Macross Plus OVA vs. Movie: 1 #Mechamarch2022

The Beginning

If you are here reading this I don’t think I need to explain the above two images to you. They are common in both versions and pretty iconic for Macross Plus. The Macross Plus OVA begins with the song Voices and a sequence from the main trio’s past where Isamu is flying a makeshift aircraft that looks like the Pterosaur bird of Eden. We come to see the two boys side by side in what looks like a rivalry sequence initially but turns out to be just the three of them having fun with Guld and Myung waving at Isamu as he flies off. Incidentally, this is actually the last scene in the movie but we will come to that.

The Macross Plus movie starts on a different note. Instead of the song, we have just the melody, no words. Young Myung makes a brief appearance for a few seconds commenting on blue skies and then we directly move to Myung and Sharon Apple appearing in front of the crowd followed by a sequence of Guld flying the YF-21.

We are shown sequences of him tuning into his aircraft which runs on his brainwaves, imagining parts of the aircraft as parts of his own body to controls it. He is seen using the same association in a later battle too.

Isamu’s Introduction

Unlike the movie, the OVA begins with Isamu. Post the childhood sequence, the OVA narates why Isamu gets sent to EDEN in the first place, a sequence which is completely cut from the movie. We start with a mecha battle in deep space during the year 2040 featuring Isamu where it’s pretty clear to see this is an arrogant/overconfident and rather reckless fighter. Aptly, it is followed by him in his supervisor’s office hearing his transfer orders accompanied by his instances of infractions being listed out and a warning that he should have been court-martialled already. No one wants him so they have decided to send him as a test pilot to New Edwards base. It’s supposed to be an unsavoury prospect but Isamu is overjoyed by it. That sequence in the OVA is followed by the one of Guld tuning into his aircraft already shown in the movie, which is largely same in both versions, just somewhat more detailed in the OVA.

Isamu’s introduction in the movie is not quite as dramatic. We see him standing in a field making airplanes with his hand, already a test pilot. He and Guld seem to be on the same base though they have apparently not met yet. Isamu takes his test flight during which he launches into showing off, flying the craft erratically to draw the Pterosaur in the sky. Guld, who is watching from the control room, is shocked to see this, getting reminded of Isamu doing something similar with his aircraft (same as the one seen at the beginning of the OVA) to do a sky drawing as a kid with him and Myung watching from the ground. He wonders if this is the same person though doesn’t seem happy about it. Incidentally, the same scene happens later in the OVA too but without the childhood flashback.

The Frenemy Reunion

I am talking, of course, about the first time that Isamu and Guld interact (though honestly it can apply beyond that too since everyone seems to be frenemies here). In both the movie and the OVA, this is again played out radically differently. Personally, I prefer this sequence how it plays out in the OVA versus the movie because it allows more of a chance for character development and understanding of these two as individuals.

The movie sequence is rather short and simple. Isamu lands from his test flight all happy, alights from the YF-19 by stepping on Yang’s head even as Yang is yelling at him for his barbaric flight, asks Lucy if she saw his Pterosaur claiming it was for her and then casually mentions a date, not seeming particularly romantically interested in her. Guld shows up in the hangar and Yang introduces him as the rival team’s pilot. Isamu says Guld’s name without being told and we see a sequence hinting that they know each other and there is an ongoing animosity with Guld calling Isamu a plague and Isamu getting very angry at that.

In the OVA, the meeting happens in a completely different way. Their first encounter is just a quick accidental brush. Isamu is heading to the base and Guld flies past him making him realise this is the test aircraft he is here for and become excited again. They don’t speak or even see each other though.

Once at the base, Isamu reports for a meeting of the two design teams of each aircraft. As they start, Chief Millard introduces himself and again these sequences help establish Isamu as a character rather well. His first question is to just ask when he gets to fly. Millard is cautious and mentions maybe Isamu should take a break since he has a reputation for being a hothead. He mentions Isamu does not want to get a promotion and the younger man responds it’s because then he won’t be able to fly. So overconfident, irreverent, hotheaded and loves flying is the context set for him.

