Pssst ghostlighting, don’t you have it backwards?
Do I, really?
Of course, strictly speaking Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospaeda all existed prior to Robotech and it was the work of Carl Macek and Harmony Gold that synthesized and repurposed the above anime into a syndicated cartoon that introduced many viewers around the world to Japanese anime.
It must follow then that anything Robotech is derivative from its source material – at least in animated form, in the original syndicated run. The subsequent Sentinels as well as the now non-canon novelization introduced a lot of elements that fleshed out and unified the whole universe and narrative. I make it no secret that I am a huge fan of this novelization and have read the books many times over. I am re-reading them at the moment which then makes me remember all these things I found interesting in it, that I also started finding in subsequent Macross shows since the 1990s.
DISCLAIMER: I am not concluding that the creators of Macross read the Robotech novels and were subsequently influenced by them. No. The furthest I go is to note the uncanny similarities in Macross post-Robotech, that allows me to put together a makeshift “tradition” as it were.
This post will also serve as a jump-off point for a post series remembering love for Robotech – as it served, for a time, as the locus of my love for Macross.
A Brief History of the Robotech Narrative
This is not canon, but I don’t care, because Macross itself has a very cavalier attitude towards canon.
The Robotech story is that of a galactic or universal endeavor to evolve. There is an alien super-entity named Haydon (who manifests itself in the form of a technological planet) who, for all intents and purposes is seeking immortality/godhood. The key to this is the mystical energy source called the Protoculture. The Protoculture allows Robotechnology to run, and beyond this powers the “Shapings” of the universe, and/or the races/species in it.
The launching point of this is the planet Optera, home of the insect-like Invid. These are a peaceful species, who consume a form of Protoculture as distilled from the “Flower of Life” – vegetation native to Optera. The tragedy begins when the humanoid scientist Zor discovers this in Optera… he and the Queen basically fall in love, as the Queen assumes human form and shows him the possibilities of The Shapings.
Zor however, is under the authority of a ultraconservative Tirolian government faction. Protoculture was seen as a military asset. Zor was used to develop Robotechnology. The Tirolians became the Robotech Masters and launched a war of conquest against the Invid for their Flowers. The Zentraedi became the genetically developed super soldiers of the Robotech Masters. A bitter war ensued after the Invid, feeling betrayed by Zor, militarized themselves and fought back ruthlessly and mercilessly.
Zor, with much regret developed the Super Dimensional Fortress which then held the LAST Protoculture Matrix (energy refinery) and sent it to Earth away from the Robotech Masters, until it crashed on Macross Island. Zor dies, but the Robotech Masters continued to clone him in their attempts to reproduce his intelligence to make Protoculture Matrices. The Zentraedi are sent to find the SDF, and thus find it on Earth which leads to the Macross story we know.
After the great war with the Zentraedi, the Robotech Defense Forces form the Robotech Expeditionary Force to sue for peace with the Robotech Masters in Tirol. On their way there, the Masters arrive on Earth and wage the second Robotech War. The Robotech Defense Forces prevail, but are spent. The Invid invade finally, and the Third Robotech War was mostly the Invid taking over the Earth. This war ended when the REF returns from deep space (a part of them anyway) much improved and powerful and attacks the Invid, whose Queen triggers The Shapings and leaves the Earth in an evolutionary blast – all her race in the form of a galactic phoenix.
This is what Haydon wants to replicate for himself. And the REF led by Admiral Lisa and Rick Hunter confront this entity in the last showdown.
Far out right? You don’t know half of it. This post isn’t so much a discussion on the above (much less about its merits or lack thereof), but rather on the similarities of the elements that are involved in the above and those found in the Macross franchise. Let us begin.
