Aug 29, 2016

Random Nerdery: Macross, Star Wars, Voltron, and Thunderbirds Are Go

Transforming mecha and the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” make everything better.
Rogue One

Just some random bits of nerdery and pop culture that I’ve been enjoying over the last couple of weeks.


Macross

Macross Valkyrie
Hikaru Ichijyo’s VF-1J
Tenjin Hidetaka

Macross (and by extension, Robotech) will always have a soft spot in my anime-loving heart. The Macross franchise has a pretty set formula involving romantic triangles, interstellar war, and pop music, but let’s be honest: its most important part has always been the mecha, and specifically, the Valkyrie variable fighters. So hat’s off to C. Wilson, the individual behind the Macross Mecha Manual, which is exactly what it sounds like: an exhaustive catalog of every mecha in the Macross universe (and then some).

So the next time you’re trying to determine the differences between the VF-1D and the VF-1J, or you want to know the specs of the VF-2SS, or you want to know more about the mecha featured in the Macross video games, now you know where to go.

And speaking of Macross, I’m still disappointed that I didn’t pick up a 1/60 scale model of Macross PlusYF-19 when I was in Akihabara back in 2009. Because I want this display in my office soooo badly:


Rogue One and the Beastie Boys, Together at Last

If you follow me on Twitter, then you’ve probably already seen this. Even so, it’s worth watching again because it’s just so awesome. Movie trailer mashups are nothing new, but Matthew Longua’s mashup of footage from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” is pretty much a match made in heaven. If nothing else, it puts a smile on my face pretty much every time I watch it.

The blending of the guitar solo and the Death Star’s sirens around the 1:08 mark? Pure genius. Also, I love the look that Gareth Edwards has gone for with Rogue One, in terms of cinematography, backdrops, etc. It’s going to be one good-looking film.


Voltron: Legendary Defender

Voltron: Legendary Defender

Netflix’s update/adaptation of the cult anime classic Voltron has been big hit here at Opus HQ. I watched it first on my own, and have since been rewatching it with my kids, who love it. It’s a bit goofier than I was expecting, but really well-done overall.

Voltron: Legendary Defender is produced by the same folks who did The Legend of Korra, so artwork and animation-wise, it’s fantastic, and the voice acting (which includes The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun and Arrow’s Bex Taylor-Klaus) is solid. But watching it a second time, I was really struck by the moody synth-heavy soundtrack, courtesy of Alex Geringas and Brian Parkhurst.

No spoilers here, but the ending does leave viewers hanging quite a bit. Fortunately, we won’t have to wait too long for season two; it comes out later this year.


Thunderbirds Are Go

Thunderbirds Are Go

Another favorite here at Opus HQ, Thunderbirds Are Go is an update of the classic Thunderbirds series from the ’60s. It follows the Tracy brothers as they race around the world saving folks in danger while combatting the schemes of the villainous Hood, an international crime lord. Altogether, it’s a fun blend of action, derringdo, and retro style, and since it’s set in 2060, there are plenty of cool futuristic gizmos, like the Shoji Kawamori-designed Thunderbird Shadow, with classic Thunderbirds vehicles (e.g., Fireflash) making appearances, too.

Like the original Thunderbirds, Thunderbirds Are Go makes great use of physical scale models for the sets (e.g., the Tracy’s secret island base), but uses CG for the characters and vehicles. Character animations can take some getting used to, but as with the original Thunderbirds, there’s something really charming about the whole thing, and the physical sets themselves are fun just to look at. (Once again, Weta Workshop does good work.)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the series’ music; Ben and Nick Foster’s score adds a lot to the series’ adventurous feel, with soaring strings and sweeping arrangements. (At times, I was reminded of Michael Giacchino’s fantastic work on The Incredibles.) And of course, the classic Thunderbirds announcer adds just the right gravitas whenever the Tracy family launches into action.

Watch the first two-part episode, “Ring of Fire,” below.


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