Macross Plus (マクロスプラス Makurosu Purasu?) is a four-episode anime OVA and theatrical movie in the Macross series. It was the first sequel to the original Macross television series that took place in the official timeline (Macross II was quickly retconned by series creator Shoji Kawamori as a parallel world story in the Macross universe). Plus was a groundbreaking combination of traditional cel and computer-generated animation at the time of its release, paving the way for the incorporation of more computer-generated imagery in Japanese Animation.
Both the OVA series and movie were released in Japan by Bandai Visual and in North America and Europe by Manga Entertainment. The Australian VHS version was released by Manga Entertainment and the DVD version by Madman Entertainment under sub-license from Manga UK. Macross Plus was aired on Australia's Government owned broadcaster, ABC Television in 1995 and 1996, when the broadcasting of English Dubbed Anime was prominent on the ABC and was one of many Manga Entertainment titles aired on the channel.
It has one of the darkest storylines of the Macross franchise, and featured designs based on The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love?, which retconned the original series' designs and became part of the continuity.
Three decades after the great war between the humans and the Zentradi, the U.N. government is developing new technologies to use in their transforming fighter aircraft by running tests on the colony planet Eden. Military test pilots and former childhood friends, loose cannon Isamu Alva Dyson and the Zentradi mixed race Guld Goa Bowman, are selected to each pilot a new aircraft (Shinsei Industries' YF-19 & General Galaxy's YF-21) for Project Super Nova, to choose the newest successor to the VF-11 Thunderbolt variable fighter which is currently still in use by the U.N. Spacy military forces. Their own personal grudges end up disrupting the tests, and begin to wreak havoc on the program.
Their rivalry heats up when a mutual friend, Myung Fang Lone, shows up. Myung was a childhood friend of both pilots, but the three of them had a falling out, and quickly grew apart. This is alluded to throughout the story, and evidence of the strained relationship between Myung and either of the two men is apparent, while their distaste for one another is obvious. When they meet again, they discover that Myung is now the producer of Sharon Apple, the hottest entertainer in the galaxy, who just happens to be an AI hologram.
During a testing session, Guld and Isamu finally face off against each other- and an all out fight begins as each tries to best the other. Despite being in the middle of a testing area, they quickly proceed to tear the surrounding area to shreds in their fight to gain superiority over the other. Having turned off their communications equipment, both pilots fight using the test aircraft in a series of stunning dog-fight maneuvers before going into battroid form and finishing the fight on the ground. In the process, an "accidental" gun pod discharge injures Isamu and he is taken to the hospital, where he awakens to Myung standing watch over him. After returning to duty, a military tribunal questions Guld about their fight in the test area, but ultimately- the decision is left up to the Admiral in charge of the project. Chief Miller, the station commander of New Edwards Test Flight Facility reluctantly tells both pilots that their mission and the project has been scrubbed by the U.N. Spacy High Command- due to the completion of a newer, and previously unknown aircraft, the Ghost X-9 (ゴースト X-9)- an advanced stealth UCAV prototype, which was secretly being produced on Earth while two other prototypes (YF-19 and YF-21) were simultaneously being tested for Project Super Nova in planet Eden. With the Ghost X-9 completed, testing on the YF-19 and YF-21 was halted indefinitely, since the higher-ups believe that the new unmanned fighter is superior in every way.
Meanwhile, the AI Sharon Apple has developed a malevolent consciousness and, during her concert in Earth's Macross City, quickly takes over both the Ghost X-9 and the SDF-1 Macross Fortress and hypnotizes her audience and the Macross' staff.
When discovering that Myung's life is in danger, Isamu and Guld have to travel to Earth and set aside their differences to overcome the events from their childhood that drove them apart and caused them to hate each other. While Isamu goes after Sharon, who has taken over the SDF-1 Macross, Guld fights the X-9 and ultimately destroys it by removing the gravitational safety limiters on his aircraft, and matching the X-9's velocity/maneuverability until he achieves a target lock and shoots the X-9 down. However, removing the limiters allows Guld to achieve accelerations exceeding human (even Zentradi-Human) limitations, which ultimately leads to his death—even as he crashes the YF-21 into the X-9, destroying it.
