Thoughts on Macross Frontier: The Wings of Goodbye

I got around to watching the 2nd Macross Frontier movie about a month or so ago. Given how I impressed I was by the anime series, I thought I would get around to writing down my thoughts sooner, but I was busy at the time with other things so I didn’t immediately start a post. After a few days I start to forget what I watched, and the post ended in the back burner (along with a post on Samurai Champloo; I finished that series several months ago). I finally got around to putting my thoughts down during winter vacation, so here are some my disorganized, random thoughts on Macross Frontier: The Wings of Goodbye. Don’t read this post if you don’t want to be spoiled.

Given that it is a Macross Frontier movie, The Wings of Goodbye is once again a song-and-dance and space-dogfight spectacular. The combat is still mostly “fighters darting everywhere with anti-air and missiles flying all over the place” type of scenes which are impressive but we’ve seen them often in the series and the previous movie. The only thing that was especially memorable was that there were a lot of Macross/Macross Quarter ships that showed up at the end. They just fired their main cannons rather than getting into a chaotic fight with other similarly sized enemies, but the scene was notable because it was the first time in Macross Frontier that so many Macross ships appeared on screen at the same time.

Moving on to the concerts and music, the concert scenes were arguably an even bigger visual feast than the combat sequences. Sheryl’s concert opened the movie and Sheryl managed to one-up her own concert from the False Songstress at least when it came to amount of hologram clones dancing and being naughty with other hologram clones of herself. Ranka also made use of hologram copies of herself in her debut large concert. It was fun seeing the Sheryl concert and then the Ranka concert in the early parts of the movie, and we can clearly see that Sheryl sells through sex appeal while Ranka caters to those who love cuteness. The Ranka concert at the prison (to cover for an effort to break Sheryl out of jail) was quite memorable too. Although it didn’t have the special effects of the previous concerts, the prison concert featured members of the SMS playing in the band, and who could forget Alto dancing around and rescuing Sheryl in a gothic lolita outfit with jets in his skirt. I’m not surprised by Sheryl or Ranka fan service, but the Alto fan service was pretty amusing. Of course, there was the duet between Sheryl and Ranka in the final battle, and the grand finale was big, chaotic mix of singing and fighting just as I was hoping for. Like the previous movie, The Wings of Goodbye had a number of new songs. They all sound decent, but none of them really caught my ears.

In regards to the plot, the Wings of Goodbye features a lot of the elements from the anime series, but the plot actually diverges further from the series. The False Songstress can still be considered as a condensed recap of the 1st half of the Macross Frontier, the Wings of Goodbye has some key differences that makes the dynamics of the story quite different. Here are some of the key differences:

Grace is no longer the principle villain and actually cares about Sheryl. Grace is given a much more sympathetic and redeeming portrayal in the movie, and at the end she even saves Sheryl’s life. The title of principle villain is now passed on to a pod containing a consortium of survivors from the Macross Galaxy. In the anime series, Grace is heard talking with these people, but I never really knew who the voices were. The movie moves the group to the front and center. I rather liked Grace as the power-hungry, self-groping villain, but the writers are bent on redeeming her and I supposed the blob of collective consciousness without faces is more evil-looking.

Another big difference is that Ranka doesn’t become the betrayer to mankind by leaving with Brera and ending up inside the Macross Galaxy. On the other hand, Sheryl is branded as a spy from the Galaxy and tossed in jail, so in a way the roles between Ranka and Sheryl are reversed in the movie. However, Sheryl’s image didn’t end up quite as tattered as Ranka’s in the series as at least Alto and most of the SMS believed in Sheryl’s innocence. Sheryl also only ended up in jail, while Ranka did join the enemy for a brief period of time in the anime series.

Perhaps the biggest difference of all between the anime series and the movies is that the movies provide a more definitive ending to the love triangle between the three main characters. Near the end of the movie, Alto chose Sheryl in front of Sheryl and Ranka. I think Alto choosing Sheryl was the more likely conclusion given how the movies have painted a closer relationship between the two than the series. It turns out in the film, Sheryl has been a fan of Alto since she was little. It’s not that Ranka is shoved into the background, but her affections for Alto appears to be more one-sided in the movies. Given how things were set up in the movies, Alto x Sheryl was the right choice. While I liked the more definitive conclusion to the love triangle, Macross just had to throw a wrench into the perfectly happy ending and have Alto shoot off into deep space with the Vajra and Sheryl in a coma because unlike in the series, Sherl’s illness due to the alien bacteria does not magically get cured by Ranka. I suppose we should be happy that none of the big three died in the process, and perhaps once Alto comes back Sheryl will wake up again.

In the end the Wings of Goodbye shares many of the same elements as the latter half of the anime series, but it’s also quite different. The movie is more like an alternative version of events rather than a compressed recap. It might the version of events from a parallel dimension or something like that. I still enjoyed the movie a lot, mostly due to the visual and aural spectacle that the movie provides. The concerts and fighting looked awesome, and the music was pretty nice too. The story still wasn’t the greatest, but it was no worse than the series.

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