Macross Delta – 19

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After making me care about the “bad guys” a bit last week, Delta continued to impress by suddenly having Freyja and Mikumo kinda go off the rails, resulting in the destruction of the Protoculture ruins—and thus a pillar of the Starwind Sector—on a large scale, and sending Hayate into superhuman berserk mode, from which he still hasn’t recovered when we check in this week. Mikumo has been secured aboard a medical frigate.

While both waiting outside the door to Hayate’s hospital room, Freyja and Mirage encounter the dude in the keffiyeh who was so dispassionately reporting on the status of the ruins and Protoculture structures back in Windermere. In a time of great doubt and apprehension, he’s arrived to complete an undisclosed business transaction with Chaos.

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But…he goes into an incredibly long-winded and detailed bout of exposition that not only serves as a shout-out to all previous Macross series (of which I’ve only watched Frontier, back when it aired), but connects the events of all of those Macrosses to explain what’s happening with the Wind Singer, Walkure, Freyja, and Mikumo.

Long story short: the Var is a product of fold bacteria left behind by the Vajra, and there are people with immunity to the Var and fold receptors who generate powerful bio-fold waves when they sing while their lives are on the line.

Berger Stone surmises that the Protoculture inserted some code related to music in the he DNA of all humanoids, and that music is more than just culture shock, but a mind-controlling weapon.

He also brings up rumors of the mysterious “Lady M” who finances Chaos to be developing an “ultimate weapon” utilizing music, which sounds a hell of a lot like Mikumo, considering the flashes of her past we’ve seen.

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I’m glad to be caught up on exactly what’s going on, but I can’t help but wonder if there could have been a more organic way to convey all this information. When you think about it, why is Berger Stone telling them all this to begin with? Frankly, the only reason I can think of is that the plot requires that he do so.

Sure, it’s a vehicle for a bunch of lovely nostalgia, but this is where my limited exposure to the Macross universe is exposed, since most of the shout outs failed to resonate simply because I haven’t watched everything. Thus, much of Berger’s story feels more like a quick cram session of everything that led up to the current situation.

It’s more than a little awkward and rushed, not to mention static. With a few excellently-executed exceptions, there’s usually something unsatisfying about watching people stand around and listen to a guy talk while watching what amounts to a fancy PowerPoint presentation behind him…for almost an entire episode.

And while Berger is talking to Walkure and Delta, Lloyd is telling Keith basically the same story. So everyone on the show is simply standing around chilling. That lack of immediacy after so much action and upheaval was a bit deflating. It felt retconny. felt…recappy.

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What earns this episode a 7 as opposed to a 6, then, is the very end, when it’s Mirage, not Freyja, who musters up the courage to go see Hayate. Since there’s every indication he’s out cold, Mirage is able to be honest with herself, if only briefly.

Admitting you don’t understand anything is the first step to rectifying that, and Mirage does so, while also admitting she likes having Hayate around and wants him to wake up and be with her again. Seto Asami does good work in Mirage’s small but significant scene. Naturally, it’s left up to interpretation how long Hayate was conscious and listening to her, but it’s not as if she confessed her love or anything.

That being said, it’s important that Mirage visited him and was there when he woke up, not Freyja, as Freyja’s fear her music is a weapon that can change and potentially hurt Hayate leads her to keep her distance. Mirage is just Hayate’s flying buddy; she has no such misplaced guilt to contend with.

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20 of Our Favorite OPs

(In Alphabetical Order)

UPDATE: We added five more for a total of 20.

Angel Beats!

A very lovely, moving theme accompanies an opening that still manages to efficiently unveil the sizable cast and the show’s purgatorial school setting.

Angel Beats!

(Yui’s J-Rock Arrangement)

A rippin’-good remix with electric guitars and a bolder, edgier palette.

Bleach OP#1

We once watched a lot of Bleach…too much, in hindsight. But we won’t deny it had a good start, and we still consider its first (of many) OPs to be the best.

Bokurano


We don’t know why, but Ishikawa Chiaki’s powerful, mournful yet hopeful vocals that open this GONZO series always get us a bit choked up. Pass the tissues, damnit! (This talented lady also sang the themes to Majestic Prince and Kamisama Dolls.) 

Chrome Shelled Regios

This is what happens when an OP washes down some adderall with a half-dozen Red Bulls. The booming energy is infectious.

Cowboy Bebop

One of the best anime ever made also has one of the best – and most iconic – openings.

Darker Than Black

This was a pretty good series partly due to Yoko Kanno’s participation in the soundtrack, but the OP is handled by a band rather amusingly called “Abingdon Boys School.” Our favorite part is how it so abruptly ends, which unfortunately this YouTube video cuts off.

Escaflowne

Yoko Kanno’s stirring, epic instrumentation, paired with a young Sakamoto Maaya’s strong, buoyant vocals make this entire OP shimmer and soar.

Eden of the East

We’re not what you’d call super Oasis fans (we’d never put a name to the song before watching this), but it really works here, and the complex, easter-egg-filled visuals still enthrall us today. A feast for eyes and ears.

Gantz


Considering how dark this show gets, it has a mighty upbeat theme! Another great GONZO OP.

Gundam 00

We’ve seen a lot of Gundam OPs, but this is our favorite, with a very serious and mature tone to it.

Kare Kano


Despite an abysmal ending due to running out of material and/or money, this remains hands-down our favorite romantic comedy series. Nothing else has been able to get into the heads of two crazy kids in love quite like this show did.  Its (literally) uplifting OP is one of our favorites as well.

Last Exile

Yet another GONZO series. Pretty much OP perfection, starting off with bagpipes and digeridus, then giving us Napoleonic sky battles and creepy starfish mechas. Claus’s touching down on the flight deck brings things to a tidy close.

Macross Froniter

Another very well-balanced and captivating OP, with an incredibly catchy theme tons of sci-fi action, love trangle themes and a few military salutes for good measure.

Mawaru Penguindrum

Crisp, sparse, dramatic, fantastic.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Evangelizin’ it old school.

RahXephon

Six Years after Escaflowne, Kanno and Sakamoto strike again and prove they’re a match made in heaven. The theme starts quietly, then progresses to a utopian/futuristic sound, and finishes with a nice acoustic guitar.

Samurai Champloo

Some days, some nights, some live, some die, in the way of the samurai.

Serial Experiments Lain

In our opinion, another successful use of an english-language song, along wih lots of weird multiple-personality imagery and general malaise.

Shiki

Weird-ass vampiry goodness, with a grinding, snarling, and rousing Buck-Tick song laced with appropriately dark lyrics.

Macross Frontier – Itsuwari no Utahime

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