Following a catastrophic war against a race of giants known as the Zentradi, humanity has escaped towards the center of the galaxy aboard a fleet of colonial vessels called the Macross Frontier. As the extraterrestrial threat is left further and further behind, life on Macross Frontier proceeds as usual.
In the year 2059, a young mecha pilot trainee named Alto Saotome and his colleagues are preparing to perform an accompanying routine for the famous singer Sheryl Nome, who has come to Macross Frontier for a concert. During the performance, a biomechanical alien species known as the Vajra make a sudden appearance, breaking through the defensive perimeter surrounding the vessel and crash-landing near the concert venue, plunging the entire city into chaos. As the concertgoers evacuate, a young girl named Ranka Lee is left behind and gets targeted by the Vajra, but she is saved at the last minute by Alto. Following these events, the Strategic Military Services program notes Alto's skill in battle, resulting in his recruitment to combat the new alien threat.
"Simple, easy to comprehend plot. Skillfully developed love triangle. Masterpiece level animation and music."
To those who are new to the Macross franchise, you can find some info on it here. Now first to clarify a thing for those who are confused with the "Macross Frontier Deculture Edition". The difference is simply that the Deculture Edition is the "pilot episode" of the TV series. Another way of putting it is an OVA version of episode 1 of the TV series which was aired ~3 months later.
Taking place 47 years (story-wise) after the original series, Super Dimension Fortress Macross.
We are now in the year 2059 AD. The Space War with the Zentradi was long since over and the new migration fleet, Macross Frontier, is now under attack by a new alien race. The story revolves around a love triangle and how the three cope with each other while dealing with the threats from the aliens.
The battle animations are absolutely STUNNING. Fluid CG battle animations to very detailed character outlook are very much the highly for the show. One can even tell that the background for most scenery were well thought out and well designed. Oh, and very consistent quality of animation.
"1st Anime Album in 11 Years to Rank in Japan's Top 3"
"Two Macross Frontier Singles in Japan's Weekly Top 10"
"All four of the Macross Frontier singles that have been released have debuted at #5 or higher."
How does that sound for starter? The Macross series were largely famous for its music as they all played an integral part in every single Macross title. However, one can say Macross Frontier have taken the anime song industry to a whole new golden era! Both the singer and seiyu responsible for singing the second OP won awards for their fabulous works.
A lot of characters developments happened in the latter half of the series making it a bit boring to watching in the beginning (as far as characters are concerned). However this is balanced by Sheryl Nome's character development which was extremely well done especially toward to the end of the series.We also be Alto and Ranka mature over time (albeit very late in the series).
The series as a whole was very well made with amazing sound effects and graphic. The love triangle between the 3 protagonists was interesting to watch as well. It was painful to see the show end, but at least it was announced that a movie is underway.
*Update on February 10, 2009*
If you liked Macross Frontier, you may be happy to know that it was voted by anime fans a week ago as THE anime of 2008. In addtion, May'n (Sheryl's singing VA) also got voted as one of the top anime singer.
Macross Frontier isn’t merely another sci-fi space opera. Despite incorporating just about every anime cliché in the book—from school drama to mecha to moe to the love triangles that are the Macross franchise’s signature—Macross Frontier manages to create something that is simultaneously the maximum fulfillment of its genre’s capacity and also the complete and utter subversion of its viewer’s expectations. It’s been hailed as the SDF-Macross of the 21st Century, and there’s no doubt about that; even for viewers unfamiliar with the original Macross series, Macross Frontier bridges nearly every gap imaginable to create something that will undoubtedly stand the test of time
as its original predecessor has.
The directing is superb, though I cannot say with much conviction that it’s entirely noteworthy. The signature tracking shots of dog-fighters have been given extraordinary retrofits with wonderful CGI integration, and immediately call to any Macross fan’s mind the meticulously drawn epic battles of the original series and its companion film, yet they still manage to remain largely unique. This lies in the masterful art direction and consistently top-notch quality found throughout the whole series, giving the impression of absolute relevancy yet remaining “Macross” enough to justify just enough nostalgia to appeal to any fan.
