A few weeks ago, when I let my friend Evan guest-post his Bleach theory, I mentioned that I had “a couple” FB friends that are huge anime/manga fans. Well, the second is J.W. Wartick, who has a couple blogs of his own. In fact, over at “The Eclectic Theist”, he has been reviewing & rating episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. (Currently on Season 5.) So, if you are a TNG fan, head on over there to check ’em out. (Btw, he does other genre-related stuff, too, as well as sports, history, science, philosophy, theology.) But, first, hang out here a bit and read what J.W. has to say about Robotech: The Macross Saga….
I received the complete series box set of Robotech for Christmas in 2014. I had been wanting to watch a new anime, as I hadn’t done so in, well, too long. I figured I’d go back to the roots and check out Robotech because I always thought it looked so cool. Here, I’ll offer a review of Season 1, also known as “The Macross Saga.” There will be 30 year-old SPOILERS in what follows.
The Macross Saga starts in a fairly dramatic fashion: some alien warship crashed into Earth (said warship is later named the SDF-1) and humans prepare to meet whatever threat might be following it by adopting its “Robotech” (robo-technology- get it?) as their own. The aliens, the Zentraedi [or Zentradi, depending which corner of the internet you ask to spell it for you], show up to collect the crashed ship, thus setting off a war with humanity. There is plenty more plot where that came from, but that sets up the basis for the rest of the season.
Frankly, the plot isn’t anything spectacular. What makes the show worth watching are the characters, who have surprising depth and undergo significant development throughout the series. I say it is “surprising” because this is largely a show for kids, and I wasn’t expecting much in the way of character development. Thus, I was pleasantly delighted by how much depth several of the characters had. Towards the end of the season, there develops a complex love quadrangle between Lynn Minmei (pop singer and movie star), Lynn Kyle (her cousin–it’s Japan, folks!), Lisa Hayes (officer on board the SDF-1), and Rick Hunter (fighter pilot and main character). I had a lot of fun watching this develop and it is quite well-written. Lynn Kyle is a major jerk, by the way–his verbal abuse of Minmei was enough to have me yelling at the TV screen a couple times.
I said the plot isn’t spectacular, but that’s not because it is overly-predictable. It has a few twists which I didn’t see coming, not because they were well-disguised but because I wouldn’t have guessed exactly how they’d play out. The Zentraedi ultimately are converted to human culture through the singing of Minmei, one of the female protagonists. Yep. That happens. Epic pop music is humanity’s secret weapon, so you better be thankful for all the Biebers and T-Swifts out there. But seriously, it was actually kind of cool to see how this played out as the Zentraedi were exposed to more and more human culture and discovered they, well, kind of liked it!
That insight brings me to some criticisms of the show. First, the singing of Minmei isn’t actually that great, despite the fact that she’s supposed to be this major pop sensation. The songs are catchy, but her delivery left something to be desired. I think I’ll always remember the songs, though. I can hear them playing in my head right now, actually. The ridiculous way some of the plot plays out is another strike, like the above pop-stars conquer all motif. There are also way too many flashbacks. I get that it’s a show largely for kids so summary is a good idea, but there is one episode that is just the captain going back over previous episodes the whole time. It’s just too much.
Robotech: The Macross Saga is a great anime. It is fun and flies past, just like a great TV show should. I enjoyed it, and I think if I were about two decades younger, it would have been on my all-time favorites list. As it stands, it is a very solid anime. I recommend it.
+Surprisingly deep love story
+Great animation of fight sequences
+Interesting look at the impact of culture
-The singing isn’t great
-Plenty of silliness
-Too many flashbacks
Grade: A- “Robotech’s first season has plenty to critique, but it also has plenty of heart and some totally awesome scenes.”
Robotech was a lot of fun to watch, and actually got better as the season went on. I’m looking forward to the next season.