Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mothballs: Loves Once Drifted Macross The Stars

THIS WEEK: The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Flash Back 2012



Due to the Thanksgiving week curveball, this was a tight series of days for diving into any lengthy backcatalog anime.




As such I popped in only a little something easy to watch and write about, where practically everything about it is already a spoiler, so please be advised of that minefield.



THE SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS: FLASH BACK 2012



Released to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the series, this is a series of music videos made out of previously animated content laced with some fresh footage of scenes that were intended to be in the endings of the television show and the movie. The collection itself is also canon beyond this in justifying its existence, as a sort of commemorative send off and farewell series for the departing Lynn Minmay, who is heading off on the first long distance colony vessel, the SDF-2 Megaroad-01.



It is quirky interesting, as it fills a sort of gap when one has already seen the Macross television show, and they do not feel up to watching the Do You Remember Love? feature film but do want to see something resembling a hyper condensed highlight reel with music and appropriate thematic editing that will be over in less than a half hour and triggers those memories of "Oh yeah, I remember that happening." Really, it's the same reason one may go on a deep anime music video binge on Youtube or something, but in this case we're looking at a commercial product with some added narrative elements and aspects of the larger metaplot of the series.



Tenshi no Enogu (Part 1):The first from the fresh footage file, this has new moments intended for the movie regarding the final concert on Earth for Lynn Minmay. It's bright, colorful, neon infused, sweeping cameras, sparkly overlays, crowds, the works. As this pretty much straight up all event footage, there really isn't all that much else to it more than just getting us into the right head space to ease us into all the other space opera stuff. It is functional, fun enough, looks nice, but also pretty disposable in the sense that there really aren't many details to hang on to so it all sort of blurs together. But it is a concert, so I can't really fault it too much for that.



Sunset Beach: The "don't you want to be with me?" number of flirty wish fulfillment and always being together. City lights, date-like scenes, youth in moments of mutual whimsical enjoyment together, Minmay undercover trying to get away from her sudden popularity. It's upbeat and enjoyable, in a mental world so far removed from all the warfare stuff, and ends suitably awkwardly. Random quick bits of live action hot air balloon shots are present though, which is weirdly jarring with little relation to much else outside of the most basic of having a swell time together and feeling like one is floating on air imagery. Otherwise, it is a nice little series of clips mostly revolving around a particular event set to an appropriate bubblegum tune.



0-G Love: Choppy as all get out, as it ravenously removes a number of frames inbetween sets of character actions and animation. It has been edited in such a way where Zentradi are reacting with shock and awe in close proximity to the display of human relationships and love. The humans have boys and girls you see, kissing together! Which, of course, was definitely a pretty surprising thing for them to discover, and this is our music video representative of it. I imagine that the framerate hemorrhaging is to potentially give the video the sense of snappy surprise and processing problems the Zentradi felt and parlaying that visually to the viewer as well. It does not last too terribly long at any rate, so I'm sure they also knew this was going to wear thin very vast, because that's really all it has in the tank.



Shao Pai Long: A rallying sort of hero video, with its calls for "evil's slayer" as Hikaru Ichijyo bikes around, rescues folks, and is otherwise is being a very busy Good Guy Hero Dude. This is at least being taken a little tongue in cheek, to the extent of the "our messiah" line playing as he stands tall in his open cockpit and rips off clothing covering his flightsuit. It's a cheesy song but it has the right visuals to make it more evocative of older classic robot shows and the like, and it does what it needs to do to make itself work and have fun. Right down to the video simulator screen at the end of Our Hero getting out of his Valkyrie with a victorious pose and "STRONG!!" denoted right next to his goofy little head. Silly and amusing.



Silver Moon, Red Moon: We start moving into serious territory, with a kind of domestic and self reflection video for Misa Hayase. Snow, apron, dishes. Sitting alone for a time at a cafe, ruins of a destroyed homestead trying and trying set its table once again, lyrics like "I wonder who'll I'll dance with tonight."As everything previous to this had been over escapism or dancing with self parody, a solid and more serious character video works to steady the ship. It's a fitting role for Misa in general, but also especially important prior to the next video in this particular set. It's a nice portrayal of what she had gone through done well, and it brought my serious attention antae back into alignment after all the other tomfoolery.



Love Drifts Away: The showcase and strongest part of this whole collection, as the "you're going off to war, aren't you" piece. Valkyrie units in the bay under work, screens lighting up, weapons systems locking in, soldiers on the run with toast in their mouth. Live action black and white war footage of infantry with wooden rifles and trench combat gear. Hikaru laid up in injury bed, the death of Roy Focker. Real world bombers spliced over the Itano Missile Circuses and orbital bombardments, and genuine soldiers carting their injured comrades away. Hikaru salutes as more troops trudge forwards in their advance.



The drum march in the background track dovetails exceptionally well with the visual theme and the lyrics of the song, it has a well intentioned message that it delivers on regardless of the limitations of 1980's video overlay mixing technology, and I find the live action additions to be to its benefit rather than a weird quirk or otherwise insulting.



Cinderella: A live action record player spliced pans of new sketches of Minmay playing piano and the like, singing of love and clockwork. It's incredibly miniscule and short, and while I can tell the thematics behind it regarding the consistency of the vinyl and needlebut there really isn't much going on here. Which seems to have been the idea by the production folks as well, since this is by far the most low effort bit of the bunch. It is a low key sip of refreshment after Love Drifts Away, and that's about it. Which I can appreciate on the one level, but I think it could have been done better, perhaps with more reserved moments of footage from Macross proper rather than trying to hold the link together via sketches alone.



Do You Remember Love?: The very name of the film version of events, and the visuals and editing are very much what one would expect given the name. Love triangles, hugs, walking in on others, despondent hands on tables, all of that. I feel it falls into "good, not great" territory however, as it also recycles multiple scenes previously used by the other songs, including their editing if there were any special overlays or other graphics shenanigans. Because of this, it likely functions better as a separate video then when played right after the others, as it's such a short collection anyway that it feels more repetitive than a recollection of memory.



Tenshi no Enogu (Part 2): Packing up and taking some moments in empty stadiums before we go, with our slightly older characters. This is where we see additional new animation again, this time originally planned for the television version with Misa as the Captain of the SDF-2 Megaroad-01 colonization vessel and commanding its liftoff, as we move on towards the stars. I can thematically dig opening and closing with the same song, as this is all very much a farewell and "weren't those some times" send ups, and it gives a positive note to head out on.



Canonically, this is the oldest we ever see that primary trio of Hikaru Ichijyo, Misa Hayase, and Lynn Minmay ever again, in 2012. The SDF-2 Megaroad-01 and associated fleet lose contact with humanity four years later, and have never been heard from again. Similar in how the Do You Remember Love? film exists in-universe as a wartime historical drama to refocus public attention, the implication would also mean this collection and music video editing of the narrative and farewell tour makes this a rather literal promotional and memory piece as a distraction mechanism that was meant to encourage the continued support of the colonization program both after their departure and then especially once the mission blipped out of existence, as knowledge of the lost fleet has been kept from the public for morale reasons.



So there is bit of metaplot to this indeed, which is kind of fun to kick around regarding a product when mixed up with the more baseline desire to just watch some random pieces of Macross in a crunch week.Mothballs is a weekly write-up of already completed anime series I have either removed from my backlog or have recently revisited. A crash space for my immediate thoughts and personal processing, these are not intended as full reviews.
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