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  #1  
Old 10-31-2015, 08:03 PM
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Default Do You Remember Macross?

So I seem to be in the midst of a big Macross streak, and with a hot new series on the horizon, I figured it'd be worth it to start a new thread to, ya know, talk about transforming robots and stuff.

I just finished the pretty excellent main series of Macross 7, and, on a lark, have decided to revisit Macross Zero, the mid-aughts prequel OAV to the seminal Super Dimension Fortress Macross. Zero, from my experience, seems to have a negative reputation amongst Macross fans, but I've never really seen it articulated why that is precisely. It feels like the last few years have been a topsy-turvy in mecha fandom, as easy universal access to streaming and fansubs have provided for a minor popular rehabilitation of previously maligned shows like ZZ Gundam and Victory Gundam (and there's been a corresponding, perhaps contrarian, attack on previously unassailable shows like Zeta Gundam and Legend of the Galactic Heroes), but this trend hasn't seemed to have really touched the Macross franchise as of yet.

Watching the first episode of Zero, I certainly couldn't tell you why it has the reputation that is does. It, of course, has the production values that you expect of a post-2000 prestige OAV (which most notably manifest in scenery porn that would make Motoko Shinkai blush). But it's not all empty eye candy and fanservice. Its callbacks to the original Macross are actually a little subtle and clever (Shinn's wordless "holy shit, it transforms" reaction to the SV-51 mirroring the audiences reaction to the first episode of Macross, and Roy Focker, the definitive mecha Sempai, being re-introduced by calling his old college fling by the title, being examples). It also has a solid hook - a pilot stranded on an island populated by a semi-primitive alien cargo cult, with all the attendant culture shock.

We haven't really had to time to develop the characters, but the episode pleasantly slows down a little to give them some breathing room. Shinn doesn't really transcend the anime cliche of standoffish warrior, but he does at least loosen up a few times in the first episode. Sara, similarly, is the typical shaman, scornful of the outlander, but she and Shinn also get a nice character beat when he discovers her carving love sticks for the islanders, to earn some dosh on the side. Mao is immediately likable as the rebellious teen infatuated with the bigger world (though perhaps she doesn't know how ugly it really is at the moment), collecting whatever pieces of it she can find (notably Shinn), half out of frustrated wanderlust, and half to because she knows it annoys her sister. They might not be the most well sketched characters, but I can't really hold that against a five episode series, can I?

Now, we'll see how I feel when I get to the Bird Persons and mid-air naval battles, but I've really liked what I've seen so far.
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Old 10-31-2015, 08:47 PM
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I remember Robotech.
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Old 11-01-2015, 09:28 AM
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The negative reaction to Zero seems to come from the same place negative reaction to Macross always does - any place Kawamori included any element of romance or mysticism, or anything that doesn't hew perfectly to established continuity.

I love Zero; I think it's a great story about pre-Zentradi Earth mucking about with Protoculture relics and getting burned.
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Old 11-01-2015, 09:31 AM
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Misa mentions the concept when the gang gets captured in episode 11 of SDF Macross (I looked it up), saying that about ten days should have passed on the Macross during the subjective hour they'd been in hyperspace. I don't think the series has been at all consistent about that though. And I don't even know where to begin with fold faults and shit.
Fold Faults are the explanation given in Frontier for why fold travel sometimes has time dilation effects and sometimes doesn't.

Still doesn't help Stupid Fan Theory About New Macross, since Macross has been consistent about keeping people subjected to time dilation younger than those not.
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Old 11-01-2015, 12:04 PM
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Yeah, I think some of the original fan backlash to Zero was about it mucking a bit with series mythology... some of which turned out to be setup for Frontier. I think it all works out well enough in the end, especially given the fast and loose way the whole franchise always plays with canon.

Zero's scenery porn and mecha porn are fantastic, but I think a lot of people felt like both the music and the romance/character relationship subplots were a little weak, making it only excellent in one of three Macross pillars, so that may also have something to do with its overall reputation. Still, I certainly don't think it's *bad*. The characters are fine and probably grow about as much as can be expected from just six episodes.


And on the new series, yeah, who knows what's up with this setting. My best theory is still some rich eccentric industrialist wanted a "kingdom" so he up and built one. Not out of the question given other complex things we've seen going on in colonies and fleets in the Macross universe that get cut off for a while. The Galaxy fleet went in some pretty extreme directions in only a generation or so.

