Happy new year all!
I should post my first reactions to the new Macross Frontier show. I've watched it several times now and it's still creating a really good vibe. That's always a good sign. Sometimes when one is so excited about a new anime, it's easy to forgive the faults and form a 5-seconds-after-watching reaction screaming "I love this show!" like you just fell in love
But I'm really happy with this new series so far (damn, if THIS level of animation can be called a television series) and really eager to see where it goes.
I admit, I was quite skeptical about the bio-mechanoid alien enemy in Macross Frontier, but after seeing the first episode, I can't say I have too many reservations. The design of the big red enemy mecha is great and quite menacing. It also merges beautifully into a show like Macross, whereas prior to this episode I was concerned about the jarring effect of space monsters in my beloved Macross franchise (the last time it was attempted, it didn't go well for the franchise). I like the big energy cannon on the red mech and it's awkward way of walking. Quite cool.
The characters are interesting, if a little prototypical at first. Alto reminds me a lot of Hikaru; sure of himself, a good pilot and more than a little angry. Allusions to Roy Focker when considering the character of Ozuma are only natural, but just so, I'm not sensing much of a similar characterization as yet. Perhaps time will bring it out more or less. I really like the way Sheryl Nome is played so far; quite confident, somewhat arrogant and very together/professional. It's great to see a super star that acts like one for a change. We have enough bratty Britney's in real life and don't need more in Macross. Ranka, well, she's more fan service for the creepy loli crowd of anime. Not much to say, although she certainly seems pleasant enough and it's easy to get taken away by sweet, happy and cute characters. I'll give her this; Ranka is not nearly as annoying as Minmay or Mylene. She's much more likable, like Mao.
Considering the mecha of Macross, they are back...and with a vengeance! The designs are fantastic, the action is swift without being overbearing like Macross Zero and the CG work merges far better with the 2D drawn animation than I could have ever hoped.
The armored VF-25 is brilliant and the transformation of the new Valkyrie is perfectly smooth. It may be one of my favorite transformation systems ever. The VF-171 (great designation) is just awesome. My only complaint, as others have mentioned prior, is a lament for the obvious "cannon fodder" role the VF-171 must play. I just pray that this new fighter will be given some time to shine, like the VF-1 in the original series. That Radome equipped VF-171 just flat out rocks!
On the topic of CG work, I have to say there is a much improved competence and confidence in the visuals, something that was only acheived with Macross Zero in the last episode of the series. The scene compositions and the look of the CG work is amazing. There's more sense of weight and newtonian motion in both the aircraft/mecha and the large space ships. Some effects come across as generic, like the bland new space fold portal, but others like lighting and gun effects are almost retro in their style and visual appeal. The gun rounds flying toward their targets are simply amazing and very SDF Macross
I can't wait to see more.