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Macross Zero (1 - 5)
Intro:
   Back in 1999, the Earth was attacked by alien forces. Now in 2008, the war still wages on. Shin Kudo, a pilot for the U.N. Spacy airforce leads a squad into battle against anti U.N. aggressors. While fighting in his F-14 Tomcat, Shin is shot down by a new transforming fighter jet. He crash lands onto a small island, Mayan. This is where our story begins.
   While recuperating with the natives, he befriends (which is a loose term), the Nome sisters: Sara the Shaman priestess and her younger sister Mao. It is on this island where the village elder, Nutuk, explains the story of the bird humans and how mankind was born.
   Elsewhere, pilot Roy Focker is chosen to test pilot the new VF-0 fighter jets. They too are able to transform into robots and have greater mobility than the average plane. Hmm….now why does transforming jets sound a little foreshadowing of bigger things to come?
   To add to the plot, we have scientist for the U.N. Spacy, Aries. She is studying a mysterious artifact known as AFOS. The legend behind AFOS, the war between the U.N. and the Anti U.N., Roy’s new toy, Shin’s involvement, and the Mayan’s beliefs are about to intertwine into a story so grandeur, it took nearly two years to tell! This is Macross Zero! Get ready to make history!

Packaging:
   First and foremost, the entire setup for the case is nearly identical to volume 1 of Macross Zero by Manga. Here is how it looks:

Front: On this single disc case, there is a picture of Roy’s VF-0 jet as well as sketches (behind the jet) of Mao, Sara, and the top half of Shin’s face. Written across the top is the title of the series in English (with the Japanese title in smaller font below it). The FX logo is located at the bottom left.

Outer Spine: From top to bottom: The FX logo, the title of the series in Japanese, and the title of the series in English.

Back: The back has a summary of the series in the center, but it is written in Japanese. At the very top is a picture of Roy’s VF-0 as well as the title of the series (in both languages). To the right and beneath the summary are screenshots, most of which are from episode one. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the pictures, with the exception of the big one below the summary, are all from the first volume released by Manga. However, the screenshots are a lot darker in color than the ones on the Manga release. Finally, the DVD specs and FX logo are located at the bottom.

Disc: The label on the disc shows a portion of the front of the case. There is Roy’s jet, and the majority of Sara and Mao’s faces. The title of the series in both languages is written across the top.

   I am a tad bit disappointed that FX just copied the insert from the Manga volume one DVD. Since this was the first time all five episodes were on one disc, it would have been a good idea to be a little creative as well as to add some new screenshots. Oh well.

Video:
   Even now, when I am writing this review, I cannot come up with a word that gives justice to the animation for the series. The blend of CG with the hand drawn animation, and the slight cel-shading really brought this story to life. The aerial mecha battles were just awe inspiring and had my tongue hanging out with drool (well I may be exaggerating a wee bit). Now throw in to the pot a little 16:9 widescreen ratio with a dash of sharp video picture, and you have got one hell of anime.

Audio:
   There are two ways you can listen to this anime: 2.0 Dolby Digital or 5.1. Take your pick. I prefer to go with the latter so that you may fully hear the symphony pieces that are played during the major battles. There were times where I felt I was watching Star Wars, just due to the music.
   While I have only read about Macross 7, if you were a fan of the whole “music is important and plays a big role”, then jump up for joy. If you thought Macross could live without it, then I apologize. The songs that are sung in this five episode OVA are of great importance to the coming of a rebirth for mankind. And you thought band was uncool. For shame!

Subtitles:
   Oy vey! There was just too many things wrong with the subtitles that I had to break out the Yiddish. I don’t even know where to begin in my list of critiques. So, before we dive head first, let me just explain the subtitles. They are yellow with a black border, and they are easy to read on your computer or TV. Now without delay, I bring you the problems of the DVD. First off is the spelling:

Correct = Incorrect
Edgar = Nutuk/KT/Nidu/Falker/Noomu
Hasford = Nakajima/Hussel
Illustria = Illustri
Kadun = Carlton/Kaifan
Kido = Sara
Michael = Mitlilu
Nora = Roni/Loli
Ocean = acean
Operaton Iconoclasm = YGS plan
Oxford = Isecove
Rooy Waku = Rooylo
Roy = Raizou/Roe/Lyle

   A lot of the times that a character name is spoken, even if it is misspelled you should still be able to hear the name that is meant to be written on the screen.
   Next up is grammar. While the subtitles started out strong in episode 1, by the #5 it had gone way downhill. The biggest change was the incorrect usage of pronouns and word modifiers. “She” became “he” and “my” became “yours”. Plus, with the wrong end punctuation marks, the sentences began to get a little confusing.
   So did the sentences make sense? Yes and no. Yes in the fact that I could understand what was being said and there wasn’t any Engrish, but no in that the dialogue was not translated accurately. When I watch an anime, I tend to look at episode summaries to make note of the differences between the HK subtitles and the actual script. I truly believe that if you do not look at an episode summary for this series, you will miss quite a bit.
   By the end of the series, do you know what Operation Iconoclasm was or what was the relationship between Roy and D.D.? How could you since these subtitles never mentioned any of this. If you pay close attention to the amount of dialogue the characters speak, there is a lot that is not being displayed on the screen. This one factor made the show a little difficult (at least for me) to understand the entire story.