The Invid and the Vajra
1. Insect Mecha
The Invid are Genesis Climber Mospaeda’s “Inbit.” These are amoeba-like organisms that somehow mechanized themselves and invaded the Earth. In Robotech they are peaceful inhabitants of Optera, whose Flowers of Life are key to not only the aforementioned evolutionary Shapings, but to Robotechnology itself. The evolutionary path, is unsurprisingly anthropomorphic. The machines with Robotechnology transform into human forms.
Compare these to the Vajra, also an insect-like, matriarchal species that have powerful mechanized soldiery. They too, live on a planet with valuable raw materials exploitable by would-be galactic imperialists with a bent on mechanized evolution (the shadow board of directors from Macross Galaxy).
2. Super Dimensional Powers
The Invid’s Protoculture, is key to the ability to execute Hyperspace Folds. This is what enables galactic conquest and is why the Tirolians wanted it so badly, styling themselves as Robotech Masters. The evolutionary properties of Protoculture, is why Haydon wants The Shapings to transpire and Zor is part of his manipulations to trigger it.
Compare these to the Vajra, who has Fold Quartz, instead of Flowers of Life, but for almost all intents and purposes this is the same thing, split up into different elements. The Vajra themselves use the fold quarts and other fold-related biological elements to form a fold network that connects them with other Vajra colonies within and perhaps outside the galaxy. The name alone “fold quartz” implies the power to cross spacetime. This is the Macross equivalent to Robotech’s take on Protoculture.
Relevance/Significance: Very High
3. Queen and the Human Male
Zor is sometimes referred to have “seduced” the Invid Queen, which led to the sharing of the vision of The Shapings, which then led to the discovery of humanoids of the Protoculture. In any case, they had a meeting of the minds, at the very least. One account states (Robotech Wikia):
At night time, the expedition went to sleep but Zor was compelled by a psychic voice into the surface where he made contact with the guiding intelligence of the Invid; the Regess who took on a Tirolian female based form that was pleasing to his eyes. They later engaged in a telepathic communion where he shared all aspects of his society with her and she shared with him her knowledge of the Flower of Life. The next morning, he would be awakened by his colleagues and take samples of the Flower of Life with him back to Tirol.
This is less seduction than it is cultural exchange.
Now, take the finale of Macross Frontier: Sayonara no Tsubasa. Saotome Alto did an aerial kabuki dance using his YF-29 Durendal to do what exactly? He wanted to communicate with the appropriately upset Vajra Queen that humans are kind of ok. The result of this exchange is the Vajra entrust their home world to the humans of the Frontier Colony fleet. The Queen takes Alto with her during her hyperspace fold.
If Alto’s kabuki dancing could “seduce” a loli Sheryl, it is not unreasonable to imagine something similar going on with the Vajra Queen, who could’ve sang Aimo (the Vajra mating song) not only in response to VALKYRIAAAAA~ but specifically to Alto who’s been trying to reach the Vajra’s hearts throughout the battle.
The Vajra Queen, given her powers, didn’t really have to take Alto away with her. She in her time-stopping awesomeness could’ve left Alto with Sheryl and left the triangle in an unspeakably awkward state (Alto can’t have Sheryl and Ranka just got rejected by him and they’re stuck together LOLOLOL). But no, the Queen took Alto. He made such a good impression that pretty much results in this transaction:
HEY HUMANS, YOU CAN KEEP THE PLANET. I GET TO KEEP DELICIOUS ALTO.
I bet you nobody thought of it this way. I can see it because I know Robotech’s Zor x Invid Queen was the precedent. Alto x Vajra Queen is now very possible.
Relevance/Significance: Low; Plausibility: Very Low; Entertainment Value: Stupendously High
The Macross Galaxy Shadow Council and The Robotech Masters
The Robotech Masters by the time of the Second Robotech War are a desperate, dying race because Tirol was overrun by the Invid, and that their Protoculture reserves are running out. They communicate and manage things telepathically and are routinely organized in groups of three. They run a clone army that are managed via cosmic instruments and music (Musica, Octavia, Allegra). They have cloned Zor – their original agent to put one over the Invid in order to retrieve his lost intelligence and memories.
