Title: Macross Frontier aka Macross F
Company: Satelight/MBS/Big West
Format: 25 episodes
Dates: 3 Apr 2008 – 25 Sep 2008
Synopsis: A half century has passed since the devastating war between humankind and the Zentradi. In its wake, comes an era of peace and exploration in a galaxy flowing with the mysteries of the Protoculture. However, following great wonders are even greater dangers. On the tails of the Frontier Colony Fleet is a collective of space born creatures identified as the Vajra. War is inevitable, and not even the latest in technology can subdue them. Why are they attacking? No one is sure. But the real question is clear. Who’s controlling the Vajra? And what connection do they have to the music of amnesiac Ranka Lee?
Being predominately a Gundam fan, I haven’t focused too much on the Macross franchise until recently. My current experience is with the original series, which prides itself on strong character development and top-notch storytelling. Being only one show, I’m not quite sure how much of this quality is prolific through the subsequent sequels. As for the recent Macross Frontier, while it is no work of genius (no pun intended), it has enough meat on its bones to compel most viewers to stick with it through thick and thin.
Whereas Frontier is born from Super Dimension Fortress in terms of themes and conventions, it quickly becomes apparent that this is not the “Super Dimension”. Whereas the original series is about the protagonists coming to terms with their feelings, Frontier focuses more on one reconciling with their identity. It still makes for good storytelling; however, the dynamics just aren’t as strong. The series ends up being far more plot based than character driven. Mystery is the clincher and the side case turns out to be more compelling at times, making Frontier far more reminiscent of the two classic ‘80s mecha titles, VOTOMS and Zeta Gundam. The plot happens to distinguish itself from its predecessors quickly enough that anyone can enjoy the series without feeling too left out. While knowing what Protoculture is and understanding the relationship between Mankind and the Zentradi never hurts, viewers new to Macross will only miss out on a few Easter Eggs. Pineapple Salad, anyone?
Even so, Frontier is indeed its own series and it fortunately carries on several strengths of the original, namely a love triangle that isn’t frustrating nor angering. The use of plot and personality makes for more believable romance. The protagonist, Alto, is surprisingly selfish for his role, which serves as better foil for Ranka and Sheryl’s more predictable personalities. It is not exceptionally moving, but it at least maintains a certain level of dignity. Music-wise, everything is a plus (again, no pun intended.) Along with a Kanno Yoko soundtrack, Macross once again proves its star making power with Nakajima Megumi’s debut. Both “Aimo” and her cover of “Do You Remember Love” are two songs that I can’t get enough of. Other pieces by Sakamoto Maaya and Nakabayashi May don’t fail to deliver either.
Anime of this era are generally expected to have some little aesthetic touches that attracts fanboys and fangirls alike, and Frontier is no exception. Much like the aloof bishounen, school life has slowly found its way into the mecha genre. From here on, things get a lot more moé. To touch on the tip of the iceberg, expect shoujo-ai undertones, Luca’s perpetual blush, Ranka’s emotive hair, and Klan micloning into a loli. That, and quite a bit of intrusive CGI is a little off-putting, especially for the more hardcore old-school fans. However, it is easily forgivable because it is all so damn beautiful that it makes my computer lag.
When push comes to shove, there is always a reason to watch Macross Frontier. If not for the namesake, then the romance. If not that, then the action. If not that, then the plot, or the music, or any number of reasons. Any one of the components that make up Macross Frontier may individually be off-putting. However, together they complement each other well enough that it is possible to hang on to one element and accept another along they way. If it is worth anything, this ended up being the first anime where I’ve ended up actively shipping.
The Rating: 7
Reviewed by: Kavik Ryx