Posted on 28 October 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews, Macross Frontier




Um… yeah. This movie…. I think I’ve just been trolled.

The first Macross Frontier Movie stayed very close to the TV-series, only in a much more streamlined version. It cut all of the unnecessary stuff that dragged out, and instead focused on the core of the series, which worked really well and I ended up really liking it (and this is coming from someone who was really annoyed by parts of the TV-series). The second movie is… different…

One of my problems with Macross Frontier was that some subplots took forever to get anywhere, and a lot of them were resorted rather half-heartedly, if at all. This movie isn’t like that. This movie wants to be exciting. This movie wants plot twists, and it delivers them no matter what.

It’s difficult to do this review without spoilers, but let’s just say that this movie wants to deliver plot twists a little too badly. Especially the second half shows this. The result is a story that has lots of twists and turns… that just don’t make any sense whatsoever. You are going to have to turn off your common sense if you want to be able to enjoy this. I did not, and was raging throughout half of them. This was in no way good storytelling! The creators just pulled whatever twist looked the coolest out of their ass, and completely disregarded narrative logic. And I’m not the strictest when it comes to not making sense, but what the creators pulled here was just deus ex machina after deus ex machina that only add to the style of this series, not the substance. Oh, and Shoji Kawamori shows his environmentalist side again. You know, the kind where the environmentalist messages are just shoved down your throat without any sense of subtlety.

*Ahem* when you do turn off logic, you’ll be rewarded by an utterly gorgeous movie. In particular the musical segments shine as ever. This is one part at which Macross Frontier has never disappointed, and this is o exception. The use of colours and camera angles shows how much budget and animation talent went into this. Both for the 2d animation as the CG as the backgrounds.

It IS a fun movie. Just don’t go into it expecting good drama, because the drama here is of soap opera quality.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Well, it’s fun and engaging. It’s at least a great action movie.
Characters: 7/10 – This movie does add things here and there to the characters, but I’m not sure whether they were good ones. The three leads do have extra charms compared to the TV-series… but there still are enough annoyances about them.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Not among THE best animated movies, but it has stunning visuals nonetheless. Gorgeous for movie standards, but loses points for reuse of soundtrack.
Setting: 7/10 – Makey no sensey. Also Kawamori’s environmentalist traits got old years ago.

Suggestions:
Redline
Rebuild of Evangelion 2.22: You Can Not Advance
Tailenders

Posted on 8 October 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Macross Frontier




Okay, so the Macross Frontier Movie turned out to be an alternative retelling, very much in the same veins as Do You Remember Love. And here’s the thing: in the most cases, the biggest flaw of these kinds of movies is their lack of time: they really try, but compared to the series they’re based on they just don’t have the time to experiment, flesh out their characters. You can really see that with Air, Clannad and Escaflowne: they really had their own ideas and visions, but severely lacked the time to really get the best out of their stories, and instead they ended up with a very stylish, but much more simplified version compared to their TV-shows. But holy crap, Macross Frontier is completely different: I liked the movie quite a bit more than the TV-series.

The thing with Macross Frontier was that its plot was pretty much flawed: it had a lot of subplots that never really went anywhere: it never really knew what it wanted to do. This movie finds this focus, it cuts out all of the pointless bits, and makes the story focus much more on Alto, Sheryl and Ranka. It updates many scenes to make them less annoying and it makes the drama that never seemed to progress in the television series much more dynamic and interesting. And even though its plot is similar to that of the TV-series, it really stands on its own, as much more than just another recap movie.

The back-story of the TV series felt unnecessarily complicated to me. Unnecessary in the way that it had a lot of bark and no bite, and was never really used. The movie simplifies things a lot. The results are that it’s a bit more cliched, but it fits much more within the rest of the series. In order to make up for the cliches, the creators here try to make up for it with the smaller things, where you can see them play around with neat ideas around the performances as well as a much snappier and flowing scenario in which the scenes flow into each other much better. Oh, and Shoji Kawamori found himself a new vehicle that he really wants to show off.

