Robotech

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The fighting mecha of Robotech in action
Robotech is an 85-episode science-fiction television series about three successive extraterrestrial invasions of Earth. It was one of the first anime released in the United States to largely preserve the complexity and drama of its original Japanese source material. Produced by Harmony Gold USA, Inc. in association with Tatsunoko Prod. Co., Ltd., Robotech is a story adapted with edited content and revised dialogue from the animation of three different mecha anime series: The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospeada. Harmony Gold's cited reasoning for combining these 3 unrelated series was that the American TV stations had a minimum number of episodes (65) for weekday syndication at the time, and none of the three series met that requirement alone.

Harmony Gold hired American writers to adapt the scripts of the three Japanese series. This complicated process was supervised by producer Carl Macek, a pioneer of the anime industry in United States. The adaptation of Robotech was developed in nine months, although writer Gregory Snegoff said in ideal conditions, it should have taken 18 months. The Japanese scriptwriters of the three component series were not credited in the final release.

This combination resulted in a storyline that spanned three generations: The characters in The Macross Saga, their children in The Robotech Masters saga, and their descendants in The New Generation saga as they must fight three destructive wars in succession over a powerful energy source called "Protoculture". Notably, the original Southern Cross was originally intended to be a massive, be-all-end-all space opera, but was cancelled by low ratings in Japan before it could be completed. Its inclusion as part of The Robotech Masters saga actually increased fan awareness of Southern Cross.

Harmony Gold attempted to produce several sequels and spinoffs, most notably Robotech II: The Sentinels, but only enough footage for a single feature was completed. The project fell through due to problems with toy licensing and changes in the Japanese yen-US Dollar exchange rate, among other reasons. The Sentinels saga continued to be chronicled in the novelizations by Jack McKinney and a comic book adaptations by the Waltrip brothers.

Announced at Anime Expo 2004, the latest incarnation currently in production is Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles which is scheduled for release in 2005, the 20th anniversary of Robotech.

Contents

Robotech (Harmony Gold) chronology

The "Robotech chronology" (according to Harmony Gold) is described in the present article, the timeline is described in the Robotech Wars detailed article.

Year Opus
1999 - 2014 Robotech: The Macross Saga (1985)
2022 - Robotech II: The Sentinels* (1986)
2027 Robotech the Movie: The Untold Story* (1986)
2029 - 2030 Robotech: The Robotech Masters (1985)
2042 - 2044 Robotech: The New Generation (1985)
2044 - Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles (2005)

Note: Asterisked works are now considered "secondary continuity," that is that their events exist in the continuity of Robotech but "don't count" when conflicts arise with the "main continuity" that are the three-part Robotech TV series (four with the addition of 2005's Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles).

In 2002, with the publication of the Wildstorm (DC) comics, Harmony Gold officially decided to "reboot" (retcon) the Robotech Universe. The following Robotech material is now relegated to the status of secondary continuity:

  • The Sentinels in all its incarnations
  • Robotech: The Movie (which, in the strictest sense, never was canon)
  • All comic book stories published by Comico, Eternity, Academy, and Antarctic Press.
  • The Palladium Books RPGs
  • The Jack McKinney Novels, most notably End of the Circle.

While these materials are not precisely "retired" or "removed" from the continuity, their events are subject to critical review, and are strictly subordinate to the "official" events of the 85-episode animated series (especially the Jack McKinney novels, which strayed further and further into mysticism as the Sentinels novels progressed).

