Sunday, November 20, 2011

Macross Frontier: The False Songstress

So, I walked myself backwards and decided to watch the first Macross Frontier film, a move I was not expecting to want to make. As I said, it was only the second film's promise of surreal concert visuals which got me up off the couch and willing to give Macross Frontier another shot.

However, I enjoyed the second film enough to try the first one. The real proof of this enjoyment is that it's been over a week since I saw Wings of Goodbye and I can still remember it, still think about it. This probably means it's become a non-SDFM Macross that I've truly enjoyed, moreso than Zero, which I enjoyed, but did not feel like talking about.

The False Songstress is not as engaging as Wings of Goodbye, but nonetheless feels like something that's going to stick with me, if just as a companion piece to get the "full" story embodied by these two movies. Like the second film, it managed, in some way not quite definable, to tone down the aspects that put me off the first series, and make them seem organic. Ranka isn't so cloying, Sheryl's artistic passion is more memorable, Klan Klang's role is so reduced you almost forget that crazy lolicon crap, etc.

Klang is a little worse here because she takes just one childish action: stealing the fishcake from Michel's ramen and running away with it. But, you know, I'll take that over the much longer version of Klang's story, with its failed attempts to wring angst from her position.

There are lots of scenes directly ported from the TV series here, and I couldn't tell which of them had actually been re-animated. None of the concert scenes were as striking as those of the second, and I was a bit uncomfortable with the virgin/whore roles that Sheryl played in one of her songs, though the robots were pretty cool, as was the ending where she is one person with elements of both characters. Ranka in her bikini at the construction site was also a little suspect, too.

While characters usually need conflict, I didn't really buy that Alto wanted to stop being an onnagata because he was losing his identity in his female roles. It makes it seem like piloting was not an individual desire for flight, but just for a fear of not having that most thin and capricious of concepts, "manliness". Come on, Alto…you're better than that. The conflict that rose from doing something different than his family was far more effective. It also wasn't very fleshed-out in the TV series, either, so I guess I don't miss much of Alto's story arc either.

(And Alto still don't look all that girly when not dressed up, either…I think the teasing's more about the roles he played, rather than his looks off the court)

Yay, the Folmo mall scene is still there! (Don't care that it's called "Folrmo" or somesuch thing…Exsedol fans get screwed enough without losing this). I like the way that Michel told Ranka to "come on, prove yourself, instead of moping," which is almost anti-moĆ© in its sentiment, although I think Michel did the same thing in the TV series. Mr. Kridanik is still hilarious, though the animation when he sticks his face in Ranka's and starts chattering at her is a little bit disturbing.

(I still wonder whether that oni-looking Zentradi who also works for Mr. Kridanik has a name or not. He shows up several times here.)

I'm pretty much spinning my wheels with the commentary here, but I did like it. Most of the time I don't think a TV series can be improved by trimming it down to its barest of bones, but in this case, Macross Frontier was so one-ear-and-out-the-other for me, that I find myself going after the film version with a new vigour. I don't really miss anything that was lost, and that's only out of what I can actually remember of the TV series.

It doesn't change how I feel about the rest of Macross (and I still wince whenever someone says "Deculture!"), but it's nice to have something to enjoy. I think I'm even getting ready to declare myself a fan of Sheryl Nome.

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