There is a presentation giving background to the two fighters YF-19 (Isamu’s) and YF-21 (Guld’s) which are to be tested. Deepening his dubious image, Isamu insults Yang, calling him a kid only to find out he is the Design Chief for the YF-19. While this is going on Guld shows up and it becomes very clear from both his and Isamu’s reaction that they know each other and are not happy to see the other.

Their rivalry is pretty apparent but Guld calmly walks to his seat giving his report to Millard. Honestly, at this point Isamu does not seem too interested in fighting and he just reponds to Guld directly stating it must have been him that he saw in Area Seven earlier while coming. He says this in a pretty benign way, the way you would address a friend or a colleague you were on good terms with. However, Guld ignores him and instead tells the Chief Isamu would be a waste of time leading to an explosive reaction from Isamu. Guld just calmly enjoys the situation stating Isamu is just proving his point. Lucy observes that they seem to know each other.

In the OVA this sequence is followed up by Guld looking up Isamu’s personal record and his Zentradi blood acting up, something which the movie shows much later.

Observations: The OVA begins on the note of childhood and goes deep into character building, especially for Isamu. We get a good understanding into his reckless and irreverent nature, why he ended up here etc. Having seen the scene of their friendly childhood at the beginning, when you are suddenly confronted with their abject animosity, you do wonder what could have happened to those children which resulted in these adults. The OVA also gives a fair bit of context into the aircrafts themselves, who Yang is etc. Without all this context-setting, the beginning of the movie feels a bit rushed.

Also, the movie begins with adult characters largely except the one shot of Myung so that note of loss of innocence is missing. It does build this up a bit with the sequence of Isamu drawing the Pterosaur in the sky but for me personally, that impact is not as strong. Where the OVA seems to set an expectation that people and their relationships will likely be a big focus area for this story with a lot of time spent on interactions of people with each other, the movie seems to set a context that the focus will be on the man-machine interface situation since that is where it begins with Myung and Guld. Not saying it stays there but watching the two back to back, that’s the impression I got.

Since this is a multi-part series, if you’d like to keep tab you can subscribe with your email ID in the menu on the left.

The Macross Plus Series:

  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

Macross Plus OVA vs. Movie: #Mechamarch2022

Comparing the Macross Plus OVA and the movie has been an informal anime life goal for me. Why? Because while both are constructed from mostly the same material they are somewhat different creatures. Not entirely different but enough to not make them the same experience. There are times when each enunciates on different themes or presents the same situation divergently, representing or developing characters a bit distinctly, and telling the same story in but in different ways.

macross plus ova and movie

Background to Both Versions: Macross Plus was initially released in 1994 as a four part OVA (of around 40 mins each) in Japanese and subsequently in English for International markets. It was initially conceived as a feature-length piece by Keiko Nobumoto and hence in 1995 a Movie Edition was released which is 1 Hour 54 Minutes long featuring mostly the same footage as the original but often realigned or restructured and with 20 minutes of new or alternate footage.

When I started writing my analysis on Macross Plus I realised I simply cannot do justice to some of it without doing this analysis first so here we are. This series will go sequence by sequence over a set of articles analysing the variations, their significance, and impact. I’ll keep each short so they are easier to consume. Not sure if something like this already exists but I couldn’t find it. Please share with me if you are aware of something.

A big thanks to Scott at Mechanical Anime Reviews for showing enthusiasm about my plans to write about Macross Plus (though he now needs to judge how justified that was) which was a great bit of motivation. He does an annual event called Mecha March which you should check out. I’ll tag this and the next post with his hashtag #Mechamarch2022 in honour of that.

This took me a good four weeks to get through since it meant watching bite sized footage of each simultaneously, making notes, screenshots etc. but I’m happy I did it. Not sure how many Macross Plus aficionados are out there who would want to go this detailed and actually read it all. If I make mistakes please bear with me and just point them out. I’ll go back and fix them. I will be doing more detailed analyses on some of the overarching themes/characters etc. of Macross Plus separately so might not go into too much detail on those here beyond comparison/observations in these pieces. You can check the list of planned articles below.

Since this is a multi-part series, if you’d like to keep tab you can subscribe with your email ID in the menu on the left.

The Macross Plus Series:

  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