Ongoing Investigations: Case #104

I have happily been engrossed in the latest Professor Layton game the Unwound Future for the last week. The plot is the most fun and lively yet and we even get to learn a bit about Layton’s past and relationships plus see a (gasp) top hat-less Layton! This is also the most personal and emotional installment yet, which makes sense since it is the end of trilogy. Still I was pleased to see myself tearing up at the ending of the events. The puzzles were about the same difficulty level as the second game, which means that overall they are tricky but not overly hard. I still admit to missing the really challenging puzzles that appeared at the end of the first game. In this case even the end puzzles, worth a lot of picarts, were mostly harder versions of puzzles you had already conquered earlier in the game. But my true reason for playing the game is plot, plot, plot so I was indubitably pleased with how it came together. My only complaint is the constant hand holding that started with the second game and only seems to have escalated in the third. There is a journal that I can read if I forget anything, there is a mystery section that I can review, and when I turn on my continued game it reminds me of where I left off. Those things are all fine, what I don’t need is the game to prevent me from wandering and a plot recap every couple of chapters. These things don’t make the game less fun it just takes a bit of mystery solving out of it.

hisuiconProfessor Layton and the Unwound Future is a delightful capping off of the 1st Professor Layton trilogy. As with most the previous games we start with an odd event that spirals into a larger adventure with Layton discovering the grand conspiracy behind everything as he solves puzzles. I did notice some recycling of older puzzles beyond using some of the work horse types of puzzles that are in all three games. But they change them enough that they don’t feel like you are replaying an older game with a new story. I am never usually one to comment on voice acting but the new woman who does Flora is quite awful especially considering how good everyone else has been. I don’t know what circumstances prevented them from using the original Flora but they need to get rid of this lady and fast. The ending of the game was bombastic where is need to be and in contrast heartfelt, touching, and a bit melancholy where it needed to be as well. I will say the giant robot at the end of the Eternal Diva is much more inline with the series now that I played this game. I look forward to the adaption of the prequel trilogy as well as the Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney game.  With all the new material taking place before this trilogy one wonders when they will get to that letter and the end of this game.

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Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, Do You Remember Love? It’s far better to hug a woman than to fight her.

Macross: Do You Remember Love? is a movie remake of the first arc of the original Super Dimension Fortress Macross. DYRL starts off in the middle of the action with the Macross already fighting the Zentradi in space; Hiraku is already a pilot; Minmay is already a star. This is mostly a condensed retelling of the original Macross series. All the major scenes, deaths, defeats, and triumphs are revisited but now they play out a little differently than they did before. Canonically DYRL is supposed to be a movie made in the Macross universe based on the events in the TV series.

In fact, we start off in the middle of a Minmay concert. However, Hikaru and Minmay haven’t met yet. When they do meet it is much the same as the original though in the original the situation seems much more dire. All of the other relationships are already established, like Roy and Hikaru’s brotherly bond and Misa and Hikaru grating on each other. Oh and Kaifun is there too, though if you hadn’t seen the TV series you would be clueless of who the heck he is. They seriously don’t even say his name in the movie. Not that we care.

It’s rather odd they never even try to explain who Kaifun is because if you did not watch the TV series you would have no idea who this strange guy who is oddly familiar with Minmay is. They just assume you already know who he is or don’t need to know. He does not appear a lot but he is present for some pivotal scenes. Oh well it’s Kaifun. The less Kaifun the better.

So while we jump in with a lot of action, a lot of the relationships are not fleshed out to their necessity. It does rely on your knowing at least a little about all of these people already. But as popular as it was, that isn’t a bad assumption. Though I do feel if you were just going to watch DYRL without the benefit of the TV series you wouldn’t be lost. I just felt this was sometimes difficult to understand Misa’s point of view without knowing her backstory and family history. Also her friendship with Claudia gave many insights in the TV series which we miss here.

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Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, I joined the military because I love women!

Super Dimensional Fortress Macross is a series that changed the world of anime. There is a whole generation of anime fans in America that trace the beginning of their love of anime back to Robotech and then Macross. The Japanese fans clamored to Macross: Do you Remember Love? in theaters. Pop songs save the Earth and bridge two species. In many ways this is the legacy of the original series whether you like it or not.

Ultimately the premise seems silly, and at times it is, but somehow it speaks volumes and was able to create a generation of fans that revere it. Macross has gotten pushed to the back of the line as newer and newer shows come out. Yes that is the natural flow of things but nothing about the original show has changed, it hasn’t gotten worse over time. There will never come a time when it isn’t worth sitting down and experiencing Macross.

