AKA Macross II: The Movie, Super Dimensional Fortress Macross II: The Movie, Super Dimensional Fortress Macross II: Lovers Again
Starring Hiroko Kasahara, Tsutomu Takayama, Yumi Touma, Bin Shimada, Tohru Furuya, Ryotaro Okiayu
Directed by Kenichi Yatagai
Macross II is the black sheep of the franchise, and isn’t even considered a part of the real story. Partially this is because the company that owns the copyrights, Big West, hired a completely different studio to make it, thus leaving out the entire team responsible for creating the series in the first place. The other reason is simpler: Macross II just isn’t very good. Oh, if only we could brush the Star Wars prequels under the rug with the same ease that this one was forgotten.
It’s also rather difficult to call this a movie. It was made as a six episode mini-series, and while I always knew the movie version was nothing more than editing those episodes into one film, I had no idea just how lazy a job it was. All they did was hack off the opening and ending credits and string the episodes together in order. Hell, they didn’t even take out the episode titles or the eyecatch, both of which you’ll be seeing every half hour. But if they’re going to slap “the movie” on the packaging and market it as such, then I guess I can play along until the end of the review.
You might expect a 10th anniversary cash-in made by a completely different creative team to be nothing more than a low-quality rehash without any of the good aspects that made the first story so great. And that’s exactly what Macross II is. The characters are shallow, the animation is unimpressive even for a TV series, the action sequences are bland, and the plot is mostly redundant to the original Macross.
They did add in a few interesting bits of originality. There are some themes about government secrecy and journalistic integrity, but while that at least sent them in a slightly different direction than the original, it doesn’t mesh well with the existing themes of the franchise. Nor does it have any real effect upon the course of the plot, and it results in a much less exciting story.
What I liked a lot more was the idea to have the Zentradi enslaved by an alien race that used music to control them. This fits far better with the concept of Macross and added a little bit of depth to the story, although it was still nothing more than a more blatant version of themes the first Macross had already dealt with.
Lots of other things in this film downgraded the cool factor from the original, too. We’re no longer following the exploits of the Skull Squadron, whose emblem is a badass looking skull and crossbones. The elite fighter squad of Macross II is the somewhat less inspiring Fairy Team. They’re not even good enough to be a squadron. It’s hard to get excited about a movie when all the coolness is gone.
They couldn’t even be bothered to put ace pilot Sylvie Gina in the final battle. She’s supposed to be the best in the world, but she leaves all the action to the minor characters while lounging around, making out with asshole — I mean ace — reporter Hibiki Kanzaki. We never learn what happens to her boyfriend Nexx either. Did she dump him, or did she, like the writers, simply forget that she was already dating somebody? And just why was she in a hotel room with her commanding officer at the beginning of the movie? We’re never told, so we’ll just have to use our imaginations. Maybe Sylvie is just willing to do anyone who’s interested.
Despite all my griping, Macross II is watchable. Even with a runtime over 2½ hours long I never got bored out of my mind, though it is certainly below average. Its biggest problem is that the original Macross is so much better. Why would you want to watch a cheap imitation when you could watch the real deal? If you’re desperate for some mecha action, or you’re a diehard Macross fan, then you might squeeze some small amount of enjoyment out of it. Just don’t expect anything else.