Finally, I got around to watching the first Macross Frontier film! I put it off believing it would be little more than a condensed, two-hour re-telling of the anime with upgraded eye candy. I had no idea the abridged edition could stand on its own as not just a pretty movie, but a pretty darn good one, too.
It goes without saying this was a tour-de-force of visuals, and not just space battles, epic though they were. Be they cityscapes, forests, or pop concerts, a whole new depth and intimacy is given both to the diverse environments of the fleet and the characters inhabiting them.
Particularly surprising is just how much the story and characters changed. The limited time forced a situation where Alto would be put on the spot regarding, to quote the anime theme song, “who he’s gonna kiss” – Ranka, or “that other girl”, Sheryl. The romance is arguably handled more elegantly here, with Alto more emotionally engaged, and the girls more competitive than chummy. Sheryl isn’t even the one who helps Ranka become a star, for instance, while Ranka is less dense and calls Alto out on his pussy-footing.
Nobody’s character changed more than Brera Stern. He was an opaque asshole practically throughout the anime, but here he’s a lot more human. And rather than crash Alto, he actually helps him out. Hell, the guy even cracks a smile! This is progress.
Of course, if you can’t deal with songs being song throughout the space battles, you’re not going to enjoy Macross, period. I never had a problem with any of Yoko Kanno’s music or the vocals. Most of the anime soundtrack carries over, along with a couple new numbers and rearrangements. Notably missing is “Ai Oboete Imasu ka” (Do You Remember Love?), but that’s bound to turn up in the second film. The music-video-battles were really spectacular in their speed and scope.
So as I said, this wasn’t just a good film adaptation of an anime or just a good-looking film: it was just good, period. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the anime itself, being my first experience with Macross period, but this does the source material justice and turned it up to 11 with its obviously substantial budget. Can’t wait for the continuation in Sayonara no Tsubasa. Rating: 4