“Sounding the Nostalgic Future: Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Lynn Minmay, and Animated Sonic Affect"

Presented By: Kimberlee Sanders, Harvard University

What can sound studies and anime studies say to one another? Both fields have long wrestled with discourses of newness and emergence, but how can an examination of the old remediated in the new enrich our understanding of the emotional and sensory immersion made possible in television animation? What can expanding an approach to anime studies beyond those influenced by literary studies and film studies tell us about the affectively charged experiences of imagined past and future that anime networks across media? I explore these questions through the 1982-84 series Super Dimension Fortress Macross and the figure of idol singer Lynn Minmay. Voiced by singer Iijima Mari, Minmay is a throwback to WWII singer Vera Lynn, providing morale to a populace constantly under attack. I argue that Macross’s mixing of mecha and idol genres is crucial to understanding a compelling experience of nostalgia and technological futurism brought together by the mediation and remediation of the female voice. While Thomas Lamarre has recently pointed to the “ability of television animation to switch between (and effectively fuse) electromagnetic reality and parasociality,” my paper expands this claim to think about a vibrant electromagnetic world of recording and broadcast audio that deliberately echoes the parasociality of idol culture and modulates Minmay’s voice through a nostalgic military-entertainment interface. An attention to manifestations of audio technology and voice within the diegetic and non-diegetic space of Macross can provide one point of entry to rethinking anime’s immersive and affective power in televisual space and beyond.