krpalmer: (anime)
[personal profile] krpalmer
At some point, “all the anime I could watch” piled up to where I shrugged and kept going back to see whole series again every once in a while. As last year drew to a close, specific thoughts of what to watch once more were sprouting in me, turning to some of my most foundational series. A decade ago this year was the last time I’d watched all of Macross, Southern Cross, and Mospeada, 2009 being the year Macross’s space opera mecha action had been said to start. (While the series hadn’t been fully available in its original form over here in 1999, when its prologue had been set, my university’s anime club had shown its first two episodes subtitled, and I remember private satisfaction hearing cheers for the midair rescue scene.) Since then, though, I had happened to think I was coming up on three decades since I’d first seen some of their animation repurposed together as Robotech, but as that year itself had begun I’d decided to “mark an anniversary” by watching different series altogether, even if I’d managed to head back to a particular selection of Robotech episodes as a later indulgence. I suppose the thought did creep up on me that if I didn’t return to the series this year, that might somehow amount to “when again, if ever?”

Beyond the time it would take to see those three series (and OVAs, movies, and whole other series coming to mind now through more tangential links), though, I did get to thinking of how I’d watched Turn A Gundam for a second time not that long ago only to find myself struggling to get really engaged with its story and “suspending disbelief” again. The specific reasons why had me remembering that after its first draw of “transforming fighter jets and a whole transforming starship with actual people inside battling giant aliens,” Robotech had embedded itself in my mind in part because Macross offered eventual reconciliation and alliance between sides no longer just “good guys and bad guys.” I was at least conscious Macross might hit me with a similar feeling of problems to the one Turn A Gundam had developed, which then brought to mind “it may be tragic to all of a sudden ‘see through’ something you first took in when young and uncritical, but does that not happening say something about ‘maturity,’ or the lack thereof, not easily acknowledged?” So far as less pretentious possibilities went, I was quite aware of Macross’s inconsistent animation, where any one episode may look better to me than anything else I’ve seen animated for television in Japan in 1982 but the next, farmed out to a different and seemingly much less capable studio, has coarse linework, misshapen machinery, and dull, flat eyes.

On the first day of the new year, though, I managed to push all of that aside and loaded up the first of my old DVDs, and the story in its different levels caught me up again, “could have been” defusings staying that rather than ”should have been.” I didn’t go into paroxysms over the off-model episodes that followed days later, either. This time, I might even have felt a bit less determined to identify subtle gradations of “not quite the best” and “a bit better than the worst,” although I did wind up noticing some of the final episodes could mix good-looking and off-model cuts of animation one after the other, and wondered if that influenced impressions of the whole series just by being what’s seen last. If there was one consistent diversion, however, it was thinking “Robotech’s walls of narration and dialogue, and its voice acting too, tried to claim this-and-this applied to the animation, whereas Macross first established this...” I did once wonder if I’ve now seen at least some of Macross’s episodes more times as themselves than as Robotech episodes, but the Robotech novels, one or two steps further down the scratchy telephone line, had been just about my sole resource for years and are still easy to dip back into to check impressions. All in all I’d say “start with Macross, of course, if you can get access to it” (the unfortunate current reality) just out of the feeling a number of moments there feel less murky and the story in animation seems more positively concluded. Still, the suspicion the “English-speaking Macross fandom” demands ritual denunciations of Robotech has never appealed to me.

So far as “sometimes I’d rather be a fandom of one” goes, I can also have unfortunate thoughts mecha anime has had its own general travails this past decade. New series do get made, but just about every one of them seem to have what people don’t just dismiss the genre out of hand turn on these specific new examples before they’re over. That included the new Macross series made this decade, Macross Delta, which I missed the chance to form my own first opinions of after thinking watching it “fansubbed” could obligate me to spend a bundle on imported Blu-Rays I understood included actual English subtitles. (Just a few days ago, though, I did see a small report someone had constructed a life-sized papercraft figure of one of its characters, which reminded me its predecessor Macross Frontier just might be a bit more positively regarded now than when it ended over a decade ago.) Most of the time, I do feel sorry for these new mecha series, but that doesn’t always amount to my having watched them. On the other hand, I have seen several “idol singer” anime series in the past decade, not “every one of them” by a long shot but including a big franchise, an older show made around when the original Macross was mixing an idol singer into itself, and some recent science fiction-flavoured outings perhaps that much more blatantly embracing their absurd sides than even Macross might have. In any case, having watched Macross again and enjoyed that opens up my big selection of older works linked to it one way or another.

February 2019

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