noburo ishiguro

Weekly Anime Classics Returns: Macross: Do You Remember Love

Every so often, a remake comes along that is truly greater than its predecessor. This film is one of those. Now movie summaries of anime are no new thing. They were very big in the 70s and 80s, especially as home video wasn’t widely available. On some occasions even, the remake was more beloved than the original, such as the Mobile Suit Gundam Trilogy, but what all of the films I described have in common is that the majority of the footage they used was from the TV series they were based on, with only some new animation. This film doesn’t do that. While most of the same staff returned, the mechs and characters were completely redesigned and the film features entirely new animation. I’m also happy to say that this is one of my favorite movies ever and one of the most deserving anime ever to be called a classic.

Macross: Do You Remember Love is a retelling of Super Dimension Fortress Macross, which I covered before my column disappeared mysteriously into the internet ether. While this story is truncated and less complicated in terms of inter-character interactions, but it is no less emotional and in many ways is much more grand.

This version of the story eliminates many of the start up episodes entirely. The SDF-1 is already in space and on the run from giant Zentraedi, Hikaru is already a pilot in the Skull Squadron, and Minmay is already an established pop star. This allows the story to get going right out of the gate though and the opening shots of the film still send chills down my spine. The transforming Valkyries launching into the huge blackness of space, the scale of the battle, the music matching that scale perfectly and even the life like energy of finally seeing a Minmay concert animated on a feature budget, its a lot to take in.

As the film progresses though, we see that all is not as we saw it in the TV series and, for the most part, make it a great experience on its own. The most striking change is that we learn that the Zentraedi are not just trying to track down the Macross, but are also at war with the Meltlandi, the females giants of their species. The crew of the Macross, especially Hikaru, Misa and Minmay, find themselves in the middle of this galactic struggle and also in a love triangle that may shape the future of every civilization in this war.

Wow is this movie pretty. Haruhiko Mikimoto returns on character designs and while the characters look familiar, they all look a bit more realistic. For the most part, the women especially look more mature and very pretty. The guys look a bit softer, except for Roy who looks way more gruff. The Zentreadi look much more deformed, but it makes them much more alien. Although, it seems a little odd when one looks at how pretty Millia is. Then again, Quamzin appears as well, albeit briefly, and he’s also still looking good. The mechs have also been updated subtley and they all look great. The animation in general is fluid, moody and incredibly lifelike.

The action is very fast paced in this film and the battle are breathtaking if not a little short and it even comes with 80s ultra-gore. Millia and Max especially steal the show whenever they fight.

The music is also suitably epic. If you don’t like 80s soundtracks, it may not be your thing, but the background music assists at setting up the scale of the scenareo. Minmay’s new songs are also great, the titular song, Do You Remember Love is especially memorable, as is the grand battle it is set against.

Macross best points have always been the characters though and our three leads, Hikaru, Minmay and Misa and explored very well. Hikaru doesn’t waffle between the two girls in this version, and as a result, he ends up being less of a jerk overall. (He grows out of many of his other jerky qualities.) Sadly, Misa doesn’t come off quite as strong in this version, but the older Minmay is much less immature in this version and while she still has her selfish moments, she pulls through even better than she was before.

Tragically, the other characters don’t get nearly as much screen time and for the most part get little to no exploration. Roy’s exit is not nearly as striking as it was in the TV series. Also Roy’s way creepier here. While giving Misa and Hikaru love advice he comes off as really rapey. Its kinda really uncomfortable. Anime sexism was especially apparent in the 1980s, so that’s not a huge shock I suppose.

Nevertheless, this is a very worthwhile film to view. Directors Noburo Ishiguro and Shoji Kawamori once again knock an anime out of the part and this is a movie that needs to be seen. Here’s where the bad news comes in. A US release is harder to find than one for the Macross TV series, mostly because it, technically, doesn’t exist. Macross: Do You Remember Love has never been released in its entirety to the English speaking world. There was a very bizarre cut of the film released by Celebrity Home Entertainment called Clash of the Bionoids. Bionoids not only features an English dub produced by Toho featuring no one who speaks English as a first language, but also has all of the ultra-violence and music sequences cut meaning that the plot makes absolutely no sense. No other releases exist due in part to legal nonsense relating to Harmony Gold (of Robotech fame) and the existence of Bionoids. On the up side though, its one of the most widely distributed fansubs and has been since the 1980s. If you want to see it, its impossible to not find. I however, own the 30th anniversary Blu-ray release. It has no subtitles as its an imported Blu-ray, but the story is so visual and not particularly dialog driven, that it really doesn’t need them. (For me anyway, you should probably see it with subtitles at least once…) I warn you though, if you go that route, the Blu-ray is not only very expensive, but is also edited. Some of the most violent scenes have been cut, including my personal favorite scene of Millia being completely brutal in battle. But its a movie I love enough that I need a legal physical copy. I hope you all enjoy it as well.
Till next time, peace, love and doughnuts!