A cult anime series about three wars fought by Earth with alien technology, against alien enemies, over control of a powerful energy source. Initially a major success, its relatively adult story content is credited with introducing Western audiences to the sophisticated dramatic potential that Japanese animation had to offer.This in turn led to a major rise in popularity of anime that was oriented towards the original Japanese productions unedited by American producers—somewhat ironic, because Robotech is actually a Cut-and-Paste Translation of three different anime series, edited together by Carl Macek of Harmony Gold, who wanted to bring the Japanese anime Super Dimension Fortress Macross to western television, but was unable to since it did not possess the sixty-five episodes needed for a syndication deal. Macek's solution was to tie Macross to two other unrelated series with similar elements and art styles,Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber Mospeada, and to turn the whole thing into a multi-generational saga, using Macross's Protoculture—now retrofitted to be the fuel source behind the various technology used by the different races—as the uniting factor between each series.The series was thus divided into three sagas, each based on its respective parent show and portraying a particular generation of characters. They are:
"The Macross Saga" (Macross), the story of pilot Rick Hunter and the crew of the SDF-1 battle fortress. Of the three sub-series, this one has the most in common with the original anime: aside from the names, the biggest changes were made mostly to help fit all three series together, such as the relationship between the Zentraedi and the Robotech Masters. This is mostly backstory dialogue, though a few episodes late in the series have some Southern Cross footage of the Masters spliced in.
"The Robotech Masters" (Southern Cross) had probably the biggest number of changes (starting with moving the setting from the faraway planet Glorie down to Earth, and ending with, well, the ending, which became a Bittersweet Ending due to the series coming up next). It features Dana Sterling, the (first) daughter of Max and Miriya Sterling from Macross. Having been left on Earth in the care of General Rolf Emerson, she has joined the Army of the Southern Cross, and unlike her high-flying parents, pounds the ground in a Veritech Hovertank. Naturally, she ends up on the front lines when the Robotech Masters, the men behind the Zentraedi, invade the earth searching for the Protoculture Matrix hidden in the wreckage of the SDF-1 Macross.
"The New Generation" (Mospeada), concerns the Invid, enemies of the Masters and the Zentraedi, who conquer the Earth after it is accidentally seeded or rather intentionally seeded according to the Shapings' design if you buy into the book version with the Invid Flower of Life, the source of Protoculture, after the conclusion of the war against the Robotech Masters. Earth forces that left the planet between the first and second generations return to save their homeworld, including Scott Bernard, who quickly finds himself the only survivor of the first counter-invasion, and finds himself gathering a Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits on his way across the Scavenger World the Earth has degenerated to in order to reach the Invid home hive of Reflex Point.
In addition to redubbed anime, several comics, novels, and games have attempted to tell the story, with varying levels of success, within and between the Robotech "generations". One of the most ambitious was The Sentinels, which chronicled the story of the Macross heroes as they go into space towards the Robotech Masters' homeworld in an attempt to stop any further wars. Naturally, they miss them, only to find the planet besieged by the second faction of the Invid, and meet a collection of alien races fighting to free themselves from Invid domination. Although the animated series fell apart after a few episodes were created, the story continued in comic, novel, and RPG form, each offering similar variant takes on the story. Another stillborn project was Robotech: The Movie (a.k.a. Robotech: The Untold Story), which spliced footage from the show with scenes from the anime Megazone 23 in order to create a story set between the "Macross" and "Robotech Masters" sagas. Unlike The Sentinels, this project was completed, but its tepid reception during test airings caused Harmony Gold to shelf it, and it has never had a wide release inside the states. The fact that the rights that Harmony Gold/Cannon Pictures had for Megazone 23 expired is another reason the film will never see the light of day.Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, an original US animated OAV released in 2007, begins at the end of the first cycle and continues on after its end.Robotech Saga Wiki does what it says on the tin.One of the stranger aspects of all of this was how Harmony Gold was able to gain the US trademark for Macross simply by defending the rights to Robotech. At the time, Japan and the US did not have reciprocity for copyrights, and Bandai/Big West (the owners of Macross) had sublicensed the international distribution rights to Tatsunoko Production, who licensed all aspects of Macross except the Japanese model kits to Harmony Gold. Bandai also licensed several mecha designs to FASA for use in BattleTech, and they were incorporated and used in the miniatures game. FASA had sued Playmates Toys over alleged copyright infringement for a design in their Exo Squad/Robotech crossover line that resembled a "Mad Cat". Harmony Gold countersued FASA for the longstanding use of Macross IP in BattleTech, citing their license from Tatsunoko. The suit was settled out of court, and the settlement was sealed so the settlement terms are not known. However, the suit forced FASA to voluntarily remove the offending the designs (now known as "The Unseen") out of fear of renewed legal hassles. Big West subsequently successfully sued Tatsunoko, as their license to Macross was originally only to cover the original animation content of Macross, and not any derivative content based thereon.The end result of the convoluted legal snarl:
Harmony Gold can continue to release the original Robotech stories, and can release their own DVDs of the original Macross in the US, but cannot create derivative works based on Macross (or its Big West stablemate Southern Cross).
