Macross Delta (Preview Special) – 01

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A couple of things: First, to my surprise, Macross Delta won’t be airing until April as a Spring 2016 show (which is for the best, as I wasn’t sure I’d be able to handle both a Gundam and a Macross at the same time). Second, while this isn’t a complete episode, it is comprised of 391 of the 450 frames of the first episode, or over 86% of the total. So we get a pretty good look.

A lot of those 391 frames contain some pretty familiar stuff…but this is Macross, so you go in fully expecting that.  Cute, quirky, idealistic heroine whom the serious male protag helps out? Check. Rather than Ranka Lee, we have Freyja Wion. She’s also voiced by a first-time seiyu (Suzuki Minori), who does a pretty good job balancing goofiness, earnestness, vulnerability and determination.

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If you’re not put off by Freyja’s bubbly enthusiasm, you’ll want to root for her almost immediately. She’s on the run from an arranged marriage to audition for Walkure, a “Tactical Sound Unit” that uses music to fight the Var, which unlike the Vajra aren’t a primal alien race, but a disease that infects everyone, potentially making anybody a weapon in its arsenal.

While there’s a lot of terminology right out of the gate, Delta doesn’t drown you in it, and also assumes this isn’t your first Macross rodeo (my other exposure to the franchise is the excellent 25th anniversary series Macross Frontier). Like that show, the world is lush and detailed, only the visuals here in 2016 are even more smooth and refined, particularly where CGI is concerned.

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The male protag, Hayate Immelmann (probably named for the turn), is initially put off by Freyja’s weirdness, but ends up rescuing her, though having been someone who’s dreamed big in the past and gotten nowhere, he remains skeptical of her lofty aspirations.

Something tells me his attitude will have changed when this episode concludes in April. He even seems to come under a little bit of a spell from her overflowing charisma—until she loses her foothold and he has to catch her in an awkward position that has him at gunpoint for suspected perversion by Mirage, a soldier in Delta Platoon, Walkure’s escort unit.

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The misunderstanding is corrected just in time for a city-wide Var Alert. The Var infect the local Zentradi base (as in Frontier, the green-skinned giants are normally allies of the humans here), and Freyja and Hayate become naught but two more ants on a massive battlefield, running for their lives.

Then we’re introduced to the four members of Walkure who run towards the danger, transforming into their magical songstress forms: You have the leader, the Sheryl Nome-esque leader Mikumo, the tomboyish Reina, the girly Makina, and the sporty Kaname (thanks Starqo).

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Working in concert with the Delta Platoon, they neutralize the effects of the Var with their music, as the battle on the ground is essentially one big music video. This is a departure from Frontier in that the effects of the singing on the enemy aren’t known until later in the show. Here, Walkure is an active participant in the combat, and also in protecting the hordes of citizens with swarms of multidrones.

As one would expect of an experienced and practiced pop music group, Walkure knows exactly what to do and carry it out swiftly and efficiently, but also with an ample helping of style. So confident is Mikumo in her powers of charm, she gets right in a Var-infected Zentradi pilot’s face and cures him on the spot, getting him to exclaim  that iconic line, “Deculture!”

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But that’s not all for enemies. In orbit, the planet’s space fleet is attacked by the Aerial Knights, a group of badass male warriors who look to be the Walkure Girls’ rivals and foils. When they engage the Delta Platoon on the surface, they learn they’re more than a match.

Be it the Huge Capital Ship Getting Blow’d Up Real Good in orbit or the Zig-Zagging Dogfight in the skies, Delta doesn’t separate itself much from Frontier in these areas, but it does distinguish itself in sheer quality and refinement. There’s nary a frame out of place, and as previously stated, the CGI is far better integrated into the regular animation than the older work. The plane, ship, cockpit, and HUD designs are also new and very cool-looking, all with a welcome nod to the past.

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With all the big battles and explosions going on, the episode could be excused for completely forgetting about Freyja and Hayate, but when the Knights push Walkure and Delta into a corner, we come back to them, trying not to get caught in the crossfire. Then Mikumo emerges from the pile of wreckage, ready to rumble anew, and changes the tune—literally—to a more aggressive but still upbeat song.

Freyja’s little heart-shaped stone on her head starts to glow (as it did when Hayate fell on her), and she can’t resist singing along and running towards the battle rather than away. It’s an inspiring sight for young Hayate, seeing her risk her life with a smile on her face and a song in her heart, without a care in the world that things won’t work out.

Even though Freyja stowed away on a ship to the wrong planet, it looks like she’ll get her audition after all—we’ll just have to wait until April to see how it goes. Until then, I know I have a big, bold, upbeat new Macross to look forward to when the chill breaks.

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Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

17 thoughts on “Macross Delta (Preview Special) – 01”

  1. Funny detail: Gundam Iron Born Children last season will run at the same time with Muv Luv: Schwarzesmarken first season during Winter 2016.

    And on Spring 2016, Muv Luv last season will run at the same time with Macross Delta.

    The Winner will be Bandai that would be able to cash Macross and Gundam merchandise, while Revoltech and Kotobukiya will have a lot of competition with Muv Luv toys.

    1. Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse (the only Muv-Luv show I’ve watched) had some bright (that is to say, very dark) spots; particularly its crushing second episode, but failed to reach that high for me again in a very uneven 24-episode run with a couple of real stinkers mixed in.

