Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Macross 7 The Movie (The Galaxy Is Calling Me)

Genre: Mecha / Space Adventure
Parental Guidance Recommended
1995 Shoji Kawamori, Tetsuro Amino, Big West, Bandai Visual, Hero, Shogakukan, MBS Animation, Macross 7 Project.

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MarkPoa's Description:
Synopsis is incorporated into the review.

Fire! >>> by MarkPoa

I'll start by saying that I loved the Macross 7 TV series. The soundtrack of that series is still one of my favorites and continues to be in endless rotation within my Media Player. That said, I'll be presenting this review as both a dedicated fan and a casual anime watcher.

The movie's story focuses on Nekki Basara, guitarist/lead singer for the Fire Bombers and erstwhile hotshot Valkyrie singer/pilot for Macross 7's Sound Force, who detected an unusual trace of song energy during band practice. As usual for this hotheaded singer, he left his teammates, rode off on his fire-red custom Valkyrie, and eventually winded up on a frozen planet. There, he encountered an annoying kid, a full-sized fiery Zentraedi singer, and some Protodevlin.

(Hmmm... fire, hotshot, hotheaded, fiery... I'm running out of fire metaphors here... oh, well...)

The art in the movie is good, however, it may seem watered down compared to the more recently released Macross Plus. This is vintage old-school robot animation, so don't expect a lot of CG effects and mecha. In fact, don't expect any CG effects or mecha.

That's not saying that the animation is bad. This is still top notch animation from the Macross 7 team. You can't help but gawk at the smoothly rendered animation. The aerial singing dogfight between Basara and the Zentraedi, in particular, was wonderfully choreographed and animated. You could almost feel the G-forces affecting the pilots as they circle each other and sing.

And sing they do. As music is the heart of any Macross venture, the movie features select hits from the TV series, as well as new songs "Heart and Soul" and "Flash in the Dark". For non-viewers of the TV series, I'd recommend watching this to get an idea on the Fire Bomber songs. Rocking on, they're certainly different from Lynn Mynmay's pop idol songs.

(On a side note, longtime fans of Macross are also in for a treat as this movie is packaged with a collection of music videos featuring Lynn Mynmay's classic songs from the original Macross. The music videos feature nice vignettes from both the original Macross series and its movie version "Do You Remember Love". It's enough to get any old fan misty-eyed with nostalgia.)

Okay, I got my fan gushing and the good points of the movie out of the way. Now, for some bad points: With a playing time of roughly 30 minutes, this feels more like a single episode of the series and doesn't seem to be worth the trouble of being called a movie. I wish it were longer or the story was more profound...

Additionally, taking the perspective of someone unfamiliar with the series, the characters were introduced quickly, without explanations whatsoever. This is disadvantageous to new viewers, who might not feel the same connection to (or even accept the absurd concept of) these singing pilots as TV series viewers. I remember that I watched this before the series and generally chuckling to myself at the surreal way they use music as a weapon... as well as wondering if there was supposed to be a love angle between Basara and the Zentraedi Emilia, who has a surprising relationship to Basara's bandmate and series' titular love interest Mylene Jenius. (What a small universe. Old time Macross fans might want to watch out for another nice bit of nostalgia in Emilia's room.)

Oh, and that darn kid was annoying, too. Minus points from me.

Still, as a short glimpse into the world of the Macross 7 series, this movie does a good job. It features a snapshot of how a Macross 7 episode goes and highlights the good points of the series: good music, nice animation, and quirky characters. It works as a stand alone story, but would best be enjoyed by people who've seen more of the series. Give it a try. Better yet, if you can find the TV series, give that a try, too.

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 8; Story 6; Characters 7; Sounds 10

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