|Great music, strong first half, nice action in space and in the skies, likable leads||Exposition heavy second half, somewhat rushed ending, weak third side of the love triangle|
If there is anything to say about Macross Δ (Macross Delta) is that it did start out well. I have only watched a handful of Macross series, but this one had me enjoying it out of the gate. This show did combine a lot of things that I do enjoy which set it up to be a pretty strong show overall. I can’t say it managed to maintain its strength through the entire series though. Macross Δ did a lot of things right in terms of setting up a good conflict and even creating some drama through the first half.
The biggest issue for the show though was that it became bogged down in the second half with far too much exposition. There was too much effort made to explain everything. They should have left some things unexplained and that time put more towards pushing the story forward. Despite the flaws I still consider Macross Δ to be a good show, just one that could have been stronger if the second half had been better.
The overall setting is pretty much a futuristic universe where humanity has expanded into the universe and is part of an intergalactic community. There is a huge history to Macross, but for the purposes of this show that isn’t really all that important. The history adds flavor to the show, but I think it is a series you can easily enjoy even if you haven’t watched any other Macross related series. The key thing is that this is a show with various alien races, spaceships, and machines that can fight both in the skies of various worlds and space.
Another key part of the Macross setting is the importance and power of music. I tend to like it when series can add a musical element and have it make sense within the context of the show. Music is certainly a key factor in this show both for the main characters and also for the enemies they are facing. Often there is a battle of singing that is going along with the battle of advanced fighter planes in the skies. The main characters are mostly pilots and singers. Now this isn’t a show where you are going to be seeing the pilots doing the singing, but rather singers who are on the front lines and need some protection.
The summary you will find for this show covers the basics of what is going on. There is a strange outbreak called Var Syndrome which is causing people to go berserk. The only counter to this outbreak is the singing from an idol group called Walküre (which is apparently a German word for Valkyrie). That’s a pretty fitting title considering this group is singing on the front lines of battle in order to calm down people who have gone crazy from the Var. That is incredibly dangerous and thus the Delta Squadron protects them from harm. The Delta Squadron being a fighter squadron that performs air shows when things are peaceful and switches into a combat mode during Var outbreaks.
Now some people had a problem with the singing going to an idol group for this series, but I honestly liked the move. Going with a group does give you some nice options for songs and the music was one of the stronger elements in the show for me. The show really does go all out with this concept. The Walküre have some nice tech that allows them to create defensive barriers, holograms, instant outfit changes, and even some measure of flight (though mostly just to allow them to make dangerous jumps and land safely). I found the concept of these singers putting themselves on the line a pretty solid one.
The first half of the show has some nice story elements to it. We get to learn a little bit about various members of the cast and there are some strong emotional scenes. These people are fighting enemies who want to kill them and there are real risks involved in doing that. Some characters get more attention than others, but I thought the story did a good job with the ones it did choose to focus on. By the halfway point I was really enjoying myself. There was good action and a war drama that they were handling pretty well. It seemed like the show would be able to keep the enjoyment factor up throughout and it would turn into a solid A of a series.
Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out like that. I think a big problem in the second half was that the story tried to answer all the possible questions it could. Now I am fine with a show giving some answers and filling in the gaps. But, the problem with that is that you risk going into exposition hell. No one wants to spend week after week after week just having things explained. There was a stretch of episodes that didn’t have much happening at all and instead just told us too much. This is a sci-fi series, with war, a berserker syndrome, and an idol group singing on the front lines. We aren’t just here for a history lesson. You have to keep the story moving, develop characters, and have a bit of fun with it. The second half of the show lost sight of that.
I wouldn’t say the story was a disaster here. The first half was pretty strong and had some moments that did hit me. A good job was done to make me care about what was happening and want to see that continue in the second half. I think they were too bogged down by exposition which kind of made the last episode a bit rushed. I still enjoyed the action and what was going on, but a lot was left unresolved just due to time constraints. The aftermath of that episode was mostly left unresolved. The biggest thing they dealt with was the love triangle. I was fine with dealing with that to be sure. Still, I was wonder just what happened to a lot of characters after such a big event.
The love triangle seems to be a pretty standard thing for Macross series, but I wouldn’t even say it was a big focus here. I was never in doubt how things would play out and even the story seemed to mostly acknowledge a single pairing. But there was definitely a third party involved so it still was a love triangle that only got 100% concluded in the last episodes. I don’t really mind that myself though since I did like the main pair the story went with. And it is kind of nice to let the overall story play out without having to create active drama on the romance side of things. I do kind of feel for the character that did get the short end of the stick, but at least they weren’t caught offguard by the end result.
The main cast even for a show like this could be broken down into four characters: Mikumo Guynemer, Hayate Immelmann, Mirage Farina Jenius, and Freyja Wion. It’s not a bad balance when you consider that two of the characters are pilots (Hayate and Mirage) and two of them are part of Walküre (Freyja and Mikumo).
Hayate is the male protagonist and certainly has some of the most growth in the show. He starts out as this guy who really hasn’t found anything to get passionate about. But an early encounter with Freyja and the chaos that follows that gives him some direction. He does start out as a bit of a jerk in the sense that he really does whatever he wants and doesn’t really know how to put his full effort into something he wants. But as the show goes along he does grow and really finds a love of flying. Hayate has to face a lot of struggles involving his past and living a life where fighting is a reality. Overall I did like his character and think by the end he became a much more complete person.
Despite being a main character I think Mirage took the longest to get moving on the development side of things. She gets introduced pretty early as the straight-laced pilot who isn’t that flexible. It does take a fair way into the second half before she really finds her footing. I think more time in the first half to develop her character would have made her feel like more of the main character she was supposed to be. I will say that by the end she does have some good moments and became someone I could respect. Not many people can make the sacrifices for others that she does. I just wish she had had more time to really grow.
