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Super Dimensional Fortress Macross II, What only stars remember.

September 1, 2008

While I do recall seeing some Robotech when I was younger, Macross II was actually my first leap into the franchise and actually sparked my interest in it. Which is kind of ironic since it isn’t in the timeline, it has been cast out!

It is the only Macross series not worked on by Studio Nue. So when Studio Nue started making Macross anime again they promptly went out of their way to state that Macross II was not canon and was to be promptly ignored by all future Macross anime. I am curious how much of it is rights issues and how much of it is bitterness on Studio Nue’s part after being left out of working on Macross II. It’s not like it was Highlander II for goodness sake.

But nevertheless I still appreciate it! It seems to hold onto the spirit of Macross. More so than some other renditions in the Macross franchise. I even have a lovely poster of Macross/Macross II hanging in my office!

Macross II deals with a love triangle including a pilot and a singer, the power of a love song, a clash of cultures, and an intergalactic war that threatens to wipe out humanity. All the hallmarks of the original Macross series. They are both extremely similar in theme and style. Compare that to say Macross 7 and Macross Zero which both wildly differ from their source on a variety of levels. So far only Macross Frontier has come as anywhere near as close to recapturing the original Macross spirit.

Macross II starts 80 after the end of the original Macross. Hibiki Kanzaki is a reporter who’s journalistic paradigm is radically altered after witnessing a battle between the UN forces and a mysterious fleet of Zentradi soldiers who are unaffected by the culture shock of music. During this battle Hibiki find a mysterious non-Zentradi woman named Ishtar on-board one of the enemy ships. He takes her back to earth in hopes of getting the scoop of the century. He gets his story and much more than he bargained for. Ishtar is the key to defeating an enemy that is seemingly unaffected by the music of Earth.

Hibiki isn’t a hot-headed pilot but he is a hot-headed news reporter! He funnily enough seems to have the opposite view that most young reports have, he wants sensationalism! Forget the truth you have to keep people entertained! But after he gets roped into helping the war correspondent for his company he starts to have a change of heart. When he realizes that his partner’s legacy, what he died for, was not going to be shown to the public Hibiki vows to get the biggest scoop he can about the current war. He is very determined and completely reckless, this is the reason Silvie and him spend so much time together! And even though he wants to make a story out of her, he does end up caring deeply for Ishtar.

Hibiki is a real jerk that is secretly a good guy when push comes to shove. I felt from the start Hibiki want to report the truth. It’s just that he is not above pandering to the masses to get his point across. Hibiki grows significantly in a short time while still staying true to the character he was at the beginning of the series. But he is a more mature hot-headed sensationalist reporter who looks at what he reports on differently. It was interesting change to the standard Macross love triangle to make one of them a reporter. Hibiki being a reporter gives us someone who is an outsider to the military but has good reasons to be involved with them. It is a refreshing change of perspective.

Ishtar is apart of the enemy, they are different from the Zentradi in many way including that they use music to make people want to fight. Outside of the singers the race is a warrior culture with a desire for war and destruction. So she is amazed to find a culture that does the opposite with song. Through Hibiki she starts to learn about Earth’s culture and eventually he takes her to a concert of the current pop idol, Wendy Ryder. So the combination of learning about love songs and actually falling in love with Hibiki pushes her to try and make peace between the two factions.

Ishtar and the rest of the Marduk in general have a Babylonian theme. Ishtar herself is sort of a tabula rasa when it comes to dealing with society. She is a priestess that is isolated from others except for her role as an emulator. She wants to learn about Earth culture because she believes that Earth may be the planet that is featured in a ancient prophecy about the future of her race. When she first encounters human culture it overwhelms her enough to cause her great discomfort. Hibiki slowly shows her the beauty of human culture and she begins to believe that humanity’s songs of peace and love may open the way for a better future for the Marduk.

Silvie is a tough as nails ace pilot who starts off with a vendetta against Hibiki after he catches her going to a hotel room with a high ranking office of UN Spacey. She starts off following Hibiki in hopes of getting him back for humiliating her. While spying on Hibiki she has to defend him and Ishtar from the Marduk who come to retrieve their most valuable emulator. She eventually falls in with Hibiki to protect Ishtar and becomes closer to both them. She definitely comes off as a strong female character with a feminine undercurrent.