However, they can create derivative content based on Mospeada, which was wholly owned by Tatsunoko in the first place.
In addition, they effectively have veto rights for the imports and English translation of Macross merchandise and series that are not covered by the original license. Consequently, all Macross productions with the exception of the original series, Macross Plus and Macross II Lovers Again (the latter two were "snuck in" under Harmony Gold's radar at a time when their TV production and licensing divisions were badly savaged by a "headhunting" raid by Haim Saban. By the time HG could have contested it, it was too late.) are blocked from being sold or translated in North America, and under Harmony Gold's interpretation, Shoji Kawamori cannot make or distribute his own drawings and designs within North America. (This has not made them popular.)
The rights have recently been purchased by Warner Bros.. This had led to fan speculation that Warner may make its own live action movie. Consequently Harmony Gold's more recent sequels, most notably the original feature-length film Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, are all set in or after the part of the Robotech timeline drawn from Mospeada.
This show provides examples of:
65-Episode Cartoon: At 85 episodes (36 from Macross, 23 from Southern Cross, 25 from Mospeada, plus an extra clip episode cobbled together to help bridge the narrative gap between the first two sagas) Robotech well exceeds this trope. (Otherwise, it would have stopped five episodes into The New Generation!) But of course the reason Robotech exists in the format that it does is because the producers had this trope in mind.
Action Girl: Quite a few - Miriya Parina-Sterling (Macross Saga) and her daughter Dana Sterling (Masters Saga), also Marie Crystal and Nova Satori (also from Masters Saga) and finally Rook Bartley (New Generation).
Why does Dana Sterling have green hair as a baby but is a blonde by the time she grows up (dye job? recessive gene from her dad's side of the family? Or because she was originally two different characters?)
Why, when they come across Zor Prime, do they act surprised when they analyze him and find out he's human? (Never mind shoehorning in "and not just a micronized Zentraedi" so as to point out their alleged familiarity with Human Aliens- surely the races are so similar as to be practically the same species, as they can interbreed?) Maybe the fact that the original Southern Cross character, actually was a (brainwashed) human, Seifriet Weisse.
Why cities such as New York (complete with famous Real Life theatre) exist in The New Generation series when the Earth got nuked by the Zentraedi and they barely managed to rebuild before being invaded again by both the Masters and then the Invid? (Maybe because there were no Zentraedi, or Masters, in Mospeada).
You may note that this generally comes up only in the later two parts of the show. The Macross section is actually a very faithful adaptation, right up until the very end; it's only when they tried bolting things on to Macross that the problems began to pile up.
A-Team Firing: At least in The New Generation, where Scott's Team seems completely incapable of landing a rifle hit on the giant crab mechs the Invid like to terrorize the world in.
The Ace: Max Sterling in the Macross phase — a subversion in that he is a secondary character yet indisputably the best pilot, and a nice guy to boot whom everyone likes. Roy Fokker, Rick Hunter, Dana Sterling, and Scott Bernard all qualify to a lesser extent as the main characters.
After the End: Earth is devastated no fewer than three times in the series.
Animation Bump: The sections of the Sentinels movie set on Tyrol are better drawn and rendered than the sections on or around Earth. This is because they are the earliest footage, from back when the Japanese animation team was allowed creative control over the story. Carl Macek believed that the lead director was intending to repurpose the footage as an independent series (the original story centered on Rem, Jack and Karen) for release in Japan. Macek started by having extremely detailed scripts for every episode written by himself or Ardwright Chamberlin, neither of whom had any experience writing or directing original animation. The lackluster scripts, in addition to a pissed-off animation crew, lead to the subpar animation that followed.