The soundtrack is easily one of the series’ highlights (though it shouldn’t be said that it is its best feature, considering how utterly well-done the series as a whole is). Yoko Kanno provides the perfect musical accompaniment to the lovely vocals of Megumi Nakajima and May Nakabayashi. The climax of the whole show provides one of the most interesting medley collages of music I’ve ever encountered, and pretty much reestablishes (or at least adds credence to) Yoko Kanno’s position as one of the greatest soundtrack composers of all time.
And then there’s the narrative. This is a show that takes everything the last decade’s anime had to offer, rolls it up into a single coherent narrative, and manages to not only pull off a great story, but actually USE these tropes, clichés, and techniques as something more than they’re usually intended. Its surface-level plot is utterly brilliant in its simplicity, as it allows the deeper aspects of its meta-themes to shine through—particularly its rather odd-yet-genius juxtaposition of moe, school drama, and slice-of-life with mecha, space opera, sci-fi, and action of apocalyptic scope. While this may not be entirely new to the genre—nor even to the Macross franchise, seeing as how SDF-Macross did something along these lines on its own—it should be noted that Macross Frontier raises the bar with its ability to pull these ideas (and more) into a cohesive narrative structure.
Its seemingly simplistic plot allows for character development in leaps and bounds, to the point that just about every character in the series is fleshed out enough to be a well-rounded and three-dimensional device. Despite this, Macross Frontier remains a heavily plot-driven show, as much of the conflict created between the characters—masterfully handled as it is—remains largely unresolved through interactions and relies on plot-driven consequences in order to keep the whole narrative flowing. At times this peeks through as a detriment, but for the most part the show manages to balance itself out. To its credit, it never fully lapses into ungrounded melodrama and angst in order to illustrate character interaction, and seems to be acutely aware of the fine line between well-executed drama and baseless moaning. In compensation for its shortcomings with overall character drive, the plot takes advantage of allegory and an abundant use of vague foreshadowing to create an ever-shifting storyline that never really has a chance to congeal into a set routine.
This is a series that will have you grinning madly with anticipation, overwhelmed with the intensity of the action, and feeling the impact of rejection, doubt, and loss. It’s a fantastic introduction to the Macross franchise, and it’s the perfect successor to the Macross name. Recommended to any fan of anime.
Macross Frontier, the latest installment to the 25-year-old mecha franchise, is so promising in every aspect early on that once the flaws become more apparent and begin to hinder to the series, it still remains watchable. But despite the rough patches the series hits, it is ultimately a very worthwhile watch.
One of Frontier's most endearing aspects is that it carries the Macross mythos while never alienating new audiences. Bringing with it all the cliches and plot devices that relegate the Macross universe, Frontier tells an solid stand-alone story that still connects well with the previous series before it. Frontier also succeeds in carrying as many
twists as red herrings. This is bound to keep the audience on their feet and doubting any obvious plot twist. Viewers may be disappointed later on though, when some plot twists turn out just like they predicted.
The cast of Frontier is one of those red herrings. From the start, the characters are fresh, lively and interesting, but it's all a lie because about a quarter of the way through, they all turn into relegated one-dimensional personas and some, like the sad case of main character Alto, stay that way the entire series. Frontier also suffers character-wise from a large starting cast. Many members of the cast will often be unseen for several episodes because so much time is rightfully demanded of Ranka and Sheryl. Because of this, the series does not properly develop anyone's character, outside an episode dedicated to a single character.
Comparing Frontier to it's primary ancestor is a dramatic change in animation. Frontier makes full use of CG for concert scenes and battle scenes, and does so without giving the series a tacky feel. Everything looks fluid and detailed, but the series has a penchant for being too detailed in which so much goes on in a single frame that it's hard to follow, though its arguable if that's a flaw or not given the psychedelic feel of the concert scenes.
Though Yoko Kanno's OST is not one of her better works, the sound spotlight falls heavily on newcomers Megumi Nakajima and May'n, who lend their singing talents to Ranka and Sheryl respectively, giving us a jukebox's worth of catchy tunes each with their own distinctive style. From the viral Deculture jingle to the solemn "Diamond Crevasse" to the surrealistic bubblegum pop of "What 'Bout My Star", there's more than enough here to keep your ears happy the whole series length.
Macross Frontier was a series whose characters irritated the bejeezus out of me, but with a solid story, beautiful animation, and steller music, I could tolerate them enough to end this series with a smile on my face. If you're unfamiliar with the lengthly Macross franchise, this latest installment to the mythos has enough great elements to sell you on checking out the rest for sure. I know it has for me.