As for the graphics, this movie consists out of frames taken directly from the TV-series, along with plenty of new stuff. The recycled frames may be annoying, but it really surpasses the TV-series with its original content. The character animation is much more fluid and much less rushed, while the action scenes are just visual orgasms: they look absolutely beautiful, there’s a lot going on at the same time and have some of the most amazing choreography.

Really, I realize that I’m one of the people who had quite a few complaints about the original Macross Frontier and all, but I’d actually advise people who are interested in Macross Frontier to check out the movie instead of the TV-series, unless the second movie really ends up ruining things. The TV-series never felt like everything came together. The movie does.

Storytelling: 9/10 – The proof that “more time” doesn’t always equal better. Grabs the plot of the TV-series, removes most of weaknesses and makes the plot flow much, much smoother.
Characters: 8/10 – Much more likable, and much better used.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Not getting a 10 because of the recycled frames, but otherwise it would get really close. Fantastic animation and a visual orgasm and a great soundtrack that really succeeds in making this one of the few animated musicals that really work.
Setting: 8/10 – Less needlessly complicated, though more cliched because of this. Still, the cliches are not enough to weigh this movie down.

Suggestions:
Macross – Do You Remember Love?
The Wings of the Honneamise
The Adolescence of Utena

Posted 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
Posted on with categories: Macross Frontier



Short Synopsis: The final episode: Save Ranka and destroy Grace.
Highlights: Pretty, but a bit too keen on creating a perfect ending.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 7/10
Ugh, okay, so Alto didn’t die; I should have known. I’ve been too spoiled by series as Ultraviolet and especially Himitsu, where people actually DIE when they’re killed. This episode proved the fears I originally had for this series, by keeping the death-count embarrassingly low. If I recall correctly, the only one who dies is Grace, apart from that everyone survives. Yes, even Sheryl who was supposed to have a deadly illness.

Overall, it was a decent ending. It wasn’t the worst I’ve seen this season, but nowhere near the best. The graphics looked really nice as expected, but it didn’t help that some of Ranka’s songs were incredibly cheesy. Her voice worked great with those synthesizers, like in the previous episode, but in my opinion it sucks when she attempts to sing pop tunes on her own. Although her voice is a great one when she sings together with Sheryl.

In any case, Grace indeed turned into the final boss of this series, and the Vajra suddenly turned into the good guys because of this. I didn’t quite pick up why she suddenly turned herself against the Frontier-fleet if her goal was to eliminate all the Vajra. I also feel that Leon’s arrest could have been a bit more subtle. It’s over, just like that? It makes me wonder what his entire purpose in this series was. The purple-haired girl whose name I forgot at the moment also woke up a bit too conveniently.
My main problem with this episode was the way the creators decided to close off the love triangle between Alto, Ranka and Sheryl. After 25 episodes, we’re entirely back to square one: Ranka and Sheryl are friends again, they both still love Alto, and they both still have equal chances to get his love. I mean, PLEASE, bring some conclusion for these people! Let one of these girls get Alto and the other move on, for Christ’s sake. I guess that the creators would use the love-triangle for the movie, but something tells me that even THAT won’t have the guts to give this triangle a proper conclusion.

Overall, I pretty much blogged Macross Frontier on a whim, making use of the opportunity that I could blog a lot of different series for the past spring-season. The results were a great middle part, with a disappointing start and ending. This series lost a lot of its magic after it revealed all its mysteries about Sheryl, and never really made up for it. While it definitely had the biggest budget of the past half year, I just can’t label this series as the one with the best graphics. Birdy the Mighty had the best animated fights in terms of 2D, and Blassreiter had the best 3D fights, and the best insert song was from Kaiba. Macross Frontier really is a series that went for the quantity instead of the quality, and that’s why its individual moments lost a bit of impact.

Posted on 19 September 2008 with categories: Macross Frontier



Short Synopsis: The final assault on the Vajra home planet begins. You don’t want to read this entry before watching this episode, so be warned.
Highlights: Not going to spoil that here.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8,5/10
Oh, okay. I admit Kawamori: you have me. I give up, and I was in the wrong.