Anyone Can Die: Well, several characters were wearing enough Plot Armor to prevent this, but there's quite a high body count in this series. Aside from some of the characters such as Ben and Roy, countless billions are killed too when the Zentraedi bombard Earth's surface. Several scenes are shown of people on the ground as they get vaporized, including a soldier asking a young girl how old she is. After she replies "two", he grabs her as they both vanish into white.
Apocalypse How: Each series ends with one of these. Original Series faces a Class 1, Southern Cross' war is a Class 0, and the Invid Invasion is another Class 1.
Dr. Lazlo Zand is introduced in the novels as a character but is based on a one-time appearing character who had eyes similar to Lang's. The eyes are just an artistic quirk of Haruhiko Mikimoto although Robotech decided to create an in-story reason for them. This nameless character was present during a conference scene and had only two lines. (The Southern Cross novelizations invented a subplot of him trying to exploit Dana Sterling's heritage to achieve Protoculture godhood from whole cloth.)
Be Careful What You Wish For: Rick Hunter spends much of Macross Saga being obsessed with Minmei, so much so that he forgets his initial Character Development during the initial Reconstruction Blues era episodes, and he is so blinded by this obsession that more often than not he can't see that his boss, Lisa Hayes, has become increasingly infatuated with him during their adventures together. Towards the end of these Macross Saga episodes Rick finally does get to be with Minmei, only to find that he can't relate to her anymore, as she really can't understand what he's been through and how his experiences have changed him, and it finally occurs to him that he should be with Lisa.
Minmei herself experiences this - she wanted to be a pop star more than anything, only to find it lonely at the top.
The Zentradie also experience this after hearing and experiencing human culture and decide to defect from their masters to the human race. Two years later many of them have grown unsatisfied living among humans, trying to work normal jobs, unable to function properly without regular combat to keep them focused and motivated, leading to acts of violence and defection. Khyron and his team eventually pick up on this unhappy "warrior without a war" mindset and use it to their advantage.
Belligerent Sexual Tension: A number of the series couples have this or start out as this, the most prominent example being Rick Hunter and Lisa Hayes (Macross Saga), but also shown in Marie Crystal and Sean Phillips (The Masters) and finally Rand and Rook (The New Generation).
BFG: The Veritech's cannons, the SDF-1's reflex cannon, and the Grand Cannon.
Big Brother Instinct: Roy Fokker serves as a surrogate big brother for Rick Hunter in Marcross Saga while Scott Bernard serves as a big brother to Rand in New Generation. Both also serve as Big Brother Mentor to the younger heroes.
Big Damn Heroes: Many notable occurrences happen, such as when Rick rescues Minmei and Lisa (multiple times actually), or when the SDF/Zentraedi barely defeat Dolza's armada.
The Big Guy: Breetai for the Zentradie, Ben Dixon for Macross Saga, Sgt. Angelo Dante for the Southern Cross/the Masters, and Lunk for the New Generation
In Macross, while Earth was still recovering, both the SDF-1 and the SDF-2 get destroyed in Khyron's suicide attack (which he turned into one after getting too severely damaged to escape into space), and most of the main bridge crew aside from Lisa get killed.
Then in the Robotech Masters, Zor Prime attempted to destroy the Protoculture factory in the SDF-1, but accidentally released the spores instead, which then causes the Invid to invade Earth. Since Earth's defenses were already really exhausted from all the fighting with the Robotech Masters, they weren't able to put up much a fight against the Invid.
Then in the New Generation, while the humans are able to persuade the Invid Regis to leave Earth relatively intact (and she even destroys the neutron bombs the Expeditionary Fleet launched in a Scorched Earth attempt), Scott decides to leave Ariel alone while he tries to find Admiral Hunter (although Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles shows that they still end up together after all).
Boldly Coming: The novelizations make it clear that the original Zor literally seduced the secrets of the Flower of Life from the Invid Regis - even though discovering the intricacies of a humanoid form was a large part of the process for her.
