「虚空歌姫~イツワリノウタヒメ~」 (Itsuwari no Utahime)
“The False Songstress”

Given that this movie premiered in theaters almost a year ago, the anticipation towards watching it had naturally dwindled since then. However, as a long-time fan of the Macross franchise, the Blu-Ray release of this movie quickly took me back to 2009 once I saw the drastic visual improvements over its television counterpart. With new songs, concerts, more focus on the relationships, and mostly new animation, this retelling proved to be a real treat for those who have already seen Frontier. In fact, I was so caught up into how awesome it was after finishing it that I watched it again the very next day. I can’t recall the last time I’ve ever done that with any movie (if ever).

For those who haven’t watch Macross Frontier due to a lack of interest in it or the franchise as a whole, I have no hesitation whole-heartedly recommending that you watch this movie for a quick two-hour immersion into everything that it has to offer. While you probably won’t appreciate it as much as those who have seen the series, there will be a lot of other things that should appeal to new audiences alike, such as Kanno Youko’s always memorable music that was used in ways befitting of a full feature film. Still, the most prevalent thing will undoubtedly be the visuals themselves, as the relatively high production quality of the television series is taken to movie-like levels. There are still times when the animation quality dips, but overall it’s most certainly several notches higher, which the sight of a few bowls of Nyan Nyan ramen and Sheryl’s live performance of “UNIVERSAL BUNNY” make apparent right from the get-go. Once the Valkyries and Vajra come into the picture, it’s nothing but pure mecha eye candy from then on, as the 3D rendered models appear to be more detailed yet are also textured to fit the anime scenes more seamlessly than before. Some of those improvements undoubtedly come from the resolution increase, but others are likely from remastering post-production, particularly for the scenes that were reused. Of course, there were also cases where scenes were completely redone, such as the chamber where the captured Vajra was briefly kept in. (TV version here.)

For those like myself who have seen the television series, the added bonus is the different take on the story. It starts off similarly for the most part, but there are some obvious details that were changed up to advance the plot more quickly in the limited time frame, such as how Ranka is already acquainted with Alto at the very beginning. Klan makes a much earlier appearance as well, when Alto, Michael, and Luca are practicing for Sheryl’s concert. In Klan and Luca’s cases, their screen time and roles in the story actually diminished to almost nothing afterward, though I can’t really say I’m opposed to the shift of priorities to make this work as a movie. Despite this movie being the first of two — the second of which is slated for a theatrical release in February 2011 — it has to work as a fully self-contained feature from start to finish, and I really can’t see how it would have worked if the focus were spread so thinly. In their place, the love triangle gained much more steam, with Alto’s “date” with Sheryl getting the extended treatment to further show both a more playful and serious side to our Galaxy Fairy. As a result, the Alto x Ranka pairing seemed to pale in comparison, until it really mattered when Sheryl was suspected to be a Galaxy spy.

It was at that point that I felt there was noticeable direction change from the original story, as that suspicion placed a real wedge between Alto and Sheryl with Ranka being the inadvertent “benefactor” due to Ozma’s orders to protect her. Rather than focus on the whole V-Type infection (at least in this movie), that change in plot placed much more emphasis on the love triangle itself and paved way to dramatic scenes that worked well from a movie standpoint. In terms of fleshing out the complexities in each of the characters, I still find that it can’t compare to the time available in a 25-episode series — even in light of the unnecessary “fluff” ones — but there were definitely some moments that stood out so much in my mind that it helped offset that to a degree. This includes the wealth that Sheryl showed when she tossed her black Vega (i.e. Visa) at Ozma and hired the entire S.M.S. to rescue Macross Galaxy from the Vajra. Sheryl’s fold quartz earring also became the primary driving factor behind a lot of the story, which worked nicely in not only bringing Alto into the picture, but also quickly showing some of the backstory that didn’t have time to be covered in detail. Incidentally, the latter case actually caused some confusion that I hope to see cleared up in the next movie, namely that Sheryl knew Ranka from their time on Galia 4. As shown in the series, Dr. Mao Nome did have a working relationship with Ranshe Mei, but I don’t quite recall that Sheryl and Ranka knew one another when they were kids. All that reiterated to me though is that a rewatch of Macross Frontier is in order in the near future, especially seeing as it’s been over two years since it finished airing.

