MacrossZero is a five-episode OVA, set as a {{Prequel}} to the popular {{Macross}} series. The story takes place in the year 2008, nine years after an alien ship crash-landed in the south pacific, in the final days of the Unification Wars mentioned earlier in the series. It involves Shin Kudou, a [[ButNotTooForeign Japanese-American]] UN soldier who crash lands on a small island after a fateful encounter with one of the first of the series' transforming HumongousMecha.

On the island, he meets Sara Nome, a priestess of the island's religion, and Mao Nome, Sara's GenkiGirl little sister. Thanks to Shin, the island is drawn into the war for the unification of Earth, as well as the fight to posses the various pieces of a strange alien corpse called a [[SpellMyNameWithAnS "Birdman"/"Bird Human"]] which figures into the island's religion and may cause untold destruction if allowed to be put back together again.

Like the MacrossPlus OVA before it, MacrossZero eschews the usual SpaceOpera setting for a more personal story. Like the rest of the Macross series, it involves a LoveTriangle and the [[PowerOfRock Power of Music]] saving the world. Unlike the rest of the series, the usual J-pop/J-rock has been replaced with a much earthier tribal soundtrack, reflecting the setting in the South Pacific.

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!!This show provides examples of:
* TheAce: Roy Fokker.
* AmbiguousRobot: [[spoiler:It is really hard to tell just where the machinery ends and living technology begins with the bird-human.]]
* ArtisticLicenseGeography: What the hell are the Mayan people doing in the South Pacific? Might not have been intentional since it's just called "Mayan" island, but still raises questions.
* BeamSpam: [[spoiler: The bird human does this whenever something gets close.]]
* BetaCouple: Roy and Aries.
* ContinuityNod: A prototype Destroid Monster shows up near the end. [[spoiler:Iris' death is what causes Roy to sink into depression until he met Claudia.]], Edgar shares the last name as Claudia.
** ''Retroactive'' Continuity Nod. [[MacrossFrontier Sheryl Nome]]'s earrings were {{retcon}}ed into the scene where Mao looks at her parents' picture in the Blu-Ray release.
* TheDeadliestMushroom: But actually not a nuke this time, but a fuel-air explosive.
* DuringTheWar: The OVA depicts the UN Wars alluded to in ''Macross''.
* TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt: [[spoiler:The bird human singing the song of death]] is a bad thing.
* EpisodeZeroTheBeginning
* FighterLaunchingSequence: It's ''Macross''. You expected something different?
* FunnyForeigner: In the first episode, when Shin wakes up on the island with no idea where he is, he grabs a carved stick to use as a weapon, and later threatens the natives with it. He cannot figure out why onlookers are giggling so much while he's doing this, and one old man amusedly says "You really shouldn't be pointing that thing at another man, son." Later, when the romantic implications of the carved sticks are explained to him, he bursts out laughing at how stupid he must have looked, threatening the island's (young, female) religious leader with the cultural equivalent of a love letter.
* GainaxEnding: [[spoiler:Sara, inside the Bird Human, tanks the explosion that would render Maya Island uninhabitable by [[FasterThanLightTravel Folding]] into space with the exploding nukes. Shin's damaged VF-0, which is glowing blue for some reason, almost sinks into the sea, but surfaces just in time to... follow Sara into foldspace? Maybe? Did the Bird Human grab it using its magic telekinesis? We don't know. It's strange.]]
* GenkiGirl: Mao Nome.
* HarmfulToMinors: Of the violent kind. Children get to see what a battlefield looks like first-hand.
* HandsomeLech: Roy.
* HumongousMecha: Valkyries... or rather
* IdolSinger: Averted. In a notable departure for the series, Sara and Mao are singing shrine maidens rather than idol singers.
* InnocentFanserviceGirl: Sara, who comes in two flavors!
* JustPlaneWrong: VF-0s are powered by Turbofans (that is, NORMAL JET ENGINES), yet are able to 'dive' underwater. But the VF-0 also has a few rocket motors, shutters for the engine intakes, and massive capacitors. It's noted that spending at least a couple minutes underwater isn't going to harm it (the thing is meant to be space-worthy, so one would expect it to be airtight).
* LoveTriangle: Sara/Shin/Mao
* MacrossMissileMassacre: Don't leave home without it!
* MagicalNativeAmerican: Sara. [[spoiler:also Mao although she initially ignores many of the traditions]].
* NuclearWeaponsTaboo: Played straight. Macross Zero continues the tradition of using the ambiguous term "Reaction Weaponry" for things that are almost-but-not-quite nukes.
* NukeEm: [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermobaric_weapon Fuel-air bombs]] and reaction warheads.
* PointDefenseless: The carrier ''Asuka II'''s battle group. It's just more dramatically tense for the battroids to be able to attack rather than be destroyed before they even get there by an AEGIS system (or whatever overtechnology equivalent).
* PowerOfRock: Actually, Power of Religious Island Music.
** Uses for music: [[GravityIsAHarshMistress Gravity manipulation]], Teleportation, Telepathy.
* {{Prequel}}: To the ''Macross'' franchise as a whole.
* RedOniBlueOni: Nora and DD of the anti-UN forces.
* {{Retcon}}: [[MacrossFrontier Sheryl Nome]]'s earrings get added in a shot at the [[ThereAreNoCoincidences Nome]] beach house in the Blu-Ray release.
* '''SceneryPorn''': And not just landscape. The Destroid Monster near the end practically oozes [[TechnologyPorn sex]] [[GunPorn appeal]].
* ShoutOut: the carrier ''Asuka(ASCA) II'' might be a homage to [[Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion Asuka Langley Soryu]] whose middle name is the name of two US carriers.
** Later on, GundamSeedDestiny had a protagonist called Shinn Asuka. It doesn't help that he had Shin Kudou's japanese VA...
** The animation in the opening scene with F-14 Tomcats launching from an aircraft carrier at the crack of dawn is a homage to the opening scene of ''Film/TopGun'', one of Kawamori's favorite movies.
* SpellMyNameWithAnS: There is some minor disagreement over whether the aliens should be referred to as "Birdmen" or "Bird Humans."
** It probably stems from PronounTrouble, as in the islander legends the Bird Human sacrificed its wings and became the wife of the first human being, symbolizing the way human evolution was guided by alien technology.
* TheSquad: Skull Squadron.
* StoryBreakerPower: [[spoiler:The Bird Human. It levitates a half a dozen naval warships, including an entire aircraft carrier, merely as a side effect of ''being turned on''. It also has a WaveMotionGun that can turn said warships inside-out in an instant, and has a barrier that can completely block the combined effects of four tactical nuclear warheads (although this obviously strained it).]]
* VideoGame/SuperRobotWars: So far, only in the Scramble Commander the 2nd. Also appears in ''VideoGame/AnotherCenturysEpisode R''.
* TransformingMecha: Series staple, although the jet form is emphasized much more than usual.
* WaveMotionGun: [[spoiler:Used by the Bird Human after it goes OneWingedAngel]]
* YouMonster: How Nora describes the UN military to Shin, held captive, when she [[spoiler:shows him the scar she got from a knife wound made by rogue UN troops.]] To be fair, we don't know if there were UN troops with Shin's unit who went rogue and committed war crimes. Nora tells this to Sara when she believes the UN Air Force could have bombed the island. On the other hand, Nora could be trying to shift blame from the Anti-UN force doing the ''exact same thing'' earlier on.