Saturday, August 31, 2013

I'm just a war machine...


Of all the things that the Macross Franchise gave me, one of the most cherished is the Zentraedi. Quite possibly one of my most favourite alien species in any medium.

They really have it all. They're giants. They travel in armadas of cool-looking spaceships. They have their own language. They own the colour green.Their basic fighter mecha is a headless ostrich. Most of all, they're interesting.

The Zentraedi are the creation of a series of civilizations known as the Protoculture. Having a taboo against killing one another, the Protoculture did what any pacifist would do:get someone else to kill for them.So they engineered an entire species of giants to engage in warfare by proxy. We don't get much detail on the nature of this conflict. There are references to a Supervision Army which the Zentraedi are fighting against. In fact, the SDF-Macross itself is a Supervision Army vessel, which is why the Zentraedi go looking for it. But other than that, we see the Zentraedi primarily through the eyes of the people aborad the SDF-Macross.


What the Zentraedi lack is an everyday life. Leisure, relationships and creativity are all absent from their existence. Watching Super Dimension Fortress Macross, it's fascinating to see them collectively wake up as they are exposed to things like pop music and movies. It is worth noting that consumer culture is celebrated as much as popular culture in Macross. The things are as important as the ideas in this case.

As the fictional universe of Macross progresses and expands, we see the Zentraedi integrate into the surviving human population. While many Zantraedi still reproduce through cloning and live in armadas, some of them have children leading to... you guessed it, giant babies!Others still form families with human partners creating a demographic of Human-Zentraedi hybrids. The Macross franchise has a fair number of characters who are one half or one quarter Zentraedi.

The animated feature film Do You Remember Love? was a redesign not only of the ships and mecha introduced in the series, but also of the Zentraedi themselves. This redesign becomes the basis for how the species is represented in the rest of the franchise making the change not only a reinterpretationbut also a bit of a retcon. Here, theZentraedi look a little less human and are given their own language.

All in all, the Zentraedi are one of the main ingredients of this enduring anime franchise. Their development from antagonists to allies is one of the great triumphs of the series. The Zentraedi characters in the cast are some of the most memorable of my youth: Breetai, Exedor, Miriya, Kamjim, Laplamitz, Warerea, Loli and Conda.
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