Macross Plus Movie (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, June 05, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, May 28, 2002



What They Say
Shoji Kawamori's critically acclaimed Macross Plus is one of the most expensive and respected anime films ever produced. Originally created as a 4-part Original Video Animation series, this masterful story featuring world-class animation was taken back to the drawing board and rearranged as a 'feature film' with 20 minutes of new animation integrated under the supervision of the director himself.

The Movie Edition includes a breathtaking new opening sequence, new scenes that further clarify the relationships between key characters, plus a dramatic new ending featuring extended footage of the haunting concert given by the film's virtual pop star, Sharon Apple. The end result is a film which spectacularly conveys the Director's vision while infusing striking new elements into the gripping story.

The Review!
Repeatedly requested by fans, the Macross Plus movie is finally on DVD. Having never seen it myself, only the OVA’s, I was quite curious to see if it would live up to its reputation as being much better than the OVA release.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese but with the US remix in 5.1 as opposed to the Japanese stereo mix. The remix manages to offer a bit more than the stereo mix by adding a bit more clarity to the audio as well as increasing the bass level, notably during the big sequences with the aircraft. There’s little extra directionality to the rear speakers outside of these scenes though, giving the program more of a beefed up pro-logic feel than a really immersive 5.1 mix. Even with its initial flaws, the OVA release wins out here.

Video:
The transfer for this disc has turned out to be a fairly disappointing one. One of the big appeals of this show is its visuals, but they just don’t come out right. There’s a fair amount of cross coloration throughout the episodes, notably in hair. Some of the blue sky sequences feature a fair amount of macroblocking. The dreaded layer change makes yet another appearance. Though fairly well placed, it’s still extremely noticeable that things just stop and it shifts over. There was also a fair amount of dot crawl going on. Pay attention to the outfit Myung wears early on and you’ll see it. Adding insult to injury is the fact that the disc contains hard subtitles (and varying subtitles at times as well). The subtitles themselves present an issue as they often shimmer and have some cross coloration as well. All these issues together made it very difficult to enjoy this disc.

Packaging:
A fairly lackluster layout makes up this cover, providing a variety of pieces to try and create a whole image. The logo from the show is dominant while some animation pieces and the cover to the OVA series takes center place. The mix of such diverse pieces just looks haphazard here. The back cover provides another animation shot of Isamu’s test craft while the rest is made up of the summary and technical information.

Menus:
Instead of reusing the existing menus, a new design was done up that looks decent but has little animation to it. Selections are quick and easy to access and the layout is standard design for Manga discs, right down to copying the same Manga previews menu and links to their various sites.

Extras:
There’s little in the way of extras here, such as the listed Japanese production credits being one of them (whereas I consider them something that should be mandatory). There’s also a small selection of various Macross Plus trailers which provide a nice reflection on how the show was marketed.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the four OVA’s were released on two discs back at the end of 1999, many people started clamoring for the release of the movie. Most figured it would be a long time before its release since no dub was ever done and there was still plans to do one “someday”. Alas, it seems like that won’t come to pass, as Manga has put out this subtitle only version of the movie to appease the fans.

Having been a big fan of the dub, even with some of its wholesale changes, listening to this in Japanese is like experiencing the show all over again since I’m not as close to these performances. And with this being my first time seeing the movie version, I was very much looking forward to it.

Unfortunately, I find myself wishing I had spent the time watching the OVA’s again. The general plot is the same. We follow the unexpected and unplanned reunion of three high childhood friends who’ve all ended up on their homeworld of Eden in 2040, some seven years after they all went their separate ways and the end of school. Isamu headed off into the military and became a cocky fighter pilot, Myung gave up her singing plans and is now the produced for virtuoid idol Sharon Apple and the half Zentraedi Guld is a test pilot at Edwards base.

Isamu’s found himself being a test pilot for a competing fightercraft while Myung has arrived on Eden as part of the Sharon Apple tour. None of the three expected to meet each other, but their lives intersect fairly quickly and old tendencies and memories rush up to the surface. Something bad happened all those years ago between the three, and the flashbacks provide some insight into it. In the end, both men are competing in their own way for Myung, which provides the central struggle that is macros – love.

The backdrop for all of this is quite a bit of fun, though ties to the original are slim until the final episode. Eden is an interesting colony world that has built up significantly since two of them left. The material in the Edwards base adds a nice layer of military familiarity as well. The big appeal for a number of people is the Sharon Apple aspect, where they play up an AI creating an emotional effect on people via her singing.

Outside of the trio’s relationship, Sharon and her music is the real treasure in all of this. The music used is quite diverse and you can sense the beginnings of many Cowboy Bebop pieces in here as well as other future Kanno pieces. The concept of the virtual idol certainly isn’t new, but it’s very well presented here, as well as its other potential applications.

So why didn’t I like the movie? I’ll admit I was bothered right off the bat. The removal of the voices song from the opening set me on a sour note, since that is likely one of my favorite anime vocal songs ever. The transition from OVA to movie just doesn’t work well for me overall though. With the reanimation of some scenes, removal of others and addition of new scenes and the extended ending sequences, most of it just didn’t feel properly paced. That’s my biggest problem with it in the end. With the show originally being done to fit in 40 minute blocks, the pacing was done with that in mind, providing tension and short sequences at the right time.

Moving that to a two hour movie format is very difficult to do, and I don’t think it succeeded here. The ups and downs as it progressed just didn’t feel like it had the proper rhythm, instead moving in a herky jerky way. So many scenes are done in such a manner that they’re short and to the point whereas in a movie length, you’d space them out longer to add to the effect. Instead we get things going forward fast with poor transitions from one scene to the next and then some quiet lulls. I did appreciate the addition of the post-coitus sequence for Isamu as well as the extended Sharon concert footage on Earth. But this doesn’t help the overall feel of the film for me.

Many of the secondary characters end up getting the short end of the stick here as well, which is unfortunate. These are the characters that help flesh out the world and give it more life. But it’s just the nature of a conversion to a movie format.

I’m a big fan of Macross Plus, but will in the end find myself always going to the original OVA releases over the movie version. Maybe it’s just a matter of which you see first coloring your perceptions. If so, then the OVA’s will always be first for me.

Features
Japanese Language 5.1 Surround,Japanese Stereo,English Subtitles,Character Bios,Photo Gallery,Macross Plus Trailers

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: C-
Packaging Rating: C
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Manga Entertainment
MSRP: 29.95
Running time: 115
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Macross Plus