After the events of Macross Zero humanity has finally united under the authority of the UN and reconstructed the Macross battleship to the best of their abilities. Before the inaugural flight of the Macross a small alien fleet searching for the Macross parks itself in Earth’s orbit. All of a sudden the Macross comes to life and fires on the alien fleet of its own accord starting an intergalactic war. After a fierce battle between the alien forces and Earth’s new transforming jets, Valkyries, the Macross attempts to hypersapce fold to a more favorable battleground and accidentally teleports the ship along with the local island and its inhabitants to just outside the orbit of Pluto. So begins the Macross and its civilian passengers’ desperate fight for survival against a far superior alien fleet. While all this is going on we are also amidst a love triangle between a young pilot, a dedicated military woman, and an aspiring pop idol.

As we start to learn more about the alien race, it becomes this battle of cultures. The Zentradi are essentially a people who fight til they die and there is nothing else to life. When they encounter everything in human culture, from men and women living on the same ships, to kissing and love, and of course music which starts to move them.

Being devoid of any culture besides military culture any Zentradi that get exposed to human culture go into a state of shock. When the Zentradi realize that they miss the broader more rounded lives they once had they being to want to defend the Earth even if it means going against their fellow Zentradi. Earth’s culture becomes its greatest weapon and its greatest defense. This makes Minmay the one who creates culture and Misa and Hikaru the ones who defend culture.

I almost spit out my drink when someone called Minmay “shrewd” if the first or second episode. Hum, think they meant shrew? Minmay never seems more deep than a kiddie pool. As you might have guessed I fall in with the huge Minmay hate following in the U.S. But she is just about the most important character in this story. It is not like she invented being a pop idol but she was the icon for the ship and therefore leads them with her songs. Ah, if only she was that inspirational when she wasn’t singing. She is both pretty and dumb, a classic combination. Everything is about Minmay, atleast according to her.

They try to show her tender and generous side but it is usually eclipsed by her being a selfish brat on all other occasions. I don’t care for Minmay but I also don’t hate her. I think most people hate her so much because they really like Misa and therefore it intensifies their dislike of Minmay’s flaws. As the other characters fade into the tapestry of history all the subsequent Macross series have mentioned the legend of Lynn Minmay. She becomes an iconic hero whose songs become legends. In Macross 7, she inspires Basara and the concept of song energy. In Macross II they use the Minmay attack against the enemy. In Macross Plus, Kate Masseau sings a Minmay song at karaoke. In Macross Frontier, Ranka sings the legendary My Boyfriend is a Pilot. She is not only the most important character in her own series, she becomes the most important character in the Macross universe.

Hikaru is not the best pilot out there but he doesn’t let that stop him from being stubborn and hot-headed. He is the main character but the fate of the Macross never actually rests in his hands, it is as if he is just the person we happen to be following this war through. He grows as a pilot, loses friends, makes connections, and is generally a different person than he was when we started out. I rather liked him even though he does sometimes make me want to throw something at the TV.

Hikaru sure gets shot down a lot for being one of the main characters. In any other series Hikaru would be a genius pilot like Max but he is a good enough pilot to stay alive. He is lucky to be friends with the right people and be in the right place at the right time. I find it amusing that they also make him so opinionated but he usually changes position the minute anyone gives him a moderately well laid out counter argument. At one point Hikaru is given the deciding vote on whether the Macross should accept Zentradi defectors. He is 100% against it. Then Misa and Max talk to for two minutes and he is 100% for accepting them. I guess this explains why the love triangle goes on as long as it does.

Misa is a bit older and more hardened than Hikaru and so they often butt heads. And she finishes off this triangle. Misa is a strong, independent woman but she can also be cold. Her past is well established as she comes from a long, long line of military personnel. She was born and bred to be in the military. As can be imagined, she has a strong sense of duty but over time you realize she isn’t a mindless officer of the military merely taking orders. She also has a tragic past with a boyfriend that solidifies her reluctance to involve herself in a relationship. Her and Minmay couldn’t be more different.

Misa is a not a pilot but she is a soldier and one of the most competent characters in Macross. For a bridge crew member she is a brassy lady and often goes out on dangerous missions or gets herself involved is some tense situations. She has a stony professional demeanor that hides a more vulnerable caring side of her. Misa’s inability to easily express her feeling is a huge factor in the love triangle. Since Hikaru is so obsessed with Minmay he tends to be oblivious to Misa’s growing feelings for him.

I always felt that Hikaru’s love for Minmay was misguided, even to the point of me not believing that he is ever actually in love with her. Minmay’s flip-flop about him gets old fast and if I were Hikaru I would have be royally mad. But he seems blinded by her.

I have to agree with you. I think that Hikaru is always in love with the idea of Minmay more than he is ever in love with Minmay herself. The fact that Minmay is attractive is mostly just icing on the cake. And if Hikaru’s love for Minmay is slightly misplaced it can’t compare to Misa’s bizarre and inexplicable infatuation with Lynn Kaifun. It mostly seemed shoehorned in to extend the love triangle between Hiraru, Misa, and Minmay. It comes out of nowhere and seems to fade away as quickly and mysteriously when they finally drop it. Plus the fact that she almost never interacts with Kaifun and Kaifun mostly comes off like a self righteous jerk 90% of the time.

