Saturday, December 1, 2007

Anime Review: Macross Zero

Back in 1982/83 an anime was created that to this day is my all time favorite, that anime is The Super Dimension Fortress Macross.

Macross is the story of a giant interstellar battle fortress that crashes on South Ataria Island in the South Pacific in the year 1999. For the next decade humanity attempts to unite under the formation of U.N. government and rebuild the ship.


This is where Macross Zero's story begins, 2008, the U.N Wars escalate and the Anti-U.N & U.N forces clash near the small South Pacific Island of Mayan.


The first episode of this 5 episode OVA,Ocean and Wind, introduces us to F-14 fighter pilot Shin Kudo. After being shot down by the Anti UN's newest fighter, the SV-51, he wakes on the Mayan Island (the island where the ocean and wind mix). He meets Sarah Nome (the hand guided by the wind),a shamen who can hear the will of the wind and her sister Mao Nome who seems to have a connection with the ocean. The inhabitants of Mayan are a primitive, tribal people that seem to live in peaceful harmony with nature and are unaware of the war around them. They pass on their traditions via the spoken word and tell the youth of how humans originally lived in the ocean and how when the aliens, "birdmen" came to earth.


Meanwhile on the Asuka II Aircraft Carrier Roy Focker reunites with an old friend, Aries, a cultural anthropologist he went to school with years ago. After her briefing of the discovery of a new energy source detected near Mayan, thought to be "AFOS", left behind by the the aliens aproximately ten thousand years ago the two catch up briefly. The next day Roy Focker is set to pilot the first live battle with VF-0, the first variable fighter!

Back on Mayan Shin spends time with Mao and Sarah as they each show him aspects of life on Mayan.

The seeds are planted.....

The peace and tranquility are shattered when Sarah foresees a violent wind headed for the Mayan Island and an arial dog fight breakes loose over Mayan between Roy Focker and the VF-0 and a SV-51. The first time you see the transformation of VF-0 will leave you speachless! The mix of cell drawn artwork with CG graphics is well balanced and looks fantastic!

Episode 2: The Stars on the Ground continues with the telling of the Mayan lore about Rooy Kanu, Rooylo and their children, how Rooylo left and the song of destruction engulfed the earth. The Elder tells the story all in the backdrop of a war that is enveloping the Mayan Island, high above Roy Focker comes face to face with his former flight instructor D.D.Ivanov who switched aliegences and joined the Anti -UN army. The battle is faced paced and very impressive, the detail of the fighters using CG is incredible. It's almost believeable seeing Roy's valkerie manuever thru the landscape, ailerons adjusting to change airspeed and altitude!

The battle concludes between the two in a stalemate while DD's wing mate, Nora Polyansky, takes on the rest of Fockers skull squadron. Roy finds shin and the two return to the Asuka II as the UN forces pull a large section of AFOS from the ocean floor. UN researchers begin to analyze the artifact and note the similarities with ASS-1, which stands for Alien Star Ship 1aka SDF-1.

Meanwhile Shin begins training as a VF-0 pilot under Roy Focker. Later Roy sends Shin on a mission to protect LaSalle while she visits Mayan to conduct further research on the island people. Mao and Shin meet again as he returns to the village. Later that night Shin is woken by the feint sound of a song, he follows the song into the forest to finds Sarah and discovers the power of her song...

Episode 3: The Blue Death begins at the sacred fountain with Shin and Sarah. Aries and her guard Edgard meet up with Sarah and Shin, Aries sees the stones with ancient mayan markings and recalls Professor Hussel Nakajima's notes on human-protoculture intervention.

Back aboard the Asuka blood begins too drip from the torso of AFOS, after some analyizing it's discovered it's the same as Sarah's.

Later that day Mao takes Shin on a snorkeling trip to see her "treasure", this visually impressive scene hints toward the connection between the cheiftan's story of creation and the evolving relationship between ,Mao, Shin and Sarah. Mao makes her feelings known to Shin in this episode when she kisses him. We also discover the treasure is the Shard of Elysium...the head of AFOS.

