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Macross, Vol. 4: Fallen Angels

ADV Films // Unrated // July 11, 2006
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted September 2, 2006 | E-mail the Author
The Series:

The fourth volume of Super Dimension Fortress Macross, or just Macross for short, contains some  of the most powerful and intense, not to mention good, episodes in the series.  Back on earth, the SDF-1 has just as many problems as it did in space.  Not only are they being constantly attacked by Zentraedi forces, but they can't relocate the refugees that they are carrying.  Things go from bad to worse as major characters are killed, and the ship's systems start to fail.
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:

The disc starts off with a clip show to bring viewers up to date.  That's not a bad idea for a show like with when it's syndicated on TV, but when you're watching the show on DVD and the events of the first 16 episodes are still fresh in your mind it's not that useful.  In any case with Hikaru in the hospital recovering, he thinks back on what has happened to him and more specifically, his relationship with Minmay and Lisa Hayes.

Things start to pick up after that with the single best episode in the whole Macross story.  While the SDF-1 is trying to find a home for the refugees on board and still fighting off Zentraedi attacks, one of the main characters dies.  This episode was the point where I went from thinking that the series was very good to excellent.  Totally unexpected, especially for a children's show, the death of this character is sad, forceful, and makes the series seem all too real.  If one character can die, then the others can too.  While everyone was upset at this death, things didn't grind to a standstill.  The SDF-1 is at war, and they have to press on.

That powerful episode was followed up with one that raised the ante even more.  When an overload on the SDF-1 during an attack causes massive damage to the surrounding land it looks like there's no where on Earth that the spaceship will be able to land.  On top of that, another main character dies, which makes people wonder how many more will be killed before it is all over.

In this volume the Zentraedi ace, Milia Fallyna, learns that the humans have an ace of their own, one who is her equal, or possibly even better.  She can't stand the thought of that so she shrinks herself down and sneaks aboard the SDF-1 with plans on killing Max Jinius.

This volume has some of my favorite installments of this classic series.  The first time I viewed these (in their Robotech persona) I was floored and seeing them in their original form is even more powerful.  The episodes on this disc are risky, people might not like to watch a show where their favorite people die, but the gamble pays off with an intense and powerful sett of shows.

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.


As for extras, this volume has the second part of a featurette that was begun on the previous volume, On the Stage with Mari Iijima.  I addition there are a series of liner notes (the same ones that accompanied Animeigo's release of the series), a clean opening, and some text character stats.

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:

One of the better volumes in this series, if you've been following the show so far, this is a no-brainer.  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.  Highly Recommended.

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Highly Recommended

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