinary idol. She’s actually a computer system that is linked to Myung. Her emotional programming gets a boost from her human counterpart, and the computer creates the perfect image and songs for the spectators – creating the ultimate in entertainment.
These four personalities are going to collide in a battle of egos, history and technology. And don’t count Sharon out, just because she doesn’t have a body, doesn’t mean she won’t play for keeps, and leave nothing but pieces in her wake.
- Some amazing animation for its time
- Wonderful score and songs by Yoko Kanno
- Develops an interesting corner of the Macross universe
- Those looking for pure action will be annoyed by the human drama that takes center stage
- Someone watched Top Gun a few times before writing the script
- Does not follow any of the characters or events from the television series
Judged on its own merits, Macross Plus is an entertaining series. The impressive animation showcases some amazing battle sequences and the virtual realities of Sharon Apple. Kanno’s songs are a wonderful mix of mysterious, beautiful, and poppy. It’s solid entertainment, and was certainly a showcase series of its time.
Scores (out of 5)
In Depth Review
|The Macross Plus logo opens each episode. In the|
mid 90s this CG image was the cat's pajamas!
To tell you the truth Macross Plus was still very entertaining. I didn’t remember it being so focused on the love triangle. I didn’t remember the animation being so good (especially during the flying and battle sequences). And now that I’ve seen the entirety of the original Macross series (sure it was in Robotech form, but it counts), a lot of neat parallels became more obvious.
|Guld's fighter prepares for it's next test run at|
I have seen some folks take issue with the character design. In an act of rebellion, the characters defy the tiny nose convention of most anime, and go for some serious nasal action. I actually liked this look; it certainly makes the series stand apart from its peers in the visual department. The same look would be used in one of the best series of the decade, Vision of Escaflowne, which boasted many of the same creative team. To me it’s a nice glimpse of a time when unique character design was more prevalent in anime.
|Sharon Apple's first concert on planet Eden is|
a smashing success.
|Isamu is riding the highway to the danger zone when|
he trash talks to Guld.
And speaking of the concerts and music, well you knew I had to mention it at some point. Yoko Kanno’s work on Macross Plus is what really brought her to the attention of many anime fans as well as being her real breakout piece. She composed the score; an eclectic mix of styles ranging from classical inspirations like Stravinsky and Prokofiev, to film composer styles similar to Ennio Morricone, John Williams and even Bill Conti’s work on The Right Stuff. The score is primarily orchestral and performed with energy by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
|Myung is Sharon Apple's "manager" in more ways|
Since this was an early anime release, it was made when anime companies were experimenting with translating the J-pop into English. The English dub for Macross Plus features an English version of Voices, performed by Michelle Flynn. She does a fine job and her vocal style is very similar to Akino Arai. The rest of the English dub is pretty hit and miss. It’s kind of odd, because many of these performers would go on to do some great work for future projects like Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. But here, there are some very stilted deliveries, flat performances and some odd acting choices. There are a few comical (not intentional) moments. The script isn’t terribly complicated, so you can go with Japanese with subtitles for this one. Of the cast, I think Lee Stone (which was a pseudonym for actor Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame) as Isamu does the best job channeling his inner Tom Cruise.
|One of the images that always comes to mind|
when I think of this series.
Sharon Apple takes the whole thing to a new level, she’s a newborn whose entire psyche is based on a damaged woman’s. She has nearly godlike powers and doesn’t feel she needs to hold back when trying to achieve her ultimate goal – to provide Isamu with the ultimate experience. In other words, try her darnedest to kill him in front of Myung. You know how those virtual idols are.
|A rescue attempt is about go horribly wrong.|
|This cityscape is familiar to all fans of the Macross|
(and Robotech) series.
But wait! Where is Sharon Apple in this review? I suspect she needed a rogues' gallery of her own.
|"I'll be waiting to give you the Ultimate experience."|