The seminal series known as Super Dimension Fortress Macross originally started as a parody of Space Battleship Yamato & Humongous Mecha series (notably Mobile Suit Gundam). It later evolved into a "serious" series of its own. The name was originally to have been Super Dimension City Megaroad; one producer, a Shakespeare fan, wanted to name the fortress Macbeth. Macross was the compromise.The show was originally scheduled to run for 48 episodes, but budget cuts due to a sponsor dropping out then forced a projected cut to 26. However, with a last-second infusion of money from Tatsunoko Production (which inadvertently spawned a never-ending legal headache for all involved) and the realization that the show had become a huge hit, ten more episodes were produced.In North America, it was prevented from being released properly for a very long time due to Harmony Gold combining the series with with two other series to form Robotech. For some time, Harmony Gold continued to block efforts to bring anything Macross-related to North America and was happy to file lawsuits against anything that even looked like it such as BattleTech, directly contradicting decisions made in Japanese legal courts. This changed in 2014, as finally, Harmony Gold will be releasing the the first 18 original, uncut Macross episodes alongside the US broadcast versions of the "Macross Saga" Robotech episodes. There are also previous English subbed releases from AnimEigo and Madman Entertainment, along with an English dub from ADV Films. Your ability to see anything Macross that isn't Super Dimension Fortress is still limited.Spawned a number of sequels and spinoffs:
In 2003, Sega and Bandai worked together to create a Playstation 2 game based on the show where players take on the role of an unknown UN Spacy pilot known as Skull Seven. He's assisted by two fellow pilots in either Skull or Apollo Squadrons if players want to play scenarios according to the original version or with the movie version.In 2009, a manga adaptation of the original series was started, drawn and written by Haruhiko Mikimoto, that kept the original designs (though often favoring those used in the movie) while jettisoning some of the more Zeerust aspects (everyone finally has cellphones in that far-off year of 2009, for instance)One trope that is seen across all of the Macross series is the Love Triangle. In fact, it has been described by Shoji Kawamori, mechanical designer and co-creator of the series as a "love story set amongst the backdrop of great battles."
After the End: However this version has a major modern city, complete with all the personnel you need to reestablish a technological civilization, surviving and working to rebuild.
And this only applies to the first TV series. Since Space War I, humanity had been expanding into space vigorously. This was partly to ensure humans no longer have to face possible extinction as they have during their initial contact with the Zentradi. By 2059 (Macross Frontier), humanity had built an empire that encompasses 1/3 of the Milky Way galaxy.
One story behind this is that Lovers Again was envisioned for some time by people to be a sequel to The Movie. However, Macross Do You Remember Love was later retconned as a fictional film released in cinemas within the official Macross universe.
Apocalypse Day Planner: This 1982 series had shown much of Earth's surface being destroyed sometime in early 2010.
Armor Is Useless: Multiple ways. The giant Zentradi soldiers wear suits of armor that really should have armor thickness comparable to tanks, yet it offers them no survivability. Similarly, Destroids are much more heavily built than the slender Variable fighters in Mech mode, so logically should be more armored, yet they're routinely finished off in one shot.
Art Evolution: Mostly noticeable in some of the female character designs. Over the course of the series, Misa's hair grows less stylized and more realistic, as well as many of the bridge uniforms growing more intricate and detailed.
Authority Equals Asskicking: Most of the Zentradi and Meltrandi leaders are more skilled at combat than the rank and file. However it's blatantly played up with Breetai, who was able to survive getting spaced, come back and beat down two Valkyries piloted by main characters with a metal club and his bare hands, and then survive one of those mechs exploding right in his face. That last instance is interestingly contrasted with a regular Zentradi soldier, who was further away from another exploding Valkyrie and wearing armor, that was killed instantly.
Bilingual Bonus: The three Zentradi spies are named Warera, Loli, and Conda, which put together reads as, "We have a Lolita Complex" in Japanese...whether or not they actually do is never said, though they DO wind up being avid fans of Lynn Minmay.
Bishōnen: Max; arguably, Lynn Kaifun and Conda Blomco.
Bittersweet Ending: the series came to its conclusion with Hikaru and Misa getting their fairytale ending. Minmay decides to accept this and moves on with her life, even so, the couple remains on good terms with her until they all mysteriously disappear in 2016 with the Megaroad-01.
Break the Cutie: Minmay starts out quite innocent and loveable, but her cousin puts her through so much grief that she would probably wind up an old maid, since Hikaru Ichijo, the man she really loves, winds up marrying Misa instead.
