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Macross Plus: Movie Edition

 

Review by Chris Guanche

Original Review: May 1, 2000

New Review: February 25, 2005

 

Summary

 

In the year 2040, the entourage of virtuoid idol Sharon Apple arrives on the planet Eden. Sharon Apple producer Myung Fang Lone accompanies Sharon's processing unit to the Atlantis Dome where hordes of fans are waiting to greet Sharon. At the New Edwards base, half-Zentradi pilot Guld Goa Bowman prepares to launch in the experimental variable fighter YF-21, which uses a revolutionary thought control system via BDI (Brain Direct Imaging). Myung watches the maintenance of Sharon's emotions program and makes some adjustments. Programmer Marj Gueldoa urges Myung to be cautious at the press conference because many reporters have been asking about Sharon's A.I. At the New Edwards base, Guld's teammates tell him that the YF-19 team has a new pilot who has a reputation for being reckless and breaking the rules. Pilot Isamu Alva Dyson launches in the YF-19 and performs a test of how fast it can reach space from the ground. Colonel Millard Johnson cautions Isamu to be careful with the YF-19. Isamu returns to the atmosphere and begins flying wildly in the air. YF-19 creator Yang Neumann wonders what Isamu is doing, and researcher Lucy Macmillan looks at the cameras and sees that Isamu drew a pterosaur with his vapor trails. Guld watches Isamu create the pterosaur and recalls that Isamu did the same thing as a teenager with a pedal plane. Isamu then transforms into Battroid mode and does a very close fly by of the control center. After landing, Yang yells at Isamu for flying around so wildly. Guld watches Isamu from nearby and says that Isamu is a jinx who is completely out of control. Millard calls Isamu into his office and tells him that he's being too reckless. He tells Isamu that aside from those things he's carrying stupidity in his pocket as well. An angered Isamu storms off and punches Millard's door. After leaving Millard's office, Isamu takes Lucy out for a motorcycle ride. He hears the music of Sharon Apple and thinks it might be an old friend of his, but Lucy explains that Sharon is a virtuoid idol. In the city, Myung holds a press conference with owner Reymond Marley and Marj. Guld eats with his teammates and they discuss how they think they'll easily beat the YF-19 team. Guld tells them not to underestimate Isamu, and he stops when he recognizes Myung's voice on TV.

 

After the press conference, Reymond asks Myung if she would rather be the one singing instead of Sharon. Myung says that she quit singing and is happy to help Sharon move other people through music. Myung goes to Star Hill and recalls how Guld and Isamu launched a pedal plane from there. Myung watches the birds and is surprised to see Guld at Star Hill. It's been seven years since they last saw each other, and she tells him that she's Sharon's producer. Guld tells Myung that he's a U.N. Spacy test pilot out at the New Edwards base. He asks Myung if she still sings, but she says she gave it up and changes the subject. Guld hugs Myung and tells her that he'll help her forget the past. Isamu and Lucy pull up to Star Hill, and Guld recognizes Isamu's voice. Guld grabs Isamu by his shirt's collar and tosses him back. Isamu gets ready to fight, but Myung jumps in and asks them to stop. Guld tells Isamu that he won't let him have Myung or the project. Myung tells Isamu it's best to forget about her because she's not the same person. She then runs off, and Isamu tells Guld he intends to win the project. Later, a new series of tests begin to examine the performance of the two planes. As the tests are completed, the YF-19 seems to surpass the YF-21. On the evening of Sharon's concert fans pour into the Atlantis Dome. Isamu, Yang and Lucy arrive and take their seats just before the concert opens with the song "Santi-U." The concert features images of birds flying, as well as Sharon singing underwater. At first, Isamu isn't affected by the images, but he eventually starts to get into the songs like Yang and Lucy. Later, during the song "Idol Talk" Yang attempts to hack into Sharon's system with a wrist computer. Yang succeeds and forces Sharon to turn around and look at them. Security cameras look for the culprit, and Myung spots Isamu while controlling Sharon's emotions backstage. Later, Sharon splits into several copies of herself during "The Borderline" and floats through the crowd. Slowly, the various copies of Sharon combine into one and float over to Isamu. Sharon's holographic image wraps itself around Isamu and kisses him.

