7 years after the TV series... set in City 7, two girls play a greatly active part in the reborn Sound Force!? Basara and Gamlin also appear in this new comic sequel of "Macross 7". The girls' singing voices reverberate in the galaxy!!
2045 A.D.. 35 years of time has passed since the end of the space war by Lynn Minmei's voice. The 7th New Macross class (Macross 7) is in the midst of voyaging in space, searching for an emigrant planet, when it suddenly sustains an attack. At that time, a live performance by a certain rock band on an open-air stage in City 7 was taking place. The name of that band is "Fire Bomber". Subsequently, they sang on the battlefield as the trump card of the Anti-Protodevilun War.
"Macross 7" started being broadcast in 1994 as the TV series that follows "Super Dimensional Fortress Macross". It featured "a hero who doesn't fight" and "singing pilots", and is a work that is especially conspicuous even within the "Macross" series. The theatrical work "Macross 7: The Galaxy is calling me!" and the OVA "Macross Dynamite 7" were also produced.
Incidentally, this work, "Macross 7th Chord", is set in the world 7 years after the TV series... and is treated as a sequel to "Macross 7", set in 2052 A.D..
Sound Force is a civilian cooperative unit who's mission is to board Variable Fighters and sing on the battlefield. They originally started when it was confirmed that Nekki Basara's singing had a considerable effect on the Varohta Soldiers and Protodevilun, who are the enemy. The unit's members are the members of "Fire Bomber", who were assigned to Sound Force without change. Different models of aircraft, which are customized to each member, such as Nekki Basara's VF-19 Kai, exist for Sound Force. Later, the "Jamming Birds", who are attached to the armed forces, was established.
Chiba Songs (Song Energy)
A unit that denotes an amount of higher dimensional energy, and was discovered by Dr. Chiba, a military physician of the Macross 7 Fleet. It is derived from higher dimensional energy from the Sub-Universe through man's subconsciousness and such things as singing and playing musical instruments. It's thought that this higher dimensional energy (Song Energy) activates Spiritia (bio-energy). Ordinary people have 100 Chiba Songs, and excellent singers have about 1,000 Chiba Songs. 10,000 Chiba Songs are needed to activate the Song Energy Amplification System (Sound Booster).
Nekki Basara is in charge of the rock band "Fire Bomber"'s lead vocals and guitar. His age is 21 (as of 2045 A.D.). His appearance features hair that stands on end and round, blue-lensed sunglasses. His single-minded life purpose is only to get people to "listen to my song", and with that, he continues singing for the song even in battlefields where bullets are flying around. He dislikes others who exert violence, and he doesn't participate in combat at all, even though he has excellent Valkyrie piloting skills. In addition to the Macross 7 Fleet, Basara's songs are popular in frontier colony planets, too, so that Basara's singing voice reverberates in the galaxy.
Ace pilot Gamlin Kizaki is attached to the Macross 7 Fleet's Special Attack Force "Diamond Force". His age is 19 years (as of 2045 A.D.). As an elite graduate of military school, he's a too serious and honest serviceman. Moreover, one side of him is extremely hot-blooded, and he often shook off orders from superior officers on the battlefield and charged into combat. Even though he considers the civilian Nekki Basara, who intrudes into battlefields and sings, unpleasant at first, before long he becomes one of the few people who understand Basara et al's "Sound Force".
The battle creature Evil Series, which the Protoculture created 500,000 years ago to oppose the Zentraadi. The Protodevilun are monsters that have an ego and were formed when spiritual energy life-forms that came from the Sub-Universe penetrated the Evil's bodies. The Protodevilun absorb the life energy "Spiritia" and take action. Human beings who were manipulated by the Protodevilun were feared by the Zentraadi as the "Inspection Forces".
Before long, the Protodevilun weakened, as Spiritia was in short supply, and they were sealed up in the Varohta star system. The Protodevilun, who awoke from a sleep from ancient times, attacked the Macross 7, aiming for the crew's Spiritia.
How do you do? This is Kano Akira. Thank you for giving "Macross 7th Chord" a read! As a matter of fact, I had originally planned for this manga to be the story of only Mio and Rana, but with great joy, the anime fan in me received permission from everyone on the production side to have Basara appear! ... even though that was so, such things as Basara's free and uncontrolled nature and his hot mind that hangs on singing... it was a virtually impossible task to draw his many charms in the manga! Whenever I was worn out during the serialization, I always got motivated by reviewing "Macross 7" and listening to Fire Bomber's tunes.
Now that I've finished drawing the last part of the story, I honestly think that... I was also getting power from Basara through Mio and Rana. Even though it was Mio and Rana who grew up a little, I think that they'll sing happily while seeking their song in the future. Possibly Basara will sometimes burst into their live performances (laughs). While dreaming about those sessions... thank you!
