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Created in the 1980’s, Macross was proposed as a more comedic mecha alternative to the original Mobile Suit Gundam series. Like Gundam, in the Macross universe, war or some sort of universal conflict is always center to the plot as well as character interaction and development therein (particularly romance). However, unlike Gundam, all Macross series share a central use of music. At times, this music is to grant a further air in silliness to its power, but that same power is also used as a serious plot device in some series and is explained as such.
While initially created to be a comedic series, like Gundam has delved into some less serious plots in different universes, Macross also has entries in which the plot is treated in a more serious tone. However, as it has amassed a number of series, OVAs, and movies, it can present a bar to those looking to get into the series. So how do you watch Macross in order? Let’s find out.
On The Chronology of Macross
In general, the way the various shows of Macross were released, they were done so in very much a chronological order, with a few more recent exceptions. However, the creator of the series, Shouji Kawamori, has stated that each entry in the Macross universe can be watched as a standalone show. Yet, it is not always the same for the movies or some of the OVA entries. Although, many of the movies are simple recaps, but feature merit of their own with new scene additions and further clarification for their paired series.
The nicest thing about Macross if you are looking to watch one of the series shows is that each series generally begins with a sort of setting the scene moment. It allows you to immediately understand what is generally going on in the universe and the important details of it before the series expands upon it.
The Best Order to Watch Macross
This watch order for Macross will generally be the chronological order for the series, and, for the most part, the original release order as well. Movies and OVAs will be included here as well as if they were worth the watch.
Super Dimension Fortress Macross
Series Timeline: 2009 – 2012
This is the original Macross series, so if you want to start at the very beginning, you start here. This series details the first contact and conflict between humanity and the aliens known as Zentradi as well as the aftermath of their war.
- Macross: Do You Remember Love? – This movie is essentially a more compact reinterpretation of Super Dimension Fortress Macross. However, while it leaves out more minor background details, it does change how some events play out. It is best viewed as a companion piece to the original so you get the fullest scope. However, of the many summary movies present in Macross, this is the one most worth watching since it is pretty beautiful for anime that comes from the 80’s.
- Macross: Flashback 2012 – As a 30-minute music video collection, you might think this little short isn’t worth much of a watch, but even if you aren’t interested in the good music, it does add more clarity to the original series. It adds on to the events at the end of Super Dimension Fortress Macross to give more of a firm closing to this series.
Series Timeline: 2008
This is one example of where the release order is not conducive to the chronological order. Released in 2002, Macross Zero is actually a prequel to Super Dimension Fortress Macross. However, it merits watching the original to really understand what is happening in this OVA. This OVA details the final battles of the Unification War and has not only the biggest concentration on combat of all Macross, but the darkest story as well.
Series Timeline: 2040
This short OVA is the most focused of the Macross series and boasting music by Yoko Kanno and co-direction by Shinichiro Watanabe, these big names bring great production. However, while it does have combat, the plot is not central to any great conflict, but rather focuses on the rivalry in both love and profession of the two pilots testing out the next-gen Variable Fighters of the UN Spacey.
- Macross Plus Movie Edition – Basically this is Macross Plus edited down to a theater-friendly version. If you watched the above OVA, there is very little reason to watch this.
Series Timeline: 2045 – 2046
When humanity decides to preserve itself by spreading their race across the galaxy, an ancient enemy soon turns their eyes on them. However, the Macross 7 fleet has one power to their advantage – the power of ROCK! OH YEAAAAH! No, seriously, this is the most notable and silly entry in the Macross series, but as silly as it is, the music is actually pretty great. As it was the most popular Macross series in Japan, it has tons of off-shoot series.
- Macross 7: Encore – Comprised of three previously unaired episodes. They are almost all exclusively silly, but fun to watch.
- Macross 7 the Movie: The Galaxy’s Calling Me! – This is not so much a movie as it is a longer episode of Macross 7. In reality, it is mostly just an excuse to flex those action scene muscles, thus making it an entertaining watch.
- Macross Dynamite 7 – Another short OVA series that is just…more of the Macross 7 adventures that people love so much. While it happens about a year after the events of the original series, this is a little self-contained arc in and of itself.
Series Timeline: 2059
Like Macross 7, Frontier follows another human colonization fleet that, again, encounters an alien enemy that doesn’t want to just be friends. It was released to celebrate the 25-year franchise anniversary, and is generally the best regarded series of the franchise. While it has younger characters and more of a slice of life feel, it actually does have some serious moments as well, making it much more rounded out than Macross 7. While not strictly necessary, because Macross Frontier has tons of references to all previous series, it might be worthwhile to watch them first.
- Macross Frontier: The False Songstress – This is a partial recap movie, but also features a new story in its own right.
- Macross Frontier: The Wings of Farwell – This one pairs with the above movie, but isn’t half of a recap movie. This time you get a whole new story that actually has a lot of merit in clearing up the somewhat vague ending of the Frontier series.
- Macross FB 7 -This one is a full-on Frontier recap movie that isn’t really worth watching. It does have some new character scenes, but unless you are really into Frontier, not necessary to watch.
Series Timeline: 2067
This time, the galaxy conflict comes at the hands of the Var Syndrome that makes those infected act uncontrollably violent. You know what helps lessen the symptoms, though? You’d never guess, but it is the power of song! Now you follow the “tactical idol” group known as Walkure as they counter Var symptoms and get wrapped up in a larger conflict.
As you can see, they went back to silliness for this series, jumping on the ever-growing popularity of idols in Japan. This one takes awhile to come together and puts more emphasis on song rather than mech combat, but it is a fun watch if you are well exposed to the Macross flippancy that was propagated by Macross 7.
Macross II: Lovers Again
Series Timeline: 2092
Why is this one last? It is not only because it happens latest in the series timeline, but because this OVA was made by Big West and had very little input from the original Macross creators. Most Macross fans hate it for that very reason. It sets up its own typical Macross story with attacking aliens and the power of music, but it was created before even Macross 7 so it disregards any canon events of series that came after its 1992 release. However, because Macross sets its series up as primarily standalone series, it doesn’t matter much.
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