Bridge Bunnies: The original ones! Shammy, Kim, Vanessa, Claudia, and at first Misa.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Roy Focker is an open pervert and an alcoholic, and by far the best Human pilot before Max joins the Spacy, and it's mentioned he once shot down five enemy aircraft with a raging hangover. Kamjin, in spite of his many quirks, is a capable commander, and the Macross barely escaped the first encounter with him due one of his underlings ruining the surprise effect and an improvised Deus Ex Nukina.
Canon Foreigner: In the 2003 Playstation 2 game, three characters are made by Sega for the game. They consist of a female UN Spacy bridge officer named Emma Granger from Britain and two UN Spacy pilots named Bruce Rudel from Germany and Eddie Juutilainen from Finland. It also includes an unnamed pilot known as Skull 7. Read here for more details.
Cozy Catastrophe: The earth gets attacked, bombed, and invaded several times over, with increasingly devastating damage to the population. But that doesn't stop everyone from managing to continue to live happy, completely normal lives with all the power and facilities needed to not only keep going on as usual, but to rebuild everything back virtually overnight. Even on the ship when people struggle to survive on military rations, they somehow manage to continue having a successful restaurant in space. Lord knows where they found the ingredients.
Culture Clash: The Zentradi have no culture to speak of, being a race whose express purpose is for military combat, and are often baffled by some of the stunts the Crew of the Macross pull in order to protect the civilians on board.
Cute Monster Girl: Zentradi are Human Aliens, but the males range in appearance from ugly to average to handsome, with the occasional odd skin tone and/or cybernetic aspect, while the female Zentradi are always depicted as beautiful. Macross Do You Remember Love is probably where this trope is the strongest for Zentradi design.
Dark-Skinned Redhead: Exsedol's original design, though his personality is very much not the usual kind.
Deconstruction: The show was originally intended as a parody of Space Battleship Yamato & Mobile Suit Gundam, a plan which was abandoned early in production. Still, the show was radically different from the typical militaristic children's anime of the time and showed a conflict that is largely settled with culture: proving to the enemy that you're Not So Different and that both sides deserve to live is what really leads to proper conflict resolution as opposed to the total annihilation of the enemy that was so prevalent in the show's day. The message resonated deeply with the Japanese public and the industry and the show's effects are felt to this very day.
For that matter, the show deconstructs itself in its final arc, showing that despite one's best intentions you still can't solve all problems between two warring peoples just by saying they're Not So Different.
Deflector Shields: Two kinds: the trackball-controlled pinpoint shields that were controlled by the Bridge Bunnies, and the full-on shield that blew up a Canadian city.
Dressing as the Enemy by way of Mugged for Disguise: Max conceals himself in bathroom after boarding Breetai's ship and knocks out the first Zentraedi to walk in. And somehow manages to get his Valkyrie to dress itself.
Also, all the planes used in the various series are based on actual fighters. Here, the VF-1 is based on the F-14 Tomcat with the whole variable-sweeping wings design.
Fanservice: The 2009 manga upped the level of sexuality to a PG-13 status. There's more focus to breasts and legs then there was in the 80s anime. Minmay is hit the worst, prompting a cry of "Haruhiko, you do know she's only 15, right?"
First Episode Spoiler: Although it's not included on any of the DVD releases, the original television run of the first episode had a cobbled-together opening designed to hide the fact that the fighter planes are, in fact, Transforming Mecha.
Forever War: The Zentradi have been scouring the galaxy of their Patroller counterparts for thousands upon thousands of years, and neither side has any idea that any other state of affairs can exist.
Glass Cannon: Destroids. They're the conventional ground mech's used by the UN Spacey, and carry significantly more armaments than Variable fighters, yet seem just as vulnerable to hits. Their lack of agility combined with this basically renders them mostly ineffectual in most combat engagements against faster Zentradi vehicles.
Handsome Lech: To a degree, Roy. He did become very loyal to Claudia once they hooked up, though.
This is also something of a Seinfeld Is Unfunny; back then, the idea of a ship over 1000 meters long transforming, compared to the 120 meter tall Daitarn 3, was incredible.
Idol Singer: Minmay - Kyun, Kyun! Kyun, Kyun! My boyfriend is a pilot!
I Know Mortal Kombat: Lampshaded and played with hilariously when Millia fights Max at an arcade game. The arcade owner laments his poor decision of opening an arcade that has games similar to variable fighter controls next to the base that trains pilots.
Improvised Weapon: Hikaru using his Valkyrie's gatling gun as a club after expending all the ammo.
Incredibly Lame Pun: A visual version: In 'Romanesque' the three Zentradi spies are shown manning a toy booth that isn't exactly successful. Just before one of them explicitly points this out, he is shown holding a box featuring a Valkyrie in fighter mode on the front. Except it isn't called "Valkyrie" on the box, but "Harakiry".
