Macross II Anime Review
超時空要塞マクロスII LOVERS AGAIN
Choujikuu Yousai Makurosu II: Lovers Again
Super Dimensional Star Fortress
US Release By
Transforming Mecha Space Opera
6 25-minute episodes
1992-05-21 - 1992-11-21
What's In It
- Space Dogfights
- Massive Space Battles
- Super Technology
- Lots and Lots of Space Ships
- Transforming Mecha
- Violence: 3 (significant)
- Nudity: 1 (mild)
- Sex: 1 (mild)
- Language: 2 (moderate)
After the great Zentraedi war, Earth has enjoyed decades of peace and prosperity. But now, investigative reporter Hibiki Kanzaki is out covering a huge scoop: "The Minmay Defense," a formerly foolproof tactic that uses Earth's music to confuse invading Zentraedi, might one day fail.
As if on cue, a Zentraedi fleet soon appears on the outskirts of the solar system and attacks, but this time they aren't alone. Commanding them are the Marduk, a micronian race who have learned to use songs of their own to stimulate and control the Zentraedi. Hibiki sets off to cover the battle, and while he barely escapes with his life he brings home a mysterious woman named Ishtar.
Another great war is about to begin. On one side there are the Marduk, determined to destroy Earth and its culture at any cost. On the other is UN Spacy, Earth's defense force, preparing for a desperate fight with the massive invading fleet while trying to conceal all this from the populace of Earth. Caught in the middle are Hibiki, determined to let the people know how precarious their situation is, Ishtar, who believes she can bring peace to her race by introducing them to Earth's culture, and ace Valkyrie pilot Silvie Gena, wrestling with her conscience, her sense of duty, and the possibility that this enemy woman's dream of peace might be Earth's only chance of survival.
Quick ReviewSwitch to Full Review
Macross II has a lot going for it: Fine art and character designs, impressive mecha action, vast space battles, interesting story and characters, solid acting in the dub, and quality music in a variety of styles. It also has some major flaws: Shaky writing, lackluster character animation, and terribly edited English dialogue. On balance, it falls short of its potential but is still an enjoyable chunk of the Macross saga or just stand-alone space opera.
Definitely worth at least a look for Macross fans, but doesn't require any experience with the series, so lovers of space opera might give it a try, too.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
Macross II is another OAV entry in the ongoing Macross saga. It is also solid enough sci-fi to be enjoyed by fans and the unfamiliar alike. Although hampered by the Macross premise and a clunky dub, this attractive series strikes a good balance of action, drama, and sci-fi flavor.
The standing Macross premise--pop music saves the galaxy--has always been rather silly, but Macross II handles it as well as can be expected. The people of Earth never make it out to be more than music, and as long as you're willing to accept that it's the idea of love and emotion that's really doing the work, it's not that much of an issue. Aside from this, the effort taken to make the world seem realistic is commendable. The Marduk speak another language consistently (it's subtitled, even in the dub), the reactions of the press and the military seem plausible, and there are other similarly nice touches here and there.
The fundamentals of the story are quite good: interesting characters, a few original ideas, a functional political background, and even some thought-provoking situations. Unfortunately, the writing doesn't keep up. The pacing is a little off, parts of the plot and some of the characters' reactions (mostly Hibiki's) are contrived, and the dialogue is awkward in spots. It does, however, get its footing after a while, and even with all its flaws the story held my attention.
Macross II is also a sharp-looking, well-drawn series, particularly given its age. The character designs are by old-school master Haruhiko Mikimoto, whose classically styled faces have lots of variety and are pleasing to the eye. They also manage to be expressive without being too exaggerated, although the character animation is a bit rough. The mecha and space battles, however, are smoothly animated, and there are a few outstanding action scenes. Speaking of which, as you might expect from something with Macross in the title, there's no shortage of transforming robots and massive fleets of giant space ships, all of which are well designed (inside and out) and rendered beautifully onscreen.
