Merry Christmas, your present is this post about a good anime!
This post is the twelfth and final of my entries into 2016’s rendition of the 12 Days of Anime aniblogger project. For more about the project, read appropriant’s introductory post. For a spreadsheet containing the work of all the bloggers participating, go here. For my previous 12 Days posts, go here.
Macross is a franchise about a lot of things, but it may be that the thing that continue to draw me to it most—underneath the planes, the robots, the music, the aliens, and everything else—is love. Of course, love triangles are one third of the classic Macross trinity, but the kind of love I’m thinking of is one that runs even deeper in Macross than that. There is a certain kind of jubilant life-adoring verve running through the franchise’s veins, a enthusiasm simply for being in existence that spills out in the messy affairs that are the franchise’s shows.
Macross Frontier is one such incorrigible example. It is a show filled with love of all sorts, but at the source of it all is a spring of undiluted joy. As an anniversary project, one could have expected Frontier to be burdened by the need to honor the past, but instead the show delights in the chance to remember love for the past and to look forward into the future. The fever of creation, the enchantment of the new spill out from Frontier in a wash. And you can see this love in interviews with Shoji Kawamori and the other creators of the show. Their enthusiasm is palpable and you feel it in the final product, because one needs only just a glance to see that Macross Frontier invariably gyrates and contorts and bursts with love.
How does it do this? How can an anime embody, almost as if it were its very substance, the concept of love?
Well, primarily, I think the most indelible footprint of love upon Frontier is the simple honesty with which it conducts itself. I do not profess to love everything about Frontier, nor do I believe it to be a flawless show. But what I admire most of the show is that it is unceasingly itself, whether or not I like the self displayed at any particular moment. Whether it is the beauty of Ranka’s rescue concert on Galia 4 or low points like the episode about Sheryl’s panties, Frontier is, for better or worse, itself. It loves itself, irritating fanservice and glorious concerts/battles and all. The reason “Goodbye, Sister” and its pineapple cake work so well is because Frontier loves the dumb joke it makes out of itself and that moment. It believes in the joy of its own stupidity, and I’m glad to be there right alongside it.
It doesn’t stop there, though. The bubbling love of Macross Frontier appears throughout the entire show. Music runs into Valkyrie fights, the romances are acted out with wild abandon, the story twists and turns without regard for its own coherency at times, and even the haphazardness of the life- and humanity-affirming themes seem to me evidence of an ineffable love. Sheryl sings “Diamond Crevasse” to bring the people hope, Ranka makes the decision to seek out a way to understand the Vajra, Alto and Brera yell together about the inherent isolation of being human and how we love each other despite it. What a colossal mess. What a love. Ultimately, it’s all, I suppose, rather self-indulgent and simple in its understanding of love—but out of that smallness blooms something truly lovely.
It is a bounteous love that overflows. And that, you know, is something rather like the spirit of Christmas.