Having never seen anything of Macross, the arrival of the new Macross Frontier, airing more than twenty-five years after the original Dimensional Fortress Macross, seemed like a good place to check out what the hype about the franchise was all about. What I got was probably the biggest-budgeted series of the year, with grand visuals and soundtrack. However, I do hope that this isn’t the best that Macross has to offer.
Overall, Macross Frontier is a very accessible series, as long as you know that in the Macross Universe, songs can be used as weapons. It tells about the love triangle between one guy and two different idols, while evil aliens called the Vajra are trying to invade and need to be stopped. While the romance is rather questionably introduced, it does develop enough to keep the viewer busy. The characters are overall nicely fleshed out, sympathetic and nice to watch.
The problem with this series is that I don’t really think that the creators really knew what they wanted with this series. It jumps from one thing to the others, introduces things that turn out to not matter at all in the end, while rushing the development of the things that do, some moment sparkle with brilliance, while others bore with dullness. The result is a beginning that goofs off a bit too much, and a finale that feels superficial, and where nothing really comes together like it should be.
The series has a cast of very interesting characters, but they’re not always used well. The series has a nasty tendency sometimes to put them into predictable situations, that don’t really allow them to fully develop their characters, with the prime example being Ranka, one of the main characters. She has some excellent moments, but she too often just plays the part of a damsel in distress. There’s only one character that’s really uninteresting to watch, and ironically this guy ended up being the main character of this series: Alto. His character isn’t bad, but he pales in comparison to the other characters, and because of that it’s so frustrating that the creators keep focusing on him.
Thankfully, this didn’t stop this series from having an excellent middle part, which lasts from around episode 10 till 18. It’s here where both the characters and the characters manage to show their best sides, which makes for a bunch of awesome action-packed episodes. Unfortunately, the series quickly dulls in again as it approaches its climax and finishes with a decent but inconclusive ending.
In terms of production-values, this series is also awesome, but unfortunately not without its flaws. Even though this series has a huge budget, the character-designs often look inconsistent and rushed, and unfortunately this just looks out of place a bit, unlike what Satelight managed to do with Noein. Yoko Kanno’s soundtrack also has a few very good pieces amongst it, but it’s nowhere near her best work.
Overall, I just feel that the creators could have done much more with the potential of this series. They should have taken more risks, they should have made more effort to flesh out some of the neglected subplots and side-characters, instead of goofing off with Alto, Ranka and Sheryl. Macross Frontier had the potential to bake a delicious cake, and instead just came with a fried egg. And while the egg is nice and good and all, it could have been so much better.