Anime Discovery 2016: MACROSS Plus – #152

Hey, remember way back in 2014 that I reviewed the original series Macross……

A series that did some its age in regards to animation but still holds up in being an enthralling mecha show and one of the many anime franchises that lasted 40 years. The subject here today is something I meant to see that year but due to too much stuff happening at that time, it was shelved.

Also, I should’ve checked this show out sooner considering one of the anime directors I admired work on this. Yep, Shinichiro Watanabe is the co-director of this OVA series and was also his first project as a director. So let’s see how this holds up after 22 years.

The year is 2040 and the galaxy is flourishing with several colonies and advanced technology. AI is near perfection and the current top idol is the near-completed Virturoid Idol Sharon Apple. All that is missing are her actual feelings, which instead are supplied by Myung Fang Lone. Sharon’s debut concert is on planet Eden, where at the same time, fighter pilots Isamu Dyson and Guld Bowman battle over air superiority for the “Supernova Project.” Isamu, Guld and Myung were once childhood friends, but after an accident seven years ago, they went their own separate ways. With Myung back in the picture, the old disputes are once again awakened. And when an unstable and illegal AI technique is installed in Sharon, the situation is worsened.

With any mecha series like Macross, Gundam, etc., you expect there would be non-stop action and mecha fights all around. You get that but it’s not always the main highlight of the story although it shouldn’t always be that because the story itself can actually be engaging and it is that…..mostly 80% of that.

It’s a character focus story first and those parts are the most interesting of the OVAs, diving into the pasts of each of our main characters along with something about the Idol Sharon Apple, the AI being flown there and that part is there within small bits for the first 2 episodes but once in the other half, the attention on that increases as well as the action and suspense.

I also want to add that this anime reminds me what if Top Gun became an anime like the mecha fights, the military jargon, and our lead character Isamu Dyson does remind me of Maverick, a loose cannon of a pilot and Guld Bowman is former childhood friends, now military test pilots and of course, they get at each other’s throat about how they do things once into action but that gets more complicated when Myung Fang Lone comes into the scene.

Yes, this is a love triangle happening between the three of them. However, this is not a thing new to Macross since in the first TV series, Hikaru had a thing for either Minmei or Misa yet this one feels less melodramatic compared to that and it never feels like a distraction that puts the story to a halt since it’s intersected properly. Those main three do progress with poise throughout that doesn’t make you roll your eyes or wait until the better parts happen.

This anime has a precise ’90s aesthetic in its presentation as every aspect does reminds you this was made back in that time and at that time, it was one of the first anime to combine traditional cel and computer-generated animation at the time of its release and was considered revolutionary and years later, the animation quality holds up despite the art style being dated. Oh, and the animation is done by former studio Triangle Staff (the guys that did Serial Experiments Lain).

Another point goes to the score and while Macross has an energetic, high-beat type of score, this one is more slowed down and calm, especially in the quieter scenes with that energetic tone but used like in an epic-style score. That is courtesy of the legendary composer Yoko Kanno and her presence in the score does help the OVA get more appealing.

Acting-wise in the dub, it’s alright with some parts being a bit hokey in some performances but for a dub that was released at the time where we’re taking English dubbed anime more seriously and there were a few recognizable voices in there from Richard Epcar, Steve Blum, Beau Billingslea, Dan Woren and of course….Bryan Cranston as Isamu. (Yes, when I first heard Cranston used to do anime work, I was surprised, too.)

FINAL VERDICT: Macross Plus is a different beast than the first itinerary of the franchise but still holds up to being an engaging story that has a high-quality amount of action and character interaction and development in there. It’s one of the few mecha anime that actually inspires to be more than a bland actioner. Even if you’re not much of a Macross fan, you don’t have to be to check this show out as it’s a great story on its own merits.

And with that said, Macross Plus gets a plus in my book.

8.5/10 – High SOLID B.

MACROSS PLUS is available on DVD via Manga Entertainment in the U.S.
However, it is not available on streaming after May 11, 2016 as the Hulu rights have expired at that time.

I’m MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid, bringing all the elements into one AI.

MACROSS PLUS – animated by Triangle Staff / distributed by MANGA ENTERTAINMENT

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