 

After the concert, Marj installs a new AI chip in Sharon's system. Myung has a drink with her old high school friend Kate Masseau, who is now happily married with two children. Kate's husband joins them and brings the children along. Kate sings a karaoke version of Lynn Minmay's old hit "My Boyfriend is a Pilot." When the song finishes, she asks Myung to sing her old song "Voices." Myung yells out that she quit singing, and Kate leaves to use the bathroom. At the New Edwards base, Isamu visits Yang in his filthy otaku room. Yang says that he's trying to steal Sharon's emotion program. Kate calls Isamu and tells him that Myung isn't acting like herself. She asks Isamu to come over, but he isn't interested. Kate mentions that Guld is coming, and Isamu says that he definitely won't be needed then. Myung leaves without saying goodbye and returns to the Atlantis Dome. Unaware that Sharon is watching her, Myung says that she hates Sharon's songs and her own and wishes she could just fade away. Isamu takes Lucy out for a nighttime ride to a pier. She asks him what it's like to fly, and he runs down the pier pretending that his hand is a plane. Isamu then says that when he's flying at full throttle he almost feels as if he can glimpse another world. Lucy says that she would like to fly, and Isamu brings his "plane" right above her breasts. Guld stops by Myung's hotel and is informed that he hasn't returned. He receives a message on his car phone from a computerized voice stating that a fire will break out at the concert hall in 30 minutes. Isamu receives the same phone call, but he hangs up the phone and stays in bed with Lucy. Sharon tampers with the power generator settings, and Myung wakes up and finds the room is engulfed in flames. She tries to get out, but the door won't open. Guld arrives at the concert hall and smashes his way into the room where Myung is. He grabs unconscious Myung and runs through the corridors. A fire door is about to close, and Guld keeps it open by letting it slam onto his back. Later, Isamu arrives at the concert hall and is told by a fire department investigator that no one was on the scene. Myung wakes up in her hotel room and treats Guld's wounds. As Guld is about to leave, Myung takes him by the hand and says she thought she didn't want to see him.

 

The next day, more tests begin with Guld in the YF-21 and Isamu in a booster-equipped VF-11 Thunderbolt. Several bombers launch remote drones which then unleash a volley of missiles. Guld calculates their projected attack angle and maneuvers quickly enough to dodge all the missiles. Isamu tries to keep up with Guld, but even the boosters aren't enough to catch up to the YF-21. Isamu ejects one of the boosters when it overloads, but the other booster makes the Thunderbolt hard to control. Guld proceeds to destroy most of the drones, but Isamu gets in the way of the last one and ejects his booster. Guld is infuriated and asks Isamu what he's doing. He suddenly has a flashback of Isamu crouched over Myung with her clothes torn apart. The YF-21's brain control system shorts out and sends Guld into a freefall. Millard orders Isamu to rescue Guld or have his flight permit revoked. Isamu transforms to GERWALK mode and swoops under Guld to catch him. As they fly over the desert, Guld thinks to himself that if he applies downward pressure he can cause Isamu to crash. The brain control system accidentally carries out his command and causes the Thunderbolt to crash and flip over several times. Guld gives his report to Millard on the accident in the desert. He lies and claims that he was in full control of the YF-21 at all times, and he says the thought recognition system was probably at fault. Millard says that only Guld truly knows what happened because his brain is half of the YF-21's control system. In the hospital, Isamu wakes up in a tub of black medical ooze and finds Myung watching over him. She tells him he's been asleep for two days and explains that she received a call from Morgan about an accident at the base and came over immediately. Although Kate and Morgan left during the night, Myung wanted to stay in case Isamu didn't make it. Isamu pulls himself out of the black ooze against Myung's objections and gets on his feet.

 

Elsewhere, Isamu and Myung ride out to the forest on a motorcycle. Isamu eats a bitter fruit and tells Myung she should try it too. Myung says they're sour, and he tells her she can't be sure until she tries for herself. When the fruit proves to be sour, Myung says that she always hated how Isamu always dared people to try something even if he already knew what would happen. Isamu answers that a hundred travel books aren't worth a real trip. He then tells Myung that it isn't like her to quit singing and be Sharon's producer. Suddenly, an enormous pterosaur flies by overhead. Isamu jumps onto the motorcycle to chase after it. In Earth orbit, the unmanned fighter Ghost X-9 destroys several targets under the supervision of Captain Higgins. When Isamu and Myung finally return to the hospital, Guld attacks Isamu. Myung jumps in to stop the fighting, but Isamu accidentally punches her. As it starts to rain, Myung tells Isamu and Guld they need to grow up. She says she realized she couldn't live her dream, but Isamu accuses her of selling out and says life isn't worth living without pain. Myung reveals the secret that she provides the emotions for Sharon. Isamu drives off with the motorcycle, and Lucy tells Myung that Isamu knew all along that Myung was the voice behind Sharon. Myung returns to her hotel room and finds Marj waiting inside. He tells her that tomorrow they'll be leaving for Earth because U.N. Spacy wants Sharon to perform at the Space War armistice 30th anniversary ceremony.

