Episodes 1 &2: Macross is attacked by an unknown alien enemy on the day of its maiden launch. Hikaru Ichijo, a stunt pilot, is downed in the middle of the battle and rescues Minmay from alien ground troops.
“Booby Trap”: A mysterious space ship crash lands on an island in the South Pacific in the year 1999. As a result, Earth unites its governments in an effort to restore the space ship, resulting in the Unification Wars which end in 2007. In 2009, the space ship now called Macross is completed. It is the day of the launching ceremony. Major Roy Focker’s demonstration of the new Valkyrie fighter planes is interrupted by the major’s old friend and stunt pilot Hikaru Ichijo. Focker is about to take Hikaru on a joyride on one of the new fighters when a mysterious gravitational event and light phenomena by the moon announces the arrival of a mysterious alien fleet. Macross automatically fires its main weapon, destroying two enemy scout ships, and igniting a battle between the Earth and the aliens. Two of Earth’s space ships are destroyed and the Macross fighters engage in battle above the city. Hikaru launches in a fighter without his hotshot attitude and is shot down. As he falls, First Lieutenant Hayase on the bridge instructs him on transforming his fighter into a mecha.
“Countdown”: With the first wave of enemy ships defeated in the sky, a second wave is launched and attacks from the ground. Major Focker’s Skull Team are called to
destroy defend the city. Meanwhile, Hikaru is unable to figure out the controls for his giant robot which is preventing an evacuation truck from getting through. He is watched by Minmay and her little brother (?) called Yot-chan. Major Focker arrives to offer instruction and assistance. The bridge crew at Macross attempts to launch the ship per the instruction of a politician. But when the gravity engines are activated, they leave the rest of the ship behind! In the city, Minmay and her brother evacuate with the rest of her family but Minmay returns to the city because she forgot something back home. Her mission is interrupted by the alien ground troops and she is saved by Major Focker, who draws enemy fire, and Hikaru, who picks her up and escapes. Their escape attempt is interrupted by an alien attacker which Hikaru destroys but a giant alien emerges to attack in person. The giant alien is killed by Major Focker who reveals the reason the Valkyries transform is to fight the giants. Back at Macross, the bridge crew succeed in launching the ship using the Earth-designed propulsion engines.
Welcome to the wild world of Super Dimensional Fortress Macross! I’m watching this for a future essay over at The Potted Lid and I figured I might as well write episode recaps while I’m at it. (And if you think this is an attempt at shameless cross-promotion, you are absolutely right.)
I would write out some predictions for the rest of the series, but my relationship with Super Dimensional Fortress Macross (SDF Macross for short) is complicated. For starters, I loved watching Robotech as a child, which was America’s version of SDF Macross when animation imports from Japan were severely edited before broadcasting to an American audience. Secondly, SDF Macross is the first part of one of the longest running franchises in animation; something that’s been in and out of the limelight for over thirty years doesn’t come spoiler-free.
SDF Macross dates itself in a multitude of ways, the most obvious of which is the clunky animation. Somehow I am able to look beyond that. The story officially starts in 2009 (the 1999 stuff being backstory) which puts it under the “retrofuturism” tag. Today’s world still lacks many of the technologies featured in the show–I’m talking of course about the walking vending machine. Retrofuturism is still really fun, of course, for things like giant robots and the nostalgia of “remember when space travel was still within arm’s reach of commercialization?” Yeah, good times.
In terms of characters, I like what SDF Macross is doing with Hikaru. From the opening credits (and Robotech), we know that he’s the main character and eventually joining the military on the space battleship Macross. But he’s not very good at fighting. At least not yet. He doesn’t intuit how to pilot the Valkyrie while it’s in its humanoid form. And he shuts down after watching an alien gunned down before his eyes. I appreciate how he comes to us a flawed character, able to fly but unable to pilot anything that is not a plane. Since he seems fairly anti-military at this point, I wonder if he’ll have a pacifist streak for the rest of the series. Only one way to find out!