Staff: Hashiba Rin, Kawashima Tomoe
Mio Leavins, 14, a classical pianist, rebels against her overbearing father, who is a famous, rich, senior government official, and runs away into City 7. She has lived a sheltered life, and has a life changing experience when she sees Nekki Basara perform on an outdoor wall TV. Captain Max sees her impromptu performance, proclaims that it is the sound he's been looking for to succeed Fire Bomber, and promptly orders a piano be packed into his VF-9.
Sound Force is reborn with geniuses from various parts of City 7. Mio overhears Rana Accra, a fellow pianist singer, and attempts to become friends. Rana coldly snubs her and leaves to go meet her younger sister Tina; as it's the day that family can come and meet her at the Headquarters Building. Mio gets a ride to the building by Director Gamlin. Tina is watched over by the Chief, of the Harmonics Laboratories. Tina has become stuck inside a large piece of hardware inside the building, and although Rana crawls inside to bring her out, Rana calls Tina out with song. The Chief immediately takes Tina back to the laboratory, and states that Tina is a valuable member of the Harmonics Laboratories and will be thoroughly examined upon their return. Rana proclaims that she won't lose to Mio, and a friendly rivalry develops.
The Harmonics Laboratory is a Sound Research Institution that is derived from "Project M". They determine that Mio is at the top level in Sound Force, with 140,000 Chiba Songs and the Chief says that she's suitable for the 7th Chord. Gamlin and Max determine that Mio and Rana are a good combination as they both make up for the other's weakness. Tina comes to visit, and despite her having become good friends with Mio, Rana doesn't want Mio to be there, and storms off. Shortly afterwards, a giant Zentraadi, who has gone berserk, attacks the Harmonics Laboratories. Max scrambles Sound Force - Mio in the VF-9, and Rana in the Konig Orgel [Organ]. Using speaker pods and song energy they knock the Zentraadi down, but due to inexperience, they can't defeat it. A mysterious, round, floating mechanism appears, and emits a terrible sound that incapacitates the Zentraadi. Basara overhears the sound and comes while Gamilin and Max order Rana and Mio to destroy the device, as it's sound waves are damaging the city. Just as they're about to fire, Basara tells them to stop and that the source of the mechanism's wailing is a person. The Chief orders the experiment to stop, and the device falls to the ground, silent.
Tina is recovered from the round device at the Harmonics Laboratories, and is hospitalized. Rana, Mio and Max question the Chief, who explains that what they call the 7th Chord is a special sound that temporarily curbs the Zentraadi that have lost reason and that they've turned savage. The round device turns out to be a device that amplified Tina's singing voice. Rana and Mio head to a park and work together to calm a child who has scraped her knee by singing. Rana feels the strength of Mio's song. Basara shows up and question's Rana's motivations for singing and tells her his philosophy about singing, which she doesn't quite grasp. Rana and Mio end up singing together in harmony for the first time.
The Chief indicates that getting Tina to produce the 7th Chord is still a long way off, and that he wants to correctly produce that sound. Gamlin attempts to get Basara to coach Mio and Rina, but Basara shrugs it off. Gamlin pleads that it's different from 7 years earlier. Rana follows Basara, eventually confronting him about singing in a night club. A Zentraadi listening to rock music starts to go berserk at the club, and Rana and Basara sing to calm him down. Mio discovers her father's music collection and starts to truly listen to music for the first time. Basara becomes the coach of Mio and Rana, who have become part of the military after the preceding day's battle in the city.
In the midst of training under coach Basara, the Chief takes Mio to the Harmonics Laboratories, where she witnesses Tina in a horrible experiment: she is being exhausted, singing the 7th Chord to subdue a pair of wild Zentraadi. The Chief explains that music sets off the Zentraadi who have lived in human society for a long time, as music has a high emotional response. The key to calming the Zentraadi is music. The 7th Chord works strongly in the Zentraadi heart and acts like a reset button. The Chief convinces Mio to leave Sound Force, and continue at the Harmonics Laboratories to complete their research into the 7th Chord. Rana is upset by Mio's decision. Some time later, Mio's debut concert is held, with a simultaneous broadcast throughout the city. She sings on the outstretched hands of her VF-9. The Chief uses the concert to disseminate the 7th Chord throughout City 7, and calm Zentraadi start to lose reason and go berserk. As the concert continues, even humans become affected...