Also still thinking the really interesting characters in Delta are going to be the ones we haven't been introduced to at all yet, who aren't in either the Valkyrie idol group or the kingdom's Knights.
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Old 11-01-2015, 10:00 PM
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I resent what Frontier does to Mao

It would be neat if the SDF-2 hit a strong fold fault or barely escaped a black hole and popped out in the current Macross timeline, now at some 50-60 years later. But we're not allowed to have good things. Which is strange because this whole franchise has become an ouroboros with its incessant homages to older shows; they might as well just actually come full circle.
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Old 11-02-2015, 07:20 AM
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I've always loved Macross Zero, from the music to the setting to the characters to how it fills out SDFM's backstory to the mecha to the landscapes to--

Then again, I watched it nearly concurrently with Zegapain, RahXephon, and (ahem) Ideon, so I was already in the midst of a binge of metaphysical mecha shows.
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Old 11-02-2015, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by WisteriaHysteria View Post
I resent what Frontier does to Mao

It would be neat if the SDF-2 hit a strong fold fault or barely escaped a black hole and popped out in the current Macross timeline, now at some 50-60 years later. But we're not allowed to have good things. Which is strange because this whole franchise has become an ouroboros with its incessant homages to older shows; they might as well just actually come full circle.
Mao... becomes a scientist? Seems pretty fitting. (Okay, yes, she *probably* is killed along with the rest of that fleet by the Vajra attack, but we don't really know that for sure, I don't think. And she certainly accomplished a lot in the intervening 40 years.)

I don't think we'll ever see the original trio* back in the thick of things, as my understanding is that the original Studio Nue crew made a decision to let them rest and put in the "lost communication" but of canon as a way to opt them out of any future galactic conflicts. At this point I doubt anyone would want to revisit that decision, especially with Ishiguro having passed. I don't really fault them for it.


*Technically the SDF-2 was recommissioned as the Megaroad-01 long before it took off... at least in non-Robotech continuity. But I'm being a nit-picky nerd.
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  #9  
Old 11-02-2015, 03:03 PM
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I don't think we'll ever see the original trio* back in the thick of things, as my understanding is that the original Studio Nue crew made a decision to let them rest and put in the "lost communication" but of canon as a way to opt them out of any future galactic conflicts. At this point I doubt anyone would want to revisit that decision, especially with Ishiguro having passed. I don't really fault them for it.
Yeah, I don't want more stories about Ichigo, Misa, and Minmay. They got their story. Twice. They got a happy ending. There's no reason to bring them back. (Especially with the unreleased movie footage from Flashback 2012 giving them a wonderful send-off)

Max and Millia had stuff to explore at the end of Macross, and Macross 7 covered it surprisingly well. I mean, they jumped into a wedding within hours of meeting each other, and then started with the babies and just didn't stop. You think they might have marriage and family problems down the line? Likewise, there was a lot about Roy and Claudia that was implied but unstated, and I thought M0 did a pretty good job of unpacking the difference between the Roys in Claudia's flashbacks.

But I don't want Studio Nue to keep going back to the well of SDF Macross. If they're doing more Macross, make it its own thing - like Plus was, and, to a lesser degree, Frontier. Gundam's unending obsession with Char and the One Year War is incredibly offputting to me, and I'm glad Macross doesn't keep coming back to Space War One and the same characters over and over again.
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Old 11-03-2015, 06:56 AM
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I remember Robotech.
Pretty much, yeah.
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Old 11-03-2015, 08:30 AM
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Pretty much, yeah.
Same. I've always been curious about the source material, though.
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Old 11-03-2015, 09:01 AM
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Robotech is like when an ambitious but overzealous and completely inexperienced fan wants to scanlate a manga, but is completely unequipped to do so. So the scans are potato quality, the typesetting is horrendous, and the story is rewritten based on what that noob thinks would sound cool based on what they guess the story is actually about from what they've run the script through Google Translate.

I only mention exploring the whole Megaroad-01/SDF2 scenario not because I feel like the franchise needs to explore that, but because apparently the people in charge clearly do - since it keeps getting brought up over and over and even comes back in things like Macross 30. Might as well do it right and put it to bed rather than have it continue to be this thing that casts a ever present shadow over the future of the franchise. And contrary to an earlier assertion, Frontier was in no way shape or form its own thing. I really struggle to come up with even a single original thing it did that wasn't an homage or callback to an earlier Macross title.
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Old 11-03-2015, 09:03 AM
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Same. I've always been curious about the source material, though.
While there's some decent stuff, ultimately it's about the same level of quality overall.

