Shoji Kawamori and I have this little understanding: I don’t watch his stuff and he’s allowed to do whatever he wants whilst I occasionally look at the premise for whatever new thing he has coming out whilst going “Kawamori, please”. Throughout the entire history of the man who brought us Escaflowne, there have only been two things he’s made that have interested me to any degree. One was Aquarion EVOL – which admittedly I’ve lost interest in ever rewatching due to the fact that it depends too much on a style that ages faster than bananas dipped in acid – and the other is his movie summary of Macross SDF, which I haven’t actually watched, but my colleagues who have seen it assured to me that Lynn Kaifun is a grade-A dickwad.
Well he doesn’t get a chance to be a dickwad here, because he barely shows up in the movie. In fact, if your name isn’t Hikaru, Minmay, or Misa, chances are you’re going to have less screen time than Tron did when Kingdom Hearts caused Disney to realize that maybe there’s still more that could have been done with that forgotten universe. If you’ve seen any Kawamori anime – let alone Macross SDF – prior to watching this film, then you pretty much know what to expect. Three people are put in a love triangle. Said love triangle is used as a basis for mecha action and cheesy pop tunes. Egoism is abound all over the dialogue. Basically, a bunch of silly stuff that makes me embarrassed for Kawamori’s parents.
The story is set in some universe where humanity is at war with an alien race known as the Zentradi – an all-male race of giant aliens who are at the same time at war with their female counterparts, the Mentradi (yeah I have no idea why the females got the “men” prefix either). Because gender cross-breeding does not exist in their culture, they are extremely surprised when they discovered that the different sexes in humanity can do things like hug, kiss, do the Lincoln, everything that Disney has desensitized us to…to the point that they react like KyoAni fans whenever their precious moe being has her lips tainted. Our main hero/ladies’ man of the story is Hikaru Ichiyo, a young soldier who becomes acquainted with a popular idol named Lynn Minmay after an attack traps them in an enclosed space for days. And when a man and a woman are trapped alone with no one else around and no sign of rescue anytime soon, maintaining purity was one of the first things to drop from the human mind.
This leads to the two having a small relationship until another attack strands Hikaru on a post-apocalyptic Earth with his superior female officer, Misa Hayase for a month. And considering that he’s stranded with a more mature female in a more empty environment for a far longer time, this part of the plot might as well have had large subtitles the entire act that said “Hikaru will move on to another woman and this will cause awkward shit to happen later on when he reunites with the pop idol he’s only had one date with” all over the screen. Although I guess that would make it hard to see the eventual making out the two soldiers performed in the cold wasteland right before the giant robot spots them since love shines so brightly on normal Earth let alone a destroyed one. And speaking of obvious plot points, I don’t need to detail what happens after the loving couple is rescued and brought back to civilization and Minmay, do I? I hope not, because it doesn’t deserve its own paragraph unless you’re one of those outdated writers who thinks that Wikipedia is the standard we should base all online writing on.
I know what you’re going to say to me at this point. “Wait a minute. Doesn’t Mr. Flaw hate stories about soldiers, idols, love triangles, robots, and everything else we find cool? What exactly makes this thing stand out?” Well first off, I can tolerate most of those elements as long as they’re in service to something else, and since the love triangle along with discovering the secrets behind the Zentradi culture and such are put in the forefront, the only thing the film has to do is get rid of the problems I have with the former whilst putting a good amount of focus. And I liked the love triangle in here for the same reason I liked the one in Kids on the Slope: because people actually act out on their feelings rather quickly instead of just mope for…well okay Minmay moped for a bit after discovering the truth, but there was an alien attack happening around her, so I let that slide.
Also, forgive me for going into lame fanboy praise here, but my god is this thing beautiful to look at. Whilst I haven’t actually seen the show, I did catch a few glimpses of clips and pics here and there, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that the production values on this thing are a serious upgrade by comparison. In fact, Do You Remember Love is probably the best animated thing to come out of Japan I have ever seen next to Redline and Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer. Every frame is bursting with enough life to make Toontown envious and shot in such an epic way to the point that you can classify the film as the equal to James Cameron’s Titanic in regards to the epic feeling they give their love stories. Well okay, I remember one particularly noticeable still frame in the film, but it was following up the final climax and a fight scene involving Bruce Lee would look lame following that up.
Not going to deny that I have some problems with the buildup. The whole “stranded on Earth” thing wasn’t the most engaging of acts and the actual political stuff makes me about as indifferent as I am to all other fictional political stuff, especially if it’s written by Sunrise. But that final action scene is a work of art in of itself. Now everyone and their mum has already gone off on how it’s one of the best climaxes an anime has ever produced and how the song matched perfectly with the intensity and how the power of love is more butch here than it was in those Care Bears movies, so I won’t go into detail myself, but I will say that if Mass Effect had the balls to do that sort of ending, the outrage wouldn’t have been nearly as volatile. And I probably would have played it for more than three hours.
All in all, Do You Remember Love is pretty much everything that Macross fans remember about the show. Same themes. Same love triangle. Same aliens who don’t seem to get that we prefer to kiss our females rather than kill them – unless you support a certain video game controversy whose name rhymes with “Fame or Fate”. And it hits me in that romantic gut that mostly died off when Suzuka came into my life because it gets how you’re supposed to do romance. You’re supposed to do it with honesty. With chemistry. With explosions. Lots and lots of explosions.
Oh, and the KyoAni fanbase being represented as giant aliens helps too.