Saturday, February 1, 2014

What's Remembering Love Got to Do With It?: Me vs. Macross

I'll admit it - the title of this post is probably not the best title to have given this post, but I did want to work in a nod to ghostlighting, formerly head-blogger of , and biggest Macross fan I've ever known. But for me, I can't remember love for Macross since I'd never quite cottoned on to the franchise previously. It wasn't for a total lack of trying; Macross is one of those things I've attempted to get into previously, or at least watch some of, because of its presence within fandom. While the basic elements of the franchise are things I either generally avoid (idols, love triangles), or which aren't in and of themselves enough to get me to watch something (mechs), it's the sort of thing with which I feel one should have some familiarity due to what is has in turn influenced and because it's the sort of anime that one feels compelled to watch if one wishes to have full fluency as a serious anime fan. I've attempted Cowboy Bebop and Evangelion for the same reasons (although both of these have much, much higher profiles in Western fandom than does Macross due to the apparently endless licensing snafu Macross got snagged into years ago) (by the way, I've flamed out spectacularly with both those franchises; I thought I'd finally hit pay gold with the Evangelion manga but I only cracked open the fourth omnibus to confirm that, yes, Kaworu does kiss Shinji in it, and it has gathered dust in the months since) (yes, I know this means I'm a failure as an anime fan).

So it was that I tried the first movie of the franchise, Do You Remember Love?, and stalled about fifteen minutes in, having been interrupted but never gotten back to. Then, my little brother, of all people, had Macross Plus on DVD, so I borrowed it from him - after all, surely even I could do four episodes! Alas, this was in vain, too. Finally, the Macross Frontier movies seemed to present the perfect opportunity; I could get the story of Frontier in about half the time it would take to watch the TV series, AND the animation was lovely, AND the first movie, the only one out at that time, supposedly fixed some of the nagging issues the TV series had! Perfect!

I watched the first movie. It did look nice. Wow, I still really didn't like idol crap, though - Ranka working her butt off to climb the ladder of the idol industry should've been compelling on some level, but since it seemed to consist of a lot of staring at said butt for cheesecake-y advertising campaigns, it was hard to get into it. And Alto? Snooore. At least Ranka wasn't total dullsville - her fancrush on Sheryl was cute, and I would've probably stuck with things had there been any chance they'd end up together instead of just them each trying to land Mr. Boring-ass Pilot. I lasted approximately four minutes into the second movie before turning it off.

At this point I more or less gave up on ever being able to "get" Macross. I didn't and I couldn't. So it goes. I was able to enjoy some of Shoji Kawamori's later efforts (Aquarion EVOL, AKB0048, Spring and Chaos, Anyamaru Tantei Kiruminzuu), but his most famous involvement was to remain a miss.

So it was that when someone mentioned Macross 7 to me and told me it had space vampires, I was nonplussed. When I was told it was the G Gundam of Macross, I remained unmoved (even though I know, like any smart person knows, that G Gundam is best Gundam). More than one person attempted to persuade me, but I wouldn't budge ("It doesn't even have idols!", one person exuberantly told me, knowing my disdain for that sort of show, only to, upon realizing my enjoyment of AKB0048, insist, "You liked AKB0048, and that had musicians, too!"). Until this past December.

I suppose it is probably only fair to note that Macross 7 is also somewhat infamous amongst Macross fans, although to me this struck me as a point in its favor since I didn't like any other Macross anyway.

Anyway, I ended up picking the show in December. Why? Who knows. It honestly was one of those things where I thought, one day, "Hey, why not?", and then I started off on it the next day. People warned me the early going would be tough, its penchant for repetition stressed to me again and again. And, yeah, it was a bit repetitivebut certainly no more than any average monster-of-the-week show, and certainly not like one of my favorite anime ever, Jigoku Shoujo (which, really, took repetition to a high art, and is perhaps worthy of mention because it's the rare anime that goes for repetition like it does and isn'ta children's show). I found myself watching with mild enjoyment, and sporadically; it was neither as good as I had felt I'd been promised nor as bad as I'd been warned. It just sort ofwas. If anything, it just was a garden variety mech show with some odd garnishes chucked in (i.e. space vampires, Basara Nekki). I suppose the other way to put it is that despite some more unique elements, Macross 7 somehow was fairly bland and not particularly noteworthy.

But, then, something happened. A lot of the same things were still happening (Fire Bomber, the in-show rock band, plays a concert, Basara's an asshole to his bandmates, the space vampires scheme to steal people's Spiritia, a sort of life force, there are what passes for dogfights between the space vampires and the Macross pilots as Basara plays rock music at the space vamps, etc.), but it was catching my attention more. Episode sixteen marked the true turning point, as Macross 7 City's Mayor Miria, former Meltrandi ace herself, jumped into her old Valkyrie to fight off the space vamps after the civilian ship got separated from the military escort. "Mayor Miria," I thought, "You're so coooooollllll, kyaaaaa~~!!!!"

From that point, it was a full-fledged love affair, as I tore through twenty four episodes in approximately three days, and would've watched more had not my work schedule interfered. (If you include the episodes I watched before episode sixteen threw me head over heels for the show, then that number bumps slightly to twenty-six.) I even slowed down on watching Hikaru no Go, and I'd watched a huge chunk of that recently, AND I like that show so much it might make my favorites list! I was a lost cause. I AM a lost cause. And I am a lost cause that finally found love for the Macross franchise through Macross 7. Although Basara is still definitely an asshole.
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