I rented this series while on a bit of a Macross binge (if there is such a thing) and was a bit surprised by it. I'd heard mostly negative comments regarding this anime, so I guess my expectations were a bit low. However, it turned out much better than I expected.
Central to this series, as in all Macross titles, are its characters. Hibiki is the central character, a young reporter and generally all-around nice guy. Ishtar, the mysterious woman from the Zentraedi ship, is rather subdued and boring, even though she plays a pivotal role in this series. Sylvie, an ace Valkyrie pilot, is pretty spunky and likable at least. The overall development of the characters is a bit weak, as they tend not to stray from their predefined characteristics. There also isn't much in the way of relationship development, and what does develop is a tad predictable and cliched.
While the story once again focuses on the Human/Zentraedi war, it does so through the eyes of the reporter, Hibiki. There were some issues about media censorship raised, which provided a little philosophical thought. On the other hand, there were also a few unnecessary sappy moments during the first and final episodes, involving the deaths of a few minor characters. I wasn't that attached to them and these moments didn't have much impact. And I still have trouble believing in the whole "music can win a war" theme. Yes, music can generate powerful emotions, but I doubt Minmei's singing (or anyone else's for that matter) is *that* powerful.
In fine Macross tradition, the action was very good. Exciting battles abound in this series, with some very adrenaline-filled moments. One rather epic battle reminded me of the final space battle in Return of the Jedi. Any action fan will have trouble being bored watching some of the great sequences featured here.
The art and animation were very well done, not on par with the quality of Macross Plus, but quite good nonetheless. Voice acting, however, was rather mixed. Hibiki and Sylvie were the most competently voiced, but a majority of the other characters were rather poor. The worst offender was Dennis, for his monotone babbling was a great example of how *not* to voice act. The alien forces spoke their own language, complete with English subtitles. This was a nice touch.
Regardless of whether or not you're a Macross fan, I recommend you give this series a try. Try not to be swayed by the majority of negative opinions, for you might be pleasantly surprised.
The Verdict: * * * 1/2 (above average)
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