This Secret Santa post almost didn't happen. I got hit by a nasty funk the week before Christmas. I had to put my 12 Days of Teekyu posts on hold because said funk knocked me out of commission. The very act of watching anime was pretty low on my list of things I wanted to do, since it took far less effort to just turn on the TV and switch it to Boomerang than it did to turn on the computer, find a file, and click on it. I watched a hell of a lot of Secret Squirrel this past week because of that. He does a very good job of being a squirrel, since he has the tail and all, but he isn't very good at being secret. His idea of infiltrating an enemy's base involves smashing in the front door and yelling until the villain appears. He's more like Shouty Squirrel.
But I got better the couple of days before Christmas and finally got around to this Secret Santa thing. Like last year, I got some decent recommendations: Black Jack OVA, Cyber City Oedo 808, and Macross Plus. I'm sure Black Jack is cool and all, but I don't really dig on Tezuka. The only anime of his I've really liked is Don Dracula, so there you go. I'll get around to it eventually, but it wasn't a priority. My initial impulse was to watch Cyber City, since those long-forgotten OVAs from the VHS era are my sort of thing, but I felt obligated to finally see Macross Plus. Shinichi Watanabe's pretty awesome, so long as he isn't doing generic love triangle romantic comedy shit like Kids on the Slope, so I felt I better see his first major anime work to complete the circle.
Well, I guess I see why he wanted to do Kids on the Slope, since Macross Plus is pretty much the same sort of lackluster love triangle thing I don't really care about. Just replace Kids' 60s era jazz with creepy idol holograms.
Let's get the complaining out-of-the-way. I didn't give a damn about anything that happened in this thing. The love triangle came off as petty bickering- the sort of meaningless grudge immature man children hold onto long after they should have grown the fuck up already. The woman in the relationship seems to have her stuff together until said man children enter back into her life, then she turns into an emotional mess- a mess that helps trigger a suped-up AI into becoming a homicidal maniac bent on murdering in the name of love.
It's all really silly in an adolescent sort of way. Which makes sense since I understand the peeps who made this were pretty young at the time. They were probably expressing their own view of things at the time, since someone fairly young is still gonna grasp onto such attitudes like they're the very reason for living. Maybe if I saw this back in the 90s when it first hit VHS I'd remember it fondly, but seeing this for the first time as a dude in his mid-30s, the actual gist of the thing just isn't clicking with me.
And yeah, while watching this, all I could think about is Top Gun. Two dudes have a petty rivalry while flying planes, and there's a chick in the way. Granted, we didn't get anything like Top Gun's infamous volleyball scene, but I still say this is pretty much the same thing, save for switching out Kenny Loggins for a creepy virtual idol.
That said, it's beautifully animated. I love all the little background touches, like the alien creatures that inhabit the planet and the music video stuff that goes on in the Sharron Apple concert bits. The dogfights, while feeling a bit extraneous and unnecessary in the grand picture, are pretty great. Hell, it's worth watching just for the soundtrack.
Funny thing: I picked up the US release of the two soundtracks for this thing back in the 90s. Back then, I'd snatch up just about any anime-related stuff like that, regardless of whether I'd seen the damn thing or not. The sheer novelty of going into Sound Warehouse or Suncoast and seeing something like that for sale was enough for me to shell out the cash. So it was cool to see all that in context finally.
The thing I liked most about this thing was Sharon Apple. Seriously, she's fucking creepy and alien in all the right ways. Strange how we've gone from this thing, showing that artificial, tailor-made celebrities are something we should be freaked out about, to today's anime where that sort of thing is, well, idolized. We've adopted the enemy as our moe moe child.
Freaky, man. Freaky.
Also: Here are my previous Secret Santa reviews.