Citadel City: The SDF-1 becomes one after the space fold to Pluto, with a city being rebuilt within it.
Clip Show: Shortly after the SDF-1 returns to earth after the initial trip back from Pluto, Admiral Gloval gives a rehash of the events thus far. Considering all that happened, it was rather needed. The episodes between sagas also were mostly clip shows to help try mesh the snags between shows.
Cloning Blues: Zor Prime, full stop. Also Musica and the other civilians in the Robotech Masters' fleet who come to realize the value of individuality.
In Invid Invasion, the Alpha and Beta Veritechs are able to combine.
The Sentinels had the titular alien Resistance fighters arrive in the Farrago, a combination of ships from each of their member species created as a trophy for the Invid Regent. The original ships are able to separate and recombine. When Rick Hunter organizes a group of humans to join, they add a REF-issue Base on Wheels as their contribution to the ship.
Conservation of Ninjutsu: Played straight during the battle of Earth. The Zentraedi Main Fleet consisting of over 4,800,000 ships vs Earth and Breetai's Zentraedi fleet, which only numbered about a million (assuming the entire Imperial Fleet defected with them). Guess which side wins...
There are several justifications for this, though. First, the Zentraedi never figured anyone would be stupid enough to attack an armada of five million ships. Second, at the same time the attack was going on, Minmei's song was being broadcast to the entire Zentraedi fleet. The Zentraedi, having no culture of their own, are transfixed... well, most of them. Third, one of the ships on Earth's side is the SDF-1, which was Zor's final creation and is notably stronger/different than most other ships of its type. Fourth, Zentraedi defectors helped plan the attack, which involved using the highly regimented society of the Zentraedi against them. Once the leaders were taken out, the enemy was flung into disarray. Still, they were long/impossible odds...
Crazy Enough to Work: Rick devises a plan to help win against the fight against Dolza's armada. They utilize psychological warfare by having Minmei sing during the battle, and broadcasting it throughout all of the Zentraedi ships to shock them long enough so the humans and their Zentraedi allies could wipe them out.
Darker and Edgier: Compared to contemporary sanitized anime adaptations like Voltron, the relatively unvarnished depiction of war and its bloody consequences in this series was a real shock in the 1980s.
Compared to the original series, as well: the Macross Saga famously was, in general, a direct translation of key events in Macross and not much editing-out of violence; come the finale, however, it gets much more bleak, as Captain Global/Gloval and the Bridge Bunnies, who SURVIVED the destruction of the Macross in the Japanese version, are outright KILLED in the Robotech version.
The Zendraedi's warrior culture is extremely similar to the militaristic culture of WWII Japan.
When the war begins, their first strike is a carrier-launched surprise-attack on a coastal military base.
The wedding of Max and Miriya evokes the spur of the moment weddings that often occurred before American soldiers shipped out for duty.
Near the end of the war, the Zendraedi use carpet-bombing to raze the entire Earth's surface, Curtis Lemay style.
After the Zendraedi have largely lost the war, their culture starts incorporating elements of their former enemy's culture, mirroring the post-war Americanization of Japan.
The novelizations add additional backstory, including one of the factions in the Global Civil War (the arrival of the SDF-1 prompted it's ending) being called the Neesians, short for North-East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere (one of the official names of the group of nations effectively ruled by Japan before and during WWII).
Lampshaded in the Wildstorm comic books where the Who's Who issue explicitly refers to Dr. Emil Lang as the Werhner Von Braun of Robotechnology. It is worth noting that the Robotech Universe chooses to remain vague on the nature of the many factions in the Global Civil War, although the Neasians have been described as Fascist. History leaves us in no doubt as to Von Braun's origins. But Lang, although he happens to also be of German origin, isn't implied to be from any unsavory faction.
When Marie Crystal runs out on Sean Philips in Love Song after being led to believe he's been unfaithful to her, her high heels come off her feet, evoking Cinderella losing the glass slipper.
Scott Bernard and his quest to free Earth from the Invid is said to have been based on the Holy Crusades.
Doomed City: Toronto gets leveled when the SDF-1's barrier overloads.
