Thursday, September 27, 2012

Some Small Words About Macross: The Musicalture

Being a poor peon stuck in North America, I won't be able to see the latest media project for the Macross franchise: a short-run musical with an all-new cast and story, called The Musicalture. At first I thought it would be one of those hilarious anime musicals that retold some of the previous media stories with cheesy costumes, but it being a new story was a surprise and a further interest-booster. I hope that some generous nerd will put it up somewhere with subtitles because…damn, it's Macross. I love Macross, despite all its problems.

There are two things about it I'd like to note, based on the details given about the storyline and characters.

First, one of the characters, Sonia Dosel, is said to be the granddaughter of Rori Dosel, aka Rico, one of my favourite tertiary characters from the original series. This is common to a lot of media franchises, but it is a Big Deal for a Macross thing, for a few reasons. One is that I'm in a state to always be hungry for any kind of acknowledgement that my favourite Macross characters existed and succeeded at anything, and are actual characters instead of things to be noted in summary.

As I've said before, Macross often steamrolls my favourite characters in ways that make no sense. Rori in particular was said to have become a bitter-burned out alcoholic that leeches off his wife, after being presented as a comic relief character with a positive role to play in the story. I still say that you don't have to like the character to see why this is a fucked up idea—it completely goes against the tone of the series and the expectations raised by it. Sonia's existence doesn't necessarily negate this sort of path, but I'd like to think it does, if only in my own mind. You know that the people behind this musical probably didn't find that obscure bit of trivia about Rori, but it's nice to imagine that it suggests familial success right from the get-go.

 The "descendant of so-and-so" is often a lazy device for media franchises, but it gets a pass here for a few reasons. Macross likes to move ahead with newer characters, with returning characters being rare, and descendants even rarer, so a little indulgence on that side is okay. Secondly, using a tertiary character makes it seem less like an old-fan grab than it could have been, and more like building a world with a past.

I have no reason to be interested in Sonia as a character, but it's still interesting that she exists.

Another thing about The Musicalture storyline is that there is a hostile movement growing among Zentradi in the fleet. I'm not worried anymore about my criticism I make of Zentradi unrest being read as me wanting the Zentradi to be saintly, so I have to say…I am okay with this idea, because some conflicts linger for centuries. I still stick by my notion that allied Zentradi unrest is similar to prisoners or Vietnam vets being unable to live "on the outside", than any kind of ingrained corruption that invalidates their story arc in SDFM.

If The Musicalture becomes popular in Macross fandom, I "can't wait" to see fans interpret this newest conflict as exactly that, acting as if SDFM built up to the Zentradi freedom, only to say, "Whoops, it's not positive after all! Surprise, it's self-destructive!". I still can't understand why some fans don't get that if a series spends some time tending a concept and presenting it a certain way, it's not going to turn around and completely declare that concept a waste. Showing allied Zentradi unrest doesn't invalidate the positive aspects of the Zentradi alliance—it just adds some complexity and realism to the mix.

On the other hand, if Macross wants to build a world with some internal conflict, I got to ask where the anti-Zentradi unrest is. The only thing I can recall is President Glass muttering in frustration over the Galilia 4 incident in Macross Frontier, and it's not as solid. I just figure if you're going to add some realism to spice up your world, it should include making things two-sided. It'd be really cool if the Zentradi unrest was partly a result of poor action by humans, but I'm not holding out.

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