I swear I thought the animation staff was messing with us. Misa is constantly waxing on about how Kaifun looks EXACTLY like her old boyfriend. I believe that boyfriend was white with medium length brow hair, not Chinese with long black hair. Just saying. And it is even funnier when they actually show the boyfriend at times to somehow prove they look alike. Hilarious! I could have accepted Misa being “in love” with Kaifun for his devotion to pacifism but not because he looks like the other guy.

Roy Focker…what is that saying? Oh yes, FTW! Everyone loves him, no woman can resist him. You never get enough of Roy Focker in the series, it is nice to get a bit of a backstory for him in the later episodes too. Heck, the title for this article is from his lips! I think we need a Roy Focker OVA.

The famous pilot of Skull squadron. Roy acts as an older brother figure to Hikaru. When Hikaru joins the military it is Roy that shows him the ropes and keeps him alive. When Hikaru is chasing Minmay it is Roy who supports him and his relationship. Roy also happens to be the sex machine that all the women love and all the men want to be. He lives life to the fullest by indulging in wine, women, and song with great gusto. Roy is the manly hero that won a place in many a Macross fan’s heart.

Our villains aren’t overdeveloped that is for sure. But truly there isn’t that much that can be said since having personality is almost non-existent. However, we do have characters that have their minds awakened by the human culture like Milia, the beautiful Zentradi female ace pilot. Her rivarly with Max was always exciting to watch even if it is flubbed a bit in the end.

One Zentradi deserves special note and that is Kamjin. He is constantly pushing for the Zentradi to wipe out the Macross instead of trying to capture it. He is also the main villain in the second arc of the series. He mostly interested me because he looks like Garma Zabi. In fact, I would theorize that Kamjin is an homage or at least partially inspired by Garma Zabi. The fact that they die in a rather similar fashion only reinforces my theory.

The animation in Macross is rather bipolar. Sometimes it is brilliantly animated and looks like some of the best of early 1980 animation. Other times it has some horrible animation. The ratio of good animation to bad animation varies from episode. I know Narutaki is always freaked out when they draw characters with no pupils like they are infected with the black oil from the X-Files. Also Roy Fokker’s skin tones changes from scene to scene almost randomly at times.

Music, the most important part of the series. It is is so funny to think it was a gimmick to sell singles, but it ended up being done so well that you didn’t care. The only time I love Minmay is when she is up there singing on my screen. I also love the mixing of her songs with battle scenes, it makes them both more exciting and somehow heartwrenching.

If music saves humanity than the songs better well be memorable. They start with a strong foot froward with My Boyfriend is a Pilot. It is pretty catchy and they play it all the time but it is light and fun so I never minded how much they play it. I also tend to remember Shao Pai Lon because it has a memorable bridge as well. Minmay has a good amount of more somber ballads but they don’t stick out in my head as much. They also have enough a balance songs that you never get sick of any of Minmay’s songs.

Macross is so memorable, how unfortunate about the double ending because episode 27 was truly grand. The couple of episode before that were rushed, like the whole relationship between Max and Millia, but it ended just right. It was tragic and magnificent! Then came the second wave, it almost destroys all the goodness built up in those first 27. Like I want to see the same love triangle that you just resolved?

Episode 27 wraps up the main story; they pulled out all the stops. The grand Minmay attack, the end of the love triangle, the end of the war, devastation on all sides, heroism, tragedy, despair, and hope. But the show was popular enough that they got an extension of the number of episodes they could make. This leads to an after war story that most people see as weaker than the original. I saw a good deal of potential in the story of how the Zentradi and humans have to try to rebuild and coexist after so much bloodshed and destruction. It was a solid premise. There is nothing inherently bad about the extra episodes. The last arc is just never that epic and seems to desperately want you to keep guessing who Hikaru will choose even though it was already resolved.

Macross Flash Back 2012 is a collection of music videos that are supposed to be Minmay’s farewell performance before leaving on the SDF-2 Megaroad-01 to explore the galaxy for suitable planets to inhabit. What this turns out to be is the world’s worst collection of professionally made AMVs. The effects they throw in the videos are horrible and the scenes they place to the music to are questionable at best in many places. Seeing Misa in a captain’s uniform and seeing Hikaru in a fancy new Valkyrie was cool but nowhere near the price of admission.

If I was a Macross fan in the day and purchased this, I would have stormed the gates and demanded my money back. There is quite literally three minutes of new footage at the end of this 30 minute collection of terribly edited music videos. And not that I was really upset, but they didn’t play My Boyfriend is a Pilot. If this is supposed to be Minmay’s farewell performance, you would think it would be included.

Top 5 Favorite Macross Songs
5. Seventh Moon (Macross 7)
4. Voices (Macross Plus)
3. Diamond Crevasse (Macross Frontier)
2. My Boyfriend is a Pilot (Macross)
1. Try Again (Macross 7)

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