Ah, the irony. I was about to give up hope on this series. I kept rambling on how the creators had the guts to kill off Ranka, and that they’d just go with the predictable paths. And then this episode comes and kills of none other than Alto! That’s just about the best plot twist that you can think of at this point. I mean, how often do you see the main character getting killed off before the final episode of a series?

Seriously, that twist is made of nothing but win. I’ve actually never seen Alto as a well-written character. All of the best moments in this series were either about Ranka, Sheryl, Kuran, Michel, Ozma, etc, but Alto never managed to impress me. In a way, he’s the dullest character in this series, especially when compared to the amount of screen-time he got. In a way, it’s quite ironic: my dislike for Ranka comes from the way that she was used, but her actual character is pretty good. I really wonder what would have happened if she got more screen-time than that she actually got, and Alto would be more reduced to the background.

In any case, now that that annoying factor is gone, I’m actually looking forward to that final episode a lot. But Satelight: if you’re planning to revive the guy, then I’ll kill you!

Posted on 11 September 2008 with categories: Macross Frontier



Short Synopsis: Ranka and Brera arrive at the home planet of the Vajra.
Highlights: Well, finally it seems that the love-triangle is over.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 7,5/10
Okay, so this episode was meant to spice up the upcoming finale a bit. It was a it of a mixed bag, like usual with this series. There were some things I liked:
– Sheryl’s little bits of screen-time
– Some more exposition about the nature of the Vajra and Ranka’s background. The creators actually remembered that huge space-craft of ten episodes ago and explained what it was about. As it turns out, Grace once lived together with Ranka and her mother, and they lived happily together with the Vajra.
– A few scenes here and there about the casualties that the recent Vajra outburst caused.

There were also some things I didn’t like. Most importantly Ranka, getting captured by the Vajra like the damsel in distress that she is. Really, I want to like her, and her character isn’t badly written at all. It’s just the way that the creators use her that bugs me like no other. Especially since now it seems pretty much clear that she’ll end up together with Alto. Okay, Alto said that he’d rather kill Ranka than let the Vajra use her for destruction, but I really doubt whether the creators have the GUTS to kill her off.

There’s also this bit about Brera, being Ranka’s brother, which has been delayed way too much in my opinion. It was pretty obvious that the two were siblings more than thirteen episodes ago, and only now the creators decide to reveal it to the characters. This should have been clear much earlier, to allow for some development between the two. To think that even Brera didn’t know.

Please, Ranka. There are two episodes left. Please do something in that finale other than predictably provide a Deus ex Machina ending. Kick Grace in the ass, make the Vajra kill Leon, anything as long as you don’t end up being some god-moded damsel in distress!

Posted on 5 September 2008 with categories: Macross Frontier



Short Synopsis: A calm before the storm things are set up for the finale.
Highlights: Ozma and Catherine.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 7,5/10
Okay Westlo, you’ve proved your point. At the previous episode, I declare Sheryl standing no chance at Alto’s love, only for the two to sleep together in just one episode later (at least, that was very much implied). For now, I’ll refrain from making any predictions about this love-triangle until the show’s actually over. I’ve never been that good with love anyway.

In any case, this episode set things up for the finale of this series. Leon gets the Macross Fleet ready to chase after Ranka, if I understood things correctly, and Sheryl started singing again. It turns out that her disease can be cured, in the same way that Ranka’s currently suppressing her own disease. Ozma and Catherine also successfully managed to escape and allied themselves with the rest of SMS, who now know too that Catherine’s father was assassinated. And about that ending… did Ozma just force Alto to be abandoned by the rest of the Macross-fleet?

My problem is, though, that with three episodes left, I’m really not sure whether Macross Frontier can pull off a good finale. I mean, I’m not really curious to see Ranka’s past, and this series will have to end with the death of Leon, where both Ranka and Sheryl will be saved and Alto choosing one of them. I really don’t see any potential for the creators to spice up such a predictable ending. This also isn’t the most solid series, so a straightforward ending also doesn’t seem to have much success.

