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Anime / Macross

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And that's just what they look like before transforming.

The Macross franchise is a long running anime series created by Shoji Kawamori with designs made by Kazutaka Miyatake and Haruhiko Mikimoto. Along with Space Battleship Yamato and Mobile Suit Gundam, it's considered one of three unassailable pillars of anime Space Opera. The general plot of each series concerns a conflict waged with Transforming Mecha (and usually involving aliens). In the middle of it all, The Power of Rock comes into play, as does the Power of Love, thus forming the three main elements of Macross: Humongous Mecha, superpowered music, and Love Triangles.

The first show, Super Dimension Fortress Macross, first aired in 1982 under the Mainichi Broadcasting System. Since then, it has led to numerous sequels (both anime television series and OVAs), mangas, and video games.


  • Super Dimension Fortress Macross (1982-1983), the original series, set in 2009. It is regarded as a classic among mecha fans, depicting a war between humanity and giant militaristic aliens known as the Zentradi.
  • Macross II (1992), an OVA and manga series that was made without the original creators' authorization, and has since been placed as an Alternate Continuity. The story takes place in 2090, nearly 80 years after the first series, and follows a news reporter as he gets caught up in a war against the Marduk, who use enslaved Zentraedi soldiers to fight for them.
  • Macross Plus (1994-1995), a short OVA (and later movie) sequel set in 2040 (thirty years after SDF), focusing on a contest between two prototype planes and a Virtual Idol; two paths that cross when three Childhood Friends meet up after seven years again.
  • Macross 7 (1994-1995), a full series sequel taking place on a colonization fleet in 2045, which encounters the enemy the Zentraedi were fighting before they met humanity. Something of a black sheep in the series due to being less serious in tone, with plot elements that push it toward the Super Robot Genre.
    • Macross 7 Encore (1995), a set of three OVA episodes covering additional stories set during the events of the anime.
    • Macross 7 The Movie: The Galaxy is Calling Me! (1995), a short movie also set during the events of the anime that was released with the Compilation Movie version of Macross Plus.
    • Macross Dynamite 7 (1997-1998), a short OVA sequel to 7, taking place in 2047 and focusing on thwarting a group of poachers trying to hunt literal Space Whales.
  • Macross Zero (2002-2004), an OVA prequel to the original series set in 2008, depicting the tail end of the UN Wars mentioned in the series's backstory, and offering some more insight into the Protoculture and their contact with ancient humans.
  • Macross Frontier (2008), a full series sequel set in 2059, nearly 50 years after the original series. It is also set on a colonization fleet, and depicts humanity's encounter (and clash) with a new alien race known as the Vajra. Something of a "modern retread" of the original series in many of its themes.
    • The False Songstress (2009) and The Wings of Farewell (2011) are a pair of movie adaptations for Frontier. Like DYRL?, these movies follow a different plotline and resolution from the television series.note 
    • Macross FB7: Listen to My Song! (2012), which acts as a sort of Crossover between Frontier and 7, while also serving as a Compilation Movie for the latter.
  • Macross Delta (2016), the fourth full series. It takes place in 2067 (eight years after Frontier) on a remote cluster of colony planets. It covers the exploits of Walküre, a group of Idol Singers whose songs can counteract a mysterious "disease" spreading around the colonies known as Var Syndrome, which causes extreme aggression and violent outbursts in those it affects.
    • Passionate Walkūre (2018) and Absolute Live!!!!!! (2021) are a pair of movie adaptations for Delta. Like DYRL and the Frontier movies, these movies follow a different plotline and resolution from the original show's, with the latter, much like DYRL and WoF, being a totally new production.

Related Works

The Macross franchise is the Trope Namer for:

  • Bridge Bunnies: The term was originally coined by fans to refer specifically to the female bridge crew of the original Super Dimension Fortress Macross.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: In fact, one of the main animators of the earlier series was Ichiro Itano, the very man who pioneered the MMM's most common aesthetic look.
  • Roboteching: Sort of... the Trope Namer is technically Robotech, but the name came from the Macross-based part of the series.

