“Level seven” because it’s kind of funny (get it? Macross Seven? Get it, I’m hilarious?), but also because I’m certainly not a level 20 Macross Mage. The whole concept of this post is to weigh in on Macross without the sort of EXP others who have been blogging about it have.
With that said… Macross Delta’s sort of dull.
There, I’ve made you angry. So let me give you my History of Macross Watching.
Like most people my age who are into anime and such, I watched Robotech as a little kid. I rented VHS cassettes of Robotech from the local video store… over and over. And then, also as kids my age did, I watched Sci-Fi Channel do anime on Saturday mornings, and there I saw Macross Plus. And I loved that, I tell you what. I haven’t actually re-watched it since, simply because I fear losing that feeling of being blown away.
So, by the time I got to college I considered myself a Macross fan. Obviously a low level fan, like maybe I could cast Yakculture, but I missed most of the time.
(I’m using the goofy DnD running joke to ameliorate the hate I think I’m going to get here).
Suffice to say, if a Macross show is functioning by referencing other Macross shows, it’s not going to do much for me. Now, I’ve seen some people saying that’s basically Macross’s deal now, so perhaps to argue with it is to argue with the work’s donnée, which I can’t really do. I watched most of Macross Frontier when it came out, but just, sort of, you know… didn’t watch the last two episodes. So the final big plot was happening and characters were Finally Doing Things, and I just kinda never downloaded the last episodes. I didn’t think about it much, and the show was always in that storeroom we all have of “stuff I really do mean to get back to, I promise.” But I never did. Now, in hindsight, at least part of what slowed me down was the show’s increasing (but not surprising, I mean, I watched the rest of it) demand that I care about Ranka. I never did. I think at the time a friend pointed out that my Last.fm account showed dozens of plays for Sheryl’s character albums but about 3 for Ranka’s. That’s about right. Now, character preference is character preference, so I’m not saying “Ranka’s shit, and you’re shit for liking her.” I’m saying I didn’t, but the show increasingly demanded I did. So. Meh.
Then Macross Delta happened! I got excited. I could get back into watching current season anime with a fucking Macross show! Shit yeah.
And the first two episodes were grand. Our new female lead was a little annoying, but, you know, I can live with it I guess. Hayate is fun — I certainly like him more than Alto, who was too good at the teenage “too cool to care” facade. So I didn’t care about him. I teach teenagers now, and sometimes I want to deliver big anime dude speeches about how all you’re doing by not caring about anything is creating a version of yourself that it’s impossible to care about. I don’t, because that’s not my fucking job, but sometimes I want to. So fuck Alto, is what I’m saying. Hayate wants to be that guy, but he’s just too excited to do dumb things with robots. I can get behind that.
So what the hell happened? Why do I say it’s a dull show? Well, damn. Episode two has two versions of try-outs. That’s fine, that’s par for the course here. I even really liked the psych-out test in the train car thing. That was good times.
But episode three? Ehhhhh. Here, let me show you things.
I poked around on Twitter and asked how I could motivate myself to finish episode three. I was eating some delicious ramen and watching episode three last week and I paused it, like you do, and. I. Just. Haven’t turned it back on. There are some personal things happening, of course: I hate the “fuck you you’ll never be good enough” teacher trope. Like I said, I *am* a teacher. Basically Messer and whoever lets her do her shit to Hayate are irresponsible shitheads. Hayate skips classes. Sure, that’s fucking stupid on his part. But set the regular goddamn test and let him fail it. Don’t yell at him and come up with some impossible task to embarrass him.
Meanwhile, I don’t give a good goddamn about tentacle girl’s plot. She’s not doing so well in practice. OK. Fine. This isn’t the problem — that plot is perfectly fine. In fact, it’s mirroring Hayate’s plot. It’s being presented in a peculiar way, and I’m not sure I can get across exactly what I mean.
Here’s my best shot: we’re told she’s doing poorly. We see two people we hardly know discoursing on her like she’s a machine that’s sprung a leak. And you know what? I could eat that up. What if we really, fucking really talked about that, about the military-industrial complex and the idol-culture complex? Big business meets the military? Such a new idea, I know… We could be doing that! Fucking military idol zaibatsu running concentration camps for musical talents? YEsssss.
Instead we just get the one-off scene, and a cut to tentacle-child practicing. So… we’re told she’s doing poorly and then shown her… practicing like everyone else. OK.
We’re probably being moved into some classic anime/game territory where talent only appears in times of crisis. I think there’s a line of dialogue about that? But seriously? In a show about learning to do your shit we’re going to use the same tired routine about innate talent blossoming forth at the right time? Fucking practice! Fucking go home and sing in the shower! And, you, show — show us those things! Do your job!
So why the DnD joke earlier? Because apparently a lot of this is intertexting with earlier Macross shows in interesting ways. But I am only a novice Macross fan, so I have no clue when that happens. Sure, some of episode one reminded me of Frontier, but that’s about it. So for a significant amount of the populace it’s possible the same thing is happening that happens to me.
That is to say, I know two characters and the show expects me to care about the opinions of about a dozen. I can’t even remember one of the main character’s names because she’s so damn generic. I can probably only remember Hayate’s because I’m very fond of a certain combat butler. There’s a cat that’s also a fish, and I get that we’re getting to see Macross characters truly living on alien worlds now, but, you know, shouldn’t trainee pilots be hanging out at whatever passes for the Mos Eisley cantina on this planet? Where are all the cool motherfucker aliens?
I finished episode three today.
There’s… actually nothing else to update. I am left with precisely the same opinion. The post-outro clip offers some interest in the nominal villains, but honestly I’m worried they’ll end up more interesting than our heroes, who are, let’s face it, generic pop stars. Macross has not always been about pop idols — this coming from a “level seven fan,” but still, it’s just been about music. This overtly manufactured pop corps is, well, overtly manufactured.
There is a hole at the center of this show. I am led to believe that what fills the whole is the rest of Macross. So Delta is basically the latest concentric ring laid down by the tree of Macross, but shows don’t work that way. We experience the whole tree, not each ring. I’m sure if you’re still with me at this point it doesn’t matter, but I will give it the one more episode every blogger always gives every show (if we’re counting at home that’s up to episode four).