Depends on which books, and which ending. The novelization of the Invid Invasion, for ex, ends more or less on an upbeat note, with a hint of more adventures to come as Scott Bernard heads back into space to find some missing personnel and clean up the loose ends. A later novel called The End Of The Circle picks up at the same point as Shadow Chronicles, but proceeds with wildly varying, yet completely different tones, ranging from Downer (Sera wastes away without the Regis, and Ariel/Marlene is next for most of the book) to just plain stone cold stupid ( After a variety of weirdness including the main characters' kids summoning the SDF-1's missing fold drive by chanting "Ro-Bo-Tech", Minmei is stranded in a pocket universe with Rem — a Sentinels character who was another clone of Zor — and pregnant with Rem's child, who is somehow going to actually be the original Zor, bringing time loops into everything at the last minute.)
Dana Sterling (Komillia Jeinus and Jeanne Francaix)
Nova Satori (Lana Isavia)
Bowie Grant (Bowie Emerson—note that this takes away the blood relation between him and Rolf Emerson and establishes one with Claudia, above.)
Scott Bernard (Stick Bernard)
Rook Bartley (Houquet et Rose)
A partial one: Roy Fokker (Roy Focker). The spelling was changed possibly as a hat-tip to the famed aircraft designer Anthony Fokker, while it's been stated that the pronounciation was altered from the actual "FOKK-er" to "FOE-ker" to avoid parents accidentally hearing obscenities that weren't there.
An odd one: Captain Global's last name isn't changed at all, actually; while it's spelled with a B in Romaji, "B" and "V" are indistinguishable in Japanese (there is no proper "v" sound in Japanese), so "Gloval" is an acceptable spelling. Now, as to why they changed him from Bruno (jap.) to Henry (eng.), especially when they make him RUSSIAN in the dub? That's a whole other matter.
Another odd one: Minmay's name is changed from Lynn Minmay in Japanese (a glaringly Engrish spelling for a girl who's canonically half-Japanese-half-Chinese) to Lynn Minmei in English... which is actually how her name is properly spelled in Kana. They probably kept "Lynn" instead of changing it to "Rin" as written in Kana like her given name, because Lynn is a well-known name in English already.
No, most of them don't. Quite a few of them are a bit too young to remember when anime (then called Japanimation) was practically unheard of in the USA.
Even bigger problem is that Harmony Gold chose not to credit any of the character designers, writers, mecha designers, directors or animators. Some ignorant Robotech fans think that Carl Macek single handedly created Robotech although the things that are praised in it are already present in Macross.
Also, as mentioned above and at other places on this and the YMMV page, Harmony Gold in some ways fostered the situation through their actions.
The Dragon: Breetai, who matches one in size, too!
Enemy Mine: The Zentraedi under Breetai's command team up with humans when Dolza sends the main Zentraedi armada to Earth. Exedore explains that they're doing this because Dolza would also kill off any Zentraedi who've been exposed to human culture. Many of his men were already planning to rebel and join the humans anyway after being exposed to human culture, so Breetai figured it would be best to work together anyway.
Which conflict with each other extensively and the original material somewhat. At their worst the expanded universe materials are ghastly, at their best they can be quite good. This is especially true of the novels.
The Hero: Rick Hunter for Macross Saga, Dana Sterling for The Masters, and finally Scott Bernard for New Generation.
Heroic BSOD: Several characters go through them at various points throughout the story, such as Rick when Roy Fokker died, Lisa when she finds out Minmei is at Rick's apartment, and Minmei towards the end of the series after she gives up singing.
Scott Bernard suffers one when he finds out that a large contingent of reinforcements that arrived earlier were wiped out entirely by the Invid. He gives up hope until he sees Ariel screaming in fear at the Invid, and promptly pulls a Big Damn Heroes moment.
Humiliation Conga: Lisa Hayes suffers a few of these throughout the series, namely in A Rainy Night where she actually allows Rick Hunter to chew her out in front of her subordinates, gets stood up by him in favor of the bratty pop singer Lynn Minmei in Private Time, then goes off and gets drunk when she overhears Rick with Minmei in Seasons Greetings... basically she spends the bulk of the Reconstruction Blues era episodes suffering because of the Unresolved Sexual Tension between her and Rick.
Developing a death wish at the drop of a hat in Bye Bye Mars after stumbling upon a few her of dead boyfriend's belongings and having to be rescued by Rick probably counts too.