Chapter Breaks:
   5 episodes + 7 chapter breaks = WHA???!!! This is how the episodes were divided up:

1) 00m00s (beginning of episode 1)
2) 30m25s (very last few seconds of ending credits for episode 1)
3) 01h02m52s (less than a minute into episode 3)
4) 01h25m00s (in the middle of a scene towards the end of episode 3)
5) 01h33m19s (beginning of episode 4)
6) 01h38m25s (in the middle of a scene a few minutes into episode 4)
7) 02h04m36s (very last few seconds of ending credits for episode 5)

   My one suggestion is they could have placed the breaks in better places. It is always nice to skip to a break where the character is in mid-sentence.

Content:
   The main menu (which you can see in the screenshots) has all the following options in English:

Play Movie
Subtitle Selection: Chinese Subtitles or English Subtitles
Audio Selection: 5.1 Channel or 2.0 Channel
Chapter

   The only other menu page is the chapter menu. When you click on this option, you are taken to another screen with episodes 1-5 written on it. Regardless of which one you choose, it will take you to the beginning of that particular episode.
   No music? No bonus features? Well there is one thing I need to point out. There is some nudity, which makes this “17 and older” in my book. The scenes include the back and up front shots of the female character Sara. While there is reason for her being clothe-less, young viewers should not be seeing it. I work in a video game store, so I would not sell this title to anyone under the age of 17. I care for the youths of America.

Conclusion:
   I will start running as I say this, but I have never seen any Macross series prior to this OVA. I do not know the story, the characters, or even the bad guys. I feel lucky since Macross Zero, in my book, had no expectations to live up to. But for those fans out there, I’ve been hearing that it was a big disappointment. Again, I can only apologize.
   My complaints for this series are there ability to not explain everything and to leave big gaps, where there should be none. The biggest question I am sure a lot of viewers had on their mind was the purpose of AFOS. There is great talk about the artifact, but there was never any reason given to why the U.N. and the Anti U.N. armies were fighting for it. On that same topic, why was there such hatred between the two factions? All that is told from the first few seconds of episode 1 is that: aliens attack in 1999 and by 2008 government and anti government militaries exist.
   Another problem I had with this series was the subtitles. I blame FX in this department, because with incorrect translations and average quality subs, how is one to grasp the story in its entirety. But, the video quality was superb and breathtaking (so I can live with having to read a summary for each episode).
   In the end, it appears that this OVA has no importance or weight to the Macross TV series that would take place one year after. But, if you ignore all the philosophical messages, the unanswered questions, and the strong need for music, then this has some kick butt fighting scenes. The beginning of episode 2 and the final fight in episode 5 left me with tears of joy. But I feel that only tears of sadness were running down the faces of the fans that had waited nearly two years for this promising prequel to fall short in the final stretch.


Email me at jpolan@drew.edu if you have any problems, concerns, or comments.


Publisher: FX
Discs: 1
Episodes: 5
Price: $6.00

Reviewer: Polanator
Reviewed On: 06/21/2005

Click on Image for Full Size


The main menu had all of the options in English, which is always good. As you can see, there are no extra features on this disc.


I bet Shin Kudo thinks that stick is a weapon. Well it is. A weapon of love!!! I hope Sara Nome feels that same way.


Roy Focker is selected to be the test pilot for the new U.N. Spacy jet fighters. I hope he has better luck with those than with the ladies.


The VF-0 model can not only fly, but can transform into three poweful modes. The CG in this OVA made the vehicles look so real.


Nutuk, the Mayan chief, will teach us about the bird people. I wonder if this has anything to do with the AFOS artifact everyone wants their hands on.


War may have its upsides...


...but it also has its consequences.


Aries and Professor Hasford (pictured) used to work together. But something tells me that Hasford isn't playing wtih the good guys anymore.


Sara Nome sings. This is Macross. It can't be a coincidence.


So let me get this straight: Shin is flying towards all those missles? Yeah, he must be crazy in love. But what is waiting at the center?

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