THIS is the Macross show I have been waiting for. This is also one of the best anime I've seen in a long time.
I was about halfway through Macross 7, when I started looking into Macross Zero, in hopes there was some kind of light at the end of the tunnel. I know all the Macross fans here, who write in the comments section, enjoy, or at least appreciate Macross 7. I've tried to share that enthusiasm, but I am sorry to say I am just not feeling it.
It was getting so bad in fact, I was fearing that Macross 7 would turn me off the entire universe and kill my interest completely. Something had to be done. Initially I wanted to watch the shows in order of the timeline. I didn't do proper research and somehow overlooked Macross Zero, which should have been watched first. It was this logic that made me decide to stop where I was in Macross 7 and go back and watch Zero since I should have watched it already. It was the best decision I've made all year (well that and buying my first house).
As I said before, this was the show I've been waiting for in the Macross Universe. Although I wouldn't mind that being an insult to Macross 7, it is in no means meant to cut down the original series or Plus, both of which I really liked. In fact my iPod is in constant battle right now switching between Minmay songs and the new Gorillaz album (which has nothing to do with this review I just needed to tell everyone how awesome it is.) In fact if it hadn't been for "Do You Remember Love?" I wouldn't enjoy Zero as much as I did. Let me try to explain.
Watching Zero requires a little more background information on Macross lore to enjoy the story. Watching "Do you Remember Love?" which was made over two decades ago, it amazing holds up pretty well and doesn't feel too dated.
But there are some parts that just don't really work anymore. The biggest part of that is the "singing to save the universe". I realize that Macross 7 tried to expand on this by giving scientific explanations, but I feel it didn't work. Macross Zero handles it much much better. The protoculture is explained more thoughtfully and given a slight Evangelion spin (though Eva took it from Arthur C. Clarke, so we will just give Clarke credit). The Protoculture are depicted as "godlike" in their power, and come off as spiritual then scientific, where up until now they have been mostly viewed as a race of scientists. Seeing the protoculture first hand really puts some glue into the entire Macross Universe and pulls it all together. It even helped my lukewarm feelings of Macross 7 because now I see each series as part of the same universe, just told from a different perspective. I'm sure someone could retell the story of the Fire Bombers and make it seem a lot more logical and realistic. It would be difficult, but I believe it is possible.
The other part of Zero that made me say, "Yes this is an amazing universe," was how they handled the Variable fighter. The VF series are the defining image of Macross. You show a VF-1 to anyione, even someone who hasn't seen the series, or perhaps isn't even into anime and they will say, "Robotech," or "Macross" (and in some cases "Jetfire") . However, during all the shows I've seen up until Zero the VF's really play a background role to everything else. There is very little attention given to the these awesome fighter jets, other then sometimes you can fly them like a plane, sometimes you can pilot it as a robot, or sometimes you get something in between that doesn't really do anything other then look cool. Also they help sell model kits.
In Macross Zero all three modes: jet, Battroid, and GERWALK mode shine brightly and each mode is given a clear precise reason such as, "This is what the GERWALK mode is good for," and "This is why you need to switch to a battroid mode." Up until now, the transformations have seemed mostly pointless and it always makes me think of that first episode of Transformers where Spike asks Bumbleebee "But why Transform?" and Bumblbee says something like, "It's better then walking." Which basically translates to "No reason other then it looks cool."
At least Macross Zero provides us with a great reason and again provides more of that proverbial glue to tie the different series together.
On top of all that, I've also always been a fan of girls with dark skin and purple hair. So thanks Macross Zero for that as well.