      Now that I know Schwarzemarken is a Muv-Luv spin-off, I’ll be guardedly watching for improvement and consistency.

  2. All Hail Macross! It was a blast seeing the Itano Circus again, especially done so well.

  3. Does anyone else remembered when Macross pretty much single-handedly invented the ‘real robot’ genre by being the most DOWN TO EARTH mecha show ever? I do.

    It just saddens me that we’ve never gotten a great follow-up to something like that. Instead, they took the music angle (a very important but still relatively minor part of the original series) and turned it into the only thing the franchise is about.

    1. On the contrary, I consider their decision to build Macross on the music to be a good move. Considering that the original Macross was supposed to be a parody of Gundam (which is actually the one that invented the Real Robot genre), it would probably have been drowned in the multitude of other RR shows that followed Gundam’s lead (bVotoms, Dumbine, Dougram etc.) and not be able to build its own franchise had it not focused on the one aspect that the other series did not have, which is music.

      1. Gundam may have ‘created’ the genre, but only in the loosest sense of the term, given how ludicrously unrealistic all of its robots are, what with energy wings, super cannons, lightsabers, and psychic powers. Macross was the one that actually did it, Gundam just laid the foundation.

        I like Gundam, but it is not the same. It runs on ludicrous space sword duels. There’s nothing quite like MACROSS in terms of doing a large-scale space opera that treats the military like the military, and it saddens me that Macross dropped that like a bad habit. Give me space battles (not duels/team fights, BATTLES), give me capital ships, give me soldiers.

        And I’m sorry, but this is a magical girl show now. That’s what this episode was. It had catchphrases, transformation sequences, and magical powers. If magical girl shows and real robot shows are the same thing, I am deeply confused. I mean, this is aiming at a very different demographic. I like mecha shows, not magical girl shows. I’m a sucker for Macross/mecha so I’ll watch anyway, but I’ll spend every episode thinking ‘how much better would this be if it weren’t a magical girl show?’

      2. I like Gundam, but it is not the same. It runs on ludicrous space sword duels. There’s nothing quite like MACROSS in terms of doing a large-scale space opera that treats the military like the military, and it saddens me that Macross dropped that like a bad habit. Give me space battles (not duels/team fights, BATTLES), give me capital ships, give me soldiers.

        Gundam already has all of these, most notably those in the UC series. And surely enough almost every RR series that Sunrise produced. As for Macross being down to earth and not ludicrous, that is rather questionable, since right off the bat, the original series’ premise of invading giant humanoid aliens is already ludicrous enough. I would say that Patlabor would be a lot more down to earth than Macross, since the only “ludicrous” thing it has is the robots themselves. Another more “down to earth” series is Gundam 08th MS team, which presents the iconic one year war as something akin to the Vietnam war, except with some mechs, which will probably be more in line with your tastes.

        With the magical girl idol concept, I think this is one of the charms of Macross, it never limited itself to the strict real robot formula, instead embracing all sorts of “crazy” ideas to create its own identity. As for the “how much better would this be if it weren’t a magical girl show?” question, Ill leave it up in the air for now, cause who knows, we might end up asking “Would this show have been as interesting as it is now if they didn’t add the magical girl concept?” instead.

    2. I have to agree with Flamerounin here. Real robots are cool and all, but not exactly a unique thing. Macross has long since crossed over totally into the MAGIC MUSIC area, and I don’t think it’s bad. No other mecha show combines mahou shoujo, music, and mecha the way Macross does. If you took that away, you’d just have another generic mecha show.

  4. That was fun. I really like how Minori Suzuki portrayed Freyja.There is also some interesting curiousitie4s here, most notably for me is whether Mirage is indeed Max and Millia Jenius’ granddaughter. Attttgggghhh, I have to wait several months more.

    1. Bingo. It was FUN. That’s why I liked Frontier, and why I’m excited for Delta.

      My exposure to Macross is extremely skewed, having only watched Frontier in its entirety, which also relied on music a great deal. Because that music was largely composed by Yoko Kanno, that was a very good thing.

      As for Macross’ evolution (or devolution, depending on who you talk to), that’s something I’m isolated from by having never seen the original shows. Even if I were to break them open, my exposure to later shows that focus on the music would inevitably affect my impressions.

      With Gundam, as with Macross, I don’t usually look at how this or that newest iteration will “live up to the legacy”, since I haven’t watched much of that legacy.

      Instead, I’m looking to be entertained, and I’m looking for quality story, interesting or at least likable characters, and exciting sci-fi combat. Delta looks to scratch all those itches.

    2. There were times that her performance reminded me of Nakajima Megumi’s turn as Ranka Lee. Perhaps the fact both were rookies for these roles and thus somewhat more unpredictable than a grizzled veteran in the choices they make. They both bring a freshness and rawness that suit the characters perfectly.

  5. Following my exposure to Macross via Robotech’s kinda awesome / terrible original US airing, I’ve been a big Macross fan (Original yay, ‘Clach of the Bionoids’ yay?, Macross 2 boo, Macross Plus yay, Macross 8 meh, Macross 8 Dynomite booo, Macross Zero yay, Macross frontier yay)

    Shoot :-) wish I wasn’t on Hiatus! Maybe Hannah will let me guest review it in April when the Primary Election season winds down in my local

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