The Shard of Elysium activates and the UN / Anti UN forces scramble to retrieve the head and steal the torso aboard the Asuka II. During this battle Roy and DD resume their personal grudge match and Nora heads out to take the head of AFOS.

In a daring rescue Shin saves Mao and the head of AFOS from an Anti UN deep sea unit. Shin brings Mao back to Maya moments before the battle spills onto the shores, UN forces begin to evacuate the Mayan people as the battle rages all around the village. Sarah decides to test fate and runs off into the forest, Nora intercepts Shin as he tries to return to the Asuka II with the head of AFOS. The dogfight ends in a draw as both crash in the mayan forest and the head is lost again.

Episode 4:The Secret Forest Shin and Sarah are captured by the relentless Nora and the Anti UN forces. Aries is captured also and the three are introduced to Professor Hussel Nakajima. The professor explains the tale of the Birdman and the song of destruction. During their ongoing dogfight DD damages Roy Focker's VF-0 and he crashes the the party. Roy grabs Aries and the two escape into the forest. Shin and Sarah escape as well. Nora puts in a call to the Anti UN flagship to nuke the island.

Meanwhile the two couples wander aimlessly through the forest,Roy and Aries recount their memories from their past and wonder how the two would've been IF...

Meanwhile elsewhere in the forest Sarah and Shin spend the time consoling each other. Shin begins to understand Sarah's feelings toward life outside of the beautiful Mayan Island and reveals his feelings for Sarah. But the peace and beauty of the moment is forever destroyed when the island is carpet bombed by a squadron of SV-51's carrying hydrogen bombs.

Episode V: The Birdman begins with the Anti UN Forces retrieving the head of AFOS and capturing Aries and Sarah. Roy and Shin return to the Asuka II where the war between the UN and Anti UN has come to a boiling point. Mao awakes after having a transfusion using AFOS blood. The two parts of AFOS begin to activate and Mao begs Shin to save her sister.

Meanwhile Professor Hassel on board the Anti UN flagship pleads with Sarah to sing the song of destruction to end the war.

Roy and Shin board retro-fitted VF-0's and launch in a last ditch effort to save the women they love. The final battle of the war begins! Shin and Roy against DD and Nora push the limits of their skills in a final showdown in the clouds. Shin is able to reach the ship Sarah is held captive on but his Valkerie takes a fatal shot to the head and plummets to the ground below, Sarah cries out in distress and awakens the birdman. The two parts unite in the midst of the climactic battle and begins destroying all the large warships.Shin regains conscience just before plummeting into the ocean, and is astonished to see the legendary Birdman and Sarah controlling it through her song.

Does Shin save Sarah? Does Roy save Aries? Does the earth get destroyed by the Birdman? I won't ruin it for you, Macross Zero is another gorgeous addition to the legacy of Macross, all the aspects that made the original Macross a timeless classic are here, Valkeries, War, love triangles, music, and dealing with the loss of loved ones. Macross Zero does an amazing job of showing the contrasting beauties of a tropical paradise and the CG Mecha, which is also represented in both Shin and Sarah's views of the necessities of life. Each new Macross focuses on a different type of music, in M0 it's much less traditional. Sarah's song feels more ethereal than say Minmay, Fire Bomber or Sharron Apple. Regrettibly this is another great chapter from Macross that you will only get to enjoy subbed due to the BW/HG lawsuit. And the subtitles are garbage, this review may have some mistakes in character names because of the piss poor subtitles. The Story is fascinating and takes the evolution of mankind and blends it with Macross lore. It was also fun to see Roy Focker pre SDF-1 and another La Salle. I wonder if we'll see more of Shin or Sarah in the Future?The OVA is presented in 16:9 ratio, offers either english or chinese subs and the choice of dolby 5.1 or 2.0 stereo.

B-