I watched an anime: Macross Delta
It’s strange, it seems impossible these days to talk about Macross as a whole without mentioning how monumentally epoch shifting Macross Frontier was.
Macross Frontier, despite its high number of moving parts seemed so fundamentally simple – Boy meets girl, boy meets another girl, girl meets girl, girl loves boy, boy loves other girl, girl hates boy, girl hates girl, boy loves....wait....no...hang on.
Anyway, it’s a love triangle set in space with big robots.
Frontier is also one of my favourite anime series, and it had a big impact on the way I write and more importantly, on how I view the scope of my stories. Macross at its core has ALWAYS been grandiose – the original series placed humanity on the brink of extinction, Macross Plus took the concept of A.I to new levels, Macross 7 trailblazed to new and unexplored parts of the universe, and Macross Zero was a disturbing (and Evangelion-esque) look at the origins of life on our planet.
Macross Delta however, well, to be honest it lacks the big band oomph of its predecessors. It’s like a ringtone version of Bon Jovi’s Blaze of Glory – all the elements are there, but it’s somehow hollow and doesn’t seem legit enough to rock out to at my local bar after several pitchers of strong ale.
There’s also something fundamentally wrong with the love story in Macross Delta, normally not something that’s an issue in other anime, but in the Macross universe a well defined love triangle is part of the crucial formula that separates this series from other big mecha space operas like Gundam.
Pretty quickly it becomes clear the three main characters we’re meant to keep an eye on, but early on in the series one of them seems to roll over and wave the white flag of defeat, effectively destroying any emotional drama that we can expect to see throughout the series. In a 12 episode series this is forgivable, but in a 26 episode drama like Macross Delta we’ve got a lot of dead space being filled with useless episodes about beach parties and singing rehearsals.
I think however a lot of the lack of chemistry in the characters comes from their own lack of emotional depth and backstory. Frontier gave us Alto Saotome, a complex character whose ambitions were driven by a desire to spread out and take flight in a world where he was confined to the fake skies of an intergalactic space ship. Hayate Immelmann however, Delta’s main protagonist, is a stark contrast to Alto and seems to have no real character development arc beyond “I was a bit of a brat before, but I’m not now”.
That being said there’s a lot to like about Macross Delta: the animation is second to none, the aerial dogfighting is the best we’ve seen, the music is pretty rad and the next generation of VF-31 transformable fighters are truly wonderful to look at.
Look, if you’re a Macross fan it’s absolutely worth your time. The introduction of Walkure (the main musical protagonists of the series) is a little jarring, especially since previous Macross singing heroines have narratives that slowly evolve over time, but musical introduction aside it’s still a great story with exceptional action.
It certainly has me excited for the future of Macross.
- Andrew Archer