Macross 7 The Movie: The Galaxy is Calling Me
20 years ago, Macross came along and rewrote the book on mecha shows. With its highlighting of music and personal relationships over mindless battles, it shaped storytelling within the anime industry in ways still seen today. Through various sequels like Macross 2 and Macross Plus, there's been an attempt to recapture that magic with varying success.
However, there's something of a blight on the Macross name, and that's the follow-up series called Macross 7. Although it ran for 49 episodes, 13 more than the original show, American fans who have seen parts of it fansubbed have despised it. Interested in getting a taste, I found a copy of Macross 7: The Galaxy Is Calling Me. Advertised as a movie since it played on big screens but only a half-hour long, this is fundamentally a TV episode set near the end of the series, and it's dreck. Although I could understand enough of its technospeak from my loyal Macross background, it was more than enough to convince me not to bother with finding the TV series.
Basara, a hotshot pilot known for his music as Fire Bomber, crashlands on an icy planet where virtually no one knows his legendary exploits. Given the cold shoulder by the inhabitants, Basara finds a friend in a lonely little boy who's the only person who ever tunes in to interplanetary subspace transmissions. He's quite happy to meet Fire Bomber in person, and they strike it off. Strange rumblings disturb the planet, and when Basara investigates, he finds a lone Zentraedi female trying to create her own music. It appears that the two will hit it off despite an initial conflict, but reinforcements are on the way.
Now the artwork in the show was quite good for a TV episode, perhaps even an OVA, but it's nowhere near any reasonable movie's quality. The music is passable, I suppose, if you like J-Pop. Nothing special, but nothing terrible. But what sets this show out of kilter is the way that the universe now works. Basara doesn't steer his mecha so much as he plays guitar to keep it going. When he first meets the Zentraedi named Emilia, they get into a fight. But instead of a huge mecha battle, they play their music at each other at the same time!
Not only is this annoying to me as a musician, but it's stupid in practice. The whole Macross thing got its start from using music as a weapon, but this takes it to an absurdist extreme. Consider me an old-school guy, but I want to see missiles flying and lasers blasting, not two people out in the tundra trying to fight with their sonic prowess. I think I'm open to new things, but this just doesn't work for me. The show feels made for children, not for those who enjoyed the original series. Now there's nothing wrong with childrens' programming, but this takes it to new lows. I've never been really bored by a show less than an hour in length before--this is a first.
I never thought I'd say this, but Macross 7 is simply a Macross show I have no further desire to see. Here's hoping the upcoming Macross Zero saves the franchise.
Macross 7 The Movie: The Galaxy is Calling Me -- mild violence -- D