Saturday, March 20, 2010

Kickin' It Old School: Macross Do you Remember Love?

Where do I begin? “Macross: Do You Remember Love?” is, what I believe, to be one of the most definitive movies of the pre-Pokemon era anime fandom(y‘know, the time BEFORE Toonami, DVDs, Online Streaming and BitTorrent…those days existed people!). Even in present day its masterful artistic expression and execution holds up beyond many of the present day anime films. Much like Akira and Ghost in the Shell this movie is not just a classic but it is legendary.

So why is it that this movie hasn’t been licensed yet? Well, a brief history on the franchise. Macross, here, is better known as the 80’s TV phenomenon that is Robotech. Among anime fans this series has its own legendary history. It came about as part of a project from Carl Maecek (one of the pioneers of the American anime industry) to introduce Macross to the American public. During this time (about early 80’s) most of American TV had a standard for cartoons, 13 episodes of the Saturday morning lot and 65 for the syndicated (the Monday through Friday set). The Macross TV series fell very short of this (at a mere 36 episodes…sigh…if only Cartoon Network existed back then) so Maecek decided to take two completely uninvolved series produced from the same Japanese company (Southern Cross and Moesepeda) and adapt them all into one continuity. Since Macross was the series he intended to bring over it had the least plot and characterization changes made to this. Personally, before ADVs redub during the Anime Boom days (the early to mid 2000s) I considered the English dub of Robotech the definitive Macross dub.

So where does the movie fit into all this? The movie was a summation of the events of the Macross TV series. Unlike the Gundam Trilogy, which did pretty much the same thing, DYRL was a complete revamping of the TV series events with high quality animation. It’s not an exaggeration that even by today’s high quality HD standards this movie holds up pretty well. In the official canon universe this movie has been seen as a “movie within a movie” where the DYRL events were a theatrical release of the events that really occurred not so unlike movies like “Glory” and “X” (no, the Malcom X movie NOT the CLAMP glorified piece of crap) in our reality.

Despite the movie’s popularity among the anime fandom the movie has yet to properly licensed because it is stuck in licensing hell along with the likes of “Sailor Stars”. The fault lies within Harmony Gold and the Japanese company basically getting territorial over who owns what and refusing to outsource the license until this “bidding war” is resolved (which, it hasn’t been). As such, outside out of a badly dubbed, heavily edited release, this movie has NEVER seen the light of day in the U.S.

The movie opens up in the vast depths of space were the SDF-Macross (this large battleship that has the ability to transform into a giant robot AND has a city inside of it) is engaged in a space war with this alien race called the Zentradi. Now in the TV series the Zentradi were depicted as an alien species that only differed in size and skin color, here they are depicted much more organically giving them a much more intimidating feel. During the very beautiful (but not very realistic in terms of physics) space battle we are introduced to Hikaru Ichijyo the ace pilot of the Skull Squadron. We also are introduced to the genius pilot, Maximilian Jenius, their Captain Roy Fokker (…yeah, fun last name), and human meat shield
Hayao Kakizaki (more on this later). On the Macross bridge First Lieutenant, Misa Hayase, gives out commands to Skull Squadron, which Hikaru is not too keen on because…she is woman.

… yeah, Japanese culture in the 80’s and how they view woman rights in the future.

Aboard the Macross pop icon, Lynn Minmay, is giving a concert, which is cut short when the SDF Macross begins to transform (since the city is destroyed and rebuilt during every battle). Things go from bad to worse when the shelter that Minmay and her manager/cousin Lynn Kaifun took refuge in is destroyed by both the Zentradi and Skull Squadron taking their battle onboard the Macross. As Minmay and Kaifun make their escape a few Zentradi soldiers see them and are shocked to see men and women together in the same habitat (they literally start freaking out and drop everything they’re doing, apparently in their race the men and woman fight each other. They also don’t going around forming relationships since those emotions are not a part of their… CULTURE!). During all this chaos one of the air ducts are shot open and Minmay is floating away to her death. Hikaru goes to rescue her and the too end up trapped in an isolated part of the ship. Here we get a lot of exposition on what has occurred before this movie as the Macross is trying to make its way to Earth but there is concern over the Zentradi’s multiple attacks on the planet’s surface. Following the little interchange between Hikaru and Minmay we get some nice eye candy sequences involving “Magical Light Up Minmay” and THE NUDE SCENE! On the Zentradi end they managed to procure a Minmay doll, which they continue to be pussies about and start freaking out even more when it begins singing. . . O-kaaay…

Back to Minmay and Hikaru one thing leads to another and the two share a kiss (okay, on Minmay’s end she was “acting”) which is RIGHT at that moment to rescue team which is apparently composed of paparazzi find the two in a compromising position. Nonetheless this does not bode well for either Hikaru or Minmay who get bitched out by their individual parties on the bad PR. For Minmay she simply got a slap on the wrist from her manager, while Hikaru gets chewed out by none other than superior officer, Misa Hayase (who seems to show a slight shred of jealousy). Luckily Hikaru’s bros (the Skull Squadron) come to congratulate him on his progress…but then are disappointed when Hikaru didn’t take things beyond the initial kiss.

Later on at the bar Hikaru meets up with his “sempai” Roy but is intimidated when he sees Misa there. Roy, being the wonderful drunk that he is, forces Hikaru to join himself, Misa, and his love interest Bridge Operator Claudia for drinks. He then drunkenly goes on how Misa should adjust her behavior while off duty in a speech that would probably cause many Women’s Studies majors and enthusiasts to lynch him. In the end at least he shows that he has no racial boundaries when it comes to love as he proceeds to lead by example by making out with Claudia…and then do some freaky stuff under the table…while Misa and Hikaru watch. (No, seriously look at the scene and tell me this all seems kinda…odd!)