Information Wants to Be Free: UN Forces took control of the media and declared South Ataria Island destroyed by anti-UN guerrillas. Global and Misa aren't happy with this since they also "announced" via media that all civilians in the island are dead.
Jerk Ass: Minmay's cousin, local Soapbox Sadie Lynn Kaifun, to the point where he berates Misa for rescuing him and Minmay from rogue Zentradi through force despite the fact that nobody was hurt and the alternative was giving them a warship that would have let them hurt innocent people.
Killed Off for Real: Roy Focker and Hayao Kakizaki. The former's death scene is a tear jerker capable of forcing Manly Tears from even the most macho of men.
Loud of War: The singing of Lynn Minmei was a psychological weapon of mass destruction to the Zentradi. In a meta-subversion, the voicework for Minmei's singing in the English adaptation Robotech, however, is considered by some to be so god-awfully grating that they accept the Zentradi view.
Love Triangle: Misa/Hikaru/Minmay, this was the main story, an unusual concept for the time, with the SDF-1 being the setup rather than the primary focus.
Loving a Shadow: Misa almost falls for Minmay's cousin Kaifun because he looks a lot like Riber, the fiancÚ she tragically lost
Meet Cute: Hikaru's first response to Misa is to call her an "old lady", however by the end of the series they've proposed. Millia wants to kill Max pretty much right off the bat for being a better pilot than her, and they later get married as well.
Zentraedi ships tend to be large simply out of necessity, as the Zentraedi themselves are fairly large. Even their smallest warship, the Thurvel-Salan-class, is over two kilometers long. Bodol Zer's flagship really takes the cake for being over six hundred kilometers long.
Moral Dissonance: In the backstory, the UN Forces, whom most of the protagonists work for, used the Zentradi's coming as a pretext to usurp the sovereignty of all the world's nations and violently put down any who didn't willingly go along with it. It mostly worked out for the best in the end, but still...
Mundane Utility: At one point, a Valkyrie's gunpod is used to light a cigarette for a nearby Zentraedi.
The Mutiny: Thanks to the Zentradi's constant encounter with Earth culture.
Nuclear Weapons Taboo: The series, up until Macross Zero always refers to nuclear weapons as "Reaction Warheads." The reason for this, apparently was an unstated ban by Japanese broadcasters on heroes using nuclear weapons (no such restriction, apparently, held for the bad guys).
However, according to Kawamori himself, Reaction Weapons are actually anti-matter devices where power is produced by colliding anti-matter extracted from Super Dimension Space with matter in real space.
Obi-Wan Moment: Roy responds to getting fatally wounded by playing his guitar.
Off Model: Due to outsourcing for budgetary reasonsnote and is likely up there with The Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) with the amount of errors per episode, some episodes are wildly, wildly off model and look absolutely terrible. Most infamous is the knife fight between Max and Millia, which should have been awesome but ended up being embarrassing.
Ojou Ringlets: Minmay is one of the earliest examples to have this.
Photo Montage: The ending sequence, a live-action segment which shows a hand turning the pages of an album of Minmay pictures. Uniquely, it turns out the hand belongs to Misa and the same thing happens in episode 28
Possession Implies Mastery: Averted in that the crew of Macross barely understand a portion of what the ship can or can't do, making each major move with a different function a dangerous shot in the dark that works just often enough to make it seem to their enemies that they could be tactical geniuses.
For example, in the first couple episodes, they fire the main gun, use the antigravity lift system, use the space warp, and transform the ship. Every one of these goes disastrously wrong on some level.
To be fair, Bruno Global is a tactical genius - he's just also really. fucking. lucky.
Sensor Suspense: In Do You Remember Love?, the scene where Hikaru watches the radar blips representing his squadron's missiles approaching the radar blips representing enemies while his heart is pounding loudly.
Roy's (later Hikaru's) Valkyrie fighter and Skull Squadron, with the black tails and skull and crossbones, honor the real life VF-84 fighter planes and their iconic color schemes.
The Zentradi often speak with a slight echo, mirroring Gamilons from Space Battleship Yamato.
Wave Motion Gun, 'nuff said.
The whole concept of the "Pinpoint Barrier" system (the Macross first shield system) is remarkably similar to the 1980 arcade game Missile Command. That game played with a trackball and three buttons.
In some scenes one can see the Orguss Valkyrie, an Orguss Ogroid in Macross colors.
One of the Lupin III shout-outs was a video game in episode 24. It was intended to be similar to the game "Cliff Hanger", which uses footage of the car-chase scene from The Castle of Cagliostro. The character playing the game seems to be in Lupin cosplay, complete with smoking cigarette.
