"You're that civilian, aren't you!"
"And you're that old lady!"
"I mean, excuse me, ma'am!" — Hikaru and Misa
meet face to face for the first time
Most anime available in the U.S. gets one release, usually
a dual-language DVD, and that's it. Some anime manage to get
two separate releases, usually an unedited and/or redubbed version
of a previously-released anime, such as the first two seasons
of Sailor Moon, or the uncut and redubbed Nausicaa.
By my count, this is the third release of Super Dimension
Fortress Macross, which has to be some kind of record.
Macross has been previously available on our shores
as the classic 1985 adaptation for syndicated TV Robotech,
and a sub-only, remastered, hard-to-find AnimEigo release. ADV's
latest reissue uses AnimEigo's remastered original footage and
Japanese soundtrack mix, so if you missed out on uncut subtitled
Macross before, you don't have to feel left out any more.
If you DID purchase it the first time around, ADV has made enough
changes here to keep you from feeling too ripped off. Not only
is there an all-new subtitle translation and a boatload of DVD
extras, but for the first time ever, ADV has produced a full
English dub of the unaltered original story.
For those anime fans who have never seen Robotech, Macross,
Macross Plus, or any of the innumerable spinoffs and
references to them, that story is deceptively simple. In 1999,
a gigantic alien battle cruiser crashlands on a small Pacific
Island. The entire globe unites to rebuild the ship into the
flagship of the new Earth space fleet, the SDF-1 Macross. On
the verge of that ship's maiden voyage, however, a race of warlike
50-foot-tall alien humanoids shows up to get their ship back.
One chaotic battle later, the Macross and her 50,000 civilian
refugees find themselves alone against the alien menace, with
only the brave crew's resourcefulness, their transforming mecha,
and the oddly effective power of Japanese culture to defend
themselves. Basically, this show is Battlestar Galactica
with giant robots and J-pop.
Despite the often-goofy story (and some really annoying characters),
Macross became one of those genre-defining shows that
all anime fans should see at least once in their lives. Sure,
the animation is dated, but this was the first anime to really
turn the classic genre trope of giant robots in anime and make
them generic war machines. Even more importantly, it made the
characters and their soap-opera antics the main focus, with
the giant robots almost as an afterthought. Most modern anime
owes a gigantic thematic debt to Macross for that very
The dub is as good as you'd expect, considering the cast of
ADV vets lending their talents to it. It is, admittedly, a little
jarring for those used to the Robotech version, especially
the actress for Misa, but the excellent performance of Fullmetal
Alchemist alum Vic Mignogna as Hikaru should win over all
but the most ardent dub-haters.
The biggest casting news, though, is ADV's decision to have
the original voice actress for Minmay, Mari Ijima, reprise her
role for the dub. Unfortunately, her acting is a bit inconsistent,
ranging from "touchingly emotional" to "I don't know the language
so I'm just gonna read this phonetically-spelled cue card here".
While some of this can certainly be excused by Ms. Ijima not
being a native English speaker, she certainly came off as rather
fluent, if heavily-accented, in the interview and commentary
segments on this DVD. Considering that this is her first anime
acting role since the original Macross twenty years ago,
I think we can be charitable and ascribe this to simply being
a bit out of practice, and I'm sure she'll get better as the
ADV has packed this disc with extras, and most of them take
advantage of Mari Ijima's involvement in the original Macross
project. There is a brief but rather insightful interview with
her, where she talks about how she originally came to be cast
in the series and her often-touching relationships with her
castmates. She also contributes to one of the two episode commentary
tracks on this DVD, though it's not really a commentary so much
as her and Misa's dub actress having a friendly chat about voice
acting. Fortunately, it's even more interesting than the interview,
so the lack of substantial comments about the episode itself
can be forgiven.
The other major extra on this disc, the original failed 1980's-era
pre-Robotech English dub of the first Macross
episode, is pure joy. The voice actors are basically the same
crew that went on to do Robotech, and most of the dialogue
will be instantly familiar to Robotech fans. However,
there are just enough differences between this version and what
would become Robotech to make this a fascinating experience
for old-school fans. Most of the other extras (like a mini-documentary
about the digital restoration of the original series footage)
are nice to have but aren't nearly as interesting.
If you're a Robotech fan, missed out on AnimEigo's release,
or just like the idea of giant alien invaders being defeated
by the power of cheesy 80s pop music, than you definitely need
to pick up this DVD.