Story = B
Video = B+
Audio = B
Made in 1984, Macross: Do You Remember Love is a summary of the events that occured in the Super Diemension Fortress Macross TV series — itself known as the show that was re-cut to make the first part of US TV series Robotech. In this movie version the earth is at war with an alien race known as the Zentradi. The interstellar transforming battle spaceship/robot/city/fortress known as the Macross is on its way back to earth when it crosses paths with a Zentradi fleet. A battle ensues during which one of the Macross' fighter pilots gets lost within the Macross' dark trappings with a pop idol singer Minme. This eventually prompts an unapproved romantic flight among the rings of Saturn, a capture by aliens, a love triangle and various other dramatic and exciting action scenes, in what is probably one of the best series-summary movies I've seen.
Since this is a summary, you do not need to have seen original TV show to watch this movie, but it probably would help. While it does a good job of including all of the elements needed to understand it's self-containted plot, it still feels very much like you are dropped in to the middle of the story. Things happen so suddenly and fast at the beginning, that it can be a little confusing. There's the giant spaceship/city Macross which is trying to return to earth, and you can tell that there is a war going on between Earth and the alien race known as the Zentrans. But why exactly the Macross left earth, where the ship originated, or the details behind how the war between earth and the Zentrans started is skipped entirely. Personally, I have only seen a handful of episodes of Macross and Robotech, but I know enough about the backstory to be able to fill in those blanks. However, those who have no previous exposure to the story can still enjoy this movie as long as they can accept that many questions they have about the backstory may not be answered.
I actually ended up watching this movie twice; and to be honest, the first time I was not crazy about it. Part of the reason for that was because I was confused on exactly where it fit in the Macross continuity. I originally thought it was supposed to be a sequel to it, and it wasn't until later that I realized that is was supposed to be a condensed re-telling of the series. But even beyond that, the story and the characters were just so over-the-top cheesy. I mean, this is a show where giant powerful aliens can be rendered incapacitated after simply seeing a man and woman kiss, and where pop music literally saves the human race. How am I supposed to take that seriously? Then there's the love triangle between Hikaru, Minme, and Misa which seemed totally cliche. I had a hard time empathizing with any of the characters since may of them seemed like stereotypical anime personalities just with amped up melodrama.
The second time I watched it, my opinion was entirely different. Part of that change in attitude was because I understood that this was a re-telling and not a sequel. But the main reason for my shift in opinion was that I knew what to expect, so I was not as distracted by the cheesiness and melodrama and could focus on the details. And that's what really makes this movie so beloved by fans: the details in everything from the characters to the story to the setting and animation. The story itself is complex and has plenty of surprises; and somehow even the over-the-top ridiculousness of the premise lent the movie a certain amount of awesomeness because it is never apologetic about it and if you pay attention to the backstory of the aliens, their reactions to humanity are consistent and understandable (if not reasonable). And even the development and resolution of the love triangle is much more complex than I first thought. The scene where Misa and Hikaru are stranded, and are shown playing house in order to pass the time is especially well done and does a great job of showing their relationship develop. It's that kind of subtle detail that, when you are paying attention to it, really plays off with emotional impact. And despite the condensed story, it never seems rushed or feels like things are being glossed over. Each scene has meaning and contributes to moving the story forward at a comfortable pace.
Then of course there's the detail in the animation. I'm sure a lot of audiences will be turned off by the hand-drawn animation of the 80's, but personally I love that style of animation just because it allows for more creative freedom and spontaneity in the artwork.
So in the end, I did really enjoy this movie. I think that if you can get past some of cheesiness, those who are willing to look will appreciate the detail and craft of the story and animation.
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