Anime Film Review: Macross Plus: Movie Edition

Macross Plus was originally released in Japan as a four-part OVA in 1994. In 1995, the four parts of the OVA were combined into a movie edition of the film that adds 20 minutes of additional footage. The ending between the two versions of Macross Plus are also a little different. In addition, when Manga Entertainment released Macross Plus: Movie Edition, it was only released with Japanese audio with English subtitles.

Macross Plus: Movie Edition
Directed by: Shōji Kawamori and Shinichirō Watanabe
Written by: Keiko Nobumoto
Starring: Takumi Yamazaki, Unshou Ishizuka, and Rica Fukami
Run Time: 115 minutes

Macross Plus takes place 30 years after the end of the original Macross series. The U.N. Spacey High Command is working on developing new technology to use in their transformable, flying craft in order to replace the VF-11 Thunderbolt variable fighter. On the planet Eden, there are two types of fighters being tested: the YF-19 and the YF-21.

Two former childhood friends, Isamu Alva Dyson and Guld Goa Bowman (a man of Zentraedi mixed race) are chosen to pilot the different types of aircraft. An intense rivalry forms between them when they test their fighters; this rivalry is intensified when former childhood friend, Myung Fang Lone, returns to Eden. Myung used to be a singer, but she now serves as the “producer” for Sharon Apple, an AI hologram who is the hottest entertainer in the galaxy. During one of the test flights, the rivalry becomes so intense that Guld “accidentally” fires on Isamu’s craft; Isamu suffers serious enough injuries that he needs to be taken to the hospital.

After Isamu is released from the hospital, both he and Guld learn from the commander in charge of the testing that the U.N. Spacey High Command has dropped the project. It turns out that the government has decided to go with the Ghost X-9, which is a previously unknown stealth fighter that is unmanned.

Myung, meanwhile, goes to Earth for a Sharon Apple concert that is to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the armistice between Earth and the Zentraedi. Sharon develops a consciousness, and during the concert, she takes over the Ghost X-9 and the Macross and hypnotizes everyone. When Isamu and Guld realize that Myung’s life is in danger, they must work together and overcome the events of their past that broke up their friendship and try to stop Sharon Apple.

I spent half of the film trying to figure out the connection between Macross Plus and the original Macross. The first part of the film is spent on the planet Eden, and the only thing that really seems to connect back to the original series is the transforming flying mecha. Also, it’s never addressed how exactly Eden fits into the Macross universe.

Once you hit the second half, though, references are made to Earth and the Zentraedi; it is also in this section where you learn Guld is at least part Zentraedi. I think the lack of more obvious tiebacks to the original Macross does hurt Macross Plus to some extent, especially for viewers who are familiar with the first Macross series.

The animation in Macross Plus tries to combine some of the stylistic elements from the original Macross series with the more “realistic” looking anime style that emerged in Megazone 23 Part 2 and Akira. There are also attempts to incorporate some early computer graphics into the production; however, since this was during the early stages of computer animation, the shots done with computer animation stick out like a sore thumb, and can be rather disconcerting to watch at times.

When it comes to the DVD itself, there are a few bonus features included on it. There are the episode credits for each of the four episodes that comprised the original OVA, as well as four trailers for Macross Plus: a trailer for the movie, as well as trailers for parts 2-4 of the original OVA.

There is a character bio section, which has a picture of the character and a very brief write-up for the character; the character bio section includes: Isamu Alva Dyson, Guld Goa Bowman, Myung Fang Lone, Lucy MacMilla, Sharon Apple, and YF-19. There is also a “photo gallery,” which includes screen shots from the film, as well as a few pieces of production art. You are able to flip through the photo gallery at your own pace.

There is also a section called “Manga Extras,” which includes five minutes of previews of other Manga Entertainment releases, a Manga DVD catalogue, Merchandising & Catalogue info (which spends two minutes scrolling through the DVDs and merchandise they have available), and a “websites” section with links to three websites.

If you are a Macross fan and want to have DVDs of every Macross release, then this would be a “must get.” For those who enjoy the original Macross series, but don’t really have much interest in seeing any sequels, then this is probably one to avoid.

For me personally, I’d spent so many years watching the Macross portion of Robotech and the original Macross television series that I had hard time reconciling that Macross Plus comes from the same universe as the original Macross. Macross Plus isn’t necessarily bad, but it just didn’t do much for me in the long run.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Macross Plus: Movie Edition that my husband purchased for me as a gift.

Additional posts about Macross:

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