Saturday, May 9, 2009

How to Survive a Macross Missile Massacre

I guess one of the cool things that made Macross great, aside from the music, the mecha, the characters and the awesome plot and graphics was the Macross Missile Massacre. More popularly called by fans as the Itano Circus because it was created by Ichiro Itano.

The Itano Circus or fight choreography is a dance between two or more mechas locked into combat. They dodge they dive then unleash a volley of small missiles against each other. I guess we can say it is the vision of small missiles chaotically and drunkenly flying through the air towards its target that causes the entertainment meter in all of us to jump up drastically. This fight sequence also broke common dogfight paradigms, like who launches more than a dozen missiles at a flying target? Mobile rocket artillery maybe, but that's for ground pounding.

Despite the sheer terror of seeing a swarm of missiles coming at you, there are ways of surviving the Itano Circus. As seen from the Macross series these are:

How to Survive a Macross Missile Massacre

1. Fold in - After pirating the YF-19 from New Edwards Test Center, Isamu Dyson and Yang Neuman are chased by a swarm of missiles trying to prevent their escape. Rather than waste ammunition, Isamu and Yang initiate a fold with their attached booster pack to escape it.

2. Jettison objects - Similar to what chaff and flares do, the pilot usually releases some detachable part of the VF fighter in order to cause the missiles to home in on it. This can be considered an unconventional method because the part wasn't really intended to be missile fodder. Common missile fodder parts are a rocket booster, like what Isamu Dyson did to the booster pack of his Chaser One VF-11B. Other pilots like to ditch their armor packs on an incoming swarm of missiles.

3. Evade - This maneuver is usually done by Ace Pilots or assisted ones. Max and Milia Falayna Jenius showcased their ace piloting skills by dodging missiles fired at them. Guld Bowman in Macross Plus used the YF-21's computer systems to project the path of the incoming test missiles which allowed him to fly right through them. Macross Zero's Shin Kudo used flares and extreme piloting skills to dodge a swarm of missiles fired at him by Nora Polyansky's SV-51. Shin Kudo could be described as the true epitome of an ace pilot because he was able to do this in a non transforming/non vectored thrust F-14 fighter.

4. Shoot them down - This seems to be the most common tactic. Fire your own swarm to beat your opponents swarm. Or use a combination of your gun pod and your head turrets to explode some of the incoming missiles. The blast will trigger the other incoming missiles to explode.

5. Better Armor - Beat the offense by having an even better defense. Zentradi spies Loli, Conda and Warera's craft was able to survive a missile barrage from Hikaru Ichijo's VF-1J GBP-1S during the Miss Macross Contest because of a combination of shooting them down and having thick armor. Roy Fokker was able to survive being hit by his own missiles because his GBP-1S equipped battloid in Macross Zero had reactive armor. Reactive armor explodes outwardly when a missile breaches it. Thereby preventing the attacking missle from detonating inside the craft.

6. Flares/Chaff - This is the typical means of fighting off a missile in today's modern air force. Though I wonder how its possible to distract missiles in the Macross universe by either of this method? Considering that in modern warfare tactics, Flares are used to fight off heat seeking missiles and chaff to fight off radar guided ones. Isamu Dyson and Shin Kudo have been shown to use them to fend off attacking missiles regardles of what type they are.

7. Cut Engines - In Macross Plus, during the final epic battle between Isamu and Guld Bowman. Isamu was able to evade a swarm fired by Guld by cutting his engines and floating above them.

8. Redirection - This method requires some ample space and time between you and the missile swarm for you to maneuver before they can hit you. Not to mention that your VF has to posses good maneuverability. Like being in gerwalk mode or having a vector thrust capable plane. Max was able to evade Milia's missile volley by diving towards the ground and pulling up quickly in the Macross-DYRL movie.

To illustrate further, I found this great video at Youtube which is a compilation of Itano Circus in some anime's not specific to Macross: