Posted by psgels on 26 September 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews, Macross Frontier


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.

Storytelling: 7/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 8/10

14 Responses

  1. Avatar green says:

    I dropped it after ep8. I didn’t see any potential then and I am not seeing any potential now.

  2. Avatar kuromitsu says:

    For me, Macross F was a very enjoyable show. I didn’t expect much from it (least of all a non-clichéd story, after all, this is a homage to the franchise itself), and in the end it exceeded my admittedly low expectations. The characters I either liked or didn’t care about, the animation was serviceable at worst, the fights were nice, the story made all the sense it needed to, and the music was nice (though in this aspect it didn’t come close to Macross Plus).

    Yes, it had flaws and maybe it wasted some of its potential, but in the end, that didn’t matter to me. This wasn’t a “serious” show, just a silly homage that didn’t take itself all that seriously. I wouldn’t call Frontier the best Macross series I’ve ever seen (that title goes to the Macross Plus OVAs), but I’m glad that I watched it.

  3. Avatar Westlo says:

    ^ Macross Plus Movie is better than the OVAs!

  4. Avatar shirokawa says:

    compared to the horrible debacle called Macross 7, this was pretty good as far as macross series go.

  5. Avatar Keiichi says:

    I feel Macross Frontier’s true approach can only be fully appreciated by fans who have seen most, if not all, the previous Macross series. Especially Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, which even by today’s standard is still considered a GREAT anime, and the best of the Macross series. *fanboy mode* Seriously, watch the previous macross series, watch this, and then you’ll be squirming all over in fanboy-ish orgasms like the rest of us…

    • Avatar rm2kmidi says:

      It’s true that the themes of Macross can only be truly understood by someone who has seen the previous works in the series. Unfortunately, Hiroyuki Yoshino decided that rather than commit to a solid storyline that dealt with any real issues, he thought it would be better to pander all potential audiences, which I would argue waters it down quite a bit. I feel like rather than paying tribute to the previous series, Macross Frontier comes off more like a cheap imitation. The only really positives here were Yoko Kanno’s soundtrack and Maaya Sakamoto’s performance as Sheryl Nome.

      I agree that the original is by far the best in the series, and if people haven’t checked it out, the newer ADV dub is top-notch. I think the reviewer made a mistake here thinking that the newest installment would be an appropriate introduction to the series – seeing the original of any series is almost always the best approach.

      @shirokawa Macross 7 was great, if any Macross series was a debacle, it would be Macross Frontier.

  6. Avatar Kamakiri says:

    As a 25th anniversary release, the mandate of Macross F is to draw dots over as many of the well-remembered scenes from the 1982 movie as possible. That really coerces the plot though. Poorly paced, overcomplicated, rushed and contrived beyond belief. That’s especially annoying as the basic premise/concept/story had a lot of potential. If the direction had been a little more disciplined it could have turned out very differently.

  7. Avatar Hayabusa says:

    It’s weird. while most of you guys don’t like the series that much, i find the series quite enjoyable. but yes, i do agree that they need more development on the characters & focus less on Alto. & death toll wise, i’m glad they keep most of the main crew alive. as developing new ones will take a whole of time. & Michael & one of the Zentraedi pilots in Klan’s crew did died didn’t they?

    I didn’t think the ending was inconclusive. main villain wiped out, the fleet found a true new home, everyone’s happy. i don’t know how it could be better than this. (spare the thought of one girl eventually wins, cuz i better have it the way the ending did)

    & i actually liked the way how vajras turned out to be good bugs manipulated by a wicked human. although you may not like it, but you can’t deny that it’s unexpected.

  8. Avatar Exia7swords says:

    the 1st episode (the one before the season started) and Macross Zero gave me high hopes for this series, but to me it was just the uncrowned trainwreck of 2008 even considering the china arc and final episodes from code geass r2…too bad because this series had a lot of potential but they killed it off with a sorrowful plot and one of the worst endings ever.

  9. Avatar Julian says:

    Mmmmm…Even though I disliked the anime, I must admit though I liked the 2 main female characters (sheryl and Ranka), to bad their personalities weren’t used very well…it had char development but that development felt really rushed.

  10. Avatar Avarice_WP says:

    Ya late post but I finally have finished this show. I have never seen the old Macross shows, but I enjoyed this one a lot. It had nice animation and CG, good fight scenes, some fun comedy, and cool characters. I do have a few problems though- mostly dealing with closure.

    *SPOILERS* First, they really copped out on the love story. Instead of having Alto pick one of the girls, they leave it up to the viewer- that’s just weak. Also- there was some story cliches that I didn’t like (cliches as references to the old shows are fine- its plot cliches that turn me off). First, the Vajra turn out to be just mindless hive bugs, who can’t understand what they are doing is wrong. Lame. We have seen this in many instances (starship Troopers, Blue Gender, Ender’s Game). Second, super powered evil loli girls (Black Cat, Elfen Lied) appear far too often. When is there gonna be a show where they just kill them to save more lives? They need to come up with better things than this to explain what happens…

    But- I gotta defend against some of the Alto hate. His character was fine- baddass even at many parts- he’s not an overly complicated hero- he wants to fly more than anything, and protect the women he loves. He has his flaws which is good because all of the characters in this show had their flaws and regrets about their past. My only problem with him was his hair- the princess joke got old so you would think he woulda cut it shorter or something.

