Reviews: Macross 7
Good music, good message, weak narrative
I've often heard Macross 7 compared to G Gundam, but actually I would say that this series is closer to part 1 of Gundam ZZ (another red-headed stepchild of its home franchise). After the serious, action-heavy storyline in Macross Plus released 2 mos. earlier, like Gundam ZZ we get a sequel series that's lighter in tone and is largely a self-parody but lacks a major genre shift. Unfortunately, Macross 7 also shares Gundam ZZ's narrative weakness compared to its predecessor. The battles in the series are highly predictable and rely heavily on Stock Footage; The UN Spacy fighters take off, are ineffectual vs. the vampire Mooks' fighters, Mooks capture UN Red Shirts and suck the life force from their brains, Diamond Force is scrambled and are just as ineffectual. Then Basara comes out just 'cuz, shoots speaker pods at the vampires, plays some kickass J-rock, and the bewildered vampires retreat. Rinse and repeat for a whole series (plus or minus a few tweaks, many of which also repeat). This series would've worked better in 26 eps; we get treated to a bunch of filler and Monster Of The Week stuff that really wasn't necessary. Basara himself is a Flat Character from episode 1 to the end of Macross D7; then again, since music is the ultimate force in the universe/weapon against the vampires, whoever objects to his approach is inherently wrong, so he doesn't need to change. Kawamori and Amino really went crazy with the music-as-weapon thing post-Minmei, which shows in all of the later series as well. There are good points, though. We get some nice continuity in the form of Max & Milia Jenius and their fractious marriage and their daughter Mylène. Exsedol Folmo is also back, but he's been Demoted To Extra and is mainly there for exposition. We also get some backstory about the Zentradi-Supervision Army conflict. Fire Bomber's 80s hair-metal style will grow on you, too, even if it seems repetitive at first. Macross 7 shares its predecessor's idealistic message: that through cultural exchange, you can come to appreciate peoples' differences no matter how pronounced—even though here that exchange is decidedly weaponized. If you're looking for a non-sensical musical romp, this is the series for you; if you want epic battles, pick another.
Dethroning Moment of Suck for the Macross Franchise
So, how do you take one of the most hardcorely "real" Real Robot franchises out there and run it into the ground? Not entirely sure, but Macross Seven would be a good starting point to look for inspiration. Seven to me has so, so many problems, the most striking being the Proto-Devlin. I mean, talk about ass-ugly, unrealistic, and just outright boring. There's a reason that they're mentioned only in passing, and very quickly at that, in Macross Frontier, without a one being shown; Space-demons who possessed the Proto-Culture? Thank you, but I'd rather take the Marduk from Macross II than these guys. The other thing is the whole "Rock Band Superheroes" concept of the show. The original featured the military, and really only the military, barring Minmei, and presented them in a realistic light (in other words, human). The mecha, too, were all mass-produced, all of the relatively same calibur (no Super Prototypes to be seen), and sucked compared to the Zentran and Maltran mecha. Seven, however, takes two steps backwards towards the Super Robot genre. Now, I love Gurren Lagann as much as everyone else, but save for Voltron and a choice 2 or 3 others, I hate the Super Robot genre - it's campy, prone to Deus Ex Machinas, and just seemingly uninteresting if you're over 8 years old. The reason I loved the original Macross is that it was what I now know as "Real Robot." Since Macross, there have been more "real" Real Robot shows (Patlabor, etc.), but Macross still stands as one of the best at capturing the "real" essence while still allowing for amazing Gundam-esque battles. So, when I saw that the main characters of Seven are punk-rockers using their mechas and the Power of Song to save the day, I wanted to puke. People have tried to tell me, "But the music's so amazing" - to which I respond, "I want to watch an anime for the quality of the story & animation; if I wanna watch something for the quality of the music only, I'll watch a music video, thanks." I'll say this, if you've never seen any other Macross show, and never plan to, watch this, it'll probably be amusing at least. But if you love SDF Macross, Plus, Zero, and Frontier, do not, for the love of god, watch this piece of Dork Age garbage.