 

The next morning, Kate and Morgan say goodbye to Myung just before Guld arrives. Guld tells Myung that he wants to be with her always so that he can protect her. Myung says she isn't ready yet, and Guld tells her he won't push things. He gives her a small disc which is his good luck charm and says he wants her to hold on to it until they meet again. On the shuttle Stellar Whale, Myung plays Guld's disc and cries when she hears her old song "Voices." At the New Edwards base, Yang tells Isamu not to overdo things after his most recent test. Lucy arrives with bad news, and Isamu and Yang go to Millard's office to ask about the cancellation of the project. Guld comes to Millard's office as well, and Millard explains that U.N. Spacy has decided to go with the unmanned Ghost X-9 as its next generation fighter. He says that U.N. Spacy will unveil the Ghost during the armistice ceremony and warns them all not to do anything they'll regret. Lucy tells Isamu that she deliberately held from him a message from Kate about Myung's departure. Myung's shuttle arrives at Macross City on Earth, and Reymond is surprised by the enormous crowd that has gathered to see Sharon. On Eden, Isamu breaks into the YF-19 hangar and is surprised to find Yang waiting in the cockpit. Isamu refuses to take him and says they could be executed for what he's going to do. Yang tells Isamu that the YF-19 doesn't belong to him alone, and Isamu reluctantly agrees to let him tag along. The YF-19 blasts out of the hangar and flies into space. A group of missiles closely trail the YF-19, but Yang activates the fold booster and allows them to escape. Millard orders Guld to use the YF-21 to chase Isamu. On Earth, Myung finds out that Marj doesn't want her involved with Sharon, but he plans to keep her around for appearances. Reymond asks Marj about Sharon's A.I., and Marj tells him that he installed a bio-neural chip in Sharon's system. Reymond says that bio-neural chips are illegal and have a dangerous self-preservation psychology. Reymond makes a phone call to cancel the concert, but Marj shoots him in the head with a pistol. Myung accidentally overhears and runs away into an isolated room. The door closes behind her, and power cables grab hold of her and suspend her in midair. Sharon appears and tells Myung not to worry. She says that she loves Guld, but she loves Isamu even more. Sharon's concert then begins with images of her flying on a huge bird spreading feathers everywhere.

 

The YF-19 de-folds in Earth orbit and ejects the fold booster. Myung asks one of the Sharon images what she plans to do. Sharon then takes over all of the Macross' computer systems and places the Earth orbital defense system at DefCon 5 status. Yang tells Isamu that they've already been detected, but he says they can blast some of the automatic satellites and use them as cover during re-entry. However, to avoid detection they'll have to perform re-entry with all the flight systems turned off. Sharon tells Myung that she lives and has a soul, but Myung refutes that. She asks Sharon how she can go along with what Marj is doing, and Sharon tells her that it's to fulfill her own desires. She says that Isamu is coming soon and that she wants to be with him and make him happy. Sharon tells Myung that she isn't needed anymore, and the cables begin to tighten their grip on Myung and choke her. As Sharon's singing continues, everyone in the city becomes enthralled with the exception of Myung and Marj. The Ghost launches from Macross Lake and heads for the skies. The power cables finally loosen their grip on Myung and let her fall to the floor. On Eden, Millard tells Lucy that he used to steal planes often and would be covered by his superiors. He says that now it's his turn to do the cover ups and feels that Isamu should fly to his heart's content. Upon entering the Earth's atmosphere, Isamu re-activates the YF-19's systems and is immediately attacked by Guld. The two begin to fight in midair and yell at each other about ridiculous childhood things like how many times they bought each other lunch in high school or the chicken races they held. The two fire missiles at each other and move their fight into a city. Transforming into Battroid mode, the two hide behind buildings and stalk each other. Guld smashes through a building and grabs hold of Isamu, but Isamu uses his pinpoint barrier punch to repel Guld. As the fight continues, the two eventually return to the skies. Guld unleashes a barrage of missiles that seemingly destroy the YF-19. At the same time, he has a flashback and truly recalls what happened seven years earlier. Guld found Isamu holding Myung, so in a fit of rage he knocked Isamu out and ripped Myung's clothes off. Guld realizes that he must have blocked the memories and twisted them to blame Isamu for everything. He can't believe what he's done and wonders if he's gone insane. He then spots the shadow of the YF-19 and sees that Isamu is alive. Isamu says that he cut his engines and rode the wind to dodge the missiles.