Episode list

The Macross Saga The Robotech Masters The New Generation
  1. Boobytrap
  2. Countdown
  3. Spacefold
  4. The Long Wait
  5. Transformation
  6. Blitzkrieg
  7. Bye-Bye Mars
  8. Sweet Sixteen
  9. Miss Macross
  10. Blind Date
  11. First Contact
  12. The Big Escape
  13. Blue Wind
  14. Gloval's Report
  15. Homecoming
  16. Battle Cry
  17. Phantasm
  18. Farewell, Big Brother
  19. Bursting Point
  20. Paradise Lost
  21. A New Dawn
  22. Battle Hymn
  23. Reckless
  24. Show Down
  25. Wedding Bells
  26. The Messenger
  27. Force Of Arms
  28. Reconstruction Blues
  29. Robotech Masters
  30. Viva Miriya
  31. Khyron's Revenge
  32. Broken Heart
  33. A Rainy Night
  34. Private Time
  35. Season's Greetings
  36. To The Stars
  1. Dana's Story
  2. False Start
  3. Southern Cross
  4. Volunteers
  5. Half Moon
  6. Danger Zone
  7. Prelude To Battle
  8. The Trap
  9. Metal Fire
  10. Stardust
  11. Outsiders
  12. Deja Vu
  13. A New Recruit
  14. Triumvirate
  15. Clone Chamber
  16. Love Song
  17. The Hunters
  18. Mind Game
  19. Dana In Wonderland
  20. Crisis Point
  21. Day Dreamer
  22. Final Nightmare
  23. The Invid Connection
  24. Catastrophe
  1. The Invid Invasion
  2. The Lost City
  3. Lonely Soldier Boy
  4. Survival
  5. Curtain Call
  6. Hard Times
  7. Paper Hero
  8. Eulogy
  9. The Genesis Pit
  10. Enter Marlene
  11. The Secret Route
  12. The Fortress
  13. Sandstorms
  14. Annie's Wedding
  15. Separate Ways
  16. Metamorphosis
  17. The Midnight Sun
  18. Ghost Town
  19. Frostbite
  20. Birthday Blues
  21. Hired Gun
  22. The Big Apple
  23. Reflex Point
  24. Dark Finale
  25. Symphony Of Light


Releases

Robotech was originally released in 1985 in first-run syndication, meaning it was sold directly to local television stations without having been run on a network first. This was part of a trend in animation in the 1980s—previously, local stations would run reruns of theatrical cartoons like Looney Tunes or shows that had previously been on network TV on Saturday mornings. This changed after a series called He-Man introduced a new economic model: shows sold directly for first-run to stations, driving and funded by sales of related toys. Cashing in on this fad may have been ill-advised for Robotech, as the show was written for teenagers, not the children targeted by the toy line. The failure of the Matchbox toy line is a primary reason backing for Robotech II: The Sentinels collapsed.

After its run in syndication, it appeared occasionally on cable television in the early 1990s, on both the Sci-Fi Channel, and on Cartoon Network, which made the curious decision to run only episodes 1 through 60, bailing out at the end of the Robotech Masters story-line. KTEH, a public television station in San Jose, California also ran the series.

Spurred by fan interest, the series has remained available on home video from the 80's to this day.

  • Family Home Entertainment (FHE) first attempted to release one episode per VHS tape, but only got through a handful of early episodes before abandoning this approach. The company then heavily edited the 36-episode Macross Saga portion into six feature-length tapes, cutting out episode introductions and slower scenes, and ignoring the Masters and New Generation segments entirely. A third VHS run finally succeeded at releasing the entire series with 2 uncut episodes per tape over a total of 42 volumes.
  • Palladium Books, which once published a Robotech Role-playing game, also released VHS home videos of part of the series as well as Robotech II: The Sentinels via mail-order.
  • Streamline Pictures, founded by Macek after the end of Robotech, released a series of "Perfect Collection" VHS videos, which included two episodes of Robotech along with their corresponding episodes of Macross, Southern Cross, or Mospaeda, completely uncut and subtitled, allowing viewers to see exactly what changes were made.
  • ADV Films, the largest distributor of anime, began releasing the entire series on DVD in 2001, typically with six episodes per disc. Box sets of the series (dubbed the Robotech Legacy Collection) included extras like Macek's pre-Robotech English dub of the first Macross and Mospeada episodes.
  • Anime specialty company AnimEigo released the original Macross series on DVD in 2002, subtitled and unedited in its pre-Robotech form. Several Macross sequels are also available on DVD from various manufacturers. The original Southern Cross and Genesis Climber Mospeada series were both released on DVD in 2003 by ADV Films.
  • ADV Films, in 2003, began to re-release its Robotech DVD series under the label Robotech: Remastered. These were essentially the original Robotech series but using the newly available digitally remastered footage obtainable from the recent releases of Macross, Southern Cross, and Mospeada. Also, this release featured the insertion of scenes cut from the original Robotech release, new opening/ending sequences, new theme song, 5.1 stereo surround sound with re-done sound effects, and new eyecatch sequences. Many fans prefer the previous Robotech Legacy Box set despite the fact that it did not have the luxury of remastering. Fans criticize this release as a commercial ploy to entice buyers to double-dip, especially as this new release had none of the Extras of the previous Legacy Box sets. Many purchasers reported that the picture quality is not up to par with the true remastered versions of the original Japanese series and that the new sound effects are reportedly distracting. Also, the new footage is said to be minimal and does not include newly recorded dialogue but merely scant occurrences of scenes extended by a few seconds. Finally, detractors claim preference for the original Robotech that they love and remember.