But there's no cool-as-fuck transforming motorcyles, so Robotech always wins.
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Old 11-03-2015, 02:24 PM
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Oh come on, Robotech is a chimera of one great series, one pretty good series, and one not very good at all series that kind of works in spite of itself (and has a surprisingly decent novelization). But Macross went on to do stuff like this and this, whereas Robotech's given us things like this:



And this:

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Old 11-03-2015, 07:34 PM
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Double post because I finished rewatching Macross Zero. Unfortunately, despite my initial positivism, it ultimately left me pretty cold. The show had me nearly completely through episode three. Episode 4 started to show a few faults, but I was willing to overlook them, as it still mostly worked.

Episode 5, though... I don't know what happened. Maybe it was production problems? In a bewildering directorial move, the episode starts with a flashback of an incredibly important series of events that weren't actually depicted in the last episode. I had to go back to check that I hadn't missed something post-credits, but no, there's nothing of the sort. It might be the strangest third act set-up that I've seen. And after that off-putting introduction, things. start. happening.

The setpiece battle that frames the episode is an odd affair. First of all, there's the fact that all the belligerents are floating in midair. It's not really established why this is the case. Perhaps its the Bird Person's doing, yet there's an inexplicable cut to a human-built anti-gravity generator (as depicted in SDF Macross). Do all the surface combatants have those? To what end? Beyond the logical inconsistencies, the aesthetic and metphorical goals of the scene are opaque to me. Are they doubling down on the flying fish metaphor? At any rate, the proceedings take on a strange sort of whimsy, or at least a ridiculousness, that undercuts their supposed brutality.

So then there's a silly scene where the deck officer refuses permission for our heroes to launch in spite of pitched battle taking place around them, so that the Shinn's RIO can give him a concussion and have a superfluous character moment. Then there's a meaningless dogfight between a nebulous number of combatants. The Fast and Furious: Pugachev's Cobra happens. Sara doesn't know that the cockpit isn't in the VF's head, to disastrous effect. Flaccid opera starts playing. A fairy appears in Shinn's cockpit. There's a super cool robot and nukes. The writer doesn't know how fallout works. Then the VF-0 turns into the Chevy Malibu from Repo Man.
END OF SERIES.

Alright. I got a little flip there, but suffice to say, it didn't work for me at all.

What especially didn't work for me was the antagonists. Their goals and characterization turned out to be flimsy at best. They don't offer any insight into what the the Anti-U.N. stand for, only what they stand against (the U.N., I guess), or they just don't stand for anything at all (say what you will about the tenets of anti-Unification, Dude, at least its an ethos). I get that they're supposed to be dark counterparts to the protagonists (Ivanov-Focker, Nora-Shinn, Hasford-Aeris), but there's just not much to them. Macross has had its share of A-tier antagonists, but these certainly don't count amongst their number.


On the bright side, I watched the intro to the first episode of SDF Macross, to see what it had to say about the Unification War... then didn't stop watching. That first episode it tight. I think I, ah, might go ahead and [re]watch the series, as I've never actually seen SDF Macross in the superior Nihongo, and it's been a good decade and a half since I watched ADV's Robotech release.
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Old 11-04-2015, 09:06 AM
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Huh, now I'm wondering if my memory just blocked out like half the final episode of Zero, because I barely remember most of that. I did remember that while the antagonists had a few cool moments, they do end up being pretty incidental to the story other than as a source of dogfights. So yeah, "not at all tightly constructed story" is another reason why Zero isn't remembered fondly despite some other things going for it.

SDF Macross is definitely worth a watch in its original form at least once. There's a lot of good character stuff in there that isn't the same in Robotech and is completely cut in DYRL. It's just unfortunately that there's some points where the animation budget dries up completely. I doubt I'll watch it straight through again, but I'm glad to own the old Animeigo release with their legendary liner notes.
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Old 11-04-2015, 09:40 AM
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Zero Ep 5:

Yes, everyone's floating because of the Bird Person's powers. I hadn't noticed the flying fish metaphor, but Kawamori so probably. Whimsy or ridiculousness mixed with brutality is basically a hallmark of Kawamori's work - even in the original SDF Macross, we go from "Oh no! The Earth's annihilated!" to "My pop music will let us punch the heart of this superfortress to death!" in 30 seconds flat.

