Tripping over myself to find out who I am
Hit me up on Xbox Live, GT: Crashlegacy14.
So. I finished watching Macross Delta recently. Like, within the past two weeks. So, I decided hey, why not. let's write a review.
I liked it, hell, I'll even say I loved it. To be honest, I went in not expecting to. I remember watching Macross Frontier and rather thoroughly not liking it. Oh, there was some good parts in that series, but however many years down the line it is since I saw it, the only impression it left was being generally underwhelmed.
But this is about Macross Delta.
Like I said, I generally enjoyed the time I had with the series. To me Macross consists of a few notable parts. In no particular order: VF combat, The Story, the Characters, and the Music. as the case with anything I review, this is largely going to focus on stuff that bothered me or I didn't like in the series, but, as I prefaced, overall I did enjoy my time with the series.
If its one thing that Macross has always excelled at and I wish was more common in anime it's was the soundtrack. More specifically, I love that the music was written for and into the show. I know this is generally a staple of the franchise, and later series in the franchise isn't afraid of reusing the tracks in the background, but I feel it's worth pointing out. There's just too many animes out there that will just grab what ever's hot on the charts and slap it on their OPs and EPs or even use it as an insert song. Sure occasionally you have an existing song that just fits perfectly, but more often than not it's not going to compare to music written for the show.
The only place I really have anything negative to say is with the damn Song of the Wind. I mean, I know its the song of the wind, but hearing it almost every episode really got old fast - especially since I marathoned the series so it played almost every 35 minutes or so. Couldn't they have done something like make it a long song and have the kid sing different segments of it? Just to switch it up a bit and prevent it from getting stale?
Moving on to what everyone really watches Macross for: the variable fighters. What? Oh you watch it for the love triangles and characters? That's further down.
The chief variable fighters of the series, the VF-31 Siegfried and Sv-262 Draken III are pretty nice units and I like the designs a lot more than the main units used in Frontier. The combat itself was pretty good for the most part. There was only a couple of points where I noticed any stock footage used for combat, which is always a good thing. There was a lot more raw dog fighting in fighter mode, with a rather small amount of time spent in the other modes. In fact, some of the most notable moments from combat were made more so because a lot tended to be a few times we saw the VFs in battriod and gerwalk modes.
One thing that did bother me was how they handled Hayate Immelman's skills in a variable fighter. They spent the first few episodes demonstrating his unique skills and shoring up his short comings. Particularly that he was able to literally make the battroid and gerwalk configurations dance, and had at least one previous job that involved piloting a gerwalk-like vehicle. It was his displaying these skill in a requisitioned VF in the middle of battle that originally got him noticed. By comparison, he seemed to have absolutely no flight experience until he underwent training that cumulated in him performing a maneuver that was instantly named the 'mercat turn' during a training exercise.
All this effort to distinguish his skill set from the rank and file – or even other members of delta flight – was wasted as he just adopted the same generic combat skills we've seen in Macross … since forever. A lot of dog fighting with an occasional momentary transformation to switch up the action a little.
This goes for the Aerial Knights which serve as the main enemy in theses combat sequences too. The Draken III carries a pair of relatively large, detachable remote drones on the tips of their wings. Outside of one specific point in one encounter where the enemy ace kept the drones attached, the drones were launched at the beginning of combat. This in turn gave Delta Flight disposable grunts to shoot down and allowed the knights to engage in the aforementioned generic dog-fighting without any gimmicks getting in the way.
I was going to talk about the story next, but honestly, its relatively average and not work mentioning when compared to the setting. So let's talk about that instead. Its one of the things that was bothering the hell out of me throughout the show. Specially, how … narrow it is. Allow me to elaborate. Take the main two planets of the series: Windermere and Ragnan. Windermere is characterized by cold windswept mountains with a healthy dose of relatively low tech buildings and apple orchids thrown in. Ragnan is … well, Hawaii … it's just space Hawaii. That's it. Even the native people of the world look like Hawaiian natives with gills and fins pasted on to make them more … exotic. What parts of the planet's character that probably isn't drawn from Hawaii is still focused on the sea and more generally water.
The planets and their cultures are very narrow, hardly ever straying beyond a few words descriptor. This would be understandable for worlds that are only visited in one or two episodes, but these two planets are featured in most of the episodes.
… and let's not get into the naming conventions of local wildlife.
Moving on, the Windermerans (or however that name would be spelled) are interesting and strange. Let me explain: Early in the series it's mentioned that they have superior physical capabilities, but drastically shortened life spans compared to humans. I don't think we ever actually see these physical capabilities. What we do see is their single unique alien characteristic: the rune. The rune is a colored … shape at the end of a tentacle-like length of ... hair(?), they're said to contain fold receptors and fold quartz which … yeah. It does stuff.
What is weird is that the power present in these runes are tied to the Windmeran's life … energy. When their rune runs out of power, they die. But we also see that the power they emit in the form of light is based on their emotions.
