Macross Vol. #2 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, March 10, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, March 14, 2006
What They Say
Locked in mortal combat with the attacking Zentradi fleets, the Macross has finally fought its way across the solar system to Mars, where an abandoned base may offer temporary safe haven. But this planet is named after the god of war and the hoped-for sanctuary proves to be a deadly trap.
With the lives of 56,000 human survivors hanging in the balance, Misa Hayase must put her own life on the line in a desperate gamble that will most likely cost her everything. As the crimson sands of the red planet demand an offering of blood, newly promoted pilot Hikaru Ichijo must find the courage to meet the ultimate test!
For our main viewing sessions, we listened to the new 5.1 Surround audio, and again, it's nicely done. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good showing. Volume two is on par with the first two discs, perhaps a little cleaner. Overall, it’s a job well done with few flaws. Dialog is clean, as are the effects and ambient sounds.
The dub continues to be stellar, with translation and acting that fits well with the feel of the series while giving it a fresh approach that should make the series accessible to new audiences while pleasing existing fans as well. This volume sees the addition of several new cast members, and I'm still impressed with the choices made in casting this release.
Video quality is quite good, especially considering the masters for this series are more than twenty years old. The remastering was really of this series really was a great job in cleaning up noise, boosting saturation and generally delivering a clean transfer. It’s impossible to erase, and debatable if you’d even want to, all the blemishes that come with a hand drawn, twenty year old anime title. I think they found the right balance of enhancements to make the video look fresh, while leaving the charm and obvious hard work that went into the original.
Keeping with the mecha theme ADV seems to be going with for the series, this volume features cover art of a Zentraedi battloid, with a white bar across the top and bottom for the title and volume information. The title itself is dressed up with the "O" in Macross replaced by the UNSpacy logo. The back of the case provides information on extra's and staff, some text describing the series, and two small screenshots for each of the six episodes.
The menus are simple and very easy to navigate. There is a scrolling scene in the top third of the menu and some background music (which repeats a little too often, in my opinion).
Each disk provides access to the individual episodes for the disk on the main menu, along with Language and Extras options, a bit of a trailer for Volume 3. The episodes are broken into chapters, but the menus do not allow selection of those chapters. You need to use the ‘Next’ button on your DVD player/remote to flip between chapters.
As with the first volume, the extras and dub are really what sets ADV's handling of the series apart from previous releases. ADV is doing a fantastic job with extras for this series re-release. This volume cuts back a bit on the extras (probably to keep things on one disk this time around), but I was happy to see that my favorites - the interviews with Mari Iijima and Javier Lopez - were back with new material.
-The Legacy of Minmay: An Interview with Mari Iijima – The conversation this time focuses on how Mari's life was affected by playing such an iconic character. In this portion of the interview you get to see her funky pink hat!
-Commentary for Episode 9 – This time, Vic Mignogna joins Mari Iijima for a commentary of the "Miss Macross" episode.
-Previews of upcoming ADV titles.
-DVD Credits. Still not sure why anyone would consider this an extra.
-Liner notes – These give a great and rather thorough account of the background of Macross, something any fan would be interested in.
-Translator notes: An interview with Javier Lopez – A continuation of the fascinating interview from the first volume.
-Clean opening – The standard clean opening sequence.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After setting up the situation faced by the soldiers and civilians on board the Macross in the first volume, this latest set of episodes starts to ramp things up a bit more - shifting some focus away from Hikaru and Minmay as the only major players. The overall scope of the series starts to expand with several new characters added to the mix, the unveiling of some new layers to the Zentraedi threat, and the growth of Misa Hayase from being just a thorn in Hikaru's side to a full-fledged major character in her own right.
These changes are apparent right out of the gate, as the very first episode of this volume is a significant one for Misa, starting to develop her backstory and giving us a bit more information about what makes her tick. After months of slogging back to Earth from the outskirts of the galaxy, the Macross is approaching Mars and starts to receive odd transmissions from an abandoned base whose personnel were all killed during a civil war in the years leading up to the series. This transmission is of major interest to Misa, since her first love, Riber, was among those killed. When Captain Global decides to land the Macross near the base to try to gather some supplies, Misa volunteers to investigate the source of the transmission, clearly hoping against hope that she'll find some sign of her lost love. It's a bittersweet opportunity for Misa, and we get to see a side of her that's much more vulnerable than we've seen to date as she's deeply affected by having to face the truth of Riber's death all over again.