I think the Anti-UN forces are... Supposed to be nihilist, and not really stand for anything? Both the UN and Anti-UN forces are defined by their reaction to the discovery of alien life caused by the crash of the Macross - the UN is scared shitless and wants to militarize Earth so they can kill all the aliens, while the Anti-UN movement is scared shitless and wants to crawl into a hole and hope it all goes away. That's even reflected by the nature of their forces in Zero. The UN's reaction to the possibility of the Bird Person is to deploy a gigantic carrier battle-group armed with cutting-edge prototype weapons designed around crazy raw power. The Anti-UN's reaction is to deploy a stealth submarine packed to the gills with cutting-edge prototype weapons designed to be as sneaky as possible.

I think the "nuke" is actually supposed to be an early reflex weapon prototype? So more about Japan's experience with nuclear weapons than their physical reality.


It does, however, suffer from the same flaws as 08th MS Team and other high-octane OAV releases - the production staff clearly has too much time between episodes to refine and revisit their ideas, so we get jagged jumps in story as they dart around erratically.

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SDF Macross is definitely worth a watch in its original form at least once. There's a lot of good character stuff in there that isn't the same in Robotech and is completely cut in DYRL. It's just unfortunately that there's some points where the animation budget dries up completely. I doubt I'll watch it straight through again, but I'm glad to own the old Animeigo release with their legendary liner notes.
The biggest difference I found between Robotech and Macross was the Zentradi. In Macross, I felt like they came off more like alien barbarians - they want to present as this super-logical, super-disciplined military force that permits no personality or individuality. They're really just a bunch of goofballs who would be adorable if their idea of a good time wasn't binging on stockpiled booze rations and destroying the nearest solar system.

While in Robotech, I felt like they tried to hard to sell them as being what they present as, and severely downplayed the goofy.
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Old 11-04-2015, 03:02 PM
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So I watched episode 3 of SDF Macross, and my new theory about the mid-air naval combat in Zero is that it's a reference to the animation error that has aircraft carriers floating around in space and above the ocean (before the space fold, of course; I guess someone at one of the secondary studios misunderstood the model sheets). But yeah, when this show was on point, it had to have been the coolest looking show on TV, but, whoo boy, are its depths as deep as its heights are high.

Anyway, I largely don't have a problem with buying into Macross's more out-there stuff (heck, I praised Macross 7 in the General thread, and that's probably Macross at its most out-there). I just don't think ep. 5 was very well done. Your assertion that the creators might be too inside the material is interesting, if charitable, but I completely agree that its hardly the only OVA to suffer its issues. Certainly Gundam Unicorn and 0083's finales display a lot of the same problems (I can't speak to 08th MS Team, since it's been too long since I've seen it). Curiously, though, both 0080 and Macross Plus completely stick their landings (in my opinion). I think a lot of that has to do with having stronger writers and directors, but I think there's also something to be said about avoiding trying to cram both complex battles/plotting and lots really important character beats into the final episode of your single-digit-episode OVA.
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Old 11-04-2015, 03:33 PM
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Anyway, I largely don't have a problem with buying into Macross's more out-there stuff (heck, I praised Macross 7 in the General thread, and that's probably Macross at its most out-there). I just don't think ep. 5 was very well done. Your assertion that the creators might be too inside the material is interesting, if charitable, but I completely agree that its hardly the only OVA to suffer its issues. Certainly Gundam Unicorn and 0083's finales display a lot of the same problems (I can't speak to 08th MS Team, since it's been too long since I've seen it). Curiously, though, both 0080 and Macross Plus completely stick their landings (in my opinion). I think a lot of that has to do with having stronger writers and directors, but I think there's also something to be said about avoiding trying to cram both complex battles/plotting and lots really important character beats into the final episode of your single-digit-episode OVA.
Hm. That's actually an interesting question - how was Plus originally released? Zero took almost two years to release, 0083 a year and a half, and 08th MS Team three and a half years. 0080 took a mere five months.

I think that inter-episode time on OAVs has a clear impact on coherence.

And yeah, it's endlessly amusing to me what the Studio Nue staff chose to spend their own time animating.
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Old 11-04-2015, 04:21 PM
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Plus was released as four stand alone episodes. it was amazing.
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Old 11-04-2015, 04:26 PM
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Plus was released as four stand alone episodes. it was amazing.
Do you happen to remember the timeline? I'm having trouble finding the dates of its original Japanese release.
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Old 11-04-2015, 04:31 PM
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IIRC it was really fast all within a year, because the first episode came out in 94 and by a year later The Movie version was hitting theaters.
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Old 11-04-2015, 04:47 PM
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Do you happen to remember the timeline? I'm having trouble finding the dates of its original Japanese release.
unfortunately no, sorry.
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Old 11-04-2015, 05:32 PM
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Now that I've gotten all of that off my chest, I think I can acknowledge a couple parts of the show that I did like.

