Director: Shoji Kawamori
Notable Cast: Aya Endo, Megumi Nakajima, Yuichi Nakamura,
Aya Hirano, Katsuyuki Konishi, Sanae Kobayashi, Kikuko Inoue, Megumi Toyoguchi,
Rie Tanaka, Tomokazu Sugita
Although I already had my ticket loaded for Macross
Frontier: The Wings of Farewell after seeing the first Macross
Frontier film two weeks prior, my gut feeling was not the most hopeful.
Despite its highlights, the predecessor was something of a mess and a missed
opportunity in my book (you can read my full review over HERE if you would so
like) and it relatively dashed my expectations for the second film. Did I
really want to see if they could piece together the shattered remains of tones
and narrative left in the wake of The False Songstress?
With that in mind, The Wings of Farewell is,
surprisingly enough, a substantial step up from Macross Frontier: The
False Songstress. It fixes so many of the issues that plagued the previous
one in its tonality and general character development. It’s not a perfect film,
particularly in its stuttered narrative, but it’s entertaining enough and
features some significantly fun set pieces to catch both old and new fans of
the Macross world.
Although The Wings of Farewell is a truncated,
remixed, and remade version of the latter half of the Macross Frontier
series, the manner that it plays out very much feels like a sequel to the
previous film. It does its best to recap the major points for the characters
from The False Songstress, but really this one is meant to be a
continuation and requires its viewers to have a basic understanding of the
romantic triangle, the essence of its conspiracy subplot, and the war with the
giant space bugs that almost immediately kicks off from minute one.
In telling the continuation of this plot and how the three
lead characters Alto, Sheryl, and Ranka fit into everything, The Wings of
Farewell almost immediately is hitting a very quick pace. If you don’t
remember, well you’re fucked. This one isn’t hitting the breaks for anything.
On one hand, what this does is it trims and consolidates the tonality issues of
the predecessor. This feels more like a traditional Macross story with
its space battles, science fiction plotting that weaves into J-pop concerts,
and thematic romantic character work. It doesn’t have the time to diddle into
teen raunchy humor or try to half-ass world build. It’s got places to be,
aliens to blow up, and new villains to uncover. In a way, it’s a more
entertaining and driven film that does deliver on the basics that one wants and
trims out some of the meandering material laid out before.
On the other hand, The Wings of Farewell still
tragically feels like 6 to 8 hours of a TV show mashed into 2 hours. There are
incredible leaps of character, plot, and thematic material that are barely
brushed on before the film is folding itself into the next set piece. An entire
new plot about how part of the the conspiracy is meant to train the new girl
J-pop star, Ranka, into being an unwitting body part donor for Sheryl is
completely thrown to the wind in act one for it to rarely come back. Then, it
feels the need to add in new military villains - that don’t really show up
until halfway through the film - to make all of the conspiracy even more
convoluted while injecting an entire new cyborg plot just feels like the turkey
is likely to burst if you stuff it anymore. New characters are haphazardly
introduced while older characters are thrown into the mix to just die (and not
die or vice versa) and the entire whirlwind of material suffers for it. Yes, we
get that you need to reinterpret or regurgitate the TV show here, but The
Wings of Farewell is leaning towards a “more is more” as a life moto.
Ultimately, Macross Frontier: The Wings of
Farewell may not be the humanistic science fiction action spectacle that
fans will love, but it manages to fix the trajectory of the duology of films.
It’s entertaining in its action, even if the combination of CG and classic
animation still feels very 10 years ago (when the film first came out in
Japan), and the themes for its plot and characters ring true beyond the
swirling chaos of its narrative. The film is still silly and, yes - you do get
to see a giant mech surf its way through the atmosphere of a planet, but it’s
not boring. That’s a huge improvement.
As a side note, I much preferred the songs and music in this
one for J-pop than the predecessor, but that’s more of a personal preference
rather than something that is inherently connected to the success of the
For Macross fans, The Wings of Farewell
suffices to be a fun addition to the collection, but it’s hardly one of the
best of the franchise. Still, as someone that has yet to see the TV show this
was created from, it manages to work even if it has to claw its way through the