Luckily Hikaru gets a way out as he gets an emergency call from “family”. Turns out the “family” is Minmay is disguise wanting to escape the media assault and go on a normal “date” with a guy. Once again, we a presented with a sequence of eye candy moments (including Minmay and Hikaru wearing virtual wedding outfits) that eventual leads to Minmay and Hikaru taking a trip out to Saturns rings. It’s here that Misa and Kaifun intercept them in a transport ship to return them to the Macross. Unfortunately the Zentradi also find them. Roy comes to rescue them but is still heavily inebriated (honestly, is this a D.U.I or what?!). In the end all of them are captured by the Zentradi and taken into custody. This leads to the most amusing scene across all the versions of this series. Whether you’re watching this version, the TV series version, or the Robotech version there’s just a certain amount of hilarity involved when big epic aliens ask you about the process of sex and force you to make out to provide concrete examples of …PROTOCULTURE. In the end Minmay and her cousin (who ended up being the make out pair…yeah…Macross is all about the incest) are transported to one place while Hikaru and the others are transported to another. Then the Metran (the female alien race) attack the Zetran giving the three humans a chance to escape. In the midst of the chaos Roy is killed and Hikaru and Misa are thrown off the craft (because of the fold system, which is the usual sci fi way of going from one point of space to another) and end up on a decimated planet.

Much like Hikaru and Minmay’s bonding earlier in the film you have Misa and Hikaru trapped on the isolated dead planet. But to recreate the famous reveal from Planet of the Apes we learn IT WAS EARTH AFTER ALL! CUE THE EMO! No, but this part of the film was relatively done well (actually the whole film but this had some actual realistic character development). Misa begins to starve herself and contemplates over how the remainder of humanity is left on board the Macross. Hikaru cheers her up and the two finally begin to bond with each other. They end up uncovering ancient ruins that are tied to both the human race and the Zentradi. Misa tries to send a S.O.S to the Macross but seemingly fails. In a very subtle scene Misa finally breaks down feeling that the two may never see humanity again, Hikaru consoles her, and this leads to a real kiss between the two. At this moment the Macross lands on Earth and recovers the two.

This leads into the last half of the film where Misa and Hikaru reveal to Captain Global (who really has as little screen time as possible compared to the TV series, but hey, it’s all about the love triangle) how they were on Earth for a month and there are NO survivors. They also tell Claudia about Roy’s death, which comes and goes (they go into far more detail about how she coped in the TV series.). The female fleet attacks the Macross, which leads to Kanazaki’s death (which between the TV and movies goes to show he wins the award for shitty deaths in an anime series because it’s quick, people react, and then it’s quickly forgotten). Of course this leads to a fight between Max and Miriya (the ace pilot of the female alien fleet) and the Macross gets blasted from a sniper ship. Things look bad until Hikaru hears Minmay’s singing on his plane’s sound systems. While this is going on Max confronts a wounded Miriya and is enamored by her beauty (either version is pretty corny as to how they hook up) and in a later part of the film he is enlarged and fights along side with her (while it is the reverse in the TV series…oh and they have a baby…and many many more in the sequels).

Anyway, the Zentradi return Minmay and decide to have peace talks with the humans in order to get the Meltran to surrender to them. During the peace conference Global reveals how the ancient ruins Hikaru and Misa found had evidence that the Protoculture meant that the humans, Zentradi, and Meltran all originated from the same genes. Using the Zentradi technology to “micron” three Zentradi volunteers (these guys have a decent supporting role in the TV series) Global hopes this will help influence the Zentradi to accept culture. Minmay announces that the memory plate the Zentradi gave them has a melody with no lyrics, the lyricists onboard the Macross are trying to make lyrics to the song so Minmay can broadcast the song all over the universe. Minmay is then reunited with Hikaru and Misa and it is very obvious that something has changed. Later on Hikaru is about to take down his poster of Minmay when she stops by his quarters and confesses her love to him. At the same time Misa is in her quarters and looks at the memory plate she and Hikaru found in the ruins and somehow miraculously figures out…wait for it…THEY’RE THE LYRICS TO THE SONG! So of course she goes to Hikaru’s room to be the first to tell him when she sees Minmay embracing Hikaru. Misa, with tears in her eyes, tells Hikaru she found out the plates significance. When Hikaru tries to explain things to her Minmay runs out embarrassed and Misa bitterly tells him to go after her. Hikaru decides not to and confesses his feelings to her and the two embrace. Then, of course, the Meltrans and Zetrandi start to cause a small-scale intergalactic war right then and there.

Isn’t timing fun?

To make matters worse Minmay has hidden away somewhere on the Macross. Misa gives Hikaru the task of seeking her selfish behind out and giving her the lyrics to the song. Many explosions and a trip into space later, Hikaru finally finds Minmay and LITERALLY slaps some sense into her.

The last scene is just gorgeous and defines everything wonderful about the Macross franchise. Minmay aboard the Macross sings “Do You Remember Love?” and the Macross, Meltran, and Zentradi combine forces and annihilate their leaders in one epic sequence. In the end both Misa and Minmey exchange silent but respectful appreciations and the last line of the film Misa states it was a simple love song that saved the universe.

Despite my sarcasm meter being on high, this movie is just beautiful. Back when anime wasn’t all about moe fetishes, Shonen Jump bore fests, and mind frell. This movie harkens back to a simpler time when the art was fine-tuned and crafted to create a thing of true beauty.



  1. This is on my list of anime to watch, since I've seen several other Macross titles. Now I just need to sit down and do it sometime. ^_^;

  2. It is really worth it! Not to knock the TV series (which is also good) but this movie makes up for the TV series VERY inconsistent animation and sums up the plot in about 2 hours.