Man, Macross Zero is schizophrenic. Half of the time, it looks like I’m watching a tech demo. The other half of the time, it’s like I’m watching some scraps that Kawamori picked up off of the Arjuna cutting room floor where they talk about showing your rod to the person you love.
As for it as slice of Macross mythology, ehhhhhhhhhh. The more that Macross tries to flesh out the whole concept of Protoculture, the more it feels like the Macross equivalent of midi-chlorians. One of the things that I really liked about it in SDF Macross was how unexplained it was. Protoculture made the Zentradi feel utterly alien when they start gasping about it at random human stuff, and then moreso when they couldn’t articulate to the humans what or why they were bugging out. Come to think of it, I actually like it in general when alien beliefs get portrayed as something which are based in a kind of logic that humans can’t parse.
As war porn, sweet! Tons of pretty awesomely-animated dogfights (I mean, they even use F-14s, that old stalwart of dogfight scenes and fighter plane mythologizing) that really felt like dogfights rather than garden variety mecha battles, with some impressive CG. There’s a little bit of uncanny valley-ness at times, but the rapid pace of the editing makes those instances quickly go away. I liked Plus more because its dogfights were done in cel animation, but these were still better than almost anyone else has been able to do.
As for the harmony of the Earth Mother Gaia’s harmonic crystals, lolololololololol. I swear though, you could totally make a game where you take random shots from Arjuna and Macross Zero and try to make people guess which came from which. Also, even though Kawamori is a big hippie I still feel awkward any time I see an anime that prominently features “primitive” Southeast Asian characters. I kept thinking “UN Forces? Moar liek Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere amirite?!” even though Kawamori doesn’ actually push that kind of perspective. Interestingly, I’m almost starting to associate hippie-dippie-ness more with Macross than things like “love triangles” or “pop music”. Macross Zero has no pop music and not really much of a love triangle to it, but it still felt more “Macross-y” to me than Macross II did.
Finally, if all of the hippie-dippie undertones in all of his various anime weren’t proof enough, Macross Zero is the second Macross anime in a row to have a character named after a COMMUNIST. I’m betting that the inevitable Macross 30th anniversary anime will have I dunno, Roy’s long-lost great great great grandson or something named B-Rock “The Islamic Shock” HUSSEIN Superallah Obama Fokker or something.