By the year 2120, humans have successfully colonized other planets following the near devestation of Earth from the last great world war. However, on Gloire, one such colony are surprised and unprepared at the arrival of The Zor, a group of beings whom were the original inhabitants of the planet and left following similar near fatal events. Coming to reclaim their former home world, a relentless war erupts between both races that ultimately leads to a cataclysmic showdown and into a no-win scenario for either.
Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross may seem like your average mecha anime from the 1980s, but in reality it's one of the most unique members of the genre. Unlike the popular Gundam series, or even the other mecha titles by Tatsunoko Productions, Southern Cross is written from the point of a female protagonist. Jeanne is brave, strong, capable, and most importantly, thoroughly entertaining.
Another thing that sets Southern Cross apart is its message. The Glorians, who colonized the planet, are so quick to assume that the Zor are hostile invaders that they launch into a war without taking the time to learn about
the mysterious race. It is eventually discovered that the Zor are the original inhabitants of what is now Glorie, and more shocking still, the Glorians and the Zor are thought to share a common (human) ancestry. Southern Cross takes a stance against preemptive violence and knee-jerk reactions, and the positive, anti-war message that this serious embodies is admirable.
Aside from the ideologies of war, the relationships of this series are the real shining stars. The shaky love between Jeanne and Seifreit is one of my favorites (and has been since childhood); they develop real feelings for each other through battle, trials, and hardship. Bowie and Musica are another great love story because of what their relationship represents: Even though their races are at war, they still fall in love because they can look past trivial, close-minded judgments. Rivalries and family relationships are also important in Southern Cross. It's certainly a series driven by the characters and their growth.
The animation falls short in a few episodes but because the story and characters are so great, I barely notice anymore. The soundtrack becomes a little repetitive by the time you're at the end of the series because it's not too terribly diverse, but what is there is notably entertaining. The opening theme, "Hoshi no Deja Vu" by Katori Yoko, is one of the greatest opening themes of all time - no, seriously, it is. :D
The English adaptation of SDC Southern Cross is the second saga of the Robotech series: the Robotech Masters. It wasn't well-received by the fans and was the least favorite of the trilogy. However, if you've seen Robotech Masters, you'll be pleased to know that the original storyline is much better than the adaptation; please consider giving it a second chance. It's a largely ignored and/or unappreciated series, but it deserves so much more.
"Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross", or just "Southern Cross" for short, is not really related to "Super Dimensional Fortress Macross" in terms of story despite both of them being part of the "Super Dimensional" trilogy. However, the two became artificially entwined after they were stitched together to form the first two parts of "Robotech", the Americanised anime TV series. "Macross" became the first arc, "Robotech: The Macross Saga"; "Southern Cross" was adapted into the sequel arc, "Robotech: The Masters", and got the short end of the deal. While "Super Dimensional Fortress Macross" stayed mostly intact through its transition, "Southern Cross" underwent such drastic editing that
I was shocked to see how much it had changed.
In retrospect, perhaps I shouldn't have been so surprised - it was forcibly joined onto the end of "Macross", so its story had to be heavily edited in order to fit in with the overarching story. Unsurprisingly, the result is a mess; despite the major changes, a lot of the story in "Robotech: The Masters" is still inconsistent with "Robotech: The Macross Saga". Of course, being the original series, "Southern Cross" doesn't have this problem, so watching it is quite a different experience - a better one, but that's not saying much. I will say though, that I was a little disappointed to find that the protagonist in the original story isn't actually the offspring of a certain couple from "Macross".
"Southern Cross" is focused on a military squadron that operates on Gloire (a planet colonised by Earth) as it comes under attack by the alien race Zor. (Note: In the "Robotech" version, the Zor are the Robotech Masters, the force behind the Zentradi from the previous arc). The said squadron is led by Jeanne Francaix, who, in addition to having an extremely French name (the makers even went as far as giving her a name that closely resembles the French word for "French" itself), also possesses an extremely annoying personality. Unfortunately for the viewers, she's also the main character, meaning she gets a lot of screen time in which to be annoying. I find it absurd that the army showed such tolerance for her lack of discipline. Her behaviours were probably meant to be taken as comedic, but it's terribly unfunny. "Southern Cross" had occasional moments that did make me laugh (for example a funny scene at the cinema), but the key word there is "occasional".
The story of "Southern Cross" is a mixed bag. On one hand it contains some interesting developments and ideas, such as an alien race made up of triplets, and the human versus aliens issue not being as black and white (a point that was lost when the show became "Robotech: The Masters) as it normally is. On the other hand, it's riddled with flaws too. The whole alien-human love subplot from "Macross" is found here also - perhaps they were trying to establish some common themes across the "Super Dimensional" franchise, but it just came off as a cheap rehash of ideas. The show also suffers from incompleteness and plot holes. Plot points like the connection between the Zor and the flowers were never really explained, and the ease with which Jeanne's squadron was able to hold off masses of enemy forces seems ludicrous. The ending is very abrupt and leaves things hanging. The show was apparently axed due to bad ratings, which would explain a lot. It's only got itself to blame though - it just isn't good enough to deserve better ratings.
One thing that did impress me is the music; the OP/ED is especially catchy, but the sound department is let down by the voice acting, in particular Jeane's annoying voice. In fact, the "Robotech" version of this character is even more annoying, owing to the character's voice being more so. The animation direction is old and quirky, but I do like the nice, distinctive character designs.
Overall, "Southern Cross" is an improvement over its "Robotech" counterpart, but it's still not very good. It has its entertaining moments, but for the most part it's just dull.
This review was written after I'd watched the original "Southern Cross". Before that I'd watched and reviewed "Robotech: The Masters". As a bonus, I've included below (an edited version of) that sh*tty review. See how generous I am!
I remember watching this as part of "Robotech" when I was young, and I remember thinking how much it sucked back then. Recently, I've discovered how to obtain anime from the internet, and started watching "Robotech" all over again, including "The Masters" arc just for completeness sake.
Well, it still sucks.
Mediocre story; criminal reuse of ideas from the preceding "The Macross Saga" arc; inconsistencies in the story (in every episode the Robotech Masters seem to change their mind as to what to do with "these puny humans") ... this is one crap anime.
The main character is one of the most annoying ever, with a voice to match. There are a few decent touches in this anime, like the illustration of political in-fighting on Earth, and the music is still good. Despite these positive points though, this is easily the weakest link of the three arcs in "Robotech".
This series seemed a little muddled in what it was trying to do. It used many of the tropes of post Gundam mecha shows, but with no real idea what to say with them. As a result there were moments of great fun, but never soared to the heights of its more famous siblings.
Personally, I think the show would have done better letting the silliness factor take charge more often than the action drama. My favorite episodes were definitely those which highlighted the soap opera aspects of the show and minimized the space opera. The lives and loves of the Southern Cross moments were a
ton of fun. The triple form of the Zor and the political in fights between bald bad human and dad general paled in comparison to watching Jeanne get "in your face" about winning a decisive battle for the sole purpose of buying a dress.
The character designs were good, but the mecha designs seemed kind of chunky and didn't quite work. I liked the Zor ship interiors and some of the other background stuff was cool too. Overall the design was a mixed bag in my eyes.
I started out loving the music but there came a point when it's constant recycling offered diminishing returns. I think you could fit all the background music used in the entire show into 20-30 minutes of content.
Overall, I'm an old school anime fan and don't regret buying the DVD and spending the time watching it. However, unless you're like me and love 80s anime, there's probably not enough here to recommend the show,