Series Recommendation: Macross Zero

The Kadun of Fire has come, and disaster will befall the island….

The Macross franchise – after many decades contained in Japan – has finally begun to take its first step onto the global stage. With Macross Plus and Macross Frontier movies getting theatrical showings in the U.S, and Frontier tv series broadcast in Korea, it’s only a matter of time until we see more Valkyries flying on air across the world. So it’s time to revisit the OVA series that tells the story of the beginning of one of the most beloved Real Robot franchise: Macross Zero.

Macross Zero is the chronological start of the Macross franchise. Much like how Gundam The Origin precedes 0079, Macross Zero tells the story of the world 1 year before the Zentradi reach the Solar System and trigger the SDF-1’s booby trap. At the time, the SDF-1 has already crash landed on Earth for 9 years and its technologies were being studied in order to make Variable Fighters. The UN Spacy went against its first opposition: The Anti-UN forces.

Our main character is Shin Kudo, a U.N.S pilot assigned to an F-14 Tomcat, who crash landed on the Mayan island after encountering the transformable fighter of the Anti-UN. There, he met with the Nome sisters and learnt about the legend of the Birdmen. But soon after, he discovers that myth aren’t just myth, and the legend might have a hand in twisting the fate of the world.

+ Plot: The story is short and concise. It is a prequel but most of the main cast didn’t appear in later series except Focker (granted that Zero came out 20 years after the first Macross as an anniversary series). Some plot details weren’t explained in the best way possible, but the over-arching story is comprehensible and makes sense (I mean this is a universe where singing is power so don’t think too hard). The OVA is 6-episode long so the story is quite straightforward, and with some more mysticism elements, it sorta feel like a Rahxephon/Escaflowne style but with modern mechs.

+ Animation: Zero used full CGI for fight scenes and 2D for character animation. The dog fights were great, with fluid but still retains how a fighter jet fight in real life. The shading and textures on the fighters were done really well and give a realistic feeling. And we got the famous Master Tenjin as the animation artist for the fight scenes. Master Tenjin aka Hidetaka Tenjin is famous for the box-art illustrator for Hasegawa’s Macross kits and a lot of Gundam kits as well. Being an anniversary OVA, Macross Zero went in-depth on a few aspect of the VFs to shed some light on how they function, especially their transformation as well as the Armored Pack. The transformation of the VF-0 Phoenix is no doubt the most detailed sequence in the franchise filled with mechanical goodness.

+ Mecha Design: Of course, designed by Master of the Sky Kawamori-sensei and Junya Ishikagi. The VF-0 largely resembles the VF-1 but you can tell from a glance that it’s a different bird altogether. The Sv-51 of the Anti-UN force is a daring design by Kawamori sensei with a different theme that resembles a “beast” rather than a plane. One of the highlights of the Zero OVA is not actually the transforming birds themselves – but the fan-favorite F-14 Tomcat – one of the most recognized fighter jet in real life as well as fiction. Seeing the Tomcat in action – especially against a Variable Fighter, is a sight for sore eyes, something the franchise hasn’t got a lot of prior.

+ Music: Despite being an entry in the Macross timeline, there weren’t many songs sung by the songstress of the series, Sara Nome. Sara’s song is also reminiscent of a tribal hymn instead of the usual Macross’ pop/ballad songs. The anime’s OST is composed by Kuniaki Hashima, which contains some great scores especially during action scenes. We also got 3 different EDs which are also very nice.

+ Conclusion: Despite being the prequel to the original Macross, it will not affect your experience with the og Macross no matter what order you watch them in. Zero is a nice OVA that further explore the lore of the Macross timeline and link us to SDF Macross using Focker (which is badass in Zero btw). Although watching Zero before SDF Macross can hit you with a quality whiplash – since the former was made 20 years after with some stunning production quality. So the best way to watch is still according to release order, but you don’t need to watch Plus or 7 prior to watching Zero. Overall, it is a good OVA worth watching.

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