Review by C. J. Scott:
MACROSS PLUS, a four-part OVA series from Manga Entertainment, is a very popular continuation of the classic Macross series (originally released in America as Robotech), but it stands alone as a complete narrative with very little trouble. None of the characters from the original series appear and it takes place about a generation later. Some knowledge of the original series may be helpful to fully understand the final episode, but it's not necessary.
Essentially, MACROSS PLUS is a magnificent and lavishly produced sci-fi epic centering around the development of a new starfighter, but the unusually deep characterizations of the protagonists raise it to a higher dramatic plane.
The key players are Isamu, a rebellious test pilot, his calculating rival Guld, and Myung, a young female music industry executive. These three were an inseparable trio in high school. Their friendship was irreparably shattered when one of the young men attempted to rape Myung. It is unclear until near the end of the series just which of them committed this assault, but it cannot be emphasized enough that this act is portrayed as devastating and tragic, not as sexy or exciting in any way. [i.e.- This act RUINS the lives of everyone involved (including the attacker), and could therefore be seen as presenting a valuable moral lesson.]
Eight years later, the protagonists are thrust together again, and the emotional rollercoaster begins. None of the three could be considered a role model. Guld is drug-addicted and often ruthless, Myung (perhaps understandably) is a hollow shell of a woman living only for her work, and Isamu is an inconsiderate, hedonistic, egotistical jerk. However, they all have some redeeming qualities, and the occasionally evident love they still retain for one another makes for intriguing drama.
Aside from the emotional turmoil, MACROSS PLUS also works as a top-notch action thriller. That's a rare combination in any medium, and it should be noted that MACROSS PLUS features some of the highest-quality animation ever seen.
Approach: Dramatic action that points out how important, and fragile, true friendship can be.
Harsh Language: Isamu tends to curse a fair amount. In addition, if one listens VERY carefully during a song from the Sharon Apple concert, a graphic description of a sexual act can be heard, but it's not really noticeable unless you know it's there. (It is VERY noticeable on the soundtrack album-- that's how I discovered it.)
Violence: There are several dogfight sequences, and blood is shown in some of these. A minor character is killed with an on-screen gunshot to the head. Someone attempts to strangle Myung, and Guld and Isamu get into a fistfight.
Sex: Sexual relations between characters are implied, but never shown (Note: I have been told the "Movie" version of MACROSS PLUS is more graphic.). What nudity there is in the series involves Sharon Apple, the computer-generated pop star who projects a nude holographic image of "herself" on a couple of occasions. Sharon is always portrayed as being very seductive.
Rape: As stated above, the attempted rape of Myung is presented as tragic rather than exciting. There is no nudity in this sequence, but Myung does cover her breasts with her arms after her blouse is violently torn away.
Drug Use: Guld stops an attack of uncontrollable trembling by downing a handful of pills.
Suicide: There are two suicides in the final episode, including one of the protagonists. One (the protagonist's) is more of a "self-sacrifice," while the other is just plain wierd.
Review by Bryan Pfaffenberger:
Absolutely superb anime -- not for younger kids, perhaps (and superficially) because of some rather coarse language and occasional nudity of the bare-breasted sort. It's rather that the film plays so intelligently with all the standard tropes of anime -- the mecha, the space battles, the hot-shot pilots, the technology -- and ironizes them in a way that is stunningly and brilliantly intelligent; it's the 15-and-up crowd, minimally, that would start to grasp the deeply sardonic character of this film.
The hot-shot piloting aside, the film turns out to probe deeply into the pain that human virtuosos experience as they find themselves beset by artificially intelligent rivals -- some on the battlefield, and others in musical performance. Woven throughout the film is the power of the past, manifesting in the memories of the characters who had known each other in what must have been painful previous romances. You are shown a world of astonishing technology, but the film betrays a deep underlying ambivalence about this technology -- you can scarcely drive down the highways without being beset by advertising, and the colonized world (ironically called Eden) seems very much in danger of being paved over. And the music! I don't think I've heard a more impressive sound track. The composer draws equally from south Indian classical music and Debussey, weaving them into tunes that seem to speak from the characters' hearts.
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