Most series can be summed up in a few words, and regardless of their implications, some descriptions may throw you for a loop. When you hear the words triangles, music, missiles, more music and even more missiles, what is it that you think of? Most well-versed anime viewers should be thinking of the Macross franchise, as this can effectively sum up a great portion of what it's all about, ranging from the original series to the latest installment entitled Frontier.
Macross Frontier happens to be a fairly ordinary anime that in its simplicity, loses direction as it progresses, only to attempt
to get back on track after wasting lots of time. When you break it down, at least half of the episodes are fillers, and a majority of the rest are short arcs that don't really connect and flow together to form a solid plot like any good series would. Since this is not an episodic series, this format begins to hurt itself in the long run, as only little bits of crucial information about the grand scheme of things are revealed throughout the series. This makes the progression of the main plot very slow and unnecessarily dragged out. It's not until the final third of the series that it decides to focus on what can be considered the main plot. Up until this point, the plot was nothing more than a simple "Defend the human race from unknown aliens", which is already weak in and of itself as it's really just a poor excuse for some mecha action, but it decided to take a sharp 180 and go down the oh so wonderful conspiracy route.
With this development that couldn't help but be expected many episodes prior, everything starts to become a giant mess. This was hinted to a few times throughout the beginning of the series, usually only for a very short time period in select episodes displaying things like undercover discussions or trades, so it's not like it came on unforeseen by the audience. If anything, it happened far too late, as the motives behind Grace and Leon who were originally working together are hardly delved into, and they simply play the bad-guy role because the series needed a better antagonist than random aliens. Both individuals having very grandiose goals of wanting to rule the universe, you can't help but wonder how they actually planned on executing this in the first place. It is only explained after Grace O'Connor, the great evil mastermind behind everything, had her plans proceed to completion without any hitch at all. Now, having full control over the Vajra, it's pretty safe to say she holds much more power than anyone else currently, yet, of course, is defeated by the power of... music (Catchy j-pop music at that). A lot of build up was wasted in favor of going this predictable route, and it is basically the equivalent of beating the bad guy through the power of friendship. At the very least, they tried to give some basis for this being possible with information from earlier episodes explaining the power of music within the Macross universe.
Seeing as this all happened in the span of a few episodes, it's safe to say that pacing became a huge issue, and solidified the fact that most of the other episodes were nothing more than "filler" and short arcs. They could have used this time to begin to develop the plot, but that wasn't the case. They may as well have cut out these episodes in favor of getting straight to the point, rather than extending the series unnecessarily. With the remaining episodes not being devoted to plot advancement, some character development should be expected in them, however, it's nowhere near as much as there should have been for how much time was devoted to this aspect. A majority of the remaining episodes used most of their time focused on the love triangle between the three main characters, but the events and developments that took place were usually undermined due to the indecisive and undeveloped protagonist of the series, Alto Saotome. He is also better known by some of the characters as Princess Alto, and for good reason.
And while it may not all necessarily be because of him, he is directly involved in many of the simple plot conveniences used to keep the love triangle from moving forward. Whether it be going out to fight against the Vajra during a crucial time when he was supposed to be with Ranka, or Ranka seeing him with Sheryl and then wallowing in her own sadness about it afterwards. However, with Alto being the resident princess of the series, it's not a far stretch to say he certainly can act like one at times. Ranging from his daddy issues leading to him running away from home to become a pilot, or how he likes to ignore any real problems that he faces, there's almost nothing about him that doesn't scream "Princess". He even has gorgeous flowing locks of hair to accentuate this. In fact, I have no doubt that some would start to question his manhood, as he practically ignores any advances from both Sheryl and Ranka, which goes back to him being largely at fault for the triangle never progressing. Any time it seems like he's made up his mind about who he wants to be with, the next episode has some bad news for you, as he basically does the equivalent of saying "Just kidding!", and begins to show what can be considered interest in the opposite girl. As for the whole "Princess" nickname and his daddy issues, they are touched on briefly, but it comes off as nothing more than the writers quickly throwing together some semblance of a back story so that they could pass him off as more than your average self-insert main character.
Having Alto bounce back and forth between who it seemed he was interested in clearly shows which characters are supposed to be the selling point of the series, and of course, I can only be talking about Ranka and Sheryl. Long winded fan boy name calling and debates aside for now, they both have their ups and downs as characters.