Captain Max orders troops into the city to protect the civilians, and tells Gamlin that the Harmonics Labratory is surrounded by armed guards. Rana heads to the hangar with the Konig Orgel, and sees people, not just Zentraadi, becoming violent with each other. Basara is unaffected by the song, and encourages Rana to keep going when she starts to be overcome by Mio's song. Mio learns of the trouble her song has created, and tries to fix it by getting into her VF-9. The Chief indicates that after quitting Sound Force, all weapons and sound equipment were removed from the VF-9. Mio belts out a song and the people in the stadium calm. Mio realizes that both human and Zentraadi are the same, and what the true 7th Chord is. The Chief is angered and pulls out a pistol and takes aim on Mio when... the Konig Orgel slams through the stadium's roof. Rana explains that the 7th Chord that the Chief was researching is really a plan to render the Zentraadi powerless, and to cause them to revolt after being taken prisoner. The Chief indicates that Mio and Rana must die, and that Tina will be used as his puppet. Rana gets the GERWALK mode Konig Orgel's cannons to raise up like an organ, and yells at Mio to get inside her VF-9 to play the Konig Orgel's organ. The two sing Mio's 7th Chord and people begin recovering. Part of the roof of the stadium falls on the Chief, and he flashes back to Earth, 40 years earlier, during the Zentraadi attack, when he was pinned under a collapsed building and rescued by his mother. He is rescued in the stadium by Zentraadi and finally realizes that the Zentraadi are the same as Earthlings. Mio and Rana's song is broadcast throughout the city, and the populace recovers. Basara, breaks into song, and is spotted by the other members of Fire Bomber, who decide to join him [note: none their faces are shown, aside from Gubaba's]. Mio and Rana reconcile, and they continue jamming with Basara in City 7.
Chapter 1: has a great manic energy reminiscent of anime. It has an "anything is possible", fantasy feeling that dissipates as the serial progresses. In contrast to Basara's "listen to my song", she makes music for the joy of making music.
Chapter 2: a great follow up that introduces a ream of important characters for the rest of the serial. It does a good job as a sequel to Macross 7 - where song is used for constructive purposes - and shows a lot of potential. The plot has literally thickened and the story starts to actually be about something.
Chapter 3: finally we get to see the VF-9 in action, and it's fun seeing the main characters trip over each other in a Sound Force operation reminiscent of Macross 7. Basara's appearance is completely unexpected - as the last time we heard of him, he was travelling in the remote regions of the galaxy. It's never explained why he's back in Macross 7, nor what he is doing - though it's apparent that he's not performing music and implied that he's not a member of Fire Bomber.
Chapter 4: although this chapter expands the story, I was disappointed that the last third has little dialogue, and although Rana's change in attitude toward singing and Mio is a major story point, I feel it could've been handled better - as, in the end, not much happens in this chapter.
Chapter 5: There's a major change in the art in this chapter: up until now most of the panels are a mix of close, medium and long shots, with backgrounds in most of them. This one is mostly closeups and the backgrounds tend to have disappeared. There's also a line-thickness change - which leads me to believe that it was drawn on A4, instead of B4. Story-wise, there are some developments, but it's nothing like chapters 2 & 3. Basara, although an interesting addition, has unbalanced the story - it's switched from being about Rana and Mio, to Rana, Mio AND Basara.
Chapter 6: an excellent addition that expands the overall story arc, leading up to the conclusion, and clearing up any doubts that the Chief is the villain of the serial. It's a neat twist that Mio's innocence, which is part of the key to successfully producing the 7th Chord, is also used against her - as she's completely oblivious to the havoc her singing is creating!
Chapter 7: The concluding chapter is full on story, and, thankfully, is focused on Mio and Rana with Basara in the backseat. Fire Bomber's cameo is fun, but it raises more questions than it answers. Mio's powerful response after learning how much the Chief had betrayed her is a highlight, as it shows how much she has grown since the beginning of the serial.
Overall, Macross 7th Chord is a satisfying new interpretation of song and sound in general in Macross. It's not quite as successful as the sequel to Macross 7 as it doesn't really solve any of the remaining questions from that series. Nevertheless, the youthful innocence of Rana, Mio and the Macross 7th Chord story is a refreshing contrast to the more adult, world-wise Sheryl, Basara et al; more so than Ranka, who, at times, is the subject of cruelty by the producers of MF. Mio's and Rana's journey to learn why they sing, under Basara's coaching, does subtly challenge the reader to ask why they do what they do. In this sense, it is a perfect sequel to Macross 7.
I also found it neat that the Chief is never named, and its only during his cathartic moment at the serial's end that his ever-present sunglasses are removed.
Lastly, I really appreciated how the story deals with the Zentraadi as something other than as a stereotype, like they were in Macross Frontier. It was nice to see a little bit more elaboration on the continuing difficulties that Zentraadi face adjusting to Earthlings culture, and the possibility that some of those difficulties may be due to their genetic creation at the hands of the Protoculture - something that Macross Plus also hinted at.
© Aaron Sketchley