Unfinished Sequels

Robotech: The Movie

Also called Robotech: The Untold Story, this theatrical film was the first new Robotech animated story created after the premiere of the original series. It used footage from the direct-to-video Mega Zone 23 spliced with Southern Cross, and had only a tenuous link to the television series. It disappeared after a failed test run in Texas. Harmony Gold relinquished their license to Mega Zone 23 after director Carl Macek washed his hands of the project, so any home video release is unlikely except for some VHS tapes that had been in limited circulation in Europe. Some animatics and other supplemental material were released as extras with ADV Films' Robotech DVD release.

Robotech II: The Sentinels

This animated feature follows the adventures of Rick and Lisa Hunter and the rest of the Robotech crew. The pilot introduces the setup of SDF-3 and the threat of the Invid Regent, but goes no further as the rest of the proposed series was canceled after the crash of the Dollar/Yen exchange rate and lack of support by toy partner Matchbox. Subsequent efforts to petition the completion of this series have gone nowhere, but the pilot was released on VHS by Robotech RPG publisher Palladium. The Sentinels is currently available as part of one of the Robotech DVD releases from ADV Films.

Robotech: The Odyssey

Producer Carl Macek revealed ideas for another proposed series, Robotech: The Odyssey, which would have created a circular storyline that would end where the original Robotech began in a giant 260-episode cycle to fill up all the weekdays in a year. After the failure of Sentinels, Odyssey never went into development, though its ideas were worked into the McKinney book The End of the Circle.

Robotech 3000

Carl Macek attempted another sequel with the development of Robotech 3000. Again, the idea was abandoned midway into production after negative reception within the company and later fan reception at FanimeCon 2000. It now exists only in trailer form on the official Robotech website.

Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles

In 2002, Tommy Yune announced development on a new sequel which was not named until 2004 as Robotech: Shadow Force. The storyline is supposedly a direct sequel that is to follow the unresolved ending of the original series. There were immediately signs of trouble as the release date was moved to 2005 and the overall title of the story arc was changed to Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles. Throughout late 2004 and early 2005, Harmony Gold representatives have held panels at anime conventions, showing production art and describing vague storyline elements, and have promised, "heck or high water", to have Shadow Chronicles released by the end of 2005.

Comic books

A little known Robotech:Defenders limited comic book series was first published by DC Comics in 1984. Based on the Revell line of plastic models, this series of models actually combines mecha designs from Macross, Orguss and Dougram. It bears no relation to the Harmony Gold series and actually predates the animated series by about a year.

Five other companies have published Robotech related comics:

Comico (1984-1989)

  • Macross Saga
  • Masters Special (lengthened adaptation of Dana's Story)
  • Masters
  • New Generation
  • Graphic Novel (prequel)

Eternity (1988-1994)

  • Robotech II: The Sentinels (by John and Jason Waltrip)
  • Legend of Zor
  • Malcontent Uprisings
  • Cyberpirates
  • Invid War

Academy (1994-1996)

  • Robotech II: The Sentinels (continued)
  • Return to Macross
  • Invid War: Aftermath
  • Robotech: Clone
  • Robotech: Mordecai

Antarctic Press (1997-1998)

These stories consisted chiefly of stand alone side stories and spinoffs featuring mostly the original Macross saga characters. Most of the stories were strongly revisionist in nature and sometimes involved established characters acting out of character, even occasionally to the point of camp. Because of Antarctic's decision not to enlist the talents of John and Jason Waltrip to finish The Sentinels (which by the end of its Academy run was 80% complete storywise), many fans are highly critical of Antarctic press' Robotech comics.

