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MACROSS II - - Retro Review

Rock 'n roll didn't actually save the universe.

Previous Retro Reviews...

You’ve got to figure that the thin line separating crap from kitsch simply dissolves with time. New schlock may be disenchanting to watch, right now - - but schlock from twenty years ago? That adopts all sorts of quaint qualities to make Bad Movie Night fun. It’s like a bottle of bum wine fermenting into something a little tangier.

MACROSS II isn’t schlock. It’d be absurdly iconoclastic to so downplay what was a huge anime event back in its time. However, there’s no dressing up the fact that this flick has aged horribly. Watching it is a real chore.

This particular dub does start off with a lot of the kitschy, unintentional entertainment value that would’ve made it a hoot to experience with some snippy pals (or with a RiffTrax playing over it, at least.) By the time it got over the halfway hump, though, I kept checking the play slide for how much time was left, counting the minutes to the end. The smartass heckles probably would’ve died down by then during the hypothetical group snark session, as well.

Taken on its own and out of any endearing context, MACROSS II is so thinly sketched a space opera, you can’t imagine how any otaku’s fan-fic of it could be ever be faulted for being less sophisticated. The hero, Hibiki, is a journalist imagined by somebody whose understanding of journalists is seemingly just going off what a VHS box synopsis for another movie suggested. When his superior browbeats him for his reckless, ratings-grabbing behavior (which squanders his true potential as a reporter, of course,) the dialog feels like it’s been hashed off Maverick’s equivalent scenes in TOP GUN, with only the relevant verbs changed to fit the circumstances.

Why focus on that, in particular? Because the movie makes such a big deal out of Hibiki’s vocation at the beginning - - even tying off the first act with the death of his humorless journalistic mentor - - and then promptly forgets about it all once it comes time for the outer-space dogfights.The movie gets so messy about basics like that, one wonders if direct-to-video series (like the one this was cobbled together from) had the minus of no story editors being around to make sure anything actually made sense from segment to segment.

Like, here’s the plot - - the evil alien race of Marduk is seeking to annihilate all life on Earth in the name of cleansing the galaxy of imperfections and other evils. They worship the “emulator” Ishtar (get it, Sumerian mythology students?) who's basically a galactic pop singer with a set list consisting entirely of catchy fight songs. She's the secret of the Marduk's success; the voice that rallies them into battle.

Through unclear circumstances, Ishtar winds up in the company of Hibiki and he proceeds to court her into the ways and wonders of humanity by cribbing from the playbooks of SPLASH and ROMAN HOLIDAY. Soon enough, Ishtar gets stolen back by these Marduk who speak in made-up alien gibberish that makes Klingons' syntax seem admirable. Hibiki takes action to get her back, but she’s already made up her mind to spread the message of peace with her music.

If you think about it, maybe he doesn’t really even need to bother?

Is this a case where the sub would somehow magically make everything better? Doubtful. It might even bring it down a few degrees. There wouldn’t be the added amusement brought on by this very primitive dub from time before Funimation honed this niche service into an art. Janitors and interns may very well have been wrangled into the cast, and there are periodic bouts of broken speech where the actors are obviously struggling to fit the dialog they’ve been given to their characters' lip movements on screen.

Whether or not your prefer such qualities depends on how sardonic your humor is, of course.

Actually the "incredibad" only goes so far. In many places, this is described as the mecha movie where rock ‘n roll saves the universe, and that sounds galactically more fun than what it actually is. MACROSS II's another flick you walk away from wondering how 90 minutes of screen time was taken up by anything you just watched on screen. Were the "elevator pitch" actually delivered on, you'd hope for some rousing, even cornball, musical number to kick things over the cliff for a rocked-out finale. Instead, it just kind of ends clumsily with Hibiki floating in some spacewreck and you, the viewer, quietly moving your finger along to click out of the window.

If you still want to decide for yourself about MACROSS II, despite everything you've read up until this point, you can very easily watch the whole movie for free below...

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of HYBRID BASTARDS! & UNIMAGINABLE. Order them on Amazon here & here. Follow him on Twitter: @tompinchuk

earthwormjimon April 20, 2012 at 5:19 p.m.

And that is why Macross II isn't a part of Macross continuity, no really the staff who were responsible for the original Super Dimensional Space Fortress Macross have nothing to do with this movie. This was replaced by Macross 7 (which is unlicensed due to copyright mess) and Macross Plus (which can watch on legally on Youtube) in continuity.

PenguinDuston April 20, 2012 at 5:56 p.m.

It's been probably a decade or more since I've seen this one. I do remember that I liked it more than Macross Plus. At least it seemed to carry over some of the themes from the earlier "real" series. That one was a side story that had practically nothing to do with SDF Macross other than there were some Zentradi in it, too. Oh, and there was a digital girl who sang. In that it's intriguing since it predicted idols like Miku Hatsune and her fandom.

From what I remember, Macross II tries to condense some of the more familiar themes from SDF Macross; big ships, song as a weapon, inter-species romance, love triangles, etc... The problem is that the characters aren't as interesting as their original parallels. Why waste time with Hibiki and Ishtar when Max and Milia from SDF and Macross 7 are more engaging? And, Minmay did the pop-star warrior thing in the first series...of course, that's a theme to the franchise though. Speaking Macross 7, the fictional rock band, Fire Bomber certainly have their own issues.

All in all, I like the Macross franchise a lot, though. I would suggest to anyone interested. See the original first, then if you can find a sub, check out Macross Zero then M7 and finally Macross Frontier. That last one, I still need to see, too. Someday soon. Macross Zero was made after M7 but before MF and it looks really good. The air combat is still some of the best animated around. It's a prequel to SDF Macross so while it was produced in 2002, it occurs before the 1980 series.

I think I spent more time talking about other Macross shows than MII-Lovers Again. I guess that says something about that show.

Turambaron April 20, 2012 at 11:43 p.m.
Macross II didn't age poorly.  It was never good in the first place.  "Rock and Roll saving the galaxy" is something only accurately attributed to Macross 7 because Basara is one hell of a single minded rock star.  What Macross II is trying to ape, the original SDF Macross, did not have any such theme.  Minmay's song, humanity's protoculture, defeated the initial Zentradi invasion through pure culture shock.  But the genius of the original SDF Macross was it's aftermath.  The Zentradi could not be pacified with Minmay monoculture, and it resulted in a resurgence of war, and the death of many of the main cast.  SDF's story is of flawed characters failing at the end, something Macross II never managed to transmit with any competency.
AlKusanagion April 20, 2012 at 11:46 p.m.

Macross II was my first "real" anime, as in it was the first one I remember ever watching in Japanese. I was a huge Robotech fan and knew all about the Macross connection. True, it's ignored as a Macross sequel, but it has a special place in my heart. Also, the Metal Siren it totally badass and I love the soundtrack.

Recallon April 21, 2012 at 1:21 a.m.

Do You Remember Love and Macross Frontier are currently the only Macross shows I've seen due to how insanely difficult it is in the UK to see anything Macross and not Robotech.

Your reviews states: "This partuicular dub..." Which dub is it, the japanese, a bad english job, spanish, what?

zaldaron April 21, 2012 at 2:21 a.m.

hmm not sure how to feel about this one after you review of ghost in the shell. Never seen this one though I did like the first ok. Didn't know it had a connection to robotech that is rather odd. May have to check this out at some point but finishing up the new last exile is first.

No_name_here staff on April 21, 2012 at 1:09 p.m.

@Recall said:

Your reviews states: "This partuicular dub..." Which dub is it, the japanese, a bad english job, spanish, what?

The dub I embed at the bottom of the review...?

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