Tropes applying to the franchise as a whole:

  • Ace Pilot: While the protagonists do all end up becoming highly skilled pilots in their own right, the franchise has an interesting tradition of having the best pilot in any given series not be the main character.
  • All There in the Manual: A good amount of background material covering the science and technology in each series as well as the events that take place in between them is revealed in the various editions of the official Macross Chronicle data books.
  • Always Someone Better: The protagonist is seldom the best pilot, always being outclassed by someone else, either by a colleague, a rival or artificial intelligence.
  • Artificial Gravity: It's how massive cities that look like normal cities on Earth can exist inside spaceships.
  • Background Magic Field: Fold Waves, a naturally existing energy wave in super dimension space that travels effectively Faster-Than-Light. This serves as the basis for the series's main form of Faster-Than-Light Travel (folding into super dimension space). Additionally, the ability of certain people to generate this through song (Human Space-Time Resonance, also known as Fold Receptor Factor) is used to explain the more mystical things added to the franchise such as Anima Spiritia from Macross 7 and the Mayan priestesses' powers in Macross Zero. The main thrust of the conspiracy plots in all versions of Macross Frontier involves various Macross fleet factions attempting to harness and weaponize this phenomenon, and the singers who can invoke it.
  • Black Sheep: Either Macross 7, which was much lower-budget and more Super Robot-like than the rest of the franchise, or Macross Zero, which is far more character-focused and lacks an emphasis on J-Pop music, instead having tribal island hymns.
  • Bland-Name Product: The names of the companies that manufacture the various mecha in the series are rather blatant plays off names of real life aircraft and weapons manufacturing companies. Just open up a mecha guide for Macross (like this one) select a series and a mecha and look at the manufacturer.
  • Broad Strokes: Macross tends to play fast-and-loose with canon. This started as early as the original series vs its movie adaptation Do You Remember Love?, which depict the same war but with vastly different events taking place. Macross Frontier and its movie adaptations similarly depict mutually exclusive sets of events coming to pass. Macross 7 tried to explain away Do You Remember Love? as an in-universe movie, thus rendering its progression of events fictional, but the Zentradi keep their movie exclusive designs and ships, rather than the original series' look. This gets to the point that the various Frontier productions use ships and characters designs from DYRL all the way up to a hollowed-out Boddole-Zer-class command fortress appearing, which would only make sense if DYRL was canon.
  • Compilation Movie: The franchise has a strange relationship with these. More often than not, this will be averted, as seen by the SDF and Frontier movies that use brand new animation and tell a different take on the story of each respective series. 7 and Plus (as well as II, but that was an American-made recut) play this more or less straight, with Plus in particular being a big offender. And then there are the Delta movies which use pre-existing assets and animation like the 7 and Plus compilations, but tell a different story much like DYRL and the Frontier movies.
  • Cool Plane: Right here.
  • Cool Starship: The franchise's eponymous Macross and New Macross-class ships. Which also transform into Humongous Mecha.
  • Deconstruction: The various TV series tend to take the popular anime and Idol Singer tropes on their day and deconstruct them.
    • Specifically, SDF focuses on a Michael Jackson-esque multi-talented performer and the stresses she suffers, 7 focuses on a high-energy J-rock band and the various personality struggles that the makers of such music face, Plus is a scarily prescient look at what it would take to create a "virtual idol" and the toll it would take on the human being who would have to provide the foundation for its existence, Zero hammers home that musical "stars" are hardly exclusive to the modern era, Frontier focuses on "solo idols" of the 2000s, the way they evolved from the MJ/Minmei mold, and the issues with how seemingly interchangeable they are now and the fleeting nature of fame in a more modern music era, and Delta examines the AKB48-style "idol groups" that exploded in popularity in the 2010s, the difficulties of even joining such a group, and what it means to be "famous" in that kind of context.
    • Decon-Recon Switch: After deconstructing those tropes, the series will happily reconstruct them as the finale nears.
  • Enhanced Punch: The SDF-1 can focus its forcefield on its fist to give it a powerful punch into an enemy's hull, where it then unloads its missiles into the enemy. Later Macross and New Macross-class ships, as well as smaller mecha like the Macross Quarter and even later models of Variable Fighters, can also perform the same maneuver (except the VFs generally lack the missile part).
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Done by "folding" into "superdimensional space", with long jumps eating up a lot of power (which is part of why humanity's FTL-capable colony ships still often take generations to find a habitable world). Though as the series progress, FTL travel becomes faster and more reliable overtime. By the time of Macross Frontier, the obstacles to FTL travel are nearly-overcome. On the other hand, FTL travel for species such as the Vajra and/or the Protodevlin is almost instantaneous.
  • Generation Ships: Form a major part of the setting, with several series being set on them. Unusually for the trope, they're FTL-capable; it's just that long jumps still take a lot of time to complete and recover from.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Due to the prevalence of Interspecies Romance and Human Aliens, human-alien hybrids become increasingly common in the shows taking place after the original, to the point where it's barely noteworthy by the time of Frontier and Delta.
