Macross Vol. #1 (also w/box) -

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Mania Grade: A

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  • 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
  • MSRP: 29.99/39.98
  • Running time: 150
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Macross

Macross Vol. #1 (also w/box)

By J.J. Matthews     March 01, 2006
Release Date: January 10, 2006

Macross Vol. #1 (also w/box)
© ADV Films

What They Say
A Two Disc Release!
Synopsis: 2009. Ten years of furious conflict and frenzied construction have turned an alien wreck into a human triumph: the colossal space battleship Macross. On the day of the ship’s launch, the world waits with bated breath to witness mankind’s next giant leap. Hovering above the planet, though, the Zentradi, a merciless warrior race, seek to advance its agenda of destruction and conquest. When long-dormant systems aboard the Macross suddenly fire upon the alien fleet, the ship meant to preserve humanity may become its undoing. A war of attrition erupts, taking mankind across the solar system and beyond in a fight to justify its existence!

The Review!
For our main viewing sessions, we listened to the new 5.1 Surround audio. The 5.1 mix is nicely done for the most part. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good showing. There are times when it sounds really great and the spatial cues provided by the mix are nice and convey the action on-screen quite well. There are other times when the volume mix is just off and the effect that you expect is there, but not as pronounced as it should be. Overall, it’s a job well done with a 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. The few quibbles I had with the dub cast in the preview have faded upon hearing them a bit more, and overall I continue to be very impressed with the effort that's been made in dubbing this series.

Video quality is quite good, especially considering the masters for this series are more than twenty years old. This release is actually my first look at the remastering work for this series, and they've really done a great job 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.

It looks like this release will be going with a mecha theme for the covers, and appropriately enough, the first volume features the ever-popular Valkyrie fighter in action, 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. Each disk provides access to the individual episodes for the disk on the main menu, along with Language and Extras options. There doesn't seem to be any option on the menus to jump to a specific chapter. The usual chapter stops are there, but you need to use the ‘Next’ key on your DVD player to move between them.

Along with the dub, the extras are where ADV has really added exceptional value to their handling of the Macross license. ADV has done a fantastic job with extras on this two disc set, and while some of the flashier extras will be of most interest to fans interested in the new dub, there's a little bit of something for everyone here.

Disc One:
-Becoming Minmay: An Interview with Mari Iijima – This is a fun and interesting interview with the voice actor for Minmay in both the original Japanese series and the new English dub. Much of the interview covers Mari's experiences when she played Minmay the first time around, and I found it to be an extremely interesting look back.
-Commentary for Episode 3 – The ADR director and the project translator give a nice commentary over episode 3.
-Commentary over episode 4 – Mari Iijima and Monica Rial discuss episode 4 and some of the differences between making the series 20 years ago and today’s recording.
-Original episode 1 dub. The original 1984, english dub of Macross that was a precursor to Robotech, with what sounded like the same voice cast. They also include a bit of historical background on the original release in the form of subtitles during the opening sequence.
-Previews of upcoming ADV titles and DVD Credits.

Disc Two:
-Line notes – These give a great and rather thorough account of the background of Macross, something any fan would be interested in.
-Translator notes – This is quite an interesting interview with Javier Lopez, the translator for this project. He explains how he went from simply checking the old translation to essentially doing a new one. The translation process from Japanese to straight English translation to English adaptation is an area of the industry that has fascinated me for a while, so I enjoyed this extra in particular.
-Restoration comparison – This is a nice split screen setup of the opening credits of the series showing the original transfer on the left and the cleanup up version on the right. I had seen still screenshots of the remastering from AnimEigo's release, but this was the first time I'd really had a feel for how dramatic the cleanup really was.
-Clean opening – The standard clean opening sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After getting a sneak peak of this release, I was happy to sit down and have a chance to check out the whole volume. This batch of six episodes is really quite a good way to start out the series - covering most of the story setup and character introductions and bringing us up to a point where the story can really start to get rolling in the next volume.

In the year 1999, an alien ship crash lands on a small island on Earth. Earth scientists discover that the ship is far more advanced than anything mankind has yet created and, more disturbingly, it seems to have been created for a race of giants many times the size of an average human. The scientists set out to learn what they can from the ship and also rebuild it along the way to allow it to be manned by a human crew. Ten years later, the ship - the Macross - is ready to launch under the command of Captain Bruno Global, with support from his all-female bridge crew: First Lt. Misa Hayase, Claudia LaSalle, and the "bridge bunnies" (Vanessa, Kim, and Shammy). On the day of the ship's triumphant launch, the celebration is interrupted by the arrival of an alien fleet who want to retrieve the ship at all costs. The Macross and its crew are forced into battle before they've even gotten off the ground, and many civilians on hand for the launch are caught in the crossfire.

