The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Macross Plus

Title: Macross Plus
Genre: Action/Romance
Company: Bandai Visual/Big West/Triangle Staff
Format: 4 OVA
Dates: 25 Aug 1994 – 25 Jun 1995

Synopsis: Following multiple bouts of reckless actions, UN Spacy pilot Isamu Alva Dyson is transferred to the test site of the new YF-19 variable fighter. His destination is Planet Eden, where such unsettling memories lay waiting for him. To his surprise, the pilot for the competing YF-21 project is his old rival Guld Goa Bowman. With this competition deep seated hatred is coming to fruition, and only complicates when a woman from their past returns, resurfacing the worst of past memories.

The Highlights
Animation: Not a single yen wasted.
CG: Surprisingly well used for a ‘90s work.
Fight scenes: Some of the best Macross(1,2) has to offer.
Soundtrack: Brilliant Kanno Yoko but some uninspiring vocal pieces.
Characters: Some are plain dislikable.
Plot direction: Gets progressively less interesting.

I’m going to receive a lot of flack for this, but as I watched Macross Plus, something became apparent. Its fans have grossly overrated it. Sure it might have stunning visuals and a naturally amazing soundtrack, but this is all undermined by the fact that the story is a melodramatic train wreck. The moment you stop caring for the characters, is the moment Macross loses its charm.

Though before I get too critical of Macross Plus, there is absolutely denying it being perfectly atmospheric. This OVA is obviously on a massive budget, and it shows. The attention to detail in the artwork as well as the fluidity of the animation is virtually unmatched, and is bound to be for a long time. What’s even more surprising is that it is a mid ‘90s work using mid ‘90s CG. Even today, it only takes a look at some Gonzo works to realize how horribly misused CGI is. Macross Plus deserves some kind of reward for not only using it well, but also appropriately to complement scenes rather than overwhelm them. The visuals are already stunning enough to draw you in and I haven’t even gotten to the soundtrack yet, which I’ll just leave at “Kanno Yoko“. Granted, some of the vocal pieces are rather soulless.

Come to think of it, soulless, or perhaps empty is an easy way to describe many of the events in Macross Plus. So much is trying to be said, yet very little is given proper development. A rather interesting rivalry soon becomes muddled up in a convoluted story about artificial intelligence. The transition between these two components is incredibly jarring, and I just can’t shake off the feeling that the whole VF project was just an excuse to give Isamu his Excalibur and Guld his Sturmvogel. Pretty soon, the whole Sharon Apple story takes over, the Ghost Fighters make the initial premise a waste, and the plot is artificially moved forward by the will of characters with unexplored motives. It’s an empty experience, and unfitting of such a beautiful setting.

The key issue with Macross Plus is that while it does a phenomenal job at drawing one in, it soon becomes apparent that it was probably a better idea to stay out. As stated above, the OVA’s overall focus is on its weaker plotlines. Though besides it shoehorning itself into the initial premise and remaining relatively stagnant, it happens to tie in perfectly with some horribly grating melodrama. Macross has always been a surefire way to get, at the very least, a decent love triangle, which makes it only the more worse when I realized that I didn’t have a single good thing to say about two members of it. While Isamu presents himself in the same light as Roy Focker, Myung is a pathetic drama queen, and Guld just comes off as a total psychopath. Even the revelation during the melodramatic finale only solidifies that there is no justice for the way these characters act. All things considered, I expected more than two man-children fighting over some petty girl.

What ultimately kills Macross Plus stems from the fact that for everything good said about it, it still suffers from an inherent flaw found in most anime. It doesn’t know how to begin a story and even less how to wrap one up. By introducing so many characters and subplots, it becomes less likely that any of them are going to get any sort of proper resolution. The movie version fixes many of these problems; however, Macross Plus would have benefited from a tighter script and more compelling characters. Without those, this OVA may be a visual masterpiece, but feels empty overall. Just to put things into perspective, I thought Macross 7(1,2) was better.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Kavik Ryx

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