    Finally- I don’t care for Loli characters. Sheryl(the tsundere princess with a tragic past) > Ranka(who *was* too one dimensional- stereotypical loli/emo girl who needs rescued all the time) in my opinion- and I was hoping Alto would have said ‘I love you’ or something to her. She was far more interesting than Ranka, and would have made a better girl for him. (It could just be my own preferences coming through though…)

  11. Avatar Drakenfel says:

    One of the glaring issues I find with Macross Frontier is how much it “pays homage” to SDF Macross. I’m not just talking about the Valkyries, love triangles, and music that comprise every story.

    1. Hikaru and Alto have a passion for flight and are more or less forced into Valkyrie combat to pursue that dream.

    2. Both Hikaru and Alto are introduced to Valkyries by commandeering them.

    3. Both Lynn Minmei and Ranka are saved from a decapitated Valkyrie arm falling in midair and are drawn into the rescuer’s cockpit.

    4. Captain Global and Captain Wilder look like clones.

    5. Like SDF Macross and Macross 7 before — “bridge bunnies” on the Macross Quarter.

    6. Max and Millia’s Zentran/Micron romance mirrors Michel and Klan’s.

    7. Melting Zentraedi fighting spirit with a “cool island song.”

    And many more I cannot recall. Some perhaps more obvious and better. Obscure dialogue references to past series don’t count.

    Side note: definitely check out Macross Plus: The Movie (not the OVA’s). It truly is a good one of the franchise and sets a level of maturity and tone that I wish would be reflected in future renditions of the Macross universe.

  12. Avatar vf1 says:

    I don’t agree that you will learn to love this series if you’ve seen the original. I saw the original all the way from my childhood to my adulthood, I’ve always loved it with burning passion; whenever I hear a narutard saying that it has “dated animation” and “naive” I get pissed to no end, and I end up in a monologue full of hate towards the one that spat the unfortunate comment. That being said, I hated Macross Frontier. No homage that they did could change my idea; in fact, it endorses it: homages asida, Macross F is absolutely nothing. It adds nothing to the Universe. It does no justice to the original (or to Plus or even to Zero, for that matter). If you don’t want to watch 26 episodes of an 80s anime, and if you want to see the best that Macross has to offer besides the original, watch Macross Plus. The OVAs or the movie, doesn’t matter (there are pros and cons in both). It’s a masterpiece that makes Macross Frontier look like a childish cartoon.

  13. Avatar Queue says:

    >Overall, Macross Frontier is a very accessible series, as long as you know that in the Macross Universe, songs can be used as weapons.

    Which only made any kind of sense in the original Macross because the Zentradi were mesmerized by it. There wasn’t anything mystical about Minmei’s singing, it was just psychological warfare between two branches of the same species.

    Of course, Macross 7 ruined this by explaining the Supervision Army as thralls of “supernatural culture vampires” called the Protodeviln, and therefore turning music into an actual mystical weapon. This is a problem because the likelihood of multiple alien races being enthralled by mankind’s singing is astronomically low to the point of being obscenely idiotic and reeking of unoriginality, and it forces the Macross universe to make a jarring genre shift from science fiction to fantasy.

    Macross Frontier continues the “tradition” of shoehorning music idols into its plot for the mere sake of fan service, which is inexcusable laziness at this point. The Vajra are ridiculous for the same basic reasons the Protodeviln are, except worse because now there’s a third alien race, which happens to be enthralled by mankind’s singing. At this point I’m almost convinced every single problem in the Macross universe can be solved by pop idols singing obnoxious songs for the adulation of mindless fans, and that’s an unacceptable waste of the pedigree set by the original Macross, a masterpiece.

    And that’s just my problem with the singing aspect of Frontier (and 7).

    The school days aspect of the story was out of place and it weakened the first quarter of the show by being needlessly distracting.

    Ranka Lee was obnoxious, not cute.

    Sheryl Nome was disgusting, not sexy.

    Alto Saotome was stiff and boring.

    The love triangle was completely uninteresting because Alto barely recognized or cared it was happening. He didn’t care, so neither did I. I was also never clear why Ranka or Sheryl ever had a thing for him.

    The Macross Quarter was… a complete betrayal, on the level of asking “what’s a paladin?”. For me the Macross Quarter was a problem on the same level as Macross’s pathetic insistence on turning every moronic pop idol into a hero.

    See, in SDF-1 Macross the reason the Valkyries were built was because the crashed Macross was obviously fitted for significantly larger creatures. U.N. Spacy wanted an agile variable fighter, that could function in space and in an atmosphere, and be able to fight the aliens in close quarters. U.N. Spacy overcame the limitations of the square-cube law by using “overtechnology” harvested from the Macross while it was being retrofitted for human use.

    U.N. Spacy did not, however, have any need for a larger combat platform. It wasn’t trying to step on the zentradi, and even with “overtechnology” the square-cube law still presents severe size limitations. My point is the SDF-1 Macross was never a giant robot, ever. It merely looked like one because it had to reconfigure itself to access redundant power systems, which made it “stand upright”, and it had two boats docked to it, which gave it “arms”.

    The Macross Quarter, on the other hand, is a space ship, which transforms into a giant robot for… no discernible reason. It’s too big to step on anything, it couldn’t hold its own weight on a planet, and the maneuverability it shows in the few actions scenes it gets would cause its inhabitants to go splat from inertia… Because people work in every single part of its body because it’s a goddamn space ship.

    The Macross Quarter was not only stupid as hell, even in context, but it also demonstrated a severe lack of understanding of the source material by the incompetent writers. The Quarter, to me, is a literal symbol of how much Bandai doesn’t give a fuck about delivering a compelling Macross story anymore. It just panders to fans with endless fan service, which has no redeeming literary qualities.

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