Tuesday, August 2, 2011

On Macross Zero (Spoilers Marked)

If you find meaning in the TAB cans, congratulations.  You've dug deeper into this image than I have.

So, I chose Macross Zero as my "designated show to watch whilst working out."  Overall, I enjoyed it.  I'm not going to go into the gory details, but I'll make a few comments.  Starting with my favorite (and only) Rubric for grading anime series:


Miscellaneous Comments:

-The CG robots looked pretty decent, and they were definitely a stepping-stone on the way to Frontier's amazing CG integration.  They were done intermittently with animation and CG.  This worked pretty well, though the animated shots looked WAY better than the CG ones, and that was probably its biggest weakness.

-There's more nudity than I expected, and it's fairly detailed (about what you'd expect from an OVA, but still). Watch Macross Zero in public at your own risk.  Fortunately, I was working out at home when I discovered this, and not in a gym surrounded by people who could ask "why I was watching cartoon pornography."  Reminds me of the time I saw a guy start an episode of Game of Thrones on his iPad in a gym.  Then promptly stop about five minutes into the episode, and leave.


-If I hadn't seen Macross Frontier (which retroactively explains some of the weirdness of Zero, mostly through information about the Vajra and the Protoculture), beforehand, I'd have thrown up my hands and cried "Bullsh*t" repeatedly throughout the series.  As it was, I still had to forcibly suspend my disbelief, particularly at the end, since I couldn't in any way justify some of the events besides "magic."  That is what it is, and I have long accepted that many anime finales will contain magic regardless of the original genre.  I knew this one was coming, so the blow was softened considerably.

-The story was highly reminiscent of some other mecha anime that aren't from the Macross family, per se - Escaflowne, Eureka 7, and there was even a hint of Rahxephon and Evangelion.  However, it probably reminded me MOST of a Miyazaki film.  All of the allusions, parallels, and references to non-Macross series were relatively downplayed - at least in comparison to the blaring Macross motifs and emblems that adorned this nostalgia-piece.  There has been a ton of analysis comparing it to Frontier (and I blatantly stole images from one of these analyses), and rightly so.  It's a pretty deep series, though, and I think it's a fertile ground for comparative analysis in general.

-I don't think there is ANY J-Pop in the entire show.  There was some singing in surprisingly understandable French, though.  That made me think about how there won't be any new Wakfu until September, and I'll need to keep dipping into my archives for content for a while yet.


P.S.:  The final panel was almost comprised of an image of Harvey Birdman, dressed as a magical girl, shooting Touhou lasers and blowing up the planet Earth.  But I determined that this would be even more esoteric than what I have currently (which is already altogether too obscure), and would be considerably more time-consuming to create.


  1. Finally finished the show, so I can comment.

    First off, Alto should not have T&A, and more specifically I should not see said T&A without clothing covering it.

    Secondly, as you noted, not enough singing :-( Especially about geometrical shapes and celestial objects.

    Anyway, I may or may not now be embarking on a quest to watch Plus and 7, and maaaaayybe the original, depending on what I think of 7. As for right now, I'm about to rewatch episode 10 of Frontier and finally get all the references.

  2. Oh and I came up with a thoroughly non-magical explanation to the end of the series (which I suspect was the main problem you had with the it, although I'm sure there were others). You may completely disagree with it, but it makes sense to me :-D

    Sara gets into the Birdman/AFOS proto-culture ship, and interacts with it, and as we see her designate targets as either hostile or friendly (and everything is hostile at the beginning). We also hear reports that the ship is using the molecules/elements in the air to power itself.

    Now, being a sci-fi enthusiast, this screams "nano-bots" to me; converting the surrounding atoms into itself or to power itself. Presumably its using the matter in the air to either power its beam weaponry or to perform the repairs needed after thousands of years under the ocean; perhaps both.

    Anyway, the fight happens, Shin's VF is damaged but not destroyed, and eventually Sara overcomes her hallucination or whatever and recognizes Shin as Shin, and 'marks' the VF-0 as a friendly. The AFOS acknowledges this, analyzes the state of the fighter, and realizes it's damaged. Automatic subsystems kick in, and when the VF-0 makes contact with AFOS its transfers some number of nano-bots to the VF-0, which begin repair and improvement on the ship.

    The nukes launch, Shin is forced away. The AFOS deploys a shield to contain the blast, and then the nano-bots go crazy with the amount of energy in the air, and quickly explode in number (as you see the shield expand) but then manage to contain it, converting the radiation + other stuff in useable power, and then having converted the dangerous aspects of the nuke into clean energy, the ships flies away to protect the planet, and the extraneous nano-bots fall to the ocean (the gold sparkles you see at the end).

    Meanwhile, the VF-0 takes damage and plummets towards the earth. The nano-bots kick into high gear (the 'blue mist' you see surrounding the ship), but they can't work quickly enough, so Shin only manages to skim off the water. However, the water has a higher concentration of 'stuff' to convert, and the nano-bots are able to fully repair the engines of the VF-0, and since their technology is way advanced, they make engines that are "advanced" compared to what was originally there. Having completed repairs and now comprising a majority of the ship, the nano-bots default to their base programming and choose to follow the now-gone mothership, launching the VF-0 into the stratosphere after Sara and the AFOS.

    Anyway, I realize this is ridiculously highly conjectural (yay I made a crazy fan theory!), but I like it :-D It's more likely that the ending is merely a metaphor and Shin actually just crashed into the sea and died, but whatever. Also, definitely appreciated MF ep. 10 a lot more now that I got all the references, especially the implication that the director wanted Alto to play Sara... for obvious reasons :-P

  3. Well, given that Macross Frontier (apparently - I saw a group of enthusiasts arguing over the translation in the fansubs) mentions Shin's AUTObiography as source material for Tori no Hito, it seems that he lived.

    Anyway, if you assume all the Protoculture Biotech Vajra blah blah blah excuses excuses that come out of Macross Frontier (according to one art book, the Bird Man is an attempt by the Protoculture to create their own version of the Vajra), it's all plenty acceptable in the same way as all of the tech in Frontier. The only things are that 1.) none of these explanations are actually offered in Macross Zero itself and 2.) no matter what, it's very soft Sci-Fi. This is all fine, but I feel like I'd have been very lost in Zero without Frontier.

    In truth, I don't have a "problem" with magical elements - I like Escaflowne quite a bit, after all, and it's chock-full of magic. However, if the series is billed as being on the harder end of Sci-Fi (as some people bill the Macross Franchise), I don't think these elements should be overlooked, either.

    On a final note, Nanomachines are the new Genetic Engineering (which is the new Radiation, which is the new Lightning) - the Sci-Fi silver bullet that can make anything possible with no further explanation required. Narratively, I consider this to be basically the same as magic. If you need a great example of this, check out Trinity Blood. Nanomachines can do anything.