The Macross Galaxy Shadow Council is a barely human, dying race who have lost their bodies and their home (Macross Galaxy) after the Vajra attacked it (using the movies chronology and events). They too communicate telepathically (technology-driven, just as the Robotech Masters). They send their clone body/cyborg soldier and scientist Grace O’Connor to get the Vajra to yield their secrets so they can control the galaxy via the fold network and the fold crystals. She would use a songstress to put one over the Vajra.
These aren’t really very strong similarities beyond how they read on paper, however I saw this in Macross Frontier: The Wings of Farewell:
You can hear three distinct voices from the shadow council. Now compare it with the Robotech Masters’ Triumverate pods:
I could no longer ignore the similarities. If this isn’t exactly Macross remembering love for Robotech, then there’s something else going on. Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross has nothing to do with Genesis Climber Mospaeda but Robotech makes the link between both both obvious and relevant, at least in the novels. It makes more sense to trace the tradition through Robotech than the Super Dimensional series, where Mospaeda isn’t even a part of.
The Battle Finale
The ending of The Wings of Farewell, involving the arrival of the UN Spacy and SMS Support Fleets and firing from space, is less remembering love for SDF Macross as I originally thought, but rather for Genesis Climber Mospaeda, or rather more interestingly Robotech and how the Third Robotech War ended.
The Robotech Expeditionary Force arrived from deep space to liberate the Invid infested Earth and laid siege upon Reflex Point, their home base. This resulted in the Invid Queen taking all her race and folding out in an evolutionary Phoenix of light outside the known Galaxy.
In The Wings of Farewell, the arrival of the SMS Support Fleet with its many Macross Quarter class ships as well as the UN Spacy fleet resulted in the planetary bombardment and extermination of many Vajra units. The final concentrated Quantum Cannon attack (not to mention all the reaction weapons from the other ships, carriers, and König Monsters) led to the Vajra Queen (in Battle Frontier form) fold out of the planet taking all her Vajra with her.
Similarly, Haydon IV the planet transformed into a giant version of the Macross in the Robotech: The End of the Circle Finale. Robotech anticipated and predated Macross Frontier in using a giant Macross ship as the final boss way back in 1989 – which then precedes Macross Plus in using the SDF Macross itself as some kind of Final boss for Isamu’s YF-19.
The Veritech Fighters (VTs) are controlled not only via the pedals and sticks, but also via neural connections in the helmets. Robotech christened these “Thinking Caps,” building upon the science fiction of Macross. I may be wrong but I think this is no longer canon in Robotech. Well, Harmony Gold sucks. Interestingly enough, in Macross Plus, the YF-21 piloted by Guld Goa Bowman uses a fancy neural helmet to control the then state of the art mecha.
Haydon, the would-be galaxy eater god-entity, is pretty much Geppelnitch of the Protodevlin. No. I’m just kidding.
Not So Crazy Anymore, Aren’t I?
No, don’t answer that. Seriously though, the similarities are uncanny. While it is perfectly reasonable for Macross Frontier to be more influenced by Southern Cross and Mospaeda, I don’t really see why get so much material from these two works in particular. Why not Super DimensionCentury Orguss? These are all Big West productions along with SDFM. Why only from the shows that Robotech localized and Repurposed? Well, it really makes sense after one reads the novels – which are quite obscure and aren’t even canon. But did anyone think somebody wouldn’t notice?
And that somebody is me, who is probably one of the most uh, Catholic Macross fan. I really, really like almost everything related to Macross. No, I couldn’t really watch The Sentinels original anime production, and could not watch more than 15 minutes of Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles. Still, I love Robotech in my own way, and especially the novels. I will do a special blog post series on the novels, at least the Macross Saga part of the works.
Let me just leave this here:
I know, I I know. It’s not exactly VALKYRIAAAAAA~ But may all of you find it in your hearts to forgive me.