Most notably criticised was Sentinels Rubicon, which theoretically picks up many years after the Sentinels story would have concluded. Those two issues bore no resmeblance to any previous (or subsequent) Robotech material, and featured art that was virtually incomprehensible. Deemed incomprehensible, Rubicon ended abruptly two issues into a proposed series.

In general, Antarctic press Robotech comics are widely considered the least popular Robotech comics.

Wildstorm (DC) (2002-present)

  • Robotech: From The Stars

Covers the early years of Roy Fokker and the VF-1 development program before the launch of the SDF-1. Also features young Rick Hunter at the flying circus, the battle against the Anti-Unification League, and Roy's early dealings with Claudia, Jan Morris, and Colonel Edwards. Based on Robotech TV series continuity and unrelated to Macross Zero. The comic series diverges strongly from the events described in the Del Rey novels, most notably in the discovery and adaptation of the SDF-1 and protoculture, and in a totally different representation and characterization of Lt. Col. T. R. Edwards.

  • Robotech: Love & War

Follows the relationship of Max & Miriya from a more backstory angle, including Max's early friendship with Ben on Macross Island before the launch of the SDF-1. Includes the companion story Little White Dragon about Minmay's first movie.

  • Robotech: Invasion

Not really an adaptation of the video game, but ties into Lancer's early adventures under the 10th Mars Division and expands his relationship with Carla. The side story Mars Base 1 expands on the adventures of Lisa Hayes' first love Karl Riber.

As of 2005, the Wildstorm Robotech comics appear to have been halted or suspended, with no new releases in nearly six months.

Del Rey novelizations

Robotech was adapted into novel form by "Jack McKinney", a pseudonym for the team of James Luceno and the late Brian Daley, who fleshed out the chronology in greater detail along with the use of fictitious quotes in the style of Dune. Many Robotech fans consider the McKinney novels to be an unofficial canon of its own, despite notable divergences in the writing from Harmony Gold's current official animation-based canon. For example, the novels introduce the concept of the "Shapings of the Protoculture," which were never mentioned in the TV series. The following are the list of novels released by Del Rey in publishing order:

Individual Editions Omnibus Collected Editions
  1. Genesis
  2. Battle Cry
  3. Homecoming
  4. Battle Hymn
  5. Force of Arms
  6. Doomsday
  7. Southern Cross
  8. Metal Fire
  9. The Final Nightmare
  10. Invid Invasion
  11. Metamorphosis
  12. Symphony of Light
  13. The Devil's Hand
  14. Dark Powers
  15. Death Dance
  16. World Killers
  17. Rubicon
  18. End of the Circle
  19. Zentraedi Rebellion
  20. The Masters Gambit
  21. Before the Invid Storm
  • The Macross Saga: Battlecry (#1-3)
  • The Macross Saga: Doomsday (#4-6)
  • Southern Cross 3-in-1 (#7-9)
  • The Sentinels 3-in-1 (#13-15)

Video games

Robotech spawned four video game licenses, of which three were released:

  • Robotech: Crystal Dreams for the Nintendo 64 game system. This fell through before the game was completed. The game would have taken place during the period between the SDF-1's destruction and the launch of the SDF-3. A continuity nightmare, the game had a Zentraedi invasion during what was scripted in the series as a period of peace.
  • Robotech: Battlecry (2002) for the Microsoft Xbox, PlayStation 2, and GameCube. The gameplay takes place in the Macross era and parallels the events in the Animation for that Era. Multiplayer support is limited to one-on-one.
  • Robotech: Invasion (2004) for the Microsoft Xbox and the Sony PlayStation 2. The gameplay covers the New Generation part of the story with support for single player missions and multiplayer online matches.


Impact

While anime shows were brought to the US as early as the 1960s, such as Astro Boy, Speed Racer, and Kimba the White Lion, most were heavily bowdlerized for American audiences, with violence, deaths of major characters, sexual references, etc., completely edited out for what was assumed to be an audience of young children. Robotech broke with this tradition by leaving in some of those elements, and is thought by many to be the show that kicked off American interest in Japanese animation, leading to a boom in North American consumption of anime that is still growing as of this writing. Robotech is frequently among the top ten anime lists of American anime magazines such as Anime Insider, Animerica, Newtype USA, and others.

