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Macross Zero is a five-episode OVA, set as a Prequel to the popular Macross series. The story takes place in the year 2008, nine years after an alien ship crash-landed in the south pacific, in the final days of the Unification Wars mentioned earlier in the series. It involves Shin Kudou, a Japanese-American UN soldier who crash lands on a small island after a fateful encounter with one of the first of the series' transforming Humongous Mecha.

On the island, he meets Sara Nome, a priestess of the island's religion, and Mao Nome, Sara's Genki Girl little sister. Thanks to Shin, the island is drawn into the war for the unification of Earth, as well as the fight to posses the various pieces of a strange alien corpse called a "Birdman"/"Bird Human" which figures into the island's religion and may cause untold destruction if allowed to be put back together again.

Like the Macross Plus OVA before it, Macross Zero eschews the usual Space Opera setting for a more personal story. Like the rest of the Macross series, it involves a Love Triangle and the Power of Music saving the world. Unlike the rest of the series, the usual J-pop/J-rock has been replaced with a much earthier tribal soundtrack, reflecting the setting in the South Pacific.

Tropes used in Macross Zero include:
  • The Ace (Roy Fokker)
  • Beam Spam ( The bird human does this whenever something gets close.)
  • Beta Couple (Roy and Aries)
  • Broken Bird (Sara Nome)
  • But Not Too Foreign (Shin is Japanese-American.)
  • Character Development (and how!)
  • Continuity Nod (A prototype Destroid Monster shows up near the end. Iris' death is what causes Roy to sink into depression until he met Claudia., Edgar shares the last name as Claudia.)
    • Retroactive Continuity Nod. Sheryl Nome's earrings were retconed into the scene where Mao looks at her parents' picture in the Blu-Ray release.
  • The Deadliest Mushroom
  • During the War
  • The End of the World as We Know It (The bird human singing the song of death is a bad thing.)
  • Episode Zero the Beginning
  • Fighter Launching Sequence
  • Genki Girl (Mao Nome)
  • Harmful to Minors (Of the violent kind. Children get to see what a battlefield looks like first-hand.)
  • Handsome Lech (Roy)
  • Humongous Mecha
  • Idol Singer (Notably averted. In a notable departure for the series, Sara and Mao are singing shrine maidens rather than idol singers.)
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Sara, who comes in two flavors!
  • Just Plane Wrong: Hell, VF-0 are powered by Turbofans (that is, NORMAL JET ENGINE) yet able to 'dive' underwater, Fridge Logic hits well.
  • Love Triangle (Sara/Shin/Mao)
  • Macross Missile Massacre (Don't leave home without it)
  • Magical Native American: Sara, also Mao although she initially ignores many of the traditions.
  • Mind Screw (The ending: Sara inside the Bird Human tanks the nuclear explosion that would render Maya Island uninhabitable, Folds into space with the exploding nukes. Shin's damaged VF-0, which is glowing blue for some reason, almost crashes into the sea, but pulls up just in time to... follow Sara into foldspace? Maybe? Did the Bird Human grab it using its magic telekinesis? I don't know. It's strange.)
  • No Export for You: Due to the various legal issues with the Macross franchise. Tommy Yune, representative for Harmony Gold, has stated that they're willing to license it and sublicense it to ADV Films, but Big West isn't willing to play ball with them.
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Played straight. Macross Zero continues the tradition of using the ambiguous term "Reaction Weaponry" for things that are almost-but-not-quite nukes.
  • Nuke'Em (Fuel-air bombs and reaction warheads.)
  • Point Defenseless (The carrier Asuka II's battle group. It's just more dramatically tense for the battroids to be able to attack rather than be destroyed before they even get there by an AEGIS system (or whatever overtechnology equivalent).)
  • Power of Rock (Actually, Power of Religious Island Music.)
  • Prequel
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni (Nora and DD of the anti-UN forces.)
  • Retcon: Sheryl Nome's earrings get added in a shot at the Nome beach house in the Blu-Ray release.
  • Scenery Porn (And not just landscape. The Destroid Monster near the end practically oozes sex appeal.)
  • Science Fiction
  • Shout-Out: the carrier Asuka(ASCA) II might be a homage to Asuka Langley Soryu whose middle name is the name of two US carriers.
    • Later Gundam Seed Destiny have a protagonist called Shinn doesn't help that he had Shin Kudou's seiyuu...
    • The animation in the opening scene with F-14 Tomcats launching from an aircraft carrier at the crack of dawn is a homage to the opening scene of Top Gun, one of Kawamori's favorite movies.
  • Spell My Name with an "S" (There is some minor disagreement over whether the aliens should be referred to as "Birdmen" or "Bird Humans.")
    • It probably stems from Pronoun Trouble, as in the islander legends the Bird Human sacrificed its wings and became the wife of the first human being, symbolizing the way human evolution was guided by alien technology.
  • The Squad (Skull Squadron)
  • Super Robot Wars (so far, only in the Scramble Commander the 2nd. Also appears in Another Century's Episode R)
  • Transforming Mecha (Series staple, although the jet form is emphasized much more than usual)
  • Wave Motion Gun (Used by the Bird Human after it goes One-Winged Angel)
  • You Fail Geography Forever (What the hell are the Mayan people doing in the South Pacific? Might not have been intentional since it's just called "Mayan" island, but still raises questions)
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