While fighting the SDF-1 Macross, Isamu is hypnotized by Sharon's voice, and is left to crash to his death. At the last second, Myung's voice reaches him and brings him out back to consciousness. Dodging the Macross' fire, Isamu is able to destroy the central computer, effectively eliminating Sharon.
The story ends as the sun rises over the Macross Fortress, with Myung waving to Isamu, who has survived the destruction of Sharon's computer.
Following Big West's 1992 release of Macross II (which was subsequently retconned as an alternate universe title), original Macross staff member Shoji Kawamori began work on a true sequel to the original Macross series. To realistically depict the intense flight scenes in the anime, Kawamori - along with action choreographer Ichiro Itano and other staff members - traveled to Edwards Air Force Base (which was the basis for New Edwards Air Force Base on planet Eden in the series) in Edwards, California, for a few training sessions with dogfighting school Air Combat USA. The Advanced Tactical Fighter program of the 1980s was the basis of the Project Supernova contest between the YF-19 and YF-21. Consequently, the YF-21's design was heavily influenced by the Northrop YF-23.
The design of Eden City was influenced by the San Francisco landscape (which also served as a backdrop for Frontier City in Macross Frontier). The wind farms throughout the planet were based on those found in California's Central Valley, while Eden's highways were designed from those seen in Orlando, Florida.
Other notable staff include co-director Shinichiro Watanabe, character designer MASAYUKI and animation director Koji Morimoto, who designed the Sharon Apple concert scene. Shoji Kawamori designed all the new variable fighters in the anime. Kazutaka Miyatake was credited for the use of his previous designs for the Macross and the Destroid Monster and he was also involved in the project as mecha designer for the YF-21 cockpit, both the YF-21 and YF-19 flightsuits, the X-9 Ghost drone fighter and the renegade Zentradi battlesuits.
Yoko Kanno composed the soundtrack for Macross Plus. The orchestral score was recorded in Tel Aviv, Israel, by members of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, except for "Dogfight" (an orchestral track used during the final battle between Isamu and Guld) - which was recorded in Prague, Czech Republic by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.
Sharon Apple's songs are performed by a number of different artists - namely Gabriela Robin, Akino Arai, Mai Yamane, Melodie Sexton, Wuyontana and Raiché Coutev Sisters. The most notable song in the series is Myung's song "Voices", which is performed by Arai and is the only Japanese-language song in the soundtrack. For the English dub of the series, "Voices" was translated into English and performed by Michelle Flynn. Three songs ("Information High", "The Borderline" and "Pulse") are in English, while "Idol Talk" is in French. Four songs ("After, in the Dark - Torch Song", "Santi-U", "A Sai En" and "Wanna Be an Angel") are sung in the fictional Zentran language.
The soundtrack CDs were released in Japan by Victor Entertainment. In North America, only the first two soundtracks were made available; first through JVC, then subsequently through AnimeTrax (a division of The Right Stuf International).
Macross Plus OVA
The OVA version (マクロスプラス) consists of four episodes, each approximately 37–40 minutes in length. The Japanese voice cast is as follows:
- Isamu Alva Dyson - (Takumi Yamazaki)
- Guld Goa Bowman - (Unshou Ishizuka)
- Myung Fang Lone - (Rica Fukami)
- Lucy McMillan - (Megumi Hayashibara)
- Sharon Apple - (Mako Hyōdō)
- Marge Gueldoa - (Show Hayami)
- Millard Johnson - (Kenji Utsumi)
- Yang Neumann - (Tomohiro Nishimura)
- Kate Masseau - (Urara Takano)
Macross Plus: International Version
An English dub version was produced for the international market, featuring a North American cast and an English version of the main theme "Voices". In Episode 4 of this version, the entire soundtrack from the music to the sound effects was mostly replaced. Only the songs performed by Sharon Apple ("Pulse," "Information High," and "Santi-U(second half)/Torch Song") and the English version of "Voices" were retained. The background music entitled "Dogfight" was replaced with another track entitled "Breakout" (featured in Episode 1 and 2), notably in the main Dogfight sequence and just after Isamu recovers from his trance.