I know took Ivanov to task for not being much of a character, but there are a couple of things about him that distinguish him as an antagonist. Like I said previously, he's supposed to be a reflection of Focker (both in his embryonic form in the Zero, and especially as he's portrayed in SDF Macross) in that they're both mentor characters, but whereas Focker is the definitive mecha sempai, Ivanov is simply callous, showing absolutely no affection for his former ward. I'm not sure if something broke him, or if he was always a bastard, but I kind of like his particular version of callousness - not completely taciturn, not sneering, and not an edgelord - just cold and slightly bemused. His best line is a simple, un-passionate - yet delivered with a slight smile - "die". Maybe that's really how teachers really feel about their former pupils?

All this makes it interesting (and amusing) when Daisy (alright, that's pretty good) completely loses his shit when Nora eats it (side note: I'm pretty sure that they straight bang on the flight deck in episode 3, or at least get to third base). It feels like the show goes a little Tomino in that moment. It certainly goes DYRL with the gore shortly thereafter (see also: the Asuka's deck crew getting pulped in episode 3). The real point of the Ivanov's melodramatic end, to me, though, is to set up Focker's final scene in the show.

The one scene in the final episode that really worked for me is Aries's death scene. Which is interesting, because A) she's a secondary, if well-sketched character, and B) we, as the viewer, already know that Roy/Claudia are the OTP. Yet the two of them had a strong and believable, if brief, relationship, and in an episode with several operatic deaths, her passing is grim and pathetic, and Roy can't do much except be there in those final moments, quietly distraught. It actually hit me kind of hard.


And of course what immediately happens after this is Shinn taking a ride in a silver machine...



...Alright, the other thing that got me in the episode is when Mao tries to use her new Force powers to save the VF-0, then proceeds to unceremoniously drop it in the drink.
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Old 11-04-2015, 05:36 PM
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So, ultimately, would you say it was worth the watch or not? It sounds like it does a lot of good but misses the landing, but that could go either way depending on just how good the show is and how bad the ending is. I never got around to seeing it.
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Old 11-04-2015, 06:13 PM
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It's inessential, but worth giving a try, with the caveats that you've at least seen some form of the original series, don't break out in hives at the sight of CGI robuts, and are vibrating at least somewhere near Kawamori's wavelength.
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Old 11-04-2015, 06:30 PM
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It's inessential, but worth giving a try, with the caveats that you've at least seen some form of the original series, don't break out in hives at the sight of CGI robuts, and are vibrating at least somewhere near Kawamori's wavelength.
Ehhhhhhhhhh....

Maybe I'll... not...
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Old 11-04-2015, 06:40 PM
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IIRC it was really fast all within a year, because the first episode came out in 94 and by a year later The Movie version was hitting theaters.
Weren't there a lot of complaints about OAV 4 being exceedingly late in both sides of the Pacific?
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Old 11-04-2015, 07:25 PM
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Weren't there a lot of complaints about OAV 4 being exceedingly late in both sides of the Pacific?
I mean, it began its release August 25, 1994. And The Movie got released August 27, 1995. So I'm going to assume that the OVAs were all already out by then. And everything being out in under a year is a pretty OK timeline.
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Old 11-05-2015, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Peach View Post
It's inessential, but worth giving a try, with the caveats that you've at least seen some form of the original series, don't break out in hives at the sight of CGI robuts, and are vibrating at least somewhere near Kawamori's wavelength.
Quote:
Originally Posted by conchobhar View Post
Ehhhhhhhhhh....

Maybe I'll... not...
Aw, they're quite nice CGI robuts.

Honestly, though, even though DYRL and Plus have some of the most amazing hand-animated mecha sequences ever set to film, I think CG works out okay in Macross most of the time. Unlike something like OG Gundam which is all blocky and solid colors and weight, the Valkyrie designs have always been pretty sleek and shiny, with fiddly transformations. It's true that CG loses the ability to fudge some of those transformation mechanics that was used sometimes in the original series, both for good and for ill. But overall I think it usually looks pretty decent.
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anime , deculture , itano circus , macross , mecha , my boyfriend's a pilot

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