Posted on 29 August 2008 with categories: Macross Frontier



Short Synopsis: Most of the episode sees Ranka, as she tries to sort out her own feelings.
Highlights: Well, at least the love-triangle progressed a lot.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 7,5/10
Well, this had to happen, I guess. Ranka’s still my least favourite character in this series, so an episode that focuses nearly entirely on her obviously isn’t as exciting as the past few episodes were. It’s really a calm-before-the-storm episode, where everything gets set up for the finale. It’s a bit of a bummer that the finale is going to be about a bunch of teenaged lovers who chase after each other, but there’s still enough potential left for some nice action-scenes. I just hope that now that Sheryl’s chances of getting it on with Alto are gone, she won’t turn into a useless side-character who can only watch.

In the meantime, it was an interesting plan of how Luka came up with the plan to get rid of the swarm of Vajra: get them all on one island, remove all people from that island and blow it up. I wonder where that swarm came from, by the way. I originally thought that it spawned from Ranka’s little friend, but in this episode it showed that it turned into something completely different, and different from most of the brainless Vajra-enemies we’ve seen thus far.

I’m also interested in what happened to Ozma and his lover. We never saw them getting caught, so they’re still on the run somewhere. I’m interested in what they can do for this series’ final four episodes. They’re along with Sheryl about the only ones who are on to Leon’s complot, so I wonder how they’re going to pull it off to kill the guy.

Posted on 22 August 2008 with categories: Macross Frontier



Short Synopsis: This is the episode… where all hell breaks loose.
Highlights: Sheryl, Kuran and of course Michael.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10
So this is where the big climax of Macross Frontier begins. Ranka’s pet has finally revealed its true colours as the larvae of not just one Vajra, but an entire Vajra colony who go rampant as soon as they’re hatched. To make matters worse, the Vajra’s from outside have noticed this ad come to help their new comrades. Leon manages to make use of the confusion in order to successfully carry out his coup, but that still makes me wonder how he’s planning to solve that Vajra-problem he’s ended up with.

I really liked Sheryl in the episode. I remember how in the first half, she was one of the more annoying characters, but her character is really the one that received the most development through this series, and it’s really beginning to show now. Like expected, in this episode, she overcomes her anxieties and provides the support for not only Ranka, but also for the people who are hiding for the Vajra. Her character is really getting stronger with every episode, and I appreciate that a lot.

I wish I could say the same about Ranka, though. That girl is getting more annoying with each episode, and especially here she keeps whining and clinging to Alto, now that the shock of seeing Alto with Sheryl caused her song to lose its power over the Vajra. At this point, she really is my least favourite character of this series, and that’s not a good thing, seeing as how she’s the central character in this series. I really hope that she doesn’t end up ruining the finale of this series.

The real climax of this episode was of course the scene between Kuran and Michael. It’s the creators’ way of saying: “yes, we mean business” by killing off Michael so easily, just after he officially became a couple with Kuran. It’s an often-used plot-device, but the interesting thing is obviously going to be how this is going to affect both Alto and Kuran for the final five episodes.

Posted on 15 August 2008 with categories: Macross Frontier



Short Synopsis: Ranka’s popularity has skyrocketed as she gives a concert at Alto’s school.
Highlights: Back to the love triangle again, animation was a bit off at times.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10
In this episode, the plot took a step back (all we saw of it is build-up for the next episode, in which we’ll see whether Leon’s coup will succeed and the mysteries behind Ranka’s fluffy partner will be revealed) and instead this was all about developing the love-triangle between Ranka, Sheryl and Alto. A good love-triangle should be like a good tennis-match, and not with one of the players grabbing the ball and running off with it, and the creators have done an admirable job to keep it a bit ambiguous about who Alto will end up with.

This episode ended with Sheryl in favour, but the question of course remains whether Ranka will give up or not, after having seen the two together. I hope she doesn’t spend the next few episodes angsting over what to do, though. This episode kept hinting at how Alto is the big reason for Ranka to keep singing, and Ranka has never had the courage to take Alto away from Sheryl in front of her.

There were unfortunately a few scenes where the key animation frames and especially the characters looked off again. Like, Ranka’s face was too stretched out, etc. Normally I don’t have a problem with that, but this is Macross Frontier, with its huge animation budget. Most series don’t have an unlimited budget, so it’s only natural for the animation to be rather inconsistent, but Macross Frontier doesn’t have this excuse.

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