One such civilian is Hikaru Ichijyo, a hot shot young pilot who was invited to the celebration by his friend, Major Roy Focker. After making an eye-catching entrance by upstaging military fighter jets with his own fancy flying, Hikaru accidentally winds up in combat against the invading aliens. He finds that the combat aircraft are very different than the normal planes he's used to, especially in the fact that they transform into two other forms, including a giant-robot style mech. In the chaos, Hikaru encounters Lynn Minmay, a teenage girl who was also on-hand for the launch celebration. Although he is a bit over his head himself, Hikaru takes Minmay into his protection when she becomes separated from the rest of her family, who have fled to shelters on the island.

Thus begins one of anime's biggest epics, with its large-scale story of protecting mankind from the Zentraedi threat balanced with Hikaru's more personal coming-of-age story as his viewpoints and relationships are affected by the larger events happening around him.

The first thing that strikes me about these earliest episodes, in context of the volume, is just how MUCH ground the series manages to cover in each episode. It may just be the sort of shows I'm watching, but I've become used to a rather leisurely pace for these sorts of introductory episodes of other series. The first few episodes here, on the other hand, are jam-packed with great action sequences and exposition, covering several major battles and a slew of plot developments. In addition, there's also plenty of time found for smaller character development moments that define the characters and, more importantly, their relationships with each other - such as several scenes between Hikaru and Roy where we see Roy's real-life experience clash with Hikaru's youthful idealism, drawing a great picture of both men in the process, and giving us just enough information about Hikaru's negative views on the military establishment that his decision to join the military later in the volume has some real dramatic weight to it, despite the fact that we've only "known" him for five episodes at that point. This holds true for the other characters as well, with each interaction establishing not just the basics of the plot but the rapport the characters have with each other. We get a clear feel for the camaraderie of the bridge crew, the laidback romantic affection between Roy and Claudia, and, of course, Hikaru's clumsy first impressions with both Misa and Minmay. The way the character building is handled makes you love these characters right off the bat and care about what happens to them...and it's even more impressive because all of this is occurring in the midst of a heavy battle action, complete with action sequences that are so creative and cinematic in scope that they could put a Hollywood blockbuster to shame.

The Macross's first attempt at liftoff ends in spectacular failure with the antigravity equipment meant to lift the ship simply ripping straight through the hull and flying away. It eventually gets off the ground, but when Captain Global takes a chance and executes a "space fold" to jump the ship to safety behind the moon, the action takes a large portion of the island into space, too, including the thousands of civilians who had taken refuge in shelters. And if that weren't bad enough, the fold vastly overshoots its target and the fold engines that made the jump possible disappear, leaving the ship somewhere out near Pluto and with a long, difficult journey back to Earth with a ship full of rescued civilians.

The fold event does the trick, though, in getting the Macross out of immediate danger, and once the ship is in deep space, things slow down a bit and the series takes some care building the relationship between Hikaru and Minmay, as the two of them are stranded in an abandoned part of the ship and must fend for themselves for several weeks before being rescued. It's an important time in setting up Hikaru's attachment to Minmay, as he's smitten by her sweet, unaffected charms and her dreams of becoming a singer. Unfortunately, Minmay's own feelings seem to be more ambiguous, and although she still clearly has some sort of feelings for Hikaru after being rescued, their budding romance seems to stall as Minmay switches easily back into her daily life and Hikaru becomes just one of many young men on the ship who have their eye on her. This sets up one of the big conflicts of the series as Hikaru goes into a tailspin trying to figure out how Minmay feels about him in the face of his own idealistic expectations for their relationship.

When the Macross, limping home, comes under attack again by the Zentraedi, Hikaru's idealism is challenged in another way also, and he takes another step in the process of getting accustomed to some of the harder choices in life. With a little encouragement from Roy and Minmay, Hikaru realizes that he has to set aside his distaste for the military and do what is right to help protect the thousands of civilians and the city they are rebuilding for themselves inside the Macross. As he heads out on his first mission, the stage is set for Hikaru to become an important player in events to come.

In Summary:
Macross is one of the all-time great classics of anime, and this volume is a great start to the epic, with a selection of episodes that cover most of the necessary build-up and start pushing things forward for the characters. There's a ton of territory covered, but the series manages to squeeze it all in without feeling rushed or over-produced, and by the end of this volume, the series has already come a long way from the opening episodes, in both story and character development. With its great batch of extras and outstanding new dub, this release is definitely an excellent contribution to the Macross library.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Becoming Minmay: An Interview with Mari Iijima, Commentary on Episode 3 with Matt Greenfield (ADR Director) & Javier Lopez (Translator), Commentary on Episode 4 with Mari Iijima (Minmay) & Monica Rial (Misa), the Original Episode 1 Pilot Dub, Translator Notes: An Interview with Javier Lopez, Restoration Comparison and Clean Opening 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


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