Tuesday, May 17, 2011

SDFM Series in Review: Episode 1, “Boobytrap”

This is the beginning of a second-round review of the anime series, originally done for a thread at AnimeSuki.

I’m a comparatively recent anime fan, but I discovered Super Dimension Fortress Macross through a set of surprising circumstances and instantly fell in love with it. Now it’s one of my all-time favourite anime, to which nothing else produced for Macross can compare. With that, let’s start with the first episode.

The opening sequence, showing the arrival and crash of the future Fortress, is a wonderful piece of animation that pulls you right in. The visuals are very cinematic, and the lack of any music or narration helps it to pack that special punch. When the narration kicks in (is it meant to actually be Claudia, or is it just the same VA?), and discusses the difficulties the new government had in forming, it showcases one of Macross’ strengths: it may be a very, very idealistic series as a whole, but it’s not afraid to inject a few small doses of realism, which actually strengthens its more wide-eyed aspects.

Watching Hikaru and Misa in the first episode, I wonder if their development was meant to compliment each others’: that is, Misa is being too mature (chewing out Claudia just for having a little fun), while Hikaru is being too immature (essentially crashing the flight demonstration and driving Roy bonkers). Both of them therefore end up together, in part, because they temper each other’s main flaws.

Of course, Misa and Hikaru develop more dimensions as the series goes on, so this alone is too simplistic an explanation for why they chose each other in the end, and furthermore, I don’t find Misa to be all that bitchy or stuffy at any point in the series. She’s not my favourite character in the series, but she’s by far my favourite of the main cast, and at no point do I find her that awful a person.

Roy, just for a second, lets his astonishment at Hikaru’s flying skills slip. It nicely suggests the maturing Hikaru, and therefore the perhaps archetypal need for Roy to die as part of a further rite of passage.

The Zentradi first arrive, and I just love their entire aesthetic. The designs of the ships and uniforms and characters are just wonderful. I particularly love Exsedol and Britai’s designs, both individually, and the way they contrast with each other’s. The interior of their flagship is first depicted as darker than it usually is, and I prefer the lighter shots, which demonstrate the contrast between the ships’ “organic” outside and technological interior. The characters of Exsedol and Britai aren’t explored much yet, but their traits are already shining through: a calm intelligence rather than a silly “warrior race” pomposity, as well as a good working relationship.

I realize that Macross was at some points in its development conceived as a comical series, and some of that emerges in the early episodes, but a muchof the comedy in “Boobytrap” is more along the line of dark Murphy’s Law stuff than broad slapstick or parody--that is, anything that can go wrong will, and usually at the most terrifying time. Of course there’s plenty of other jokes; I particularly like the chagrined look of the mascot on the Studio Nue building as it’s being destroyed.

Odd that the first Zentradi fighter craft seen are the Gnerl “planes” rather than the more famous Regults. I also love the way the Zentradi monitor forms piece by piece; it’s a very cool effect.

Overall, this is a good pilot episode. Most of the human cast gets a chance to shine, and the stage is set. There’s a lot of moments that feel very human, very natural in terms of their presentation, which only helps SDFM be awesome.

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