On the idol side I would say Freyja had a good character arc as a whole. She starts out as just an inexperienced person following her dreams and really has to deal with a lot. Freyja easily can compare to Hayate in having to tackle a lot of things and grow far beyond who she was at the start of the show. There is more opportunity for Freyja to show her growth through her position in the Walküre. Some of the stronger moments in the first half and second half are when Freyja steps up and does something fairly bold. I thought she was a really likable character. There are times when Freyja hesitates or stumbles, but it is usually because she cares a lot about those around her. And she does end up finding her confidence and doing more than really anyone else could.
A good contrast to Freyja is Mikumo who starts the show as someone with great confidence. The star of the Walküre and the one everyone can turn to in order to handle difficult situations. Mikumo gets a fair amount of development, though a lot of that comes in the second half. I think her development could have been smoother if they had let it start earlier and didn’t have as much exposition. Still, Mikumo is a bold character, a great singer, and does get a lot of chance to grow by the end. She is closely tied to the plot as well which does prevent her from becoming sidelined. I’m most curious about what Mikumo’s future would be after the last episode. The show reveals a lot about her past and did leave me wishing the best for her future.
There are a lot of side characters and it would take forever to go into detail about them all. The rest of the Walküre have some character moments, but are mostly left as they were at the start of the show. I’d say Kaname Buccaneer gets more character development than other Walküre because of how the plot unfolds in the first half. Some of the flashbacks as well are told from her point of view so we can understand her feelings a bit more than say Reina Prowler or Makina Nakajima. Those two get some background information, but not very much. Reina is basically the idol/hacker of the team and Makina is both an idol and a mechanic. They are nice individuals, but they don’t get fleshed out very much. The most you can say about them is that Reina and Makina care deeply about each other.
The Delta Squadron has a handful of characters, but only a few really stand out and get much focus. Messer Ihlefeld gets a fair amount of character background and development in the first half. He does start out a bit tough to like, but grows on you as the story moves along. He’s an Ace pilot who carries some baggage, but fights for a good reason. Arad Mölders is an interesting side character in that we do learn some things about him, but he rarely gets focus. I can’t even really comment on Chuck Mustang since he isn’t all that important, mostly just another pilot to throw into the fray.
The other large batch of side characters are the Windermere characters. Windermere is a planet in that galaxy. Living on that planet is a race that has a very limited lifespan (about 30 years) but some special abilities that balance that out. They mostly serve as the antagonists for the series. The show tries to balance things out with them by giving reasons for their actions. Personally I never really cared for those characters or how the story portrayed them.
Windermere’s characters are made up of the royal family and the Sky Knights. There isn’t very much focus on the civilians. We mostly just get enough insight to understand why the Windermere people are taking the path they are in the story and why things aren’t entirely black and white. In some ways I think the story gave them too much slack and made it too easy to say “well they aren’t that bad.”
One of the stronger and more important elements in a show like this is the music. When a large part of your cast is an idol group….the music had better live up to the attention they are getting. In that sense I think Macross Δ did just fine. I honestly enjoyed a lot of the songs in this series and will probably continue enjoying them well into the future. There are a few solo songs and a lot of group songs which works fine by me. I think the creators did a good job finding skilled singers for this series. I don’t feel there were any bad songs and they had a good enough variety over the course of a 26 episode series. From Ikenai Borderline to Giraffe Blues they did a good job providing some variety. They injected enough personality into the music to keep me enjoying them.
I can’t complain about the voice acting either. The casting seemed like good choices and that probably is even more important when some of the cast are also singers. At the very least I appreciate it when a show doesn’t have any voices that I want to avoid at all costs XD. And as expected for a show like this the singing for the opening and ending sequences were both top notch. I enjoyed the first songs a bit more than the ones for the second half, but that’s just personal taste.
A fair point to make is that there is plenty of CG when it comes to the aerial battles. That doesn’t really bother me since I mostly accept that in action shows we’re going to see some CG in there. It all seemed to fit and honestly I liked how the show looked overall. It was a vibrant show and the action scenes had me pulled in. I give some credit there to the visuals in the show. They made the action work, the flying look good and the characters stood out in a positive way.
I just don’t recall any weak points visually for the show. The style and animation seemed to be handled well. There wasn’t a lot of fanservice in the show either. Really the only fanservice moments that stood out were in service to the actual plot and done in a playful manner. There was some fanservice in other places but they were never the focus of a scene and were pretty rare. The show did actually seem focused on telling its story and not making a big fuss that a part of the cast was a group of idols. I can certainly appreciate that.
I think Macross Δ could have been an even better show than it was. The main cast had some likable characters, the visuals were good, and the music was pretty memorable. The story could have been a stronger element for the show. Delta being bogged down by exposition just didn’t help anything. There were just some things I did not need answered if it meant putting more time into having the story progress. And honestly the show could have used another episode for the sake of an epilogue. The last episode mostly resolved things. I was just left wondering about some things that could have been concluded better. At least I can’t say the last episode wasn’t fun, because it really was.
Macross Δ is a show that did a lot of things right and a few things wrong. That I think brings it to a show that is good, but just not great. If the show had managed to retain the momentum and excitement it had in the first half then it could have been a great show. It just fell a little short which is a shame, but not a tragedy. Overall it was a pretty fun show. Delta gave me a few songs that I’ll still enjoy even though the show is over. Maybe like Macross Frontier this show will get a movie that could wrap up some things. But, even if that doesn’t happen this will hold up as a solid, but not great series.
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