  • Human Aliens: Almost all intelligent species in the galaxy, humans included, look similar to the Protoculture. Justified as the Protoculture messing with everyone's evolution to make them look that way.
    • By later series, humans and Zentradi have integrated so much culturally and genetically that it's hard to see the latter as "alien" anymore, especially once other Protoculture derived races appear that show even more physical differences.
    • The only known exceptions are the Vajra and possibly the Gyararashi (it isn't clear whether the latter have animal or human-level intelligence).
  • Idol Singer: Most often the other major draw besides spectacular dogfights. The Macross franchise has been the codifier of the idol genre, specifically the anime idol subgenre: moreoften than not, the franchise has featured ridiculously cute (almost bordering on Moe) girls in frilly dresses singing absolutely godly songs (just check the Awesome Music tab!). That being said, there has been the occasional subversion or even aversion:
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: Zentradi possess the technology to reduce themselves to one-tenth their size and mass. The original intent was for storage and transportation of mass troops. It was eventually adapted to infiltrate and later integrate with miclone cultures.
  • Inertial Dampening: Starting from Macross Frontier, most variable fighters now have something called the "Inertia Store Converter" that not only functions as this, but converts inertia into extra power.
    • Averted in earlier shows. The lack of this actually plays into the plot of Macross Plus (and, in-universe, likely informed the development of such technology).
  • Love Triangle: One omnipresent trope in the series is the love triangle: pretty much any Macross story is guaranteed to have this in some form or another. They usually avoid becoming a Romantic Plot Tumor, as equally as much attention is paid to the characters' relationships as is paid to the overall space opera.
  • Magic Music: With the possible exception of the original series, music tends to do things which border on this, though it's usually explained as being a product of Fold Waves and Fold Receptor Factors.
  • Meta Casting: The up-and-coming Idol Singer character in any given series is usually voiced by a real life up-and-coming singer/voice actress; examples include Mari Iijima voicing Lynn Minmay in Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Megumi Nakajima voicing Ranka Lee in Macross Frontier, and Minori Suzuki voicing Freyja Wion in Macross Delta.
  • Mini-Mecha: The ubiquitous Zentradi battle pods/suits may be Humongous Mecha from a human perspective, but for their giant-sized pilots, they straddle the line between this trope and Powered Armor.
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo:
    • Due to this trope, the series uses the term "Reaction Weapons" instead. Word of God is that these are actually anti-matter pair annihilation weapons that are, ironically, more destructive than nuclear weapons. When this was pointed out to Shoji Kawamori, he simply stated that "Nobody's protesting about anti-matter weapons".
    • Later series seem to have traded out Reaction Weapons in favor of Fold Weapons as the fictional WMD of choice. Fold Weapons are even more destructive than antimatter bombs, given that they operate by distorting space-time and are capable of planetary-level destruction.
    • It should be noted that these devices deployed by the UNS/NUNS are augmented with severe power limiters in order for them to be deployed in a tactical situation. Left unrestricted, these weapons would have annihilated not just their enemies, but also themselves in battle.
  • Old-School Dogfight: A franchise staple is the clever combination of this trope with Transforming Mecha, which leads to some very creative maneuvers involving partial transformations.
  • One-Word Title: The franchise as a whole is simply known as Macross, though the individual series avert this.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: The Zentradi, a race of thirty-foot-tall Proud Warrior Human Aliens who have appeared in every series (with the exception of Macross Zero) and come to make up a significant portion of the (New) United Nations' population.
  • The Place: The eponymous Macross-class spaceships, which usually act as home base for the main characters.
  • Precursors: The Protoculture, who play a key role in the franchise's main Myth Arc; they were responsible for the evolution/creation of what seems to be every single sentient humanoid species in the galaxy, including humanity, and their powerful relics and ruins can still be found all throughout the Milky Way.
  • The Power of Rock: The other ubiquitous trope in the franchise is music and singers playing a major role in the central conflict. It isn't always rock music, but that gets used a lot since it tends to go very well with incredible aerospace battles.