Other than that, the story here did touch briefly upon Alto’s past as a Kabuki actor and quite powerfully so with how he felt like he was slowly losing himself from all the roles. That sure put it a step up from some discord with his father and also gave a brief moment for Ranka to rescue him for those thoughts. Surprisingly, there wasn’t a whole lot from either Leon or Grace as antagonists, other than the former making Glass believe that Galaxy had betrayed them and the latter only shown to be working in mysterious ways and referring to Sheryl as “Fairy 9” and Ranka as “Little Queen” for now. I imagine that will serve as build-up for the next movie, as an all-out Vajra attack on Frontier was scripted to be the climactic finish to this one. As such, most of the underlying story will only really strike a familiar chord with those who know the story coming in. However, that isn’t even to say someone like me has a complete understanding of where things are going, especially in light of the slight changes to the story. While I’m admittedly curious as to the possibility that a new direction will be taken — much like the cleverly played scare they gave us with Michael getting shot down — this movie didn’t leave me the least bit unsatisfied. After all, it ended off exactly how a Macross series should, with an all-out battle with the power of music resounding throughout the galaxy.

I was already a bit giddy about how Sheryl’s first performance had a mini tribute to previous infamous Macross music, namely Lynn Minmay, Sharon Apple, and Fire Bomber, but to go out in true Macross style with the Valkyries lighting up the skies with singing in the background was pretty moving due to the nostalgic effect alone. It was pretty awesome to see Sheryl continue singing on her boat-like stage as it became a focal point of the battle, as the only thing that topped it was seeing the Macross Quarter unleash the infamous Pinpoint Barrier Punch and Macross Frontier following up with the Macross Cannon and blasting the Vajra mothership out of the skies. A bit wild is an understatement with the way that Bobby pilots Quarter. Hearing Jeffrey Wilder tell his crew let them have it gave me goosebumps. Leading up to that, I don’t think there could have been any better way of going out except with Sheryl and Ranka performing a duet of “Lion”, which was only possible after Alto went all out to save Ranka from the Vajra that had kidnapped her. I can’t even imagine the budget that went into animated that battle at the end, because it was completely new footage and just “orgasmic levels” of Macross awesomeness.

Story-wise, Brera had also joined in to lend a hand and probably raised more questions about his intentions by doing so, but none of that really mattered for the time being. There will be plenty of time to sort of the ongoing story in the next movie, which honestly has me considering schedule another visit to Japan to coincide with its release. (Unlikely, but I did consider it.) The thought of having to wait for god who knows how long to see a home release of “Sayonara no Tsubasa” isn’t exactly my idea of fun after watching this. The preview also shows a Valkyrie painted in Nekki Basara’s VF-19 colors and hints that Alto may actually decide on one of the two girls this time around, so I definitely what to see what’s up with that. Anyway, Macross fan or not, do yourself a favor and check out this movie if you haven’t already. You’ll be glad that you did!

* Family Mart looks like it’s an official sponsor of the movie.




  1. So good. SO SO SO GOOD.

    Though the whole False Songstress thing ended up making no sense. They make it sound like Sheryl’s really a spy, but anyone who’s watched the show knows she isn’t and it amounts to nothing.

    XD And what was behind them thinking she was a spy anyways? Yeah, they fact they were attacked right after she came, but it’s not like that means she’s a spy. That whole part relies on characters being gullable for the plot to work, but hey, it moves things along. I wouldn’t name the whole movie after that though lol.

    But the Universal Bunny and the last battle was just pure sex 😀

    1. Well, from what I gathered from the dialog, there seems to be some rivalry or hostility between Galaxy and Frontier. This looks like an entirely new plot point for the movie, because this was never indicated in the series. The more obvious example is when Frontier outright abandons Galaxy to the Vajra which prompts Sheryl to hire the SMS.

    1. Alto was worried that Sheryl may have caught some sort of disease from her scratch since she hadn’t been treated for Macross Frontier ones, so he sucked a bit of blood out of her before bandaging it.

      That’s the medical explanation anyway, but the real purpose was some Alto x Sheryl fan-service. 🙂

      1. IMHO, some scenes were remade to work-out some inconsistencies in the series, like the two way telepathical link with those earrings involved: it could not have been possible with just one, so this time it is not lost.

        In fact those two earring are not enough, and that explains why they made Alto byte Sheryl: Show Spoiler ▼

        BTW, Sheryl didn’t know of Ranka, but of Brera’s song. Also, Show Spoiler ▼

    1. “such as how Ranka is already acquainted with Alto at the very beginning.”
      I thought this was kinda awkward.
      After all, Ranka and Alto go to different schools, and there’s not much similarities in their ‘hobbies’ and misc activities to explain why they would already know each other, but more be such close friends.
      Just casual acquaintance could be explained through the Michael-Luca connection, but it appeared as though Ranka was closer to Alto than to those two.
      I understand its necessity, but it still felt awkward to me.

