The new Macross Delta anime has started, and being a longtime fan of the series, I decided to check it out. I approached the new show with some trepidation since — as every Gundam fan knows — not every chapter in a beloved franchise is necessarily as good as it could be. Macross (Robotech in the English speaking world) was a groundbreaking show from 1982 that combined two innovations: mecha that transformed into giant robots, and stories about singing idols, which made every idol anime over the next 34 years possible. In the same way the new Star Wars film was filled with classic references like “this is the ship that made the Kessel Run in 14 parsecs!” a new Macross series is expected to provide certain elements to fans: a strong love triangle, unrealistic (but fun) battles that are won through the power of song, and missiles, lots of missiles. As with any updating of an old friend, I was nervous about what changes there might be. Would there be a lot of annoying CGI mecha? (Only a little.) What would the character designs be like? (I hope you like Kyoani.) Would the current era of “mass idols” with a large number of singers translate to the Macross universe? (It’s fine so far.) Anyway, I’ll keep watching for sure!
One embarrassing reality of coming to a homogenous country like Japan is the difficulty your brain will have identifying the facial, hair and body features of the people you meet. After I’d taught English in Japan for a month, I decided to visit Yokohama to see my hometown’s sister city. While there, I found myself “recognizing” the students I’d just started teaching, even though the chance that they would have picked that day to travel 150 km to Yokohama was low at best. This is called the Cross Race Effect, our natural tendency to perceive our own ethnic group more easily than others, and it works in reverse, too. Once I attended a performance by a German pianist, and as I left the theatre I was accosted by an elderly Japanese man who wanted to congratulate me on “my” piano playing, even though I looked nothing like the performer. I just smiled and thanked him, to save the poor man some embarrassment. It reminds me of the grandmother of an old girlfriend who insisted that all foreigners looked like John Wayne, which I found terribly cute.
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