Nightrider here with a special appreciation to something I saw in my childhood: The Super Dimensional Fortress Macross or Macross for short.
Like most American children in the late ’80s, I saw Robotech and was amazed despite the generic music. After a friend let me borrowed the original Japanese version, I was shocked and wanted more. My love for American cartoons died after watching Akira, Fist of the North Star and Golgo 13: The Professional. I was about six.
In the present, the internet helps when one wants to dive into more deep info about their favorite shows; anyone can find their favorite actors, producers, authors and, in this case, musical composers. The composer behind Macross is Haneda Kentaro. He was responsible for anime, video game and movie soundtracks such as Wizardry, Suikoden, Space Cobra, Sherlock Hound, and Final Yamato, just to name a few.
A graduate from the Toho Gakuen School of Music, Haneda left his legacy mostly in Wizardry and Macross. Reminiscing about my childhood, Macross’ music was a bit odd yet mystifying. There was a sense of epicness and actual storytelling that I wouldn’t get from American cartoons and animated features. The depth of the music captivated me as I saw the scenes unfold hand in hand with the tone of the musical mood; serious was serious, and tragedy was tragedy. And now to the music in two parts:
The title song “Macross” is a good start to something epic that will stand the test of time. The singer is Fujiwara Makoto. Haneda incorporated action and flight in his composition while lyricist Akane Asa has inputted a sense of human unity against a cosmic threat. In the movie version Super Dimensional Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love?, Haneda slows down the tempo and changes thing up a bit to the point that you are not watching an animated feature but an actual space opera film. Here’s the opening of the movie with the modified music called “Eternal Love- Prologue.”
Macross has a great story to back up the animation. Love, sadness, conflict, loss, war, pain, and resolution are expressed without words without sounding too much like either classical or pop music. An example of what a dogfight in space sounds like comes from the iconic piece called “Dog Fighter.” To get a perfect understanding of how music portrays the action, here’s a clip from the first battle from Macross DYRL. The clip proper starts at the 24-second mark.
Another dog fight piece, “Before the Battle,” takes place in the remains of the earth where two ace pilots, human Max Jenius and Meltrandi Milia 639, engage each other to the death. The guitar is going to war with the saxophone wonderfully. Here’s the clip of the dog fight from DYRL.
Haneda also composed songs sung by anime’s most famous idol Lynn Minmay voiced by the immortal Iijima Mari. The song that catches everyone’s attention is the song “Watashi no Kare wa Pilot,” translated as “My Boyfriend is a Pilot.” This song is simply about her relationship with the main protagonist, Ichijyo Hikaru (Rick Hunter in Robotech). She wants love, but her boyfriend would rather spend his time flying. This piece is almost recognizable when the first words of the song begin. Here’s a clip of the song from Episode 11.
Another classic song from Lynn Minmay that catches attention is the song “Shao Pai Long” or “Little White Dragon.”
The titular song for the Macross movie, “Ai Oboete Imasu ka?” or “Do You Remember Love?” is the masterpiece that ends the war between the humans and the Zentradi. Composed and performed by Iijima Mari, this song is the bar that all anime idols are measured. Here’s the clip of the movie with the last battle playing out with the Zentradi fleets becoming allies of humanity after listening to Minmay’s singing. Notice that this also serves as a music video and well worth the watch.
So there it is, Haneda Kentaro’s legacy with Macross. As a bonus, here’s one more clip with another Minmay song “Angel’s Paints,” written and performed by Iijima Mari. Minmay hides her sadness of losing Hikaru to Misa Hayase. However, when she performs “Angel’s Paints,” she has decided to move on despite her eternal loss. Nevertheless, a great ending to a cinematic masterpiece. Once again, the ending concert is viewed as a music video. The fun starts at the three-minute mark when Minmay begins her mantra of starting all over by herself.