  • Real Robot Genre: It straddles the line between this and the Super Robot Genre. There are a number of fantastic plot elements but the technology and pseudo-science is mostly internally consistent, even if it resorts to Hand Wave on occasion. Yes, this includes Macross 7; Super Robot-y as it is, the ideas it introduced to the series are picked up and used (in a more subdued manner) by later stories. That said, what truly keeps the franchise primarily in the Real Robot category is that even its most advanced mecha are never treated as anything more than advanced prototypes or custom-modified mass production models.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Exactly what happened to the Megaroad 01, and with it, the original series cast? Thirty real-life years later and nearly fifty in-universe years later, and all anyone knows is that it disappeared without a trace a few years after its launch. No Macross series touched that plot thread until Delta, which dropped some vague hints that seemed to relate to it near the end of its run, but the actual answer is still left ambiguous.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: While all humanoid species in Macross closely resemble humans, some still have a few clearly non-human features, like fins, tails, tentacles, etc. It's explained the Protoculture devoted a significant amount of time and resources into creating all these humanoid species, as a galactic scale Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence experiment. Earth seems to have gained the greatest lead... though the Protoculture no longer exists to continue these tests.
  • Settling the Frontier: The series set after the original primarily take place on Colony Ships and/or distant planets far away from Earth.
  • Shout-Out: "Space Fold" technology is likely to have been lifted from Frank Herbert's Dune franchise, in which space is "folded" to move ships Faster Than Light in much the same way.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Shoji Kawamori was an engineering student and, according to some sources, graduated with a degree in aircraft engineering. The result is that most of Macross's variable fighter designs have very plausible looking fighter modes compared to most Transforming Mecha.
    • Whenever a Macross or New Macross class warship are configured in assault (humanoid) mode and land on a habitable planet, the vessels rest in large bodies of water. This is because the ships are unable to structurally support their own weight over long periods in this configuration within Earth-like gravity or greater. The ships are also still buoyant and their center of gravity, as well as carrier arms, keep them upright.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Though the franchise engages in a fair amount of Deconstruction, it is ultimately very much on the idealistic end of the scale, with its themes of how understanding, love, and music can overcome all odds and convert the most alien of foes into friends.
  • Source Music: There's plenty of moments throughout the franchise where the music the audience hears is also being performed in-universe, since each series has at least one main character who's a singer of some kind.
  • Space Navy: The (New) United Nations Spacy, or (N.)U.N.S.
  • Spinoff: Macross was originally part of sponsor Big West's "Super Dimension" Trilogy, which also includes Super Dimension Century Orguss and Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: Oddly, its American adaptation, Robotech, became this as their timelines progressed. In Macross, the Zentradi become more like humanity, while in Robotech, thanks to repeated invasions, humanity is becoming a warrior race like the Zentradi.
    • This is no more clearly on display than in their respective versions of the climactic battle against the Zentradi. In Robotech the attack is headed by Minmay singing a fierce song about fighting on to ultimate victory in battlenote  In Macross the attack is headed by Minmay singing a song that is a somber and very pointed anti-war song with lyrics that would not be out of place in a Japanese-language production of Lysistratanote .
  • Super Prototype: Averted; while we do see plenty of fancy prototypes, that's because they're usually test units for future mass-production models, which themselves often end up being superior to their prototypes.
  • Transforming Mecha: It was among the first Real Robot series to feature transforming mecha, and the Macross itself was, at the time, the largest transforming mecha that had ever been seen (over ten times larger than the next contender, though ultimately it would be supplanted a few years later by Unicron, arguably the largest transforming mecha ever created, thanks to the success of Transformers).
    • The popularity of the original's toyline (helped by the fact that Shoji Kawamori helped Takatoku make an actual transforming Valkyrie toy) may have helped popularize this trope, seeing as Takara made their Diaclone line in response to this, that later became the basis for the Transformers.note 
  • Translation Convention: It is strongly implied (and sometimes outright shown) that all the human characters are actually mostly speaking in English, as evidenced by most of the in-universe text that's shown onscreen.
    • Additionally, it's implied that the aliens are using their own native languages whenever they're speaking among themselves, as evidenced by the fact that each species has been shown to have its own writing system, with several favoring them over, say, the Roman alphabet or Japanese characters.
    • This may be true to an extent especially in Macross Zero and SDF Macross. However, after Space War I, human colonies grew more diverse and each colony now sport a specific cultural heritage, including language. Moreover, since the Zentradi (friendly to humans or otherwise) are numerically superior to actual humans, it is implied that the galactic Lingua-Franca is actually Zentran by the time of Macross PLUS.
  • United Nations Is a Superpower: Humanity is united under the rule of the (New) U.N., which grows to incorporate a number of other species.
  • Wave-Motion Tuning Fork: The incredibly powerful signature weapon of the franchise's eponymous Cool Starship is a defining example of this in anime.
    • Wave-Motion Gun: Most of the later New Macross battle ships have a Macross Cannon integrated into a ship sized gunpod instead, starting with the Battle Seven, continuing with the Quarter, Battle Frontier and the Battle Galaxy and currently ending with the Elysium. However, Frontier reveals that there were also more Superdimension Fortresses built by the U.N. Spacy, and these actually retain the basic looks of the SDF-1 besides having streamlined electronics.