In Japan, this version was released with Japanese subtitles as the "International Version".
- Isamu Alva Dyson - (Bryan Cranston)
- Guld Goa Bowman - (Richard Epcar)
- Myung Fang Lone - (Anne Sherman)
- Lucy McMillan - (Bambi Darro)
- Sharon Apple - (Melora Harte)
- Marge Gueldoa - (Steven Blum)
- Millard Johnson - (Beau Billingslea - credited as John Billingslea)
- Yang Neumann - (Dan Woren)
Macross Plus: Movie Edition
The theatrical version (マクロスプラス MOVIE EDITION) consists of most of the footage from the original OVAs, along with approximately 20 minutes of new and alternative footage. Whether the events of the OVA or the events of the Movie are canonical is up for debate. Some differences between the OVA and Movie Editions include:
- The opening of the movie shows Isamu already testing the YF-19 (an extended version of his first test flight of the YF-19 from Episode 2) and meeting Guld for the first time in the hangar afterwards, as opposed to just arriving at Planet Eden and meeting Guld at the meeting between the two design teams.
- In that same scene, Isamu invites Lucy Macmillan on their first date. This is an alternate version to which he crashed a flight simulator in Episode 1 of the OVA.
- A new scene is of Isamu and Lucy at a dock, where he does his pre-flight movements from Episode 2. It also leads up to a new scene to after Lucy and Isamu had slept together.
- This new scene is also an alternate version of a scene when Sharon Apple makes a phone call to both Isamu and Guld warning them about a fire at the concert hall. In this version Isamu had just woken up and Lucy (clearly naked) is in bed with him. The original version simply had Isamu gazing at a computer monitor and repeatedly pressing the letter "M" when he gets the phone call. At the end of this version of events, Isamu's relationship with Lucy is implied to not have gone any further.
- After the joint test flights of the YF-19 and YF-21, (the montage from Episode 2) it is revealed that Isamu's reckless flying rendered the YF-19 unfit for testing and had to be taken for repairs. This explains why Isamu is flying a VF-11 during another test flight of the YF-21. (This is essentially the test flight from Episode 1)
- Isamu gets injured during a test flight of the YF-21, not in a melee with the YF-21. This is the same test flight that is featured in Episode 1 (in which Isamu is flying a VF-11 with rocket booster packs), right up to when Guld forces Isamu's VF-11 into the ground causing him to lose control and crash, with the major injuries he sustained forcing him to be sent to hospital. (In the OVA Version, Isamu escaped injury with barely a scratch) This scene replaces the original grudge match at the climax of Episode 2 when both pilots were using their test craft in melee combat, which ended when Guld, pinned to the ground by a rampaging Isamu, uses Isamu's Gunpod (Guld had intentionally replaced Isamu's blank ammo with live ammo in an earlier scene in the OVA) and shoots Isamu's craft at close range, which gave him the severe injuries he was being treated for in hospital.
- After Guld goes after Isamu (who had stolen the YF-19 to take on the new X-9 Ghost Fighter) a new scene features Col. Millard and Lucy staring at the night sky. Millard talks about his hopes for Isamu.
- At the Sharon Apple concert at Macross City, a new scene and song is inserted to replace what was the ending of Episode 3 ("After In The Dark," the ending theme for the first 3 episodes of the OVA), and the opening song of Episode 4 titled "Pulse." The new song is "Wanna Be An Angel," and includes new animation of Sharon Apple flying through the whole city. This then leads back into the song "Information High."
- The conclusion of the dogfight between Guld and the X-9 Ghost is extended, with Guld's body being crushed under the extreme G-Forces and a final image of his head exploding in his helmet before finally crashing into the Ghost fighter. Guld is then seen drifting into orbit.
- Sharon Apple sending Isamu into his dream-like state is extended with more footage of him flying towards the SDF-1. When Myung sings and wakes up Isamu, Sharon attempts to take Isamu back, only to have Isamu smash his head on the forward console to stop Sharon from appearing.
- After the SDF-1 lands back in the lake, Sharon has a final lament before dying. Afterward, Isamu and Myung are seen standing on top of the Macross watching the sunrise. Isamu then tells Myung that her singing helped him to win, ending the film with Myung singing "Voices".
