“My grandfather was an Earthling, and my grandmother a Zentradi. They were the first such interspecies couple in history. Even worse, their species were at war with each other at the time. Nonetheless, they married each other, and showed everyone how Earthlings and Zentradi can live together in peace.”
-Mirage Farina Jenius, Macross Delta, Episode 5
In the wake of Macross Delta‘s spring debut a rush to identify its spiritual predecessor has cropped up. While a line of progression can be drawn from Super Dimension Fortress Macross‘s Lynn Minmay to Macross 7‘s Fire Bomber, it’s reframed a bit with the advent of Delta‘s Walkure: a highly-specialized military tactical unit. Song in Delta is unabashedly weaponized, not used as a surprisingly convenient source of confusion, or a reckless and unsolicited effort.
One of Macross creator Shoji Kawamori’s properties between Macross Frontier and Delta was AKB0048 — for all intents and purposes, a Macross series without variable fighters, solely focused on idol competition and wielding music as a weapon.
If one follows Shoji Kawamori’s somewhat dodgy, albeit interesting, excuse for an overall Macross timeline, his answer is this: much like history that is studied in classrooms and recreated in period dramas, Macross is the retelling of a historical event. The characters themselves may change, but every iteration will have the Macross staples of fighter pilots in transforming Valkyrie robots, idol singers, and a love triangle.
The first episode of Macross Delta breezes through this checklist with obvious ease. Plucky stowaway Freyja Wion, disillusioned grunt worker Hayate Immelman, and hapless Delta Platoon Lieutenant Mirage Farina Jenius – whose last name should immediately ring a bell with the seasoned Macross fan. Presumably, these three will compose the expected love triangle that will develop against the backdrop of a virus that is both spawned from song and quelled by song. Other checkmarks include the alien race Zentradi, a fighter pilot squadron, and an established group of idol singers that said squadron protects: Walkure.
“You know This is something I have trouble getting people to understand in magazine interviews. For example, you’ve got World War II, and then you have lots of movies based on that event, right? They are all fictional. They’re all based on a war that actually took place, but they are all different. For example, in period dramas you have Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu, but there are so many Oda Nobunagas and Tokugawa Ieyasus. The producers look at the real event and adapt the character according to their wishes. The actors and lines also change, so the character changes.”
-Shoji Kawamori in a 1998 interview
What makes Macross, Macross?
It is easier, and far more dramatic, to declare your love for something or someone once the stage is set. In Super Dimension Fortress Macross episode 27, “Love Drifts Away,” the series itself, along with its protagonist, Hikaru Ichijou, belts out its love for the Earth, entertainment, and the idea of love itself through the mouthpiece of Lynn Minmay, placing her on the grandest stage as a herald of both the Earth’s destruction and subsequent victory over the Zentradi.
Initially, I was hesitant to finish Super Dimension Fortress Macross. Upon watching episode 27, I couldn’t fathom the series topping the emotional climax of Lynn Minmay singing “Love Drifts Away” against the backdrop of an epic space battle, followed by Hikaru rescuing Misa Hayase while the sun sets over the scorched Earth.
Then, I encountered a “Rainy Night.”