Humongous Mecha: One of the few series to actually justify having them. The Zentraedi are enoromous, and their "mecha" are actually Powered Armor for them, so the humans had to match that.
In Love with Love: A couple of characters had a bit of this throughout Macross Saga - specifically Rick towards Lynn Minmei, Lisa towards Lynn Kyle. (see Loving a Shadow below)
Insufficiently Advanced Aliens: A variant with the Zentraedi, who know how to use their highly advanced technology just fine, but are only barely capable of maintaining it, and can't repair it when it finally gets broken. Nor can they build it from scratch in the first place. Justified In-Universe; the Zentraedi were created as warrior-slaves by another race, the Robotech Masters, and they deliberately kept them ignorant of how to fix and build their gear in order to keep control over them — the Zentraedi have to stay loyal to the Robotech Masters, or have their supply lines cut.
Is This Thing Still On?: In Khyron's first appearance, a subordinate says that his fleet collided with four friendly ships and that the subordinate had won a bet. While Breetai is still watching them.
Roy Fokker had a similar moment in the first episode when he is giving an airshow when Rick Hunter comes barnstorming into the airspace. Fokker is yelling at Rick through the mike's radio function forgetting that the speakers are also amplifying his speech to the audience and they are laughing it up. Embarrassed, Fokker orders the mike to be switched to radio only.
As a meta-example, Robotech's ratings took a dip after the episode 'Force of Arms' because viewers had assumed the show was over now that the Zentraedi were destroyed and Rick had picked Lisa over Minmay. When they came back, they were shocked to find that the show was still going on, and that it was dealing with the aftermath. Some fans who had watched Robotech never came back, and didn't learn about Southern Cross or the Invid saga until years after its first run.
Jerk Ass Has a Point: Lynn Kyle started off a well intentioned pro-peace anti-war advocate but gradually degenerated into a Jerk Ass control freak due to stress from living in a war zone where his views weren't easily achievable, alcoholism, and resentment of not getting any return on the emotional investment he'd made in his cousin Lynn Minmei. While war is an undeniably terrible thing and peace greatly preferable to war, Kyle took his black and white view of the situation to an irrational extreme, making him a reversal of Rick Hunter, who also began the series with a similar black and white view of the world but eventually learned to accept the shades of gray that exist in reality. Kyle's final appearance in Private Time had him splashing water in Minmei's face (when she claimed to be tipsy) and then forcefully hauling her out of a restaurant after she irresponsibly blew off a media engagement to have lunch with Rick Hunter and then chastises her for running out on the concert she was supposed to give before telling her that he's leaving as her manager. Although he was an unreasonable jerk Kyle was also undeniably right when he chewed Minmei out for not appreciating the good fortune she'd had in life. At least at the end he's finally self-aware enough to realize he's part of the problem and genuinely wishes Minmei well as he walks out of her life.
Prior to this Minmei called Kyle out a few times for copping an It's All About Me attitude in light of how everyone was suffering equally and also for his own ingratitude towards the Veritech troops who had protected and rescued them in their time of need. This back and forth calling each other out for their bad behavior ultimately leads to Kyle's realization above, driving them further apart.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Rick Hunter has shades of this, as does Sean Philips and Sgt. Angelo Dante. Even Rand has moments of this.
Karma Houdini: Rick Hunter treats Lisa Hayes very badly at times in Macross Saga, most terribly in episodes like Broken Heart, Rainy Night, Private Time, and Seasons Greetings. And yet, despite degrading her and humiliating her in front of her subordinates, standing her up, being borderline verbally abusive towards her, driving her to become a drunken shell of her former self and causing her to experience suicide inducing levels of angst she still wants him and they finally do hook up in To The Stars despite all the terrible things he did to her. Although he shows a little regret about this in his internal monologues Rick is never called out for his bad behavior by any of the other characters, yet he still bags Lisa at the end anyway. About the closest he comes to suffering is having Lisa storm off from him in disgust for being stood up by him (so that he could go see Minmei though to be fair he didn't actually want to do that) and later realizing that his dream girl Minmei isn't all she's cracked up to be before he freaks out and goes running through a war zone to find Lisa (which just makes him freak out even more).
Miriya may also count here as well - one can only imagine all the terrible things she did before encountering Max and the gang, and she doesn't exactly suffer for whatever crimes she committed prior to the series either.
