At the risk of taking anime too seriously, a part of the reason my fandom has endured for as many years as it has is the idea of “stickiness”. And yes, feel free to leave your perverted jokes in the comments (jerks.)
I had a schoolmate who explained to me once how he thought about “good” movies: there were movies which were well made, had high budgets, excellent cinematography and which were all-around entertaining and pleasing to watch. When you ask most people what they think a “good” movie is, they’ll often give you examples from this type. However, he explained, there was also a second type: these were the movies that you couldn’t live without. Movies that, after watching them, changed the way your viewed the world. American Beauty’s iconic plastic bag scene is an example of this. What does the plastic bag hold that, for example, District Nine doesn’t? Stickiness. Even if it’s just in the immediate afterglow of watching the movie, suddenly every leaf moving in the wind becomes beautiful to the point of pain. Moreover, the beauty is in the execution of this scene: it hits you, without warning. We’re completely unprepared for it, and are figuratively knocked backwards by it. When something is sticky, you don’t just see or hear it, somehow, you experience it.
Admittedly, I came to Macross Plus rather late in my anime career (only last year) – but undoubtedly it was sticky. The first scenes are nothing short of enchanting, but what ultimately stays with you is the entirely human story: the characters have all given up childhood dreams of some sort – only to realize, in their hollow adult lives, how deep a part of them those dreams were. The resonance – and the extreme sorrow – of this situation is one any adult realizes, eventually: that the true promise of adulthood isn’t the realization of dreams, but the gradual shedding of them, until all that’s left is routine and draining. This is the part of Macross Plus that sticks with us. The reminder of sorrow, and what we’ve lost. And, as we hear the haunting opening, see the icons the OVA presents us, we’re transported back to those emotions, and to the times in our own lives where we’ve felt similar.
When you think on it, the ability for a static media – moving images – to grip you so deeply that a mere few notes in a song, or a simple image evokes so much is amazing. You have no part in this experience other than to be the conduit of emotions – no control. This is why anime like Macross Plus are important – and why the idea of “stickiness” is a something all creators strive for.