The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Macross Frontier: The Wings of Farewell

Title: Macross Frontier: The Wings of Farewell aka Macross Frontier: Sayonara no Tsubasa
Genre: Action/Romance
Company: Satelight/8-Bit/Big West
Format: Movie; 114 minutes
Dates: 26 Feb 2011

Synopsis: Ever since the latest Vajra attack on the 25th Colonial Fleet, Ranka Lee’s career has gone from strength to strength, becoming the latest singing sensation in Macross Frontier as the “Superdimensional Cinderella”. In the meantime, Sheryl Nome has been suffering from a mysterious ailment, while Saotome Alto along with the rest of SMS continue to protect Frontier from the depredations of the Vajra. However, as Ranka begins to question whether the Vajra’s intentions are truly hostile, factions within the Fleet begin making their moves, their plans revolving around the Vajra, the apparent prize being domination of the entire galaxy. With the trio swept up in the growing web of intrigue, what is to become of them and the colonists of Frontier?

The Highlights
Story: A briskly-paced, plot-twisty original story with its own pros and cons.
Characters: More sympathetic, if less-developed personalities than in the TV series.
Concert scenes: Trippy, breathtaking, and all sorts of deculture.
Action scenes: High-octane, high-explosive, all-epic stretches of awesome.
Shout outs: Remembers Love with cameos from every part of Macross (1,2) history.

The second of the Macross Frontier movies, The Wings of Farewell carries on from where The False Songstress left off, takes everything that its predecessor offered and pushes them up to new heights. Continuing with the “adaptation” style that its predecessor took with the original material of the TV series, The Wings of Farewell caps off what began as a 25th anniversary tribute to the Macross franchise, and what a conclusion it proves to be.

The advantage of a film adaptation using an entirely different plot instead of adapting existing material from the TV series is that the story can be tailored to better fit the format than a more direct adaptation ever could. Indeed, The Wings of Farewell wastes no time in setting each scene into motion, taking the audience from one plot twist to the next in brisk fashion. While this makes for a very interesting story which segues from murderous intrigue to all-out combat flawlessly, this means that the characters don’t have much breathing room to flesh out their personalities, leaving them slightly weaker than their original counterparts in the TV series.

This doesn’t mean that the main characters are weak by any means as the film gives them a rather more sympathetic portrayal from the start (not that one of the heroines arguably needs the more positive treatment). Each of the main characters are more well-adjusted personalities than they originally were, making them easier to root for in the course of the story though at the cost of them being less interesting. Despite this, Kawamori Shoji still manages to mix things up by switching the roles of the two heroines as well as some of the villains of the story, keeping the interactions engaging instead of the “same ol’, same ol'” it could easily have languished into.

Of course, there are two elements without which it just wouldn’t be a Macross story, and the first of these is the song-and-dance that has been a main staple of the franchise ever since Lynn Minmay brought culture to the Zentradi with Do You Remember Love? The concert scenes are a sight to behold, each of which are breathtaking panoramic vistas which could only have come either from the fevered hallucinations borne of questionable substances, and/or the wildest fantasies of a 5-year-old. Complemented with a soundtrack made up almost entirely of new compositions for the movie, one could almost imagine Kawamori offering these scenes to the audience as a sort of “Wish you were here” postcard.

The other elements, of course, are the action scenes in general, and the mecha battles in particular. No recycled scenes from the TV series are here either, whether it be man-to-man gun battles or the eponymous missile-laden Valkyrie dogfights so central to the franchise’s identity. No expense was spared here to make the action here some of the most pulse-pumping ever seen in animated cinema; there is so much unbridled energy in these scenes that it spills over into borderline narm at times. If anything, the high-octane battle scenes here make a case for arguably being Exhibit A in how far the Macross franchise, and the mecha genre in general, has come since its beginnings.

With so much love clearly being invested in the production of this movie, and not least with the numerous callbacks and cameos which pepper the entirety of its 114 minutes, Kawamori seems determined to prove that no fan of the Macross franchise, young or old, can Remember Love quite like he can. And ultimately, it is hard not to concede that point, if a movie like this is the result of such love. The Wings of Farewell may not supplant Do You Remember Love? as the epitome of a Macross movie, but it has certainly stamped its mark on the epic long-running franchise on its own terms.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Ascaloth

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