You may have witnessed the first and fourth episodes of Macross Delta for the first time in an official capacity outside of Japan if you attended Otakon this year. Before the show, some people questioned, “Why only episodes one and four? Why don’t the initial four? In the introduction to the screening, Adrian Lozano of Creative Sphere and Haruna Hashimoto of BIGWEST stated that these episodes were picked because they emphasized some of the most significant events from Macross Delta’s early run. I support this choice since it’s best to start off strong and the deleted episodes are, in contrast, more character-focused.
I recognized the disc zhat Lozano and Otakon’s tech personnel had placed into the player as they were setting up the screening. It was the first volume of the series’ Blu-ray release from Japan, which also has excellent English subtitles. We can examine Macross Delta’s first four episodes in full because we are among the few people near ANN who has the whole box set of the Japanese series.
It makes sense that someone who has never watched Macross before would be apprehensive about starting with the most current episode. The good news is that Delta gives the audience the immediate information they require in a clear and concise manner. Longtime fans may find a few references scattered throughout, but you don’t have to read any previous Macross books to enjoy this video. Similarly, the first episode makes it clear that Delta is very much its beast.
As Hayate Immelman is being let go from his dockwork employment, we first encounter him. After that, Hayate finishes his last shift by turning on some music and dancing around the office in his robot, albeit I’m not sure why he just left. When she begins to sing along, he quickly finds Freyja Wion hidden in one of the cargo containers. Hayate tells Freyja that she’s not quite on the right planet for Walküre, after she reveals that she’s ran away from home to audition.
They end up in the thick of a Vár outbreak after meeting Delta Flight’s Mirage Jenius and fleeing the port authorities. Then, as she continues to pound one out, a superpowered idol emerges from a pile of debris and jumps onto the back of a fighter plane. To be exact, Hayate gets into another robot and begins to breakdance with it. I adore the absurd sequence that concludes the first episode. Everything that happens has such energy and enthusiasm. It’s evident that several Symphogear employees contributed to this as well.
In contrast, the subsequent episodes are more subdued, but they nevertheless make a big impression on the audience by introducing them to the expanding ensemble and their setting. One of my favorite things about the Delta cast is that, despite the character in question being far off in the background cast, they occasionally exhibit minor tics. I instantly think of the green-haired Reina, with her never-ending jokes about “the type of woman she is” or her momentary happy-faced eating moments.
The introduction of the planet Ragna as the home base of Delta Flight is another pretty charming touch. The location exudes personality, drawing inspiration from the traditions of the South Pacific Islands without ever coming across as clichéd. Ragna is one of the most developed settings in the franchise since the first Macross, and it feels like a very lived-in place.
When examining the main plot points of episodes two and three, it becomes clear that they are depicting our main characters’ journey into the world of Walküre, which is not an easy one for them. Hayate realizes that although he is a part of Delta Flight, he is not some hot shot pilot; rather, he is a young man who has been given the opportunity to fly cutting-edge fighter jets for a private military organization, and he has a contract to fulfill. In the meantime, Freyja discovers that life as an idol isn’t all glamour and flash. It’s a lot of work, and things will frequently try their hardest to destroy you. The two’s hardships finally turn into a thrilling dogfight. The fight at the conclusion of episode three is accompanied by a heart-pounding song.
The return of dancing robots and several of those endearing character moments enhance Freyja’s first concert, which concludes the quartet of episodes. This little period of enjoyment is ruined, though, as the first episode’s enigmatic enemy combatants reappearance and declare their goals. Windermere and the Aerial Knights provide a great counterbalance to Ragna and the Delta Fight, even though we don’t see them all that often in these episodes. Their existence opens the door to a complex conversation about colonialism from the perspective of the colonized.
Technically speaking, Macross Delta has breathtaking visuals. There are times when background characters appear a little mushy, but if you follow a regular “week-to-week” anime series, you’re probably used to that. I like Chisato Mita’s character designs; she does a great job of mixing the design philosophy that was adopted in Macross Frontier with a nod to the sensibilities of the original series. The character’s eye edges had an inkbrush-like look that really caught my attention and made me think of Haruhiko Mikimoto’s artwork.
Over the years, Macross’s transition to 3D mechanical animation has occasionally caused controversy, but with Delta and its films, Sony has honed their skill to a fine pitch. The dogfights in these first few episodes are paced with the proper amount of weight and speed; unlike Frontier’s fighters, they don’t fly by at breakneck speed. During the viewing, the only thing that attracted my attention was the sporadic composite seam. It was evident where the computer generated imagery was incorporated into the scene; it could have been a side effect of watching a TV show on a large screen, though. I rewatched it at home, and it wasn’t nearly as evident.
Finally, the voice cast of Delta makes a strong first impression on you with endearing and distinctive performances that will linger in your memory for a short while. That being said, Walküre’s extensive catalog of rock hits is the true earworm. Even though they are enjoyable songs on their own, their melodies greatly enhance any situation in which they are utilized. One of my favorite things about media is the use of music as a punctuation mark.
After seeing the film and watching it again at home, I was certain that these Macross Delta episodes are a fantastic way to start watching Macross as a complete. Throughout the showing, there was a noticeable buzz amongst both new and devoted fans in the crowd. Those who were unfamiliar with this illustrious series yet found themselves drawn to learning more about Walküre and the Delta Flight’s experiences. When Hidetaka Tenjin and Shoji Kawamori emerged from the back of the screening room, they seemed ecstatic about this. Despite the fact that Macross Delta is now “a few years old,” as he put it, Kawamori was particularly thrilled to see the audience’s response.
When Nozomi Entertainment’s Macross Delta collection becomes available, I can’t wait for new fans to experience this beloved series without having to pay a premium for a Japanese Blu-ray set or travel to a special screening. If you want to have some fun, I suggest watching these episodes; I know I did.