by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)
Today's review is about an Anime (or Japanese Animated video) OAV (which stands for Original Animation Video). All that means is that it is an Anime that went directly to video. This 4 part show was released in 1994. If you are an Anime fan you know this is a great series. If you don't know much about Anime and are at least *mildly* interested then this show is a great introduction to what Anime can accomplish.
Macross Plus is a 'sequel' to the 80's series Macross. It takes place 80 years in the future. None of that is too relevant because the story is basically a love triangle between 2 rival test pilots, a chick, and an AI pop star.
Our main character Isamu is a good but reckless and emotional test pilot who is piloting the YF-19 jet. The latest version of the transforming series of jets/robots used by the United Earth Government. His (hated but once childhood friend) rival Guld is the test pilot for the competing VF-21 jet (which basically works off mind control). The two get reacquainted and their hatred spills over onto the test field. Things get super complicated with the arrival of their other childhood friend and love triangle interest Myung shows up.
This whole rivalry takes place in front of the backdrop of the testing of the YF-19 and VF-21. These are some kick ass machines doing some crazy stuff. At the same time we are introduced to Sharon Apple. She is the biggest thing in music, a semi-artificial intelligence that is managed by a somewhat mad promoter/scientist. Now I know all this sounds crazy but take my word it is awesome. As it turns out, Sharon's performance requires a human to be plugged in (for some sort of part of her emotional aspect) and that human is Myung. Well, Mr. promoter/scientist has been making Sharon (unknown to everyone) completely self aware. Since Sharon shares emotions and thoughts with Muyng she becomes enamoured with Isamu (since Muyng was). Here is the kicker, Sharon is plugged into the Macross (the big ship that has been sitting, rotting for 80 years and houses the mainframe of the Earth Defense Forces) and she can be literally anywhere. Her infatuation with Isamu is very unstable (and she becomes more and more erratic) until there is a big confrontation at the end of the series.
What makes this OAV so great is a combination of things. First off it is beautiful. It is one of the nicest works of animation (still to this day). The colors are rich and vibrant, the line crisp and sharp. There is a smattering of CG which doesn't stand out at all (which is a big issue for me in todays-anime).
This is the first Anime were I actually experienced excitement at what was happening on the screen. During the Sharon Apple concert the combination of animation, music, and story just shot me through the roof. Have you ever seen Gladiator? I saw that in the theater on opening day and the crowd was so into the coliseum battle and ooooh'ed and aaaahhhh'ed along with the spectators in the movie. It was an exciting scene and everyone was caught up in it. That is the feeling I got when this concert scene happened. It was that good. It was at that point that I felt Anime (for me) had attained the highest level of respect. It could be JUST as compelling as a real movie. The movie had alot of good original music as well. It spawned like six CDs in Japan.
If you are not into Anime, this is a good jumping off point. You can probably watch Macross Plus on YouTube or Netflix but I suggest you get ahold of a DVD/Bluray and watch it with a good surround sound system.