The Forgotten Macross Pseudo-Sequel: Advanced Valkyrie

Shoji Kawamori refused to work on further Macross sequels after Macross: Flash Back 2012, resulting in Macross II, a distant sequel that borrowed heavily from the film, Do You Remember Love? However, Macross II featured few returning staff from the TV series and film, character designer Haruhiko Mikimoto and writer Sukehiro Tomita not withstanding. When Kawamori returned to the Macross franchise a couple of years later with Macross 7 and Macross Plus, Macross II was pushed to the side.

Kawamori’s approach towards sequels has always been unconventional at best, and determining what exactly is “canon” in Macross can be a difficult proposition. Before working on Flash Back 2012 in 1987, Kawamori drew up mechanical designs and a story that was to be turned into a line of model kits called Advanced Valkyrie. At first glance, the easiest comparison is that Advanced Valkyrie was a sort of Macross equivalent of Gundam MSV, but was it really?

VF-X-7 Ghost Valkyrie designs. Dated July, 1985.

In an interview that appeared in a 1985 issue of Bandai’s Model Making Journal (translated here by Matt Alt), Kawamori explained, “Macross is a conglomeration of three aspects: the use of music, the use of characters, and mechanics. I want to try working separately from the Macross concept by focusing on each of these points individually. This time, the project is to dig into the mechanical aspect, and in particular the Valkyries.”

V-BR-2 bomber mode rough sketches. Dated 1985.

The variety of designs featured in Advanced Valkyrie are interesting not just because of their diversity of purpose (fighters, bombers, etc), but because of how they foretold the mechanical makeup of Kawamori’s future Macross projects. In the original series, the VF-1 Valkyrie was just one weapon alongside a range of space, air and ground vehicles employed by Earth forces. Later Macross series would eschew this variety in favor of a multitude of variable fighters, and as a result, the mechanical “variety” of the original series was lost.

stampede_vf11A few years after Advanced Valkyrie, Kawamori designed the heavily-armed Stampede Valkyrie, later used in the PC-98 game Remember Me. Originally derivative of the VF-1, the Stampede Valkyrie was notable because over repeated redesigns from 1990 to 1993, it began looking a lot more like the VF-11 of Macross 7 and Macross Plus, thus bridging the design gap between the two eras. The illustration above is dated June, 1993, and similarities to the VF-11 are obvious.

In Advanced Valkyrie, Kawamori’s mechanical designs run the gamut from the space-shuttle-inspired VF-X-7 to the V-BR-2 bomber, reminiscent of both the SR-71 and its intercept fighter cousin, the YF-12. The VF-X-11 channeled the original TV show’s Star Goose by way of the real-world XFV-12, while the VA-X-3 was inspired by the YB-49 prototype and looks a bit like the Starwing heavy bomber seen in Macross Plus. The forward-swept wing design of the VF-9 Cutlass also looks a lot like a smaller, earlier version of the VF-19, a variable fighter that appeared in numerous Macross sequels. This all suggests that Advanced Valkyrie, official sequel or not, played a significant role in Kawamori’s design and development of future variable fighters. A missing branch on Macross‘ mechanical family tree, if you will.

Despite having some finished designs by Kawamori and completed model prototypes (check out photos of them in the interview link above), Advanced Valkyrie never entered production. But while it was never released as intended, Advanced Valkyrie still managed to work its DNA into Macross proper. For one, it’s hard to miss the similarities between Advanced Valkyrie’s test pilot setting and the later Macross Plus OVA. Then, in 2000, the Macross M3 Dreamcast game featured two designs from the project: the VF-9 Cutlass and VF-3000 Crusader.

Finalized VF-9 Cutlass design. Dated March, 1986.

So was Advanced Valkyrie actually a Macross sequel? Kawamori definitively said it wasn’t in 1985, but he certainly blurred the line years later by including its designs in official Macross products. The truth, as always with Kawamori, is probably more ambiguous than fans would like. Western notions of strict canon are difficult to apply to the sprawling Macross franchise, as evidenced by Kawamori’s assertion that all Macross sequels are in-universe films or TV series (translation by Renato Rivera Rusca).

The point, of course, is that it doesn’t really matter. Instead, we should take Kawamori’s words to heart and just focus on the Valkyries.

Images in this article are from the book Shoji Kawamori Macross Mecha Designs, published 2001.