Scriptwriter Keiko Nobumoto originally wrote Macross Plus as a feature-length work before the script evolved into a four-volume video series. The movie edition returns the story to the initially-planned feature length.
A subtitle-only version of the movie was released on VHS and DVD in the U.S. through Manga Entertainment. As the DVD is a direct transfer from the VHS version, the subtitles are actually fixed on the footage itself and not programmed to be turned off.
Macross Plus: Game Edition
A video game adaptation of the original OVA (マクロスプラス -Game Edition-) was released in 2000 in Japan only. This PlayStation game by Shoeisha Co. Ltd. features some members of the original cast and staff, and includes parts of the original soundtrack, as well as some cutscenes in the form of excerpts from the Movie Edition of Macross Plus.
The game features the variable fighters and mecha used in the OVA, as well as select units from the original Macross series. It also introduces the Neo Glaug (a transformable version of the Zentradi battle pod) as an in-game exclusive. Unlike other Macross games, transformation of variable fighters is not possible during gameplay; each level has the player's unit fixed in one mode only. Aside from the single-player story mode, two players can battle each other in vs. mode.
Macross Plus was first released in Japan on VHS and Laserdisc formats by Bandai Visual. Manga Entertainment released the series in VHS (dubbed and subtitled versions) and Laserdisc formats in Europe and as their first title in the North American market.
In 1999, Manga Entertainment released Macross Plus on DVD format, with two episodes per disc. Sales of disc 2 of the series were affected by a subtitle timing error, which was corrected on subsequent reprints. The Movie Edition was released on DVD in 2000. The video, however, was a direct transfer from the subtitled VHS release, with no options for audio or subtitles.
During the release of the series, Shogakukan published the companion visual book This is Animation Special: Macross Plus, which covered the first two episodes. A follow-up book was released, covering the production of the Movie Edition.
Macross Plus toys were not available until 2000, when Yamato Toys released a 1/72 scale diecast replica of the YF-19. Since then, aside from Yamato, replicas and figures of the series' variable fighters have been manufactured by Doyusha and Kaiyodo (under the Revoltech line).
Hasegawa Hobby Kits released non-transforming model kits of the YF-19 and YF-21 in fighter modes between 2001 and 2002. The molds for both planes were re-used for the VF-19A (from Macross VF-X2) and VF-22S (from Macross 7), respectively.
Resin and garage kits of the Macross Plus variable fighters have been manufactured by several different companies in Japan. The most well-known of these kits is the 1/100 Perfect Variable YF-19 by Studio HalfEye, which became the basis for Yamato Toys' 1/72 diecast toy.
Macross Plus is one of the few Macross productions that has been made available in the United States in its original form. Only the re-release of the Macross TV Show and The Super Dimension Fortress Macross II: Lovers, Again have been sold in America without any problems related to the legal battles between Big West, Tatsunoko Productions and Harmony Gold interfering with other Macross related titles release.
When Myung is visiting her childhood friend Kate, Kate sings "My Boyfriend's A Pilot" at a karaoke device, which was a song from the original Macross' Lynn Minmay.
- This is Animation The Select: Macross Plus Movie Edition. Shogakukan, 1995
- Miyatake, Kazutaka (2005-06-01). Macross and Orguss Design Works (in Japanese). Japan: Mobic. pp. 30–45. ISBN 4-89601-629-7.
- Macross World - This is Animation Special: Macross Plus
- Macross World - This is Animation The Select: Macross Plus Movie Edition
- Macross World - Yamato 1/72 YF-19
- Macross World - Doyusha 1/144 YF-19
- CollectionDX - Macross Plus
- Macross World - Hasegawa
- Macross World - Studio HalfEye 1/100 Perfect Variable YF-19
- Macross Official Web Site (Japanese)
- Macross Compendium
- Macross Plus (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Macross Plus at the Internet Movie Database
- Macross Plus - The Movie at Rotten Tomatoes
- Macross Plus Area Seven
- Macross World
- Macross Nexus
- Macross Mecha Manual A website profiling the fictional vehicles of the Macross series