Macross Vol. #4 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:J.J. Matthews
Review Date: Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, July 11, 2006



What They Say
Betrayed by the military of their own planet, the crew of the Macross find themselves trapped on the Earth, unable to evacuate their civilian passengers even as the Zentradi attacks continue to rain down from the skies. In the air, a new rivalry begins as enemy ace pilot Millia finds her ultimate opponent in the person of Max Jenius, while on the ground Misa is consumed by guilt after an accident that sends a critically wounded Hikaru to the infirmary. And even as the young lieutenant struggles for his own life, the battle takes a grimmer toll as his teammates and friends begin to die in his place. The war of attrition continues in the fourth staggering volume of Macross!


The Review!
Audio:
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 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.

Video:
Video quality is quite good, especially considering the masters for this series are more than twenty years old. The remastering 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.

Packaging:
Keeping with the mecha theme for this release, this volume features a space battle scene, 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 episodes.

Menu:
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.

Each disk provides access to the individual episodes for the disk on the main menu, along with Language and Extras options, and a trailer for Volume 5. 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.

Extras:
This volume cuts back again on the extras, with the most significant extra this time around being Part 2 of the "On Stage with Mari Iijima" interview from the previous volume, focusing on her music career and continuing their thorough look at one of anime's most beloved icons. Other extras in this volume include:

- Character Stats, including some trivia and physical stats for the main characters
- Liner notes providing trivia about the making of Macross
- Clean opening animation
- Previews of upcoming ADV titles

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With most of the series groundwork wrapped up in the previous volume, this chapter of Macross pushes forward into the next round of challenges for the Macross and her crew, including some of the series' most memorable (and tragic) moments. These work to really bring Hikaru a final few steps into real adulthood, with turning points for him in both his job as a soldier and his relationship with Minmay and Misa.

As the volume kicks off, we're treated to the rather surreal clip-show/dream episode, with Hikaru hospitalized after being injured due to Misa's preoccupation with Lynn Kaifun during a heated battle. It really is an ingenious way to get away with cost-cutting, creating a brand new story with the same footage, and doing it in such a way that it keeps the story moving, giving us a bit of insight into Hikaru's state of mind via his subconscious.

While Hikaru is laid-up, the Macross continues trying to find an independent government willing to take in its civilian population, while also encountering skirmishes with the Zentraedi. In the aftermath of one of these skirmishes, Macross has one of its most defining moments with the unexpected death of Roy Focker. I'd forgotten how well this is handled by the series, with little bits of foreshadowing in the emphasis on his and Claudia's relationship earlier in the episode, and giving due emotional weight to the aftermath, but not dropping everything else to have a "very special episode" effect. It makes Roy's death even more affecting, I think, that he's gone so suddenly while the Macross is still in the midst of a fight for survival - a fight that takes another dramatic turn just one episode later with additional losses when the Macross's new protective barrier overloads during a battle, killing Hayao Kakizaki and doing serious damage to a large area of surrounding land, piling tragedy upon tragedy as the events do irreparable damage to Captain Global's chances of finding a safe haven for the civilians on board.

The losses of two of the series' most affable characters so close together has a tremendous effect on Hikaru as he must deal with the loss of a man under his command at the same time that he has lost his own role model. The events also deal a major blow to his relationship with Minmay, as the girl is so caught up in her own world of stardom that she seems completely unaware of the tragedies going on around her. Hikaru's realization of this drives a bit of a wedge between them, and later miscommunications continue to widen the gap. At the same time, Misa is softening further toward Hikaru, and the two of them bond over their infatuations with the Lynn cousins, their relationship shifting to an actual friendship and well on the way to becoming more. The way the growth of both Hikaru and Misa has gradually evolved over the course of the series so far really starts to bear fruit, and I found their scenes together as they really start to bond to be very enjoyable. It really feels like a realistically adult, mature relationship developing, and it occurs to me that we don't really *get* that sort of thing very often in anime anymore.

Also coming onto the scene more in this batch of episodes is Milia Fallyna, the arrogant ace pilot of the female Zentraedi troops. When Milia learns that the human forces have an ace of their own in Max Jinius, and when he actually proves to be a serious challenge for her, Milia takes the rather radical step of infiltrating the "miclone" society to find this ace pilot and take him out once and for all. The Max/Milia storyline is probably my favorite part of Macross, so I'm looking forward to the progression of this story in future volumes.

In Summary:
This volume is one of the more emotionally charged to date, with the tragic losses of beloved characters, a lot of focus on the evolution of the Hikaru/Minmay/Misa triangle, and the ratcheting up of the tensions for the Macross as their imagined safe haven of Earth turns its back on them again and again. While, as with previous volumes, there's not a whole lot here to give sub-only viewers a reason to double-dip, this release continues to be an enjoyable way to revisit the series for those who prefer a standard multilingual edition, and the dub continues to be a notable highlight.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Part 2 of "On Stage With Mari Iijima",Extensive liner notes,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
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: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Macross