The Macross Plus Series: Introduction

Macross Plus is something I definitely wanted to cover at some point so it seemed a fitting follow-up to Cowboy Bebop considering this was Bebop’s immediate unofficial predecessor. This will definitely be nowhere near the volume of the Bebop stuff (I still have like ten more to go there) but I broke it up into a series of 3-4 article because there is quite a bit I want to cover. The articles will contain spoilers so if you haven’t seen Macross Plus and plan to watch it then do that first. In this intro I’ll just cover briefly what Macross Plus is, why I want to cover it, and what this series will include.

What is the Macross franchise?

Macross is a very long-running franchise of mecha-based anime which kicked off in 1982 (I wasn’t even born yet!!) and the latest instalment came out in August 2021. Stuff for the ages basically. I’ve only seen the initial few instalments and lost track post Macross 7 which was the fifth one released in 1994. Macross generally has a few typical motifs to its stories including transforming fighter crafts, alien invasions, the power of music, love triangles, and deeper storylines on corruption, dystopia, governments etc. The series was created by Shoji Kawamori, who is also responsible for other popular anime like The Vision of Escaflowne, Earth Maiden Arjuna, the Aquarion franchise along with sundry work on several other prominent anime. Go read his Wikipedia page to learn more on him. Seriously, the guy has done so much work that if I go into it here, this will become the Shoji Kawamori show.

What is Macross Plus?

The first instalment of Macross was Super Dimension Fortress Macross whose character caste was also repeated in two other sequels. The second instalment was Super Dimension Fortress Macross II: Lovers Again which was later retconned. It did ok enough but was not received well by loyal fans and also did not have Shoji Kawamori’s involvement. Personally, I support the decision because it did a lot of weird things including replacing the traditional fighter pilot protagonist with a journalist which just didn’t work at-all but it has its fans so I respect their taste too. The official “second” instalment therefore became Macross Plus, which is a series of four episodes released internationally as a single OVA.

The Dream Team Behind Macross Plus

Along with Shoji Kawamori, Macross Plus also had involvement from the Cowboy Bebop “core team” and kick-started most of their careers. Both shows are Sunrise Studio products and featured Shinichiro Watanabe as co-director, Keiko Nobumoto as writer, Toshihiro Kawamoto as one of the animators, and Yoko Kanno on music. This was the first major assignment for Watanabe, Nobumoto and Kanno with Watanabe making his directorial debut, Kanno making the move from ad jingles to OSTs and Nobumoto having just written World Apartment Horror before this as far as a “known” title goes along with a couple of relatively-unknown anime titles. Kawamoto had done previous assignments with Sunrise on known titles like Gundam and his role in Macross Plus wasn’t as significant as it was on Cowboy Bebop.

Why Macross Plus?

There is actually a lot which I could have covered here as far as mecha anime go or even done a full series on Macross as a whole but I wanted to specifically cover Macross Plus for three reasons. First, it’s a masterpiece in its own right and would be great even if it wasn’t part of the Macross franchise. I love the Macross franchise but for me personally Plus stands out even over the rest (maybe it’s just more my taste now, not saying the rest are bad). Secondly, it was the unofficial predecessor to Bebop and when I watch the two shows, I see a lot of resonance so I wanted to talk about that. And thirdly, I just really like it and want to spend some time with it.

What do I plan to cover?

  1. Introduction: The Macross Plus Series
  2. Macross Plus OVA vs. Movie: Introduction
    1. Macross Plus OVA vs. Movie: Part 1
    2. Macross Plus OVA vs. Movie: Part 2
    3. Macross Plus OVA vs. Movie: Part 3
    4. Macross Plus OVA vs. Movie: Part 4
    5. Macross Plus OVA vs. Movie: Part 5
    6. Macross Plus OVA vs. Movie: Reflections
  3. Macross Plus: Key Themes
  4. Macross Plus: Characters and Relationships
  5. Macross Plus vs. Macross Franchise
  6. Macross Plus: Creators and Legacy