This week I’m reviewing the second installment (sort-of, it’s been made non-canon) of the Macross series, appropriately titled, Macross II. Is was it worthy of being affiliated with the Macross universe (albeit having been shuffled out of canon to a sort of  “elseworlds” status), or was its banishment from canon merited?

Cast, Crew & Other Stuff

Hiroko Kasahara as Ishtar
Tsutomu Takayama as Hibiki Kanzaki
Yumi Touma as Silvie Gena
Bin Shimada as Major Nexx
Mariko Kouda as Amy
Ryotaro Okiayu as Ingues
Tohru Furuya as Feff

Directed by Kenichi Yatagai
Music by Shiro Sagisu
Story by Sukehiro Tomita
Animated by AIC

The Premise

80 years after the end of the first Human-Zentradi war, Humanity faces a new threat from an alien race known as the Marduk, which uses music to bring their brainwashed Zentradi warriors into a borderline berserker rage. When journalist Hibiki Kanzaki rescues the Marduk Emulator (musician-priestess) Ishtar from an badly damaged Marduk ship, Ishtar learns there is more to music than warfare, and tries to introduce peace to the Marduk.

High Pont

Hibiki’s character arc is very well written, and by about an hour, hour-and-a-half into the film, he becomes what I believe is the first anime character I’ve encountered who fit the Crusading Journalist/Intrepid Reporter archtype (after starting out as a the Tabloid Scumbag). Also, the space battles are very nicely done as well (though that’s one of Macross’s general strengths, with a possible exception of Macross 7, which I won’t be reviewing here as it hasn’t been licenced for a US release).

Low Point

From what I’ve encountered in Japanese animation, anyone in the military above the squad/company level is either incapable of finding their ass with both hands a map, and someone standing behind them to move their hands for them, or plotting to overthrow the government, with rare exceptions. This show falls into the first category (and can’t fall into the second category because they already run the government). The show also kind of bounces back and forth between having the Marduk speak their own language amongst themselves or having them speak Japanese for the audience’s benefit. There are also some significant problems with the Subtitles on the release – aside from a few translation errors (the subtitles have two characters speaking to each other in a formal tone when the suffixes used in the dialog are informal – “*-kun” for example), there are some significant gramattical errors (complete with dropped words in the subtitles). If this was a Taiwan bootleg or something similar, or even a fansub off the internet, I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it, but this DVD came out from Manga Entertainment, the company who put out Ghost In The Shell, Ninja Scroll & Gunbuster – it’s got no excuse.

Nudity & Violence Notes

No nudity here, and little to no blood, though there are lots of exploding spaceships.

The Scores

Originality: It’s a (non-canon) sequel, but none that goes in a direction that no other installment of the Macross franchise (that I’m aware of) has gone into. 5/6.

Acting: The voice acting is enjoyable, and the singing is also good – far better than Lin Minmae from SDF Macross, but not quite as good as Nekki Basara or Mylene Flare Jenius from Macross 7. 4/6.

Animation: Being that this is an OVA from the 90’s, the animation is pretty good – not movie quality, but good nonetheless, with no footage re-use, and no still-frame space battles. 5/6.

Production: The sound design and score is decent, but the problems mentioned under the Low Point with the subtitles and (since they don’t fit under acting or story) get this docked a few points, and by a few points I mean it’s getting a 2/6.

Story: In general, the story is very well put togeather. It kept me guessing without my feeling lost, and everything was paced perfectly. I could ask for more, but I’m satisfied with what I got. 4/6.

Emotioanl Response: The romance between Sylphe & Hibiki, while out of the blue, didn’t leave me totally scratching my head, and I liked Hibiki’s metamorphosis from Tabloid Scumbag to Intrepid Reporter (as mentioned in the high-point). 4/6.

Overall: This is a very satisfying (though unfortunately non-caonon) chapter of the Macross Saga. 4/6.

In total, Super Dimentional Fortress Macross II gets a 28/42.