Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Super Dimension Fortress Macross Review (English)

Alright, so we’ve seen Vic Mignogna in many roles in recent anime. Now it’s time to talk about an anime that probably only children of the 80’s (and with time machines) would be able to remember.

Super Dimension Fortress Macross is an Action/Drama/SciFi anime that originally aired in Japan from October 1982 to June 1983. It comes from three Japanese studios: Studio Nue, Artland, and Tatsunoko Production. A manga adaptation was released in 2009 and is currently ongoing. ADV Films holds the current rights to the 36 episode anime and released an english dub version in 2006. There are many MANY sequels to this series, the most recent being Macross Frontier The Movie: The Wings of Goodbye; released in February 2011.

In 1999, an alien spaceship crashes on South Ataria Island and makes the human race aware of other life in space. Ten years later, the ship is reconstructed and christened as the SDF-1 Macross. However, on the day of its maiden voyage, an alien race called the Zentradi make their appearance on Earth—thus beginning Space War I, a UN Spacy/Zentradi war that would change the history of both races forever.

What to say about the animation...... It’s the 80’s. Macross isn’t the most well animated series by today’s standards, but for the 80’s, the animation fits. However, I mentioned in my D.N.Angel review that there are a few times where animated scenes are repeated. Macross is an even BIGGER offender of this, with multiple scenes being reused several times. In one episode, even the animation from the opening theme is reused, along with the song during a dream sequence about half way through. The end theme for Macross is in probably worse shape, being in no way animated and is just a real person flipping through a photo album. I guess, maybe, the budgets back then weren’t all that great or the technology wasn’t that good. The soundtrack and the dub were redone back in 2006, and you can tell very quickly. If only they redid the sound effects in the same way, there would be a little more consistency with the audio as a whole and you wouldn’t have to rage as much. Another problem that can sometimes be a distraction, is the lack of consistency with color. I swear, in one episode, Minmay was wearing something blue and in only two seconds it switched from purple to blue about five or six times. Again, it’s the 80’s. Animation isn’t exactly going to be top notch right now.

Macross’s story is split into three parts: the journey back to earth, the fight against the Zentrati, and then two years after the fight. The transition into these parts does run rather smoothly and the story as a whole is good. However, some of the reoccurring messages of race and sexism are just thrown into your face constantly.... There’s nothing subtle or underlying about it at all, and it drives me nuts! The biggest sexism offender is Roy Focker, with Hikaru Ichijyo at a close second. I understand, again, it’s the 80’s, but could you at least have SOME amount of subtly, or respect? I mean these are main characters that we’re supposed to identify with, why do they all have to be jerks? Was everyone like this in the 80s? Then there’s the romances that just suddenly pop up out of nowhere, the big one being Roy Focker and Claudia La’Salle. Mid way through the series, it’s just abruptly there and is neither explained nor seen until that mid waypoint. Granted, we get a flashback from Claudia much later on in the series, literally episode 33, as to how they met, but again, it just pops up out of nowhere. Now with Hikaru and Misa Hayase, it’s actually developed throughout the series and by the end, you’re pretty happy where it is.

The characters of Macross are actually fairly well developed. The writers at Macross only looked into who TRULY mattered in the series like Hikaru, Misa, and even some members of the Zentrati have development stashed away in them (hell you could argue the entire race got some development through the series). Sadly, Lynn Minmay doesn’t seem to have much to her, even though, for most of the series, it seems like they’re trying to make her the heroine when she’s actually not. Since the series is 36 episodes long, the storywriters actually had the time to give a lot of characters development. However, a lot of it is thrown at you constantly in every episode. There are only a few things that actually take time to grow and develop, which is a plus, but they are few and far between.

ADV Films didn’t take the series lightly when considering the dub in 2006. The voice acting for the dub has it’s good actors and it’s bad, but is, overall, a really good dub. Monica Rial (Soul Eater) as Misa Hayase, John Swasey (D.N.Angel) as Captain Global, and John Gremillion (One Piece) as Britai Kridanik are among the better choices. Another I rather enjoyed was Brett Weaver’s (Neon Genesis Evangelion) Roy Focker. You can really tell how much of a cocky and sexist war hero this guy really is through his performance. Now here’s where I do a little bit of complaining, because the voice actress for Lynn Minmay is the same person who did the Japanese version back in 1982. Don’t get me wrong, Mari Iijima doesn’t do a completely terrible job in the dub; she’s done the role before so she knows what is expected of the character. It’s just why do they deem it necessary to have Minmay speak with some sort of hard to understand accent? Maybe they wanted her to stand out more as a character, but it just failed. A better voice actor should have been in order for the role, but Iijima wanted to step in instead. Can we find someone who can actually speak english please? Besides, Minmay is Chinese, if she’s speaking with an accent why aren’t the other ACTUALLY Japanese characters like Hayase, and Hikaru speaking with an accent as well?! Some other voice actors include Christine Auten, Jason Douglas, Chris Patton, Hilary Haag, Luci Christian, Christopher Ayres, Leraldo Anzaldua, Illich Guardiola, and Greg Ayres.

Now for our man of the month: Vic Mignogna. His role as Hikaru Ichijyo is, actually, what I expected the character to be. Again, there’s the whole “I’m hearing Edward Elric again” problem, but after a while you’re not watching Ed but Hikaru. Plus, I took a small peak at the Japanese version, and Vic Mignogna plays Hikaru as a younger, more naive pilot; making for a much better character overall. However, even Vic falls prey to the constant sexism that’s given off in the series and then makes me want to punch him in the face. His character does make a “women in the kitchen” statement, so that ought to tell you enough. Overall, for a grade, I’m gonna give Vic Mignogna an A- for his role as Hikaru Ichijyo.

Through it all, Super Dimension Fortress Macross is an old 80’s classic with numerous flaws technically and story wise, but does make up for it with a carefully selected cast and fairly well developed characters. It may be true that Macross was created in the wake of the Gundam franchise three year before, but it can be viewed as it’s ugly, sexy voiced cousin. It’s a decent classic anime, but it hasn’t quite aged well by today’s standards. If you’re interested in mecha or scifi anime, take a peek, but don’t be extremely thrilled with what you see.

That's it for Vic Mignogna month! And with one month to go, the year is almost out and soon it will be the dreaded 2012. For now, let me know which is you favorite Vic Mignogna role ever in the comments below. And take part in the poll posted at the top of the page! The next, and last, anime review of 2011 will be Princess Tutu. Until then, see you next time!

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