Keystone Army: Breetai devises a plan to take out Dolza's large base/ship during the battle of Earth, so as to throw the lower chain of command into confusion, and allowing them enough time to defeat them while they're disorganized.
Killed Off for Real: Roy, Ben and then most of the population of Earth. Quite a series of shockers for the typical 1980s North American audience accustomed to Never Say "Die". Also a number of characters, most notably Scott's fiancée and Col. Wolfe in "New Generation".
The destruction from Dolza's attack in the first part continues to hang over the whole story, too. There's no magic recovery, Earth is a wreck afterward.
It is not immediately clear in the early episodes whether the main protagonist is Rick Hunter or Roy Fokker. It's only with the death of Roy that Rick comes fully into the spotlight...and Roy was a major character, with well-developed personality and connections. His presence is still felt many episodes later.
Interestingly, the dynamic between Roy and Rick would not be seen in anime again until years later, with the Kamina/Simon pair.
Kissing Cousins: Minmei and Kyle, although it seems largely one sided on Kyle's part. Minmei doesn't seem romantically interested in him, despite what he may say, or what Rick sees.
Les Collaborateurs: Some of the REF soldiers encounter these guys working with the Invid in the "Invasion" mini-series since they didn't harm them and they resent the REF withdrawing from the Earth after being defeated by Invid forces. They have a point actually.
The prequel arc of the Wildstorm comic set up one between Roy, Claudia, and Jan Morris (the aging starlet Minmei defeated in the Miss Macross pageant) — although it's played as Jan's pursuit of the handsome test pilot aggravating issues between the other two.
Loving a Shadow: Rick and Lisa both felt this towards other characters - Rick to Minmei, Lisa to Lynn Kyle (Minmei's cousin, who reminded her of her dead lover). Fortunately, they got over it.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The SDF-1's barrier system overloads while over Toronto caused a chain reaction which destroys the city, killed a chunk of Khyron's forces, and Ben Dixon.
Not just that, but the whole reason they were over Toronto in the first place was because Gloval was trying to have the civilians evacuated from the SDF-1, but the military had denied their request, feeling that allowing the SDF-1 too close to Earth would attract danger. Toronto was the first city to act against this and actually offer shelter... and then the barrier overload happens, which among everything else just causes the military to point and say "see, we were right!"
In a much earlier example (The third episode in fact), Captain Gloval orders his crew to use their untested Space Fold Drive to reposition the ship behind the moon to flank the attacking Zentraedi - This backfires spectacularly. Not only does the ship appear beyond the orbit of Pluto, it brings a spherical chunk of ocean and most of the island of Macross (including the city that was built around it during it's reconstruction) along for the ride. And on top of that, the Space Fold Drive vanishes in the process, stranding them there.
Point Defenseless: As impressive as they look while firing, the turrets/mechs on the surface of the SDF-1 don't seem to accomplish anything aside from getting blown up.
Possession Implies Mastery: Averted in the Macross generation considering that the SDF-1 crew barely understand what the retrofitted ship can or can't do, making each new manuever in combat a desperate shot in the dark.
Punch Clock Villain: The Zentradie could be considered this as they were only acting under orders from their bosses, the Robotech Masters, and even the Robotech Masters themselves could be seen as this given that at one point they openly state that they never actually wanted to harm the human race.
Captain Gloval and Commander Breetai in the First Robotech War.
General Rolf Emerson in the Second Robotech War.
Scott and surprisingly enough, the Invid Regess, who leaves after being convinced by Ariel/Marlene that humanity isn't all bad, and decides to even take out the neutron-S missiles the REF launches in an attempted scorched earth attack before leaving.
The Original Zor could count as this as he rebelled against his species corrupt rule and took the last known Protoculture Matrix where he hid it aboard his Battle Fortress known as the SDF-1 that was crewed by a mixture of Tirolians and Zentraedi. Their mission was seeding a mutated strain of the Flower of Life on the worlds of the Local Group. During this time, their expedition came under attack from the now war-like Invid who called for Zor death but not before he sent the SDF-1 on a course for a distant unknown world to hide the Protoculture Matrix.