Any way, the interesting thing to note here however is that this power reserve is not connected to the subject's age. Windermerians age at the same rate as a baseline human, and since the average time it takes for them to run out of energy in their rune is 30 years, they die young. Freyja even states that until she arrived on Ragnan, she'd never seen someone with wrinkles. Even their 'old' king on his death bed is only 35, and excluding the fact he has white hair (which we saw he had in photographs from seven years prior), looks the part.
This separation between the health of the body and the rune's power isn't an absolute one. It's demonstrated with many major Windermere characters that heavy draws on the rune will cause dried, crusty patches of skin to appear on them, regardless of age. Besides being a visual indication of how much time a particular character has left, I don't see a reason for this. But, meh, anime.
So, I've basically listed what the natives of planet Windermere are in the anime. And here's where I scratch my head. See, to me they don't make much sense because of how Delta so narrowly defined the inhabitants of the various worlds we see. Ragnan's population have aquatic qualities, a Forest planet is populated by cat people, and a desert planet by space Arabs (no, really). The alien qualities of Windermere's people have noting to do with either the wind or cold of their homeworld.
What's even weirder is that in following the wind theme of their homeworld, they make constant references to the wind and flight. Hell, there's cultural says that reference 'their wings'. during the prince's coronation there was even a snobbish line about how the windermere people were superior to the other near-human species because no one else had wings. And to be clear, the people don't even have feathers. It feels like what we got was the product of two different alien designs getting smashed together. One a wind themed, winged species with a strong honor and knightly tradition that were relatively recently both uplifted technologically and wronged by UN Spacy. The other are a people with runes and the limited lifespan that produces ... who grow and love apples. I'd go as far as say that Freyja's creation was the source of pretty much everything that wasn't directly wind or knight related.
Now, don't let this make you think I didn't like the characters of Delta. There was a lot of characters that I enjoyed, some that I put up with, and a few that annoyed me.
Delta's male lead is Hayate Immelman, and when we first meet up with him he's working the latest of a long chain of jobs he's tried while trying to find his place in the world. Honestly, while this does make him seem somewhat wishy washy, I think it helps to make him relatable. After all, how many people haven't searched for a place to belong at one point or another? More over it gives a good reason to why he's not only willing to jump into the role he does, but why he stays there. That's something that many lead pilots in anime seem to lack in one way or another. Personality wise, he's a pretty standard 'nice guy' male lead you'd expect to end up as the center of a love triangle or harem.
And yeah, the infamous love triangle is back, but this time it's honestly a lot more muted. Interestingly, the other two members aren't both lead characters. In fact, Freyja Wion is the only female lead. Mirage Farina Jenius (yes, of that oh so well represented Jenius clan) despite being in every episode, doesn't really hold the position of lead. More commonly, Mirage plays a supporting role in episodes and only really takes a lead when an episode focuses on her. But ironically, this actually works out well for her character since it feels more natural then the jockeying we saw in display in certain other series in the franchise … especially in regards to the love triangle. See, part of the reason I feel the triangle was more muted and honestly better done in Delta is due to the speed at which the characters developed feelings for one another. While Freyja very early on transitioned from 'friend' to 'wanting more', both Mirage and Hayate were slower. And that makes sense, Freyja comes from a short lived species, moving quickly and living life to its fullest is more reasonable when you only have three decades to live. Further, while Mirage definitely develops feelings for Hayate (even going as far as confessing to him), the girls never actually butt heads or even directly compete with one another for his interest. In fact, Mirage uses that confession to spur Freyja into her own.
Note how I didn't say anything else about Freyja? This isn't because I don't like her, she's great. Rather it's because I've already covered a lot of what I'd have to say about her.
Beyond the three parts of the love triangle, Mikumo Guynemer, lead singer of Walküre, is worth noting. Given her presence and central role throughout the series, she's actually closer to a second female lead than Mirage is.
After that … honestly, most of the character's aren't going to stick with you as they're largely just classic archetypes with little to raise them from the hundreds other characters of the same mold. The only exceptions might be to the other members of Delta Flight and Walküre, as we're given a good amount of exposure to them.
While Messer had a solid arc, the other two members of delta flight weren't much to talk about. Arad Mölders, while managing to both be the leader of the main character's flight and never even get shot done (much less die), doesn't really leave much of an impression beyond his damn fondness for the local cuisine. Chuck Mustang is even worse, he's the token black guy of the team (okay he's a Ragnan's not black, but the role's the same), owns the place everyone hangs out at and is completely forgettable. I don't even think he gets a spotlight episode.
The rest of Walküre, while given more screen time, really doesn't fare that much better. Almost everything of note about Kaname is directly linked to Messer and Mikumo's arcs, but like Mirage, she does really need more development as she's a solid supporting character. Makina and Reina are honestly most noteworthy for the fact that the series didn't feel the need to draw attention to their relationship.
... and ... yeah, that pretty much covers everything.
Wanta know what I watched after that? Cross Ange.
I picked it up because the mecha looked interesting, I swear. Didn't put it down because ... I was morbidly fascinated at just how much shit was going to be thrown at Ange. Had nothing to do with the fan service I should have seen coming a mile away.
Still like the basic mecha design.