「戦場のワルキューレ」 (Senjo no Warukyure)
“Battlefield of the Valkyries”
When you think about it, it’s amazing how fast time flies. The last main line Macross series (Frontier) made its debut on this day some 8 years ago, and even counting its alternative version movies, it’s been over five years since we saw something substantial regarding the franchise. Thankfully the wait is finally over, and after sorting through some 8000+ people for their newest talent, Macross Δ (a.k.a. Macross Delta) arrives as the newest entry to the long running and much beloved franchise.
Set in 2067, Macross Δ arrives eight years after the events of Macross Frontier, and takes place in “a remote part of the galaxy.” The first episode brings us to the planet of Al Shahal, and with it, an introduction to a new cast led by Immelman Hayate (Uchida Yuuma) and Wion Freyja (voiced by the winner of the auditions, Suzuki Minori). What we get is the realization that humanity’s now dealing with a mysterious condition known as Var Syndrome, and amid all the sudden violence caused by those infected, the all female Tactical Sound Unit Walkure arrive to counteract its effects using the power of their songs (and epic transformations). As the mysterious Kingdom of Wind deploy their Aerial Knights (in their fancy new SV-262 Drakens), a fated meeting leads Hayate into the cockpit of a Valkyrie, and the rest as they say is history.
Needless to say, it’s the general formula we’ve come to expect from Macross in regards to introductory episodes, with a few tweaks to make Δ stand out from its counterparts. The most interesting facets of this first episode end up being in those small differences (and in some cases, similarities to other series he’s helmed before), and if there’s one thing that seems quite clear to me, it’s that Kawamori Shoji’s utilizing his recent experiences to power the development of Macross Δ.
Granted, many of the aspects were actually discussed by Kawamori himself—ranging from the use of planets to contrast the space-oriented aspects of Frontier to a renewed focus on Valkyrie vs. Valkyrie comba we haven’t seen since the days of Macross Plus and Macross Zero—but when you get down to the ship designs, the CG used to animate them, and the levitating flyers used by the Walkure, there’s certainly a link to be drawn to the creations he made for AKB0048. If you’ll remember, Kawamori helmed the second season of AKB0048 just three years ago, and as someone who’s followed him through virtually all of his series, it’s certainly a nostalgic touch that adds much to the enjoyment of this first episode.
That said, it’s pretty amazing how much they actually set up here with a mere 20 minutes to work with. There’s a few more minutes here due to the omission of the opening sequence (a bummer given how great those tend to be for this franchise), but we get not only the introduction of what seems to be two of the three members of (you have to expect a triangle from this in the future) our main trio, but also the two major factions at play, some of the members present in both factions, and enough about the general background/setting to set the stage. Given that we started out with Hayate receiving his pink slip and Freyja arriving as the unwanted stowaway, the fact that it rarely felt rushed is nothing short of impressive—doubly so when you consider the action packed second half and the how much time they gave to the development of Hayate and Freyja’s initial friendship.
It remains to be seen how things will hold up for a series that seems (emphasis on seems) a bit more over the top than previous iterations, but it’s a good start for a series that I really want to succeed as a die-hard Macross fan, and I’ll take that any day. It’ll take a bit longer for me to judge whether or not the music here’ll end up on the same level as its predecessor in Frontier, but Suzuki Minori arrives as a promising new talent capable of carrying the series, and the rest of the Walkure certainly appear capable of holding their own with their songs. The fact that Minori is reminiscent of previous talent Nakajima Megumi bodes well as a solid foundation to build with, and if the past has been any indication we’ll be asking “how do they find these talents?” by the time it’s all said and done.
Here’s looking forward to more deculture in the coming weeks, and another journey filled with love triangles (apparently we’ll be getting multiple this time around), catchy songs, and epic Valkyrie combat.
Author’s Note: I will be returning from my hiatus to blog Macross Δ on a weekly basis.
ED: 「いけないボーダーライン」 (Ikenai Borderline) by Walkure (ワルキューレ)