Sunday, October 5, 2008

Macross Frontier Review

Super Dimension Fortress Macross, better known to many in the US as the first part of the bastardized Robotech cartoon, celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2007. To celebrate, a new series was announced. A year later, the final episode of Macross Frontier has aired.

Macross Frontier is the story of the aptly-named Frontier fleet. In 2059, 48 years from the end of the original Macross and 13 years since the previous Macross show, the Frontier fleet is searching for a planet to colonize near the center of the galaxy when they encounter a mysterious enemy, the Vajra. The aftermath of the attack brings together Sheryl Nome, a popular singer, Alto Saotome, a student in pilot school, and Ranka Lee, a young waitress who aspires to be a singer. Events cause Alto to join Strategic Military Services, a private military contractor. As events unfold, things are not as simple as they first appeared, and the characters must discover the connection between a research fleet lost 11 years ago to the Vajra, the destruction of the Galaxy fleet, also by the Vajra, and a conspiracy at home on the Frontier fleet.

While Macross Frontier has it's share of nonsense-filled fan-service episodes, on the whole it's a more serious show than its predecessor, Macross 7. At first the characters seem to be a little on the shallow side, almost caricatures of anime cliches, but as depth is added and their histories revealed, each becomes a likable character you find yourself getting behind. The animation is a gorgeous blend of cell-drawn characters and CGI mecha. The CGI especially helped the space battles appear to be some of the most epic in any Macross series.

Macross Frontier is presented in such a way that you really don't need to be familiar with the previous shows. None of the characters were from any previous show, and while the Vajra have their own history in the story, they're also a new enemy. This makes Frontier a great show for those who have never seen Macross, but long-time fans will enjoy the series the most as it's full of homages including the colors of the Skull Squadron fighters, music from Minmei and Fire Bomber, and sometimes scenes or plots lifted and modified right out of the earlier series.

Without giving too much away, the ending feels a little rushed, which is slightly irritating given how some of the earlier episodes were goofy filler episodes, but on the whole Macross Frontier is one of the best new anime series in recent memory, with an interesting story, likable characters, gorgeous animation, and epic battles.

Final Score: A

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