Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman
Macross Plus: Movie Edition takes place 30 years after the end of the original Macross series. The U.N. Spacey High Command is working on developing new technology to use in their transformable, flying craft in order to replace the VF-11 Thunderbolt variable fighter. On the planet Eden, there are two types of fighters being tested: the YF-19 and the YF-21.
Two former childhood friends, Isamu Alva Dyson and Guld Goa Bowman (a man of Zentraedi mixed race) are chosen to pilot the different types of aircraft. An intense rivalry forms between them when they test their fighters; this rivalry is intensified when former childhood friend, Myung Fang Lone, returns to Eden. Myung used to be a singer, but she now serves as the "producer" for Sharon Apple, an AI hologram who is the hottest entertainer in the galaxy. During one of the test flights, the rivalry becomes so intense that Guld "accidentally" fires on Isamu's craft. Isamu suffers serious enough injuries that he needs to be taken to the hospital.
After Isamu is released from the hospital, both he and Guld learn from the commander in charge of the testing that the U.N. Spacey High Command has dropped the project. It turns out that the government has decided to go with the Ghost X-9, which is a previously unknown stealth fighter that is unmanned.
Myung, meanwhile, goes to Earth for a Sharon Apple concert that is to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the armistice between Earth and the Zentraedi. Sharon develops a consciousness, and during the concert, she takes over the Ghost X-9 and the Macross and hypnotizes everyone. When Isamu and Guld realize that Myung's life is in danger, they must work together and overcome the events of their past that broke up their friendship. Guld is killed in a battle with the Ghost X-9, and Isamu is hypnotized by Sharon Apple. However, instead of crashing to his death, Isamu hears Myung's voice; this snaps him back into reality. It's up to Isamu to save Myung and to stop Sharon Apple.
This movie edition of Macross Plus adds 20 minutes of additional footage, some of which is mature in content. Also, the ending is different compared to the original four-part OVA.
For me, I spent half of the film trying to figure out the connection between Macross Plus and the original Macross. The first part of the film is spent on the planet Eden (and it's never addressed how the planet Eden fits into the Macross universe), and the only thing that really seems to connect back to the original series is the transforming flying mecha. Once you hit the second half, though, references are made to Earth and the Zentraedi. It is also in this section where you learn Guld is at least part Zentraedi. I think the lack of more obvious tiebacks to the original Macross does hurt Macross Plus to some extent, especially for viewers who are familiar with the first Macross series.
The animation in Macross Plus tries to combine some of the stylistic elements from the original Macross series with the more "realistic" looking anime style that emerged in Megazone 23 Part 2 and Akira. There are also attempts to incorporate some early computer graphics into the production; however, since this was during the early stages of computer animation, the shots done with computer animation stick out like a sore thumb, and can be rather disconcerting to watch.
The DVD release has a main menu which includes playing the film in its entirety, choosing which scenes you want to watch, a set-up menu, and a "special features" menu. In the set-up menu, you can choose to either watch in Japanese Stereo with English Subtitles or Japanese 5.1 Surround with English Subtitles.
The special features are somewhat lacking on the disc. There are the episode credits for each of the four episodes that comprised the original OVA, as well as trailers for Macross Plus (a trailer for the movie, as well as trailers for parts 2-4 of the original OVA).
There is a character bio section, which has a picture of the character and a very brief write-up for the character; the character bio section includes: Isamu Alva Dyson, Guld Goa Bowman, Myung Fang Lone, Lucy MacMilla, Sharon Apple, and YF-19. There is also a "photo gallery," which includes screen shots from the film, as well as a few pieces of production art; you can flip through the photo gallery at your own pace.
There is also a section called "Manga Extras," which includes five minutes of previews of other Manga Entertainment releases, a Manga DVD catalogue, Merchandising & Catalogue info (which spends two minutes scrolling through the DVDs and merchandise they have available), and a "websites" section with links to three websites.
If you are a Macross fan and want to have DVDs of every Macross release, then this would be a "must get." For those who enjoy the original Macross series, but don't really have much interest in seeing any sequels, then this is probably one to avoid.
I wrote this review after watching a copy of this DVD that my husband purchased as a gift.