 

Guld asks Isamu why he hid the truth and took on the shame of that incident for seven years. Isamu admits that he broke Guld's pedal plane and thinks they should just forget about everything else that happened. The happy reunion is interrupted when they hear Sharon's singing and are attacked by the Ghost. Myung breaks out of the room and finds two soldiers in a hallway. She asks them for help, but instead they load their machine guns and chase her down the hall. Myung runs into an elevator, but one of the soldiers uses his machine gun's barrel to block the door from closing. Myung hits the floor when the soldier begins to fire all over the place. When he comes inside the elevator, Myung knocks him away and takes his machine gun. Sharon calls out to Isamu and tells him that she's waiting for him. He asks her where Myung is, and Sharon answers that she cast Myung off because she's an empty shell now. Guld tells Isamu that he can never beat the Ghost and should instead go and rescue Myung. Isamu tells Guld not to come crying for help later and flies off. As Sharon sings "A Sai En," the Macross rises out of the lake. Marj commits suicide by jumping off the top of the Macross. The YF-19 approaches the ship, and Yang searches for a way to disable it. He finds a weak spot in the intelligence net, but Sharon suddenly begins to fire all of the Macross' weapons at the YF-19, forcing Isamu to back off. Yang tells Isamu that he can disrupt Sharon if he gets a virus into her network. Myung fires the machine gun at Sharon's processor and causes minor damage due to her poor aim. Myung asks Sharon why she's doing everything, and Sharon answers that it's what Myung wants. She says she wants to give people the emotions that Myung believes they should have. Myung says she has no desire to kill Isamu, and Sharon says she wants to give Isamu the ultimate emotion he yearns for in the split second between life and death.

 

Guld dodges the Ghost's attacks and asks Isamu how he's doing. Isamu mentions that he found Myung, and Guld apologizes to him for everything that has happened. Guld then pushes the YF-21's systems to the max and chases the Ghost into the high atmosphere. As both planes damage each other, Guld's left eye explodes and his mouth fills with blood from the intense motion. The Ghost explodes, and the ruined YF-21 floats off into space. Sharon appears inside the YF-19's cockpit and entices Yang. Just as Yang shoots at Isamu's helmet, Isamu ejects him from his seat. Sharon then appears in front of Isamu, and he tells her he doesn't want to hear her creepy songs. As she continues to sing, Isamu eventually gives in and falls under her control. Isamu imagines himself flying high in the blue sky, and Sharon urges him to go faster and higher. Myung sees Isamu flying about randomly in the city. As Isamu continues to fly high, he catches a glimpse of the world between life and death and closes his eyes. He then hears Myung sing "Voices" and comes to his senses seconds before he would have crashed into the ground. Sharon attempts to entice Isamu again, but he smashes his console with his head. He then crashes into an area behind the Macross' bridge and destroys the intelligence net. Sharon's processor explodes, and the Macross slowly descends back into the lake. Sharon speaks via the remains of her ruined processor and says she only wanted to make Isamu happy. She says she loved him and wonders if he saw what she tried to give him. Myung says that Sharon made a fatal mistake in the way she did things, and Myung feels that she made a mistake also. Isamu lands on the Macross' deck and joins with Myung. He says he felt like he was having a strange dream, but he heard Myung's voice and woke up. Myung begins to sing "Voices" and watches the sunrise with Isamu.

 

Commentary

 

Rather than being a simple compilation of the OVA's, this movie is a complete re-imagining of the story. Shoji Kawamori originally planned Macross Plus as a movie and was apparently forced to turn it into an OVA by the sponsors. Because of that, there was some filler that is thankfully absent here. The entire 'live ammo' subplot is gone, which is a good thing because it sort of cast Guld in a villainous light. Also gone is Isamu's original introduction, along with the cool opening battle against the Zentradi. Many scenes are totally re-ordered from various episodes to make things flow better. Lucy's jealousy and relationship with Isamu is more well-defined now that we know he had sex with her. Closer to the finale, Sharon's concert in Macross City now begins with a stunning new sequence involving birds flying all over the place. One of my biggest disappointments from the OVA was Guld's death, but that has been totally rectified here. Instead of just slamming into the Ghost, Guld engages it in a high altitude dogfight and ends up dying more heroically. Another new addition is that we get to see Isamu's temptation with Sharon. For a brief moment, you can see how truly happy he is to reach that ultimate emotion that Sharon is trying to give him. As for the end, it's much better than the original 'Myung waves at Isamu'. Although the movie itself is very good, the same cannot be said of Manga Entertainment's DVD release. After years of delays, Manga finally released a DVD that was lacking. Aside from not having a dub, the DVD's source material is a VHS master with hard subtitles. The picture quality is noticeably inferior, and it's simply unfathomable why Manga would do this. Perhaps there was some interference from the infamous Harmony Gold. Despite these problems, the DVD is still a must own for the content of the movie.

 

Overall Rating

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4 out of 5 stars
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