Aurally I can only speak for the English dub, which is very uneven. The script suffers from terrible lines here and there, and the acting is marred by random, awkward pauses. It is possible the halting timing is due to freak script spacing or just plain bad acting, but much more likely (particularly considering how consistent it is) the editing is to blame. It's too bad, since for the most part the casting and acting are good in spite of the script. Hibiki (Jonathan Fahn) is a little whiny at times, but if you ignore the odd gaps and occasional clunker of a line, the dub could even be called good. Susan Byrkett gives a standout performance as Silvie, and Ishtar's voice is very distinctive, fitting the character well.
Finally, though it's almost a given in a Macross series, there's some fine music to be heard. The requisite Japanese pop songs (left in Japanese in the dub) are catchy, but not spectacular. Coming a little closer to the alien beauty of the songs in Macross Plus is the song of the Marduk Emulators. It only comes into play a few times, but the eerie, semi-musical wailing not only does a marvelous job of setting up the Marduk, it also makes for a couple of very unnerving battle scenes. The rest of Shiro Sagisu's background music is made up of a well-orchestrated traditional film score that would be at home in a major theatrical movie.
Macross II has a lot going for it: Fine art and character designs, impressive action, interesting story and characters, solid acting in the dub, and quality music in a variety of styles. It also has some major flaws: Shaky writing, lackluster character animation, and terribly edited English dialogue. On balance, it falls short of its potential, but is still an enjoyable chunk of space opera. Definitely worth at least a look for Macross fans, but doesn't require any experience with the series, so lovers of space opera might give it a try, too.
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Note that much of what this tried to be Macross Plus actually is, so that series is required viewing if you enjoyed this and haven't already seen it. Also somewhat similar is Gunbuster; the premise is quite different, but much of the feel is the same.
Notes and Trivia
Part of the ongoing Macross franchise. The story is set 80 years after the previous installment in the Macross Saga, Macross '84: Do You Remember Love. Note, however, that this series was only licensed by the owners of the Macross franchise, and its production didn't involve much of the "official" Macross creative staff. As such, some Macross aficionados consider it a sort of "parallel universe" story outside the rest of the Macross series.
Although Manga sells the DVD as "Macross II: The Movie," it's actually just the six-part OAV series stuck together without credits.
Confusingly, though, there actually is a shorter theatrical cut, and not only is it still around, it's labeled exactly the same--the only way to tell the difference is the shorter hour-and-a-half runtime. Way back in 1993 related to the U.S. Renditions release, there was a limited theatrical run of this edited version. Manga also did a limited theatrical run of that version starting 2000-11-28. Since it was originally an OAV, it's of course not widescreen.
If you're interested in seeing that abridged theatrical cut, Manga itself has, quite generously, put the whole thing up on YouTube (and Hulu) for free. You can also buy or rent it through Amazon Video on Demand, while a bit confusingly all six individual episodes of the uncut series are sold on the iTunes store.
There were two soundtrack CDs released in Japan. The first one was also released in the US by AnimeTrax (although the cover art is different, the content is identical to the first volume in Japan).
Interestingly, Shiro Sagisu, who wrote the background musical score, went on to score a rather different mecha series, Evangelion.
US DVD Review
The "Movie" DVD combines the set of OAVs into a single disc. It features digitally remastered video, Japanese and English stereo soundtracks, an English subtitle track, and by way of extras an image gallery, mechanical designs, crew information, trailers, and a music video.
Some rough language, a few pretty intense moments, and a fair amount of large-scale violence make for a 13-up.
Violence: 3 - Not extremely violent, but it is a war story.
Nudity: 1 - Some lean outfits.
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - Light romance here and there.
Language: 2 - Some strong language.
Available in North America from Manga Video on a single "Movie" hybrid DVD. Was previously available from Manga on a single subtitled or dubbed VHS volume, both out of print. Going farther back, the series was available on three subtitled VHS volumes from the now-defunct US Renditions.
The individual episodes are also available (dubbed only), on the iTunes store, while the abridged 1 hour 30 minute theatrical version is available for rental or purchase on Amazon Instant Video and XBox Live, as well as streamed free on YouTube and Hulu.