Ranka, who is easily the character who receives the most focus in the series, happens to be the one who receives the least development for all the time she spent on screen (Go figure). She manages to slowly get over her timid nature when it comes to singing, but only because of the encouragement Alto gives her throughout the series. Although this was good however, even with her having the most interaction with other characters and general screen time, she never developed a reason for singing past doing it for Alto's affection. Due to the fact that the time spent on her was poorly utilized, her development was hindered in the long run. This is made especially apparent when you see that a few of the side characters have more motivation for their actions than she does. For the sheer amount of focus the series gave her character, seeing them do nothing with it past the first few episodes was disappointing to say the least.
Sheryl, on the other hand, plays a much more interesting role in the series. Many pass her off as "Bitchy", "Overly arrogant" and many other demeaning terms from the moment she appears on screen, but she manages to easily become the best character in the cast. With her status established right from the beginning, it's not unfitting for her to act much like she runs the place. Providing a stark contrast from Ranka, Sheryl is confident and domineering to an extent, yet still caring of others, shown by her attitude towards Ranka and Alto. She eventually softens up a bit, mostly due to her feelings for Alto since he doesn't worship her like everyone else in the colonies. The struggle she goes through while falling from the top as Ranka took over is far more believable than anything Ranka or Alto went through. Having to cope with her fall from stardom, as well as her impending death due to a disease, she accepts these facts and still tries to move forward, doing the only thing she can do: sing. This made her far more endearing to the audience by the end of the series, as this shows her confidence wasn't simply based on her status as the Galactic Fairy, but her strength of will that was built up through living her old lifestyle of complete poverty. While she did remain mostly static, what she went through didn't feel contrived, much like the case was with Ranka.
But of course, like many other series, one of the biggest problems Macross Frontier presents is the ending. Again, I find myself questioning Alto's sexuality, as the ending provides zero closure for what is considered the main focus of the series: the love triangle between the three main characters. This is Macross, the plot is only there to help move the romance forward, and that's one thing Frontier severely failed at. Not only was Alto himself preventing it from taking a big step forward with his indecisiveness and constant character changes, the sheer amount of conveniences that kept the character's relationships from developing sure didn't help either. Like I mentioned, the filler episodes would mostly focus on the love triangle, but focusing on it is not the same as actually having it progress. Regardless of how much it actually progressed by the end, a conclusion is needed, and that's something the series never provided. While it was very heavily suggested that Sheryl "won" before the finale, the final moments of the series throw the entirety of the few episodes Alto was together with Sheryl right out the window, and has Ranka enter the competition once more.
As we all know, Alto has a major fascination for the sky, more so than for the two girls who fawned over him for the entire series. So what does he do? He doesn't clearly choose either girl, but instead chooses the mother fucking sky. Whether it was intentionally done this way so that the Sheryl and Ranka factions wouldn't destroy the world due to a simultaneous outburst of angry fan boys crying over the fact that their waifu "lost", or because they wanted to leave it up for interpretation, it doesn't change the fact that giving no closure severely impacts the series in a bad way. And when one of the main selling points of the Macross franchise is left untouched, it leaves nothing more than disappointment in the eyes of fans and newcomers alike. While making no decision on which girl the main character wants to be with may be a common occurrence in most harem series, it should not be the case when there is only a love triangle at hand. When ample time is given to devote to two characters and their interactions with the main character, going down this route is nothing more than a bad decision as it should be nearly impossible to get fans to feel satisfied with this kind of ending. It was a shame to see them use this kind of cheap exit strategy after putting forth the effort to develop the relationships in the series.
After all of this, there's nothing left but disappointment in the series. There may have been good j-pop, great action scenes, as well as throwbacks to previous entries in the franchise ranging from songs, to name drops and simple phrases, but that only adds to the enjoyment factor. And as most intelligent people will know, even that isn't enough to save a series which continually makes mistakes along the way. At the end of the day, Macross Frontier had a lot of potential, but unfortunately it was ruined by Alto who could not manage to keep the series flying smoothly.
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Your harem or reverse harem anime isn't worth the time of day if it doesn't have a tsundere in it. But what is a tsundere, where did the term originate, and why are they everywhere? Read on to find out!