Macross (original TV)
A Parent's Guide to Anime
Suitable for Family Viewing
Reviewed by Paul Haskins:
Most people are familiar with Macross as the first part of the Robotech series in the United States. The creators of Robotech edited and combined the wildly popular Macross series with two others to create Robotech, but the original series with subtitles is available in the US.
The Macross saga has all the elements that people loved in the Robotech version with some more of the Japanese character left in it. In 1999, an alien spacecraft crashes on Earth. Its appearance leads to war on Earth and ten years later, the Earth is finally at peace under one government and the SDF Macross (Macross is both the ship and the city which has built up around it) has been refurbished and is ready to launch. Unfortunately, a large force of aliens appear and want the ship. The Macross "folds" itself into space in an effort to save itself, taking a lot of the civilian population with it. The rest of the series documents the efforts of the Macross to reach Earth and survive against overwhelming odds.
There is a fair amount in Macross that parents should be ready for. While there is no gore, many ships explode, characters are shown laying on the ground or in their destroyed ships (dead) and two significant characters in the series die in combat. This tended to be thought provoking in my family since the consequences of war are not completely glossed over nor is the grief of those left behind. The Earth's surface is also completely destroyed about two-thirds of the way through the series. There is infrequent mild bad language of the "damn", "shit" and "bitch" variety, mostly used by the bad guys. There is one chaste scene of non-frontal nudity, though this is not uncommon in Japanese animation. My seven year old (reading the subtitles) was appropriately scandlized by the language, but it didn't present a problem. My three year old (who doesn't understand Japanese) went from having dinosaurs eating play men to jet fighters shooting dinosaurs.
There are a lot of themes in Macross that can spur discussions over the dinner table. There is a lot of questioning of the value and costs of warfare and one of the main characters is rabidly anti-war. Both the hero and heroine at some point question why they are in the military. The cost and destruction of warfare is clearly illustrated, but the military is not cast in a bad light. On a more subtle level, Macross displays a certain cultural bias as to how men and women are supposed to behave. Men are supposed to be manly and women "feminine". You could write a book about how Japanese cultural expectations are illustrated in anime, but I'm not doing that here. Just keep an eye out for it. In the end, the tough women can be feminine and the strong men can be sensitive and scared. Another point is that none of the characters in Macross are completely good or bad. All the main characters are fleshed out and have traits that the whole family will be talking about afterwards.
Macross is a throughly entertaining series with a great plot line, wonderful music and ok animation. Half way through the series, our nightly Macross showing evolved from something my oldest son and I watched to a family event with Mom, Dad and all three boys glued to the set. I highly recommend it, even in Japanese.
Parent's Guide Rating:
green (suitable for family viewing)