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 Calvary 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. These are:
"The Macross Saga" (Macross) started things off, telling 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) features the second generation of heroes, and 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), the third generation of Robotech, features 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.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 Battle Tech, 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 Battle Tech, 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.) *
Once and only once, everyone owes Haim Saban a debt of gratitude, and could he hit them again for staff long enough for Ai Oboeteimasuka? to get a proper release?
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.)
Consequently Harmony Gold's more recent sequels, most notably the completely original feature-length film Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, are all set in or after the part of the Robotech timeline drawn from Mospeada.The rights have recently been purchased by Warner Bros.. This had led to fan speculation about the possibility of a live action movie.Now has its own wiki.
This show provides examples of:
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).
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.
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 SFD-1's reflex cannon, and the Grand Cannon.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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, but with a completely different tone, and it's ending is just plain stone cold stupid.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Never Say "Die": Despite all of the changes made, this was averted wholesale (See Killed off for Real above).
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!"
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.
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.
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, different offshoot branches of The Protoculture.
See that Tomcat fighter Roy and Rick fly? Looks pretty sweet doesn't it? Guess what, it's real. The VF-84 Jolly Rogers fighter squadron did fly white jets with yellow ribbons, black tails and skull & crossbones logos.
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.
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.