Macross II The Movie - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: C-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Manga Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 136
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Macross II

Macross II The Movie

By Chris Beveridge     February 10, 2002
Release Date: November 28, 2000


Macross II The Movie
© Manga Entertainment


What They Say
Eighty years have passed on Earth since the events chronicled in Macross – Do you Remember Love? The descendants of the Zentraedi/Meltrandi conflict have established a new society with the people of Earth. When alien invaders identified as renegade Zentraedi threaten this uneasy alliance, the Super Dimensional Fortress Macross must resurrect itself after generations of inactivity to fight against the enemy forces.

Hibiki Kanzaki, an investigative reporter for Scramble News Network (SNN) is caught up in the battle when he inadvertently allies himself with Ishtar, an enigmatic Zentraedi princess. Enlisting the help of spirited Valkyrie pilot Silvie Gena, Hibiki rushes to save Ishtar from imminent “reprogramming” by hostile Zentraedi. Silvie and Hibiki must also broadcast the truth about Zentraedi invasion and convince the powerful military complex U.N. spacey to reactivate the Macross fortress and defend Earth one last time.

The Review!
For some Macross fans, any Macross is good Macross. Even when it's not so good. Let me apply my Macross junkie label on my forehead right now.

Audio:
This is a very good sounding disc, at least on the Japanese side of things. The English track we spot checked and didn't hear any real issues. Dialogue throughout is clean and undistorted. Considering the age of the materials, we hauled out our old VHS tape to compare the opening songs from that and the DVD. What a marked difference. It's not often we're able to do these kinds of comparisons, but the DVD audio quality is much fuller and warm sounding. The VHS sounded very hollow and tinny at times.

Video:
Unfortunately things don't improve a whole heck of a lot here though. Right from the get go, you'll notice a lot of grain. I mean, a lot of grain. It's most noticeable during scenes with deep blues and blacks, such as, well, about 50% of the show I'd say. There's a persistent level of edge enhancement/jaggies throughout as well, mostly being accentuated by the grain. Rainbows are fairly minimal, though you'll note them here and there such as in the edges of characters hair. A few sequences had some color bleeding, but things looked decent in this respect for the most part. As with the audio, we had the tape to do a comparison with and we found the exact same issues there, though it seems as if the DVD has brought them a touch more to the forefront. The one real disc related flaw is at the layer switch. The screen goes black for a few seconds and the music, which is played across the scene, is interrupted as well. I believe this marks three discs in a row from Manga that have had flawed layer changes.

Also worth noting is that there are hard matted subtitles on the video. The Marduk, when speaking in their language (i.e. not Japanese) have hard matted English subtitles and I believe the Japanese release back then had hard matted Japanese subtitles. What gets amusing is when the final two episodes are reached, the style format used changes as I believe they were in the process of changing ownership at that time. The font used in the final two for the Marduk speech is more blurry and less defined than in the first couple of episodes.

Packaging:
From the looks of things, this is practically the same packaging as used when the movie version of the OVA's was released on VHS. The front cover has a decent shot of Hibiki and a Valkyrie, though you'd think they'd have either Sylvie or Ishtar included as well. The insert contains some great pieces of poster artwork that was used during its initial release.

Menus:
The menus are pretty basic but very functional. Access times are very quick and as there's not much layering, very easy to navigate.

Extras:
The two main extras included is a creditless ending (labeled as a music video) with hard matted subtitles. The conceptual artwork gallery contains several good pieces of artwork with a really neat way of laying it out. When you go into this submenu, you essentially get a scene selection menu, with each selection leading to one piece of artwork. So you can pick and choose which ones you want to see without having to go through all of them. Very nice.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As I mentioned earlier, I'm indeed a Macross junkie. When Macross II was being released here in the U.S., it was one of the first releases that really followed closely on the heels of the Japanese release and there was a big to-do about it at the time. After all, it was Macross! Most fans, regardless of whether they liked Robotech, knew the story behind why it was like it was, and this was the first chance to get new Macross and subtitled at that. I remember the tantalizing peeks about it at the time and really looked forward to it.

After it came out, it caused a wide variety of reactions. Some loved it, some hated it. Even the people who made it seemed to be at odds about it. Originally billed as a sequel to the Macross TV series, it then became a sequel to the Macross movie, which is considered a "movie within the TV series characters world". It didn't take too long after that to be considered an alternate reality telling and then finally written off as something that they'd rather not talk about.

The story of Macross II takes place 80 years after the events of Macross. The world has moved on from the days of terror and the UN Spacy Military seems to have assumed a substantial role as the government, or at least keeping things in order. Every so often, the enemy Zentraedi of the universe happen upon Earth and take up the fight again. It's been ten years since the last such encounter, so there's a fair share of rookies throughout the fighting class of the military.

As opposed to the heroes of the original story, the main character this time around is a male civilian reporter who's more interested in ratings than going into details of a story. It's almost tabloid journalism. Hibiki's the current hot shot in this regard and it rankles both his both and some of the elder folks at SNN. When the latest group of Zentraedi show up, he manages to tag along to help cover the event and gets his first view of what war really is.

There's something different about this group of invaders though. The Macross forces pull out their standard gear with the Minmay Defense, a series of satellites that project a holographic image of the (presumably) dead singer who saved the Earth in the past. The music kicks off and the lyrics spread into the enemy fighters, causing confusion and panic.

Unlike previous encounters, the Macross forces learn that these Zentraedi actually have music themselves, though designed for war instead of the peace and love of the Macross songs. This starts shifting the war in the favor of these new Zentraedi.

There's a lot of things throughout these six episodes that are done quite well. The big Valkyrie flight/fight sequences are fairly well animated for the time and the animation in general is pretty solid. My absolute favorite character design, Haruhiko Mikimoto came back to the Macross fold to provide the designs here and it shows. Ishtar is a wonderfully conceptualized character and Sylvie Gena is a departure from what we saw in the original Macross series. There's also a few homages to the original cast scattered throughout.

So what goes wrong? The problem is really two-fold and it depends on where you come from. If you've never seen Macross or Robotech before, then a lot of things either don't make sense or you just don't realize. A lot of what is taken for granted here in the show is really dependent on having seen Macross and knowing the outcome of that series. Even the movie doesn't cover the important parts that happened after the initial 26 of 36 episodes. When the original SDF-1 is brought out of retirement in this series, you have to wonder the signifigance of such an old piece of junk if you've never seen it. Fans of the original and/or Robotech will know the signifigance of it, as well as the relationship between the crossbred humans, Zentraedi/Metlandi, etc. It's really too bad that new viewers will miss so much.

The second problem is the lack of an overall goal here. The invaders are simply here to fight and conquer. Not even really conquer, but to simply eliminate the enemy to spread their dominance. While this does provide a decent backdrop for standard mecha fighting shows that touch on various aspects of war and character interactions, it's hardly what Macross fans were expecting after that highly emotional and deeply affecting series.

To cap off the review, I offer a pro/con aspect unrelated to things above: Originally released as three VHS tapes for I believe 24.95$, getting it all on one DVD (sans ending, though no content was cut in making it one continuous show) is a big bonus. Slipping one DVD into the space taken up by three VHS tapes really frees things up. On the downside, there's zero mention of the Japanese voice actors, which is a real shame as after all these years, I'd love to remember who did what.

For a title that was originally solicited with an 8/25/1998 release date, it's taken its time in coming. It's unfortunate that the source materials available to Manga weren't the best, but with them having originally come from US Renditions/LA Hero, hoping for more may have been a mistake.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Image Gallery,Music Video (aka creditless ending)

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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