[Country: Japan; Director: Shoji Kawamori, Shinichiro Watanabe; roducer: Shinji Nakashima, Minoru Takanashi]
Cast: Rica Fukami, Banjo Ginga, Sho Hayami, Megumi Hayashibara
Running Time: 35 min (4 episodes)
Plot: Legendary animation director Shoji Kawamori injects high octane fuel into sci-fi series as rival space age pilots compete for Top Gun honors and the affections of a beautiful girl.
This miniseries has been one of the most popular animes imported to the United States. Essentially an update of the old Superdimensional Fortress Macross TV series (1/3 of the storyline that became Robotech on U.S. television), the character design and computer-animated sequences set trends for years of anime to come. It’s too bad it’s no good.
Because hiding under all the design work, the realistic flying scenes (researched by the animators at Edwards Airforce Base in California, which is also reflected in the design of the “alien” planet), and the robot action is the most hackneyed, maudlin story possible. Two guys, childhood friends with dreams of flying, vie for the same girl as they test-pilot experimental planes, fight both in and out of their job, and finally battle against an evil conspiracy (this tired story was later blatantly “borrowed” again by Jerry Bruckenheimer and Michael Bay for their awful Pearl Harbor film). For Macross fans, I guess the big deal was the singing: in the original, Minmai’s singing saved the world. In this series, Sharon Apple’s singing could destroy it.
The music by Yoko Kanno is amazingly good. It stands on its own on the soundtrack cds. But the problem is that it stands better on its own than in this overdone story. Looking for a good anime miniseries? Watch Giant Robo or Bubblegum Crisis or the original Patlabor OAV instead. But don’t waste your time on this one.