Robotech had a similar impact in other places of the world, including Canada, Argentina, Chile, and China, where in the summer of 2004, it was awarded "Best Robot-theme Anime of all time" at the Cartoon Channel of China Education Television. It is highly likely that if you grew up in any of those countries during the 1980s, you watched at least some of its episodes. (Robotech did not start its broadcast in China until 1991.) As in the US, it helped begin a slow but continuous rise in the consumption of anime.

That said, Robotech is also extremely polarizing among anime fans. Some critics consider the show to be an abomination that runs rough-shod over its original sources by westernizing character names, making some censor-appeasing edits, and changing the stories of three wholly unrelated series to pass them off as a cohesive whole. (Some compare it to Woody Allen's camp Japanese movie re-dub What's Up Tiger Lily?).

In an effort to combine the storylines of three different Japanese series, certain characters underwent drastic role changes with little explicit character development or plot exposition. Notably Rick Hunter (one of the main characters of the Macross segment) was changed—by a line of dialogue—from an ordinary yet pivotal fighter unit commander into an unseen admiral who is said to have ordered the destruction of Earth under the controversial rationale of saving it from the enemy. The line by an unnamed commander on the SDF-4 in the episode "Dark Finale" was, "I've been ordered by Admiral Hunter himself to obliterate the planet completely."

In addition, the 65-episode minimum guideline cited as the reason to combine the episodes applied specifically to weekday syndication. Contemporary series such as Star Blazers and The Transformers series were initially syndicated weekly before reaching the 65 episode mark. The guideline also did not necessitate a combined storyline. Adaptations like Voltron adapted two unrelated Japanese series without initially combining the storylines until a crossover special years later. Defenders counter that such changes were critical for getting the show onto American television, given the cultural and economic environment of 1985. In the current climate of broadcast and cable television, such conditions do not exist.

Robotech has been the subject of two parodies by the fandub group Seishun Shitemasu: Robotech 3: Not Necessarily the Sentinels and Robotech 4: Khyron's Counterattack (using footage from, respectively, Gunbuster and Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack).

Internal Links




  • Robotech stubs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Robotech_stubs)


External links

Official Sites:

  • ROBOTECH.COM (http://www.robotech.com/) - Harmony Gold's official Robotech website.
  • ROBOTECH Bibliography (http://www.robotech.com/infopedia/bibliography/) - Comprehensive listings of books in and out of print.
  • ADV Films (http://www.advfilms.com/) - The current distributor of Robotech DVDs.
  • Hero Factory Games (http://www.herofactorygames.com/) - Maker of the upcoming Robotech collectible card game (CCG).

Fan Sites:

  • Shadow Chronicles News (http://www.shadowchroniclesnews.com/) - The latest scoop on the new Robotech sequel.
  • Robotech Museum (http://www.robotechmuseum.com/) - A historical archive of Robotech collectibles.
  • The Robotech Companion (http://www.robotechcompanion.com/) - Extensive Robotech episode and background information.
  • Robotech Reference Guide (http://www.artemisgames.com/robotech/) - Unofficial Encyclopedia of Robotech.
  • Robotech Research (http://www.robotechresearch.com/) - Extensive Robotech Role-Playing (RPG) site.
  • Robotech Union @ China (http://www.rtucn.com/) - Chinese language fansite dedicated to Robotech.
  • Robotech Shadow Force (http://www.robotechshadowforce.com/) - Spanish language fansite with the latest news and rumors.
  • Macross-city Russia (http://www.macross-city.net/) - Russian language fansite with the latest news and external subtitles.
  • RDF-HQ forums (http://p081.ezboard.com/brdfhqcommunicationscenter/) -The original hardcore Robotech forum.
  • Herederos de Zor (http://www.robotech.org.ar/) - Spanish language fan club seen on Latin American TV.
  • Chronology Central's Robotech page (http://www.seedwiki.com/wiki/chronology_central/robotech.cfm?wpid=183542) - Contains a chronological listing of all Robotech materials and integrates the cartoon and the comic books.es:Robotech

fr:Robotech zh:太空堡垒 ru:Роботек

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