The power of songs saves humanity…again! That’s right; I’m talking about Macross Frontier the latest entry to the long running Macross saga. Macross Frontier is a Mecha Space-Opera Anime with a great plot, amazing dog-fights, a love triangle, and some of the best songs to come out of an anime.
(Left)Sheryl, (Center) Alto, (Right) Ranka
Macross Frontier is set in the same universe as the past Macross series. It is the year 2059 and humanity continues to travel the galaxy in search for planets to colonize. The story takes place in the Macross Frontier Colony Fleet, where during a reconnaissance mission a squad is wiped out by a powerful and mysterious insectoid biomechanical life form known as the Vajra. As such the overarching plot is the conflict with Vajra. The story however revolves around our trio of characters: Alto Satome, Sheryl Nome, and Ranka Lee. Like all Macross series, Macross F keeps many themes commonly found in the Macross series but also manages to set itself apart from the rest.
While the overarching plot to Macross F is the conflict with the Vajra and discovering their motives, the real meat of the story is in the three main characters and their roles in the conflict. Because the cast of Macross F is rather large, there is not enough time to develop them all but we do get enough interaction to appreciate them and not completely forget them.
The main cast
Alto Satome is a 17 year old high school student who attends the Mihoshi Academy Pilot Course. Due to his beauty and long hair he is often mistook for a girl and as such has earned the nickname “Hime (Princess)” Born into a well known Kabuki family, Alto was raised as a Kabuki actor; but after his mother’s death and bad relationship with his father he left his home and was disowned. A talented flyer, his skills eventually leads him to become a pilot for the SMS private military provider. Throughout the series we see his growth as a pilot and his relationship with those around him, particularly with Sheryl and Ranka hence, the love triangle. We also see him coming to terms with his past and what his dream is.
Sheryl Nome is a 17 year old pop idol from the Macross Galaxy Fleet who visits the Macross Frontier Fleet to do a concert. Incredibly famous, she is known as the “Galactic Fairy” and it is said that it’s impossible to not hear her songs if you live in the galaxy. She usually comes off as proud and self-centered due to her beauty and singing career. She meets Alto for the first time when Alto serves as a backup performer during her concert. At first she takes no notice to him, but successive meetings show her developing feelings for him.
Ranka Lee is a 16 year old girl who works part-time at a Chinese restaurant and dreams of becoming a singer like Sheryl. Being a quarter Zentradi she has a higher resistance to the vacuum of space and can move her hair according to her feelings. A very cheerful and lively girl, she suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome which due to a certain event during her childhood. She has suppressed the memory of the event and it only resurfaces when she sees death and panic all around. Ranka is connected to the Vajra which is later explained in the series. She lives with her adoptive older brother Ozma Lee and loves him very much. Her first encounter with Alto is when she’s trying to get to Sheryl’s concert and bumps into a shirtless Alto, whom she stares in awe and mistakes him for a girl. Early on she develops feelings for him. Ranka is more or less the opposite of Sheryl, from her looks to her personality.
I’d mistake him for a girl too.
There are still a number of characters to be mentioned, from Alto’s Squad leader Ozama Lee and Squad mates Luca and Michael to the crew of the Macross Quarter battle ship that it’d take forever to go into detail about them. But each of those characters is given memorable performances to make up for the lack of character development.
Since Macross F is a mecha anime, it’s only natural to see similarities with other mecha animes. For one thing, humanity has migrated into space in search for a new home and possesses very advanced technology; namely the transformable fighter planes and gigantic Macross-Class battle ships (which transform too). Another similarity is that of an unknown life form coming into contact with humans; such as in Eureka Seven. The Vajra can be compared to the Coralians and Ranka can be compared to Eureka based on their connections to the Vajra/Coralians. Interactions between races are also something seen in various series, not just mecha animes. In Macross humans have encountered, fought, and eventually made peace with the Zentradi; a race of giants. Much like other science fiction series, where humans live with aliens races. The UN Spacy which is the name of the military in Macross is also seen in other series such as Gundam. Like in Gundam, Macross F a political element that adds to the simple conflict of fighting off the Vajra.
Being a 2008 anime, the production values were great. The character designs were very good, the animation was great; though faulty at times and the mechs were gorgeous. The dog fights were especially well done too. But the real winner here is the soundtrack. Macross is known for having a lot of music, as its one of its central themes and as such the tracks in Macross F were phenomenal. The singing styles of Sheryl and Ranka were like night and day: with Sheryl’s being louder and fiercer while Ranke’s were softer and upbeat. As a result a lot of credit must be given to May’n (Sheryl’s singing voice) and Megumi Nakejima (who did Ranka’s role in both talking and singing) and to the rest of the group who took part in the musical aspect of Macross F.
Some of the visuals you can expect
Because Macross F celebrated the 25th anniversary of the original Super Dimension Fortress Macross it share’s many similarities with it and other Macross series. The biggest ones being how most of the main cast can be compared to a character from the original title. An example being how Ranka Lee = Lin Minmay. Both girls aspired to be singers, worked in a Chinese restaurant and were rescued the same way in the 2nd episode. As such Macross F is much more appreciated with prior knowledge of the Macross universe but can still be viewed by itself without missing too much. The story gives enough background so the viewer isn’t completely lost, and the themes found in other Macross series work fine as standalone so the idea that humanity’s only hope is the power of song is a bit silly but gets through just fine. The love triangle is also very interesting to see. Alto develops genuine feeling for the Sheryl and Ranka and their interactions add to the experience. I watched Macross F first and liked it, and then I went back and watched the original and some of its OVA/Movies and re-watched Macross F…and loved it even more.
Macross Frontier is a wonderful anime, although not without its faults. For fans of the old school Macross; this won’t be nostalgic but a fresh new feel to the Macross saga, while still being Macross at heart. For newcomers, the plot is interesting and the characters are all well done. The animation is great, and the music is top notch. Romance, awesome dog fights and awesome music all make up part of the experience that is Macross Frontier.
You have to love the triangle motif. Even the opening theme is called “Triangular”
* Macross Frontier was produced by Satelight.