Why is Macross: DYRL, which came out in 1984, still popular today? It’s because it is a believable, well-illustrated space epic: we can relate to both the good guys (humans) and the bad guys (Zentradi and Meltrandi) because both share the same human DNA! That’s why I, and probably a lot of other people, like it more than Macross Frontier, in which the bad guys are a bunch of insects, the Vajra. We just can’t sympathize with the Vajra because they don’t have any human resemblance.
Not only can we relate to the humans and the Zentradi/Meltrandi, but we can also relate to their mecha. The SDF-1 looks like an aircraft carrier, and the valkyrie fighters look like modern fighter jets. In the valkyrie’s battloid mode, we see our humanoid image not only in the arms and legs that have human joints, but also in the head: the VF-1S and VF-1J’s heads look like a human mask. The only exception is the VF-1A’s head, which looks like a cyclops. The Zentradi have the the Nousjadeul-Ger, and the Meltrandi have the Queadluun-Rau, both having humanoid form.
VF-1S, VF-1J, VF-1A
In addition, we relate to the human cultural elements: the importance of music and songs in moving people’s emotions, and the dramatic love triangle among Hikaru, Misa, and Minmay. In Macross 7, music becomes more about being a weapon, which we find hard to relate to because that’s not the case in real life. I think this is why Macross 7 is not appealing.
Macross is well-illustrated in its artwork and sound effects. There is amazing detail, more than you’d find in normal cartoons. For example, when the SDF-1 momentarily loses its internal gravity system, each of the chairs and tables individually tumble.
Everyone is well-dressed in costumes and uniforms. Each weapon has its unique sound: the valkyrie gunpods emit a rapid-fire sound, and the Zentradi/Meltrandi lasers echo a high-pitched sound. The movie also intrigues us with advanced technology, like holograms, the vakyries’ nuclear-powered engines, hyperspace fold, and robots that clean garbage from the street (like the Roomba that was released in 2007)!
Did this garbage-collecting robot from 1984 seed the idea for the Roomba in 2007?
Finally, Macross has a great epic story: humans are returning to their homeland, Earth, and are fighting against a formidable enemy, the Zentradi, who are at war with the Meltrandi. We have captivating protagonists: Hikaru, our humble hero who chooses between two women; Roy, the mentor figure and experienced soldier; Max, an expert fighter pilot who falls in love with a beautiful enemy ace pilot; Misa, a high-ranking military officer; and Minmay, the cute performer who charms everyone with her songs. We have worthy adversaries, the Zentradi and Meltrandi: Miria, the Meltrandi’s ace pilot; Bodolza, the Zentradi leader; Quamzin/Kamjin/Khyron, the aggressive Zentradi commander; Britai, and Exedor. I think that having such worthy adversaries makes a good spectacle because we see the intense struggle between good and evil: it’s the same reason that when there’s a worthy villain in a James Bond film, like Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, we are drawn closer to the characters’ struggle.
Le Chiffre from Casino Royale
What do you like most about Macross?