Thursday, April 17, 2008

Macross Frontier review

The latest series made under the auspices of the tag-team of director Shoji Kawamori and composer Yoko Kanno, Macross Frontier returns the franchise to the space battling that it made its bones on, opening its first episode in a flurry of pop music, live concert drama, and teenagers being teenagers, and ending it in a hail of missiles and indestructible alien death machines. The plot concerns two teenagers, effeminate amateur flyer Alto and happy-go-lucky weird-girl Lanca, who meet at a concert both are attending—Alto as part of the show's high-flying opening act and Lanca as a fan—only to run afoul of a murderous alien machine after first running afoul of concert songstress Sheryl Nome.

But really, the plot is so fully subordinated to sheer spectacle that here in the first episode at least it not only can be ignored, but practically begs to be.

The series' positively obscene budget yields a lively, colorful world with a clear vision of the future, and the concert once it opens is pure shameless, exhilarating audio and visual showboating, an epileptic smear of soaring mechanized teenagers, shouted songs, and bare flesh. And the dance between the alien invaders and the constantly transforming mecha defenders and their swarming clouds of missiles is hypnotic enough that it really is a chore to remember who is doing what or why. All of which doesn't stop the cliffhanger ending, when Alto mounts an abandoned mecha to defend a terrified Lanca from a towering organic machine invader, from being pretty tense.

Naturally, the music—particularly the achingly sad closing ballad—is superb, though Sheryl's pop songs don't hold up as well as Sharon Apple's from Macross Plus.

Review By Carl Kimlinger



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