Macross Thoughts: Piercing through the Macro Sky

Anthony Fanara

While the year comes to a close, I had a sudden craving to watch yet another mecha series from Japan. Mecha, for those unaware, refers to a genre of Japanese animation in which a large aspect of the experience is the giant robots in which the main characters –usually teenagers or young adults– pilot as they fight off the enemy of the series.

The mecha genre is very near to my heart in terms of personal value. As a child I would commonly watch shows simply because the robot present in the series had a cool design, and would be excited whenever they would use a secret weapon or power they had, saving the day without fail each and every time. My love for media with robots has persisted throughout my teenage years, continuing as I discover more and more series as I get older, such as Getter Robo, Mobile Suit Gundam, Infinite Ryvius, Code Geass, and now, Macross.

Macross is a mecha franchise created by Shoji Kawamori in October 1982, and animated by Tatsunoko Productions, having 36 episodes. The franchise has had multiple sequel series, even having a film Macross: Do You Remember Love? with a budget of 400 million yen (4 million US Dollars), and box office earnings of 1 billion yen (1 million US Dollars), and as of writing this, a new film is in the works, for the series Macross Delta. Now enough of a history lesson, what is the original, Super Dimension Fortress Macross about?

 Set in 2009, the series follows 16 year old Hikaru Ichijou, an ace in the field of amateur flying invited by his best friend Roy Focker –a member of the military– as they celebrate the SDF-1 Macross taking liftoff  after its repair. Macross itself is a foreign military ship, repaired by the United Nations as they fear  alien lifeforms could be a very real threat. Just then, intergalactic war begins, as the alien race of Zentradi attack the ceremony. 

With the civilian Hikaru Ichijou propelled into war, he witnesses the true form of his enemy, colossal humanoids, traumatizing him initially. However, in order to put his expert flying skills to use, he joins the military, proving himself as he assists his comrades in military missions.

The robot which Hikaru and many other characters pilot are the Valkyrie, fighter jets which can change forms regarding the situation. Should the pilot decide to, the fighter jet can remain in the shape of its normal form, yet sprout legs, and arms, capable of wielding weapons, traversing terrain, or grabbing objects. The battroid form is the design which is the closest to a standard mech, being able to wield large weapons and fight.

 Along the way, Hikaru gains many allies as they fight off the Zentradi, from the man’s man of an expert pilot with a flirtatious streak, Roy Focker, to the young genius pilot Maximillian Jenius. Together they continuously fight in many skirmishes, with assistance from individuals on the Macross itself, such as Misa Hayase, a brilliant young woman coordinating tactics, as well as Minmay Lynn, who provides mental support to Hikaru, and leading to a love triangle between Hikaru, Misa and Minmay.

 Despite being only 8 episodes into Macross,  I feel as if it is truly a unique series in the mecha genre, especially in regard to the mech designs themselves, and I cannot wait to continue as the series progresses, diving deep into the characters and the effects of war.