It is nice to see our pilot in the triangle be an intelligent and capable woman. Actually she is the only one who is involved with the military, much to Hibiki’s chagrin. Though I find her overbearing for most of the first half of the show, she has moments when her rough exterior is broken and you see a real woman. Especially when she and Hibiki are searching for Ishtar in the enemy fleet. After that she really starts to grow.

In the original VHS copy I have of this show, huge portions of the last three OAVs are missing. Thankfully the DVD version has them in. It was like watching a new show! Especially since what was lost was mostly the space battles. They were good, well done, and added some much needed action and suspense. Seriously, Nexx rocks! He was saving the entire fleet, why wasn’t there more Nexx in this show?

Yeah, if it is military related then Nexx does it. Nexx does everything from taking out enemies in a Valkyrie to planning battle strategy to captaining a capital ship. All he does not do is take out Lord Emperor Ingues in a fist fight.

So how come in three different Macross series the mothership looks EXACTLY the same? Even though they are all different alien races? Well, anyway the main villain seems to have the same motivation as usual, destroy the Protoculture! It will contaminate us! But the enemy is different from the Zentradi in many ways including the fact that they are microns and their men and women cohabitate. Feff, who is a captain of one of the enemy ships is interesting because he shows their is emotion on their side, as he admits to “loving above his station.” He is also a bad-ass.

The Marduk are different enough that the initial Minmay attack does not work but similar enough that the themes of original Macross can be revisited. The Marduk never get more than the bare minimum in back story but they seem like an interesting race. I was slightly curious how the Marduk become involved in such a parasitic relationship with the Zentradi but unfortunately Macross II is not nearly long enough to be able to go into such stories and still finish the important plot points of the series.

This show cracks me up because the military has Teen Beat stars. The military is the celebrities of the day. They are who the tabloids write about and who people want autographs from. They do flashy stunts and participate in the big event the “Moon Festival.” Girls squeal about Nexx and guys say they want to marry Silvie.

I think that marriage is not necessarily the first things on guys minds when they see Silvie. If Hikaru from the original Macross lived in time of Macross II it might have been Minmay that was chasing him.

The music in Macross II is actually quite nice. No Minmay of course though they do make reference to her and what she did all those years ago. They even use the Minmay attack at one point, but replaced by another girl. The opening song is especially good and also the main song at the concert Hibiki and Ishtar attend is a highlight.

For a Macross series we don’t get that many songs and Ishtar does not sings that much for the character that is the singer of the love triangle. But every time she does sings it makes a big impact. We also get some Wendy Ryder songs and like any good Macross series the concert scenes are as lush and awesome as the final battles.

My major criticism of the show is that it seems to have wanted to be a 13 or 26 episode series but only got to be a 6 episode OVA. They just introduced what could have been rather epic story but then they have to settle it rather quickly. If Macross II had had some more time to stretch its legs it might have received a better reception. The premise is solid and enjoyable, the characters are good and easily likable, and the director and scriptwriters seemed competent.

I can see what you mean. It has all the trappings of the original series so it could have easily continues on with a longer show. But I thought the character development was there. The things that were missing a bit for me was the military point of view. We get it a bit, but since two of the main characters are uninvolved directly with UN Spacy their presences isn’t as felt. I would have liked to see more Nexx, as mentioned before, and also Silvie’s squadron. Also the love story does not get pushed as far as it needed.

The love triangle certainly suffers as a result of its time constraints. While Hibiki, Ishtar, and Silvie definitely got closer as the show went on, there was that much romance between any of the three of them. Did the three of them become friends? Yes. Did they change each other lives and how they view themselves and others? Yes. Did I sense romantic interest or sexual tension? Not really. They just never had enough time to build up a proper love triangle. The foundation was there. There are inklings of feelings but not enough to fully sell me. Who ends up with who mostly seems to be there for the convenience of the plot more than full character development. I am sure they could have had a great triangle.

Top 5 Favorite Macross Women
5. Mao Nome (Macross Zero)
4. Silvie Gena (Macross II)
3. Misa Hayase (Macross)
2. Ranka Lee (Macross Frontier)
1. Rex (Macross 7)

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