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Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Vol. 3: Dangerous Divisions

ADV Films // Unrated // May 16, 2006
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted June 17, 2006 | E-mail the Author
The Show:

The SDF-1 fights its way back to Earth in the third volume of Super Dimension Fortress Macross, or just Macross for short.  The original anime series that was edited into Robotech, this release is the first time that the program has been available with an English dub (as well as the original Japanese.)  With a restored image and soundtrack, the show has never looked or sounded better.   Anime fans that missed the AnimEigo LE boxed set that was released a few years ago will want to pick up this classic series.
Series background:

The story starts in 1999.  A giant space fortress, heavily damaged, warps into our solar system.  Hurtling uncontrolled through space, the unmanned ship crashes into a small island on Earth.  This triggers the Unification Wars that end with all of the nations of Earth under one flag that studies the ship and its strange technology.  A city is built on the island where the ship crashed.

Over the next ten years, the ship is studied and repaired.  Using the newly discovered knowledge a fleet of jets is built that can transform into giant robots.  Then, on the day that the rebuilt space fortress, named the Macross, is to take its maiden voyage, the Zentraedi attack.  These aliens have been searching for the damaged space fortress because they too want the technology that it contains.  And they are willing to kill anyone who gets in their way.

The show centers on the adventures of Hikaru Ichijyo, a young pilot who grew up doing stunts with his father's flying circus.  On the day the Macross launches, Hikaru ends up in the battle for the island thanks in part to his idol and best friend is Major Roy Focker.  While in the battle, the hot-shot pilot rescues a young girl, Lynn Minmay, who has aspirations to become a singer.  The two end up living on the Macross together, but their relationship is anything but clear.

This volume:
This set of DVDs takes up where the last one left off, advancing the several plots and subplots that make this such an enjoyable show.  In the main plot, Captain Gloval hatches a dangerous scheme to break through the enemy's forces and get the SDF-1 back to Earth.  When they finally arrive, the crew and civilians have a rude surprise in store.   The Earth government has created a cover story to explain the disappearance of the SDF-1 and claimed that all the missing civilians were all killed.  They don't want anyone disputing their story, so they refuse to let the 70,000 civilians leave the ship.  The government also refused to take Lisa Hayes' account of what she saw while captured by the Zentraedi seriously.  They view the SDF-1 as a potential embarrassment, and order it back into space.

The three Zentraedi spies who were shrunk to human size and snuck on board are learning about human behavior.  They act as comic relief much of the time, as they try to figure out how humans act, and why they do what they do.  The spies are astounded by kissing, and discover the joys of music.

The various romantic plots are also advanced.  Rick and Minmay start to drift apart.  She is now a big star, and experiences life in the fast lane, while Rick is constantly in battle where death is a daily occurrence.  Minmay's cousin Kyle comes aboard the SDF-1 and he becomes attracted to the reigning Miss Macross.  Kyle reminds Lisa of her long dead fiancée, and she wants to get to know him better.  Poor Rick isn't sure what he wants.  He still cares for Minmay, and often recalls the time they were trapped in the ship together.  But he doesn't like her new life, and has much more in common with Commander Hayes, even if they are different in a lot of ways.

This was a good set of shows advancing the plots nicely, even though there is a filler episode where Captain Gloval recounts what has happened up to that point.  A classic show with good reason, this original version is a lot of fun to watch.  The show is full of action and excitement, just about every episode has a  battle scene with laser cannons blasting and ships exploding.  The program isn't just combat, there is a good deal of interpersonal relationships and a touch of romance.  It's a well rounded show that manages to balance the fighting with drama.

The DVD:   

The volume contains the next five episodes of the series on a single DVD.  It comes in a single width keepcase.  There is an insert that has the lyrics to two songs used in the show in both English and Japanese.

For the first time the original Macross has an English dub.  This disc offers the choice of either the original Japanese track in stereo or a 5.1 English dub.  Both soundtracks are very good, and the English 5.1 is particularly impressive.  The sound during the frequent battle scenes is very cool.  They make full use of the sound stage, with planes swooshing from the rear to the front and all over the room.  There are laser blasts coming from all corners.  This part of the mix is very dynamic and exciting, the audio track really puts you in the middle of things.  Unfortunately, after the battles end, the sound collapses to what is basically a stereo mix.  The dialog is centered over the screen, and rarely moves about.  Even the music is piped to the front speakers most of the time.  The audio quality is good too.  There is no hiss or hums, and the dialog is clear and clean. There are English subtitles available too.

Since this series has been already released in Japanese with English subs, the reason most people will want to get this edition is for the English dub.  ADV is one of the better companies when it comes to creating dubs for their titles and they did a very good job on this one too.  While the voices are different than the Robotech voices that we are all used to, these new voices fit the characters very well.  Everyone is voiced by pros who know how to bring a character to life, and they really go the extra distance to make these nearly iconic characters seem real.

The only problem I had with the dub was with Mari Iijima and Minmay's voice.  It just doesn't fit at all.  First of all Mari sounds much too old to be the young and bubbly waitress/singer.  Her voice has matured over the years and you can tell by listening that Mari is no longer a teenager herself.  Also she has an accent that is fairly heavy.  Ironically the accent sounds out of place when the rest of the cast are native English speakers.  Sometimes this accent also makes it hard to understand what she's saying.  Whenever Minmay opens her mouth I'm taken out of the moment and reminded that she's just a cartoon character.  While I can understand why ADV wanted to have Mari on board for the project, she just doesn't work.


This show was previously restored and released on DVD by Animeigo, and ADV is almost certainly using the same elements as the earlier release.  It looks very good.  The lines are tight and clean, and the colors are bright and solid.  There were a few spots and other imperfections in the image that looked like they were on the cells themselves , but they were not a major problem.  The 1.33:1 presentation is overall very good.


This disc has another good set of extras.  On the Stage with Mari Iijima is a 12½-minute interview and singing performance with the actress who plays Minmay.   There's also a commentary track for episode 15 with Mari Iijima (Minmay) and ADR Director Matt Greenfield and a clean opening.

In addition there are a series of liner notes (the same ones that accompanied Animeigo's release of the series.)

Should I upgrade?:

Probably not.  The only reason to upgrade from the Animeigo set (if you're lucky enough to own their out-of-print boxed set) is if you want the English dub.  I actually enjoyed the original English Robotech voices that I've known for years a bit more than this dub, so if you have that I think you're covered.

On the other hand, if you've never seen the original Super Dimension Fortress Macross this is a fun show and you might want to pick this up.  It depends on how much of a Robotech fan you are.  The changes aren't drastic, but there are some and it's nice to see this seminal series the way it was meant to be viewed.

Final Thoughts:

Though this show, both in its original version and as Robotech, has been released on DVD several times this latest edition is very nice.   The unedited version verison of Robotech is better than the version that Americanized show that we all grew up watching and the audio and video quality is very good.  An fun show that just keeps getting better with age.  Highly Recommended.

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Highly Recommended

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