The transmission turns out to be a trap, and the Macross finds itself pinned down by gravity mines and having to scramble to defend itself from an attack by a new player on the Zentraedi scene - Command Kamjin Kravshera. Kamjin is an interesting addition, as he represents a bit of wrench in the gears for the Zentraedi military machine we've seen so far. While Britai has been waging a steady campaign intended to wear down the Macross's defenses, Kamjin has more of a "blow it out of the sky" approach to combat, and he has a reputation for getting his own soldiers killed in the crossfire when he gets his sights set on a target. The arrival of this loose cannon in his command spells quite a lot of trouble for Britai, and Kamjin's tendency to ignore or willfully misinterpret orders creates a bit of a divided front that gives an advantage to the Macross on more than one occasion.
Meanwhile, Hikaru has been making a name for himself in the continuing battles against the Zentraedi, and his heroism on the Mars mission, in particular, leads to a surprise commendation from the military brass. Along with a medal, Hikaru is given a promotion and put in charge of two new recruits, apparently fresh out of basic training. The new responsibility takes some getting used to for Hikaru as he suddenly has to worry about making sure his new wingmen don't get themselves killed in their first battles. He doesn't have to worry too much about Maximilian Jenius, who turns out to be quite a skilled pilot and a crack shot, but his other squad member, Hayao Kakizaki, is a bit more trouble with his tendency to rush into situations without thinking first. Still, both Max and Kakizaki are eager to do well and they start to form a pretty good team and become good friends with Hikaru.
As Hikaru's new team settles in, the later episodes on the disk start to focus on revealing more about the enemy - giving us a look at the nature of Zentraedi society. It begins when Britai sends a scout ship to monitor some strange transmissions being noticed from inside the Macross. These transmissions are coming from a new television station that has been set up for the transplanted civilians aboard the Macross - specifically from its big inaugural event: a "Miss Macross" beauty pageant. The footage from this contest throws the scouts for a loop as they are first stunned by the presence of both men and women on the same ship, and then extremely confused by the strange feelings stirred up by the sight of pretty girls in bathing suits. When they report back, the scouts can't really seem to describe their reactions, but it's clear that something strange is going on and Britai is concerned enough to try capturing a human to get more information on this potential new threat.
The Zentraedi manage to capture Misa, Hikaru, and Kakizaki, and the three of them are taken back to the Zentraedi's main fleet - an armada larger than any of the humans could have possibly imagined - for questioning. The interrogation doesn't quite go as planned, though, and the Zentraedi probably end up revealing more about themselves than they learn in exchange. Aside from the fact that men and women are kept segregated, the captives learn that the Zentraedi seem to have no concept of civilians. The idea that there could be people in a society that don't serve a military function is completely foreign to them. Also, they clearly do not procreate the way humans do, as they are further confused by the concept of motherhood and childbirth. This leads to the necessity of an explanation of "love", and Misa enlists Hikaru into demonstrating with a kiss, although neither of them is particularly happy about it. This simple act, though, turns out to be a big win for the humans, as the sight of two people kissing seems to agitate the Zentraedi a great deal. They refer to all of this "bizarre" human behavior as "protoculture" - a mysterious term from Zentraedi legends that describe how their race once lived a different way of life - one called "civilization". Encounters with this "protoculture" are to be feared, as it has apparently disabled any Zentraedi fleet that came in contact with it.
I love this aspect of the Macross story, as we learn that the Zentraedi are so much more alien than just their giant size. Their totally different mindset makes for a more interesting conflict, as neither side can reliably gauge how the other is going to react in any given situation and it allows the story to go in unexpected directions at times. We've already seen this happen a few times in the episodes to date, and, of course, these differences will play a big role in the story to come.
This volume really starts to move the Macross story along as it brings in many of the elements that are going to play a larger part in volumes to come. With the increased focus on Misa, the addition of Max, Kakizaki, and the wildcard, Kamjin, and the general expanding of the Zentraedi side of the equation, the series is just building up steam. While, as with the previous volume, there's not a whole lot here to give sub-only viewers a reason to double-dip, ADV has done a great job in making this a must-have release for those who prefer a standard multilingual edition or anyone who missed out on Macross the first few times around.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Interview with Mari Iijima, Interview with Javier Lopez (Series Translator), Commentary Track with Mari Iijima and Vic Mignogna (Rick), Liner Notes, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation
Marantz DV4300 Progressive scan DVD player via HD component connection, Marantz VP-12S3 DVI/Component HD DLP Projector, 110” 16:9 Stewart FireHawk Fixed Wall Mount Screen, Marantz SR9300 7.1 A/V Receiver 140 watts/discrete channel (7), DTS/DTS-ES/DTS Neo: 6, DD, D-PLII THX Certified 7.1 speaker system
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: A
Age Rating: TV PG
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2