      “but I don’t quite recall that Sheryl and Ranka knew one another when they were kids”
      That’s because they didn’t in the series.
      At least there was nothing in the series that suggested they knew each other before.

      1. In the original they don’t know each other at all and meet for the first time at the start of it in ep1. They changed that a bit in the movie, they’re not childhood friends, not that long, she knows him through the deliveries she’s been making to them over time, though it’s not said or shown directly but I think that’s how it is.

  2. I really liked this movie… probably even more so than the original anime run… and my impression on Sheryl (as a character, not just as a singer) just skyrocketed for some reason when compared to the original…
    Nice that they changed the plot a bit to make the show more interesting than just a mere retelling… can’t wait to see the wing of goodbye…
    thanks for the post and godly numbers of screen caps, Divine 😀

  3. I’m not gonna say its the best macross movie out there but Its worth watching for fans of the franchise.

    Kinda sad though that Nanase was removed and didn’t get to hear Ranka’s Interstellar flight 🙁

    1. I don’t think Nanase was even originally going to be in the tv series, they tossed her in pretty late I think and thus her character is pretty pointless the way the series turned out IMO.

      We don’t lose anything from her not being in the movie I’d say.

  4. the Michael shot down thing was the very surprising and seeing OMG not again and then WHAT the HIS alive. I think i wouldn’t conclude yet that he will be 100% since their is a next movie.
    Still marcoss F never failed me in their graphics and specially the music effects

  5. Although I may not be a connoisseur with the Macross series (Frontier being my first in the series), I found the movie to capture the essence of the series very well.

    The movie-budget CGI was beautiful, which was one of the main selling points of the movie. Such graphics can’t help but remind me of the good old days of Zoids.

    The plots was well summarize, though I couldn’t help but be slightly distracted over the fact Brera, a main antagonist in the anime, was merely glanced over in this movie. Brera had this thrilling backstory, but none of it is mention apart from a certain brief flashback, that would lead first time viewers in confusion. I hope that they allow him more screen time for the next movie, one that I await for with baited breath.

    Personally, however, I did find the new music, particularly Universal Bunny, not as enticing as other songs from the show. Infinity had this upbeat rhythm which always caught my attention every time I hear it.

    Of course, the movie as a whole was fantastic. It added more humor into the appeal, but I certain miss a certain cafe table.

  6. 2 words: GO SHERYL!!!!

    dang man,i’d be on a rage if alto chooses ranka instead!!! i don’t like to feel lost again like how i did with d original macross.minmay!! T_T GO SHERYL! L0L.

    1. You know the studio ran on official poll for fav pairing or maybe it was fav character? Anyways, as you can guess Sheryl won, this was a bit after the tv series ended iirc, and it shows in the movie, they’ve really upped her screentime while knocking Ranka down a bit. We’ll have to wait and see if they balance it out in movie 2 which they might but the preview shows that the Alto x Sheryl parts will still be going strong.

  7. macross REDUX!?!?!…..anyway, thanks for the info D, i REALLY didn’t feel like DL’ing this one..now i don’t have to. ur first sentence just about summed it up for me…ohh how fickle we are.

    BROOKLYN otaku
  8. SHERYL!!!! Alto you better chose her in the end!

    I really loved Sheryl’s performance in this movie. Especially “Welcome to my Fan Club’s Night”. And in the final battle when she started singing and Alto stopped falling towards the ground I squealed. Epic song Sheryl and May’n! EPIC!

      1. Nekki Basara Flew a modified Vf-19 with a guitar as the controls lol. Vf-19 have swept back wings, the red one in that picture are the super valks from the movie “Do you Remember Love”.

  9. I like the story in the movie a lot better as it’s making sense here. If flashing out more characters’ development means constantly resetting characters of having a series of cliché scenes bearing no relations to each other, I’d rather not having it.

    However, it did feel like they are in the mind set of making “a movie” rather than a two part sequel whilst doing this movie and this could cause them trouble later on. To start with, many plot devices supposed to happen in the second part have already been used. eg. Lanka get abducted. If it happened again in the second part, then I can imagine people going O~oh. But of course, that could also mean the second part is taking another totally different direction.

    The most important problem, however is the fact that they over do the ending. It’s too spectacular, It feels more proper for the ending of the second part. Also, depicting everybody come to term and work with each other (on the emotional level) really gives the feeling of this is how the story ends. Then when the plots and back room dealings develop further in the second part, people would feel a discontinuity in the story. Of course, hard-core fans would have used to it by now though it may prove problematic for new comers.

  10. I actually like Ranka’s change here. She’s independent, assertive, and actually shows signs of selflessness. In other words, I actually find her LIKEABLE in this movie.