Episode 35 features a toy shop window that shows the Dynarobo in somewhat different colors sitting next to a rather awful toy version of the VF-1.
Which has its own Title Theme Tune sung by Minmay, which is used in-show (but not in-in-show) against the Zentradi, bringing everything full-circle.
Later Macross series reveal that Do You Remember Love? is itself a movie in-universe (thus explaining its plot differences from the canon story).
Snap Back: The city inside the Macross is shown to be seriously damaged in many space battles, and in the first time the ship transforms. It's always fine in the next episode (there is significant time passage between some of the battles, though). The city was rebuilt to take transformation into account after the first catastrophe.
Spell My Name with an "S": Many Zentradi names are designed to be completely impossible to reproduce in Japanese so as to sound more alien. This has led to some... interesting attempts to romanize them. Closer to home are the many arguments over "Ichijou" versus "Ichijyo", "Focker" versus "Fokker", and "Lynn Minmay" versus "Lin Minmei".
The character that makes up Minmei's surname got changed in the Chinese dub of the series? Why? Because the character for "Bell" (The original) and the character for "Grove" (The dub) have the EXACT SAME pronunciation in some Chinese dialects.
For that matter, is it "Zentradi", "Zentraedi" or "Zjentlauedy"?
Spanner in the Works: Zentradi plans to capture the SDF-1 Macross would have succeeded without a hitch were it not for the unpredictable fighting methods of the defenders, as well as the singer Lynn Minmay.
Stripperific: Both averted and played straight. In the original TV series, female Zentradi soldiers wore uniforms essentially identical to the male ones, which were loose-fitting and covered the entire body except for the head and hands. However, the females' pilot suits for their Powered Armor were originally skintight, though fairly non-Stripperiffic otherwise...but the retconned female suits emphasize their sexiness and femininity much more. However, in all incarnations the Zentradi female powered armour itself is very bulky and only roughly humanoid.
Terminally Dependent Society: The Zentradi fleets depend on a galaxy-wide network of fully automated factory satellites and repair facilities; no Zentradi, even among the Archivists, has any idea how to manufacture or repair any part of their technological infrastructure, and over thousands of years the factories have begun to break down — for example, the Boddole Fleet has lost the ability to make new Glaug officer-model battlepods, and those that remain are hoarded; and after Max blasts through Britai's viewscreen, it remains broken for the rest of the series.
The toy of the VF-1 Valkyrie was re-purposed as Jet/Skyfire.
To both a lesser and greater extent, the Macross itself is a transforming mecha.
Translation Convention: There are indications everywhere in the metaseries that everyone is canonically speaking English, which makes sense considering that the Macross restoration and launch was an international project.
There are also indication that Chinese is quite prominent. Shao Pai Lon (Xiao Bai Long) is a Chinese song, and Kung Fu movies (with Kaifun) are very popular.
Tyke Bomb: Komilia Maria Fallyna Jenius. Sort of. Mainly in that she is used as a means to get the crew of a Zentraedi factory ship to surrender peacefully (if running away in pants-on-head-crazy terror counts as peaceful).
Unlucky Childhood Friend: ( Riber and Misa knew each other since childhood and were engaged to marry. Then, some time before the events of the series started, he disappeared... and later, Misa finds out he's been Dead All Along.
Unplanned Crossdressing: a group of Zentradi spies sneak aboard the Macross and find human clothing to wear as disguises. Unknown to them, they had stolen women's clothing and walked around town that way until people got upset with them.
Vertical Mecha Fins: The SDF-1 Macross, who has shoulder spikes that double as a Wave Motion Gun.
Wagon Train to the Stars: The SDF-1 and the subsequent colonial ships, especially the Megaroad-01. The New UN took these as precautions in case of future Zentradi or Supervision Army attacks and to ensure humanity's survival.
You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Max actually does have blue hair. Curiously enough, he is the only major human character who fits this trope, though many Zentradi are true to it.
Zeerust: We will still have LP records in the future, and no cellphones or Internet (though we do get cool self-propelled payphones and vending machines...) Avoided in the new manga adaptation, which, handily, is being drawn and written the exact year the events in the show were supposed to take place.
Actually, we STILL have LP records now (in 2012). Moreover, normal daily life wasn't depicted enough in the original to say one way or another (and inside the SDF-1 is another matter; Hikaru's handling of the payphone/visiophone actually lampshades this trope). A ten year global civil war could also have caused problems. Last, South Ataria Island being a military base in its entirety, it could have caused a ban on non-military radio communication.