The YF-19: Introduction

Pardon me if I geek out a bit too much on this introduction. I just thought it would be nice to share some of the passionate reasons I’m currently embarked in modelling a fully detailed YF-19 in Blender.


This story begins in 1998, or 1999, somewhere around there. Not long after the anime OVA Macross Plus was released, a friend of mine managed to get a copy in a shady convention, and we’re talking about that time where that was the only effective way to watch a Japanese animation movie, somewhere in a big cardboard box of DVDs and VHS cassettes. To download one from the recently popular Internet meant days, if not weeks of endless, slow, painful telephone modem 56K cranking.

Being all of my friends and me big fans of the Robotech franchise from our childhood, we eventually found out the truth about that cartoon we used to spend watching every day after school: It wasn’t a cartoon. It was three of them, cleverly put together and translated as a single product by the marketing genius Harmony Gold in the US, then subbed to Spanish for our delight. I always wondered why the first season was so good, with Minmay and Rick Hunter and those awesome fighter jets that turned into robots, airshows, flying around and a lot of that Top Gun hype we had come to love from the 80s and 90s, but for some reason the second and third season were… well, crap. A motorcycle? C’mon! Where are my wise references to the F-14 Tomcat and F-15 Eagle from the UN Spacy? How come we never hear about Rick Again? Dammit! I want answers!

So answers we got eventually, thanks to my high school friend who brought Macross Plus one hot summer weekend to watch at our leisure at another friend’s house, with no parents around to bug us. He was about to reveal the Truth to us. We had been lied.

Turns out, he explained, while munching potato chips and popcorn and all sorts of unhealthy snacks and loading the VHS (was it a VHS? can’t remember anymore), Robotech was a mashup of three different Japanese cartoons, put together and retold as a single story. The cartoons themselves had proper names, The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA, respectively. Each one was its own product, but their rights were cheaply sold to Harmony Gold for US release, and rather than trying the audiences to enjoy three different stories, they mashed them up into a single one. A very good one, actually.

But it was Macross what we had been fans of all this time. It wasn’t really Cavalry (motorcycles? bah!) or MOSPEADA (I don’t even remember that season), it was all about the Top Gun references, the dogfights in space, the annoying Minmay – why not – and the torrid but action packed romance with Lisa. Rick Hunter was actually Ichigo in the original Japanese series, and we were quick to adopt his Japanese name as a tribute to Macross‘ magnificiency. So after this revelation, we sat down to watch our first real Macross movie. The VHS rolled in, all of us seated down, we see this:

Dedicated to all pioneers…

Very few things have resonated so much in my head when watching a movie. This one became my favourite Anime film of all time ever since. Yoko Kanno, the composer for this film, became my favourite Japanese animation musician of all time. Shoji Kawamori, the designer behind the mechas became my favourite designer and so-on-so-on.

I don’t have enough words, nor I would finish anytime soon, to express how much this movie meant for me, and means to me ever since. You might find easier and quicker summaries of it online if you want, so go check them out, and watch it if you feel this movie appeals to you. The main story is a love triangle between Isamu, his teenage years sweetheart Myung and his best buddy Gold, who is half Zentraedi. But really, the stars of this film are the planes, the YF-19 and the YF-21, who are competing for the next production contract for the UN Spacy to create the next generation Variable Fighter and replace the aging VF-11. This was based on an actual competition in the US between the YF-22 from Lockeed Martin and the YF-23 from McDonell Douglas, from which the YF-22 won and got the contract to produce the next-gen fighter F-22 Raptor.

YF-22_and_YF-23Clearly inspired by the YF-23, the YF-21 in Macross Plus is test piloted by Gold, who uses an experimental mind-driven control and visualizes the plane in full VR like it was his own body. Isamu, on the other hand, pilots the YF-19, based on the experimental forward winged X-29 and the recently revealed SU-47,  with traditional controls, but with enhanced maneuverability and vision with a screen-projected exterior inside his cockpit.

Some of my friends preferred the YF-21, but I thought the YF-19 was sexier. I mean, look at her!

tumblr_n6mdp1FFjN1rtuqolo1_1280Anyway, I used to daydream a lot about this plane and how would it be like to be in its cockpit, looking out through these screens that evolve the whole sky as a single thing and make you feel like you’re flying as a bird. My love for flight simulators and sci-fi was fueled by technologies like this. So eventually, when I started my Blender learning, a single question raised up:

Wouldn’t it be awesome to finally find out what it looks like?

So the YF-19 project was born.



About Eduardo

I'm some dude with a huge love for animation and film. I've been working in TV animation for the past 6 years in New Zealand. I love dragons, pointy metal things that can cut dragons, and flight simulators.
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