    Still she’s overshadowed by Sheryl here, who seems to drive most of the story. Seeing here hire SMS to rescue Galaxy with her own credit card is probably the most awesome thing she’s ever done.

    Speaking of Sheryl, how could you NOT post the fanservice screencap of Sheryl french kissing HERSELF!? For shame Divine!

  11. While is a huge step ahead in comparison of the TV series, I can’t help to feel like Kawamori wants to boost Ranka’s popularity with the movies, as the poor girl is clearly upstaged by SUPERIOR Sheryl (likewise, Megumi Nakajima is being owned in the song field by May’n) Even with the nice shift for Sheryl’s starting persona (more like her manga incarnation), the rift put between them by the “Spy Incident” is clearly benefitting Ranka. Kawamori, you troll…

    As for the Gaia IV link, is no secret that Mao’s family was there, maybe not helping with her research, but was there. I remember Mao’s daughter letter in the series about Sheryl’s birth, and since the letter was found in the remains of their fleet, there’s nothing strange in there.

    I believe we all expect Alto to man up and choose the SUPERIOR option. The same goes for Kawamori and the MF staff. They need to know that the onee-sama’s are always THE WAY TO GO in the Macross franchise (with the exception of Macross II)

  12. To me sheryl was somewhat of an underdog on the anime series, and I just happen to root for the underdogs… I hope the second movie will not leave us hanging like what the final episode of the anime series did by Alto not choosing anyone…

  13. It’s like how Do You Remember Love was to the original Macross TV. I wonder if this’ll get incorporated into the cannon in similar fashion, though I doubt it will.

    I don’t know why they mentioned Sharon Apple though, I mean she was a pretty significant villain. Boring US history lesson: In the US we don’t treat people who go against the general will of the government very kindly. One example would be Paul Robeson an extremely accomplished(which would be an understatement considering what he’s done) individual, he’s been pretty much wiped from our history books for being supportive of communism. A more contemporary example would be the Dixie Chicks opposing Bush.

  14. So which one is canon? TV version or movie version? And what is the upcoming movie sequel based on? Again, TV version or movie version?

    Blargh, as great as it was seeing Michel getting a reprieve and the great mecha battle…such a large diversion from the original version is gonna leave a lot of people scratching their heads.

  15. the great advantage of retellings is that you already have a lot of source material to work with. You can erase the bad bits, keep and improve the good bits, try new hopefully awesome bits, and generally approach things from a different angle. Movie sequels can sometimes backfire spectacularly, and animedom is littered with examples of good TV series being ruined by godawful movie follow up. Has anyone else ever watched the Martian Successor Nadesico movie and emerge bitterly bitterly dissappointed?

    If this and the Evangelion remakes are anything to go by then give me retellings over sequels anyday. Now there were some lose screws here and there imho, but overall this Macross frontier movie was exellent and made of win.

    Ninja Penguin
  16. They still haven’t topped the Quarter’s macross attack on Battle Galaxy’s main gun followed by macross attack by Battle Frontier against Battle Galaxy. That was the most awesome scene in the original series

    Zaku Fan
    1. Another guy mentioned on another blog that as a in-universe adaptation (like DRYL) of the “historical” events of macross frontier, it follows much like real movies with a lot of product placements. The way the nyan nyan bowls are held so the logo is crisp and clear, the vega card placement, etc.

      I only noticed that the nyan nyan song was sang quite a few times and the SPs for the movie had Sheryl and Ranka doing advertisments for stuff like a transformable Konieg monster (fake but which would be nice as a real model)

      I never noticed it but they really did it like how a movie (eg james bond) would do. He also mentioned the idealization of the “historical” characters like Sheryl and Ranka which thinking about it is really true.

      Zaku Fan
    I loved every minute of this movie. Well, specially the fanservice we got when Sheryl sang Universal Bunny. That Black Bunny sure is smexy!! :3
    The only thing I fear is that I as a Sheryl-sama fan is that for the next movie it seems they will be focusing more in Ranka (due to the kind of posters and flyers that are already out). Since this one was more focused on Sheryl…hopefully I’m mistaken but we will have to wait…

  18. Awesome Just saw the translate version 2 days ago and I have rewatch it already 3 times.
    The Graphics of the movie are indeed way beter then TV version and CG was done even beter.
    I also really like that Sheryl got a real “date” this time unlike in the TV serie where Alto see’s Ranka and tries to catch up too her with Sheryl.
    Hoping for a Alto x Sheryl ending in second movie 😀

    Iam so gonna rage if he ends of with Ranka or if they dont show who he chooses at the end.


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