The novelizations avert this by implying that the Protoculture itself has an independent will and caused Zor to send the ship to Earth, which turns out to be the original source of the Flower of Life as part of a complex, long range plan to free itself of all the entities that were using it for their own ends.
Second Love: Lisa Hayes is this for Rick Hunter (and vice versa) - they even make it to the alter in Sentinels.
Ariel (AKA: the other Marlene) is this to Scott Bernard in The New Generation/The Shadow Chronicles.
Shipper on Deck: Claudia Grant ships Lisa Hayes with Rick Hunter; Max Sterling showed signs of this as well. Roy was all for Team Minmei though.
Shout-Out: The visual references that Macross made to several other popular anime of the day, as well as to the Macross production staff, are largely left intact. The novels and older comics also incorporate some homages and extra data from the component series, and also include references to several science fiction properties.
In "The Big Escape" (Macross Saga episode 12), Lisa Hayes suggests that humans and Zentraedi might actually be related somehow, and it is commented upon by both Zentraedi and human scientists that physical makeup, cell structure, biology, etc between the two species is almost identical. In the original Macross anime; humans, Zentraedi and Meltrandi (female Zentraedi) were all directly related species of Human Aliens, being different offshoot branches of The Protoculture.
See that fighter Roy and Rick fly? Looks pretty sweet doesn't it? Guess what, its color design's real. The VF-84 Jolly Rogers fighter squadron did fly white jets with yellow ribbons, black tails and skull & crossbones logos.
To the Lupin III Franchise: A video game in episode 24, intended to be similar to the game "Cliff Hanger", which uses footage of the car-chase scene from The Castle of Cagliostro. The character playing the game seems to be in Lupin III cosplay, complete with smoking cigarette.
Shout-Out Theme Naming: In the Shadow Chronicles comic prequel and animated film, there are two ships Icarus and Deukalion. In mythology, Icarus and Deukalion are the respective sons of Daedelus and Prometheus who are known in Robotech/Macross lore as lending their names to the two supercarriers that form the arms of Macross SDF-1.
Snap Back: The city inside the SDF-1 is shown to be seriously damaged in many space battles, not to mention every time the ship transforms. It's always fine in the next episode.
It could be said that eventually they would figure out where damage would be and make it easily repairable. This is lampshaded in the novels, where the civil engineers were marvelous, able to both synthesize new building materials at an incredible pace, and devised a way of setting up the city in such a way it sustained minimal damage during transformation.
The novels particularly have this as a secondary reason for the Zentradi to do a Heel-Face Turn: The humans know how to repair things, an almost magical ability from their point of view. This is Lampshaded by the fact that when Breetai's main viewscreen on his ship's bridge is smashed by a veritech flying through it, it is never repaired, simply replaced by another screen with the smashed viewscreen still in place.
Sorting Algorithm of Evil: A classic example with the Zentraedi, controlled by the Robotech Masters, who were afraid of the Invid, who were TERRIFIED of the Children of Shadows.
Not exactly: the Robotech Masters kept the coolest toys for themselves, but the Zentradi were more powerful than them or all the other enemies combined in the series due sheer numbers (see We Have Reserves); initially the Robotech Masters were scared of the Disciples of Zor, and didn't consider the Invid as more than a nuisance until after various battles against the Southern Cross and the relative losses, plus the scarcity of fuel, made them vulnerable to their own superior numbers. Played straight with the Children of Shadows in Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles: the Invid are truly terrified of them, with good reasons.
Tie In Novels: Jack McKinney's adaptation of the unproduced Sentinels sequel, and several other original stories.
Took a Level in Jerkass: Rick Hunter and Lynn Kyle both went through this in the "Reconstruction" era episodes of Macross Saga. Granted, Rick had been a bit of a jerk earlier in the series but he started to grow up, getting over his initial infatuation with Minmei and seemingly moving on to Lisa... only to regress back to being infatuated with Minmei (who also got a bit derailed herself). His behavior towards Lisa in Brokenheart and A Rainy Night is especially disgusting, and they're supposed to be the show's primary couple! Kyle started off a nice guy with slightly unrealistic views of war and peace who degenerated into an alcholic control freak in the aftermath of the war, due in no small part to his unhealthy relationship with Minmei, which he himself eventually got tired of and left her when he realized the situation was hurting her as much as it was him.