My first experience of Macross, unlike most western fans, isn’t Robotech. Instead, it was a pre-Robotech dub of SDF Macross, also by Harmony Gold called Super Space Fortress Macross it was so long ago (1984) that I’ve forgotten most things about it, except a vague line in the OP that went “SUUPER SPACE FORTRESSSS, MACROSSSS!” I can still remember the melody. Having met a fan of that show who’s also my age, he told me something interesting: that series ended at episode 27!
If true, this meant that I would not have known about the post-Bodolle Zer fleet battle until I saw Robotech later on in the 1980s. DYRL didn’t include anything related to the events in episodes 28-36, and these episodes form the content that to me makes the Macross story exceptional.
When I finally watched the original series in full the last decade, I too had a knee-jerk reaction of revulsion and hatred for Robotech. My reasons probably differ from those of many fans of Macross in that they were (predictably), Minmay-centric: Minmay’s wonderful discography was reduced to three songs. Three fucking songs: “To be in love,” “Stage Fright,” and “We Will Win.” I have a host of other complaints about the Robotech version of Minmay, but I won’t go into that here.
The hate apparently stems from the process by which Robotech was produced: via cutting and pasting three separate shows and passing it off as a single narrative, taking many liberties along the way. SDS notes,
One of the bigger criticisms of the whole franchise is that in order for it to remain cohesive it requires a “god of the gaps,” or something to explain why these disparate parts of the story and universe actually fit together. I’ve made fun of Robotech for that reason before as well.
Fans on tvtropes attempt to make sense of things. Carl Macek gets his own trope: “Macekre:”
Pronounced similarly to “massacre”, the term was coined by anime fans from the name of producer/writer Carl Macek, whose early “free adaptations” of anime frequently bear little or no resemblance to the original Japanese stories. His usual procedure was to dispose of the original script entirely, and write his own from scratch — but this was no Samurai Pizza Cats. Often he would combine two or more unrelated series simply in order to have enough episodes to fulfill a syndication deal. He is particularly reviled for the seemingly xenophobic ruthlessness with which he purged any hint of Japanese culture — what he euphemistically called “ethnic gestures” — from the series which he adapted. (Macek has since claimed that many of these changes, including his having to splice together three different series to create Robotech, were a case of Executive Meddling; he was required to force the show to fit syndication-length guidelines, without having complete scripts for any of them, while still making it compelling enough to sell the accompanying toy lines. Trying to tie the three shows together by giving them a unified script was his attempt at meeting these conditions; obviously, this didn’t work as well as he hoped.)
Fans (with some justification) feel that this practice is disrespectful to the creators, as the series is being treated as a pure marketing product rather really “getting” the draw.
This is old news. I personally can’t rewatch any of the Robotech episodes, from whatever arc. Let it remain fondly in my nostalgic memory for what it’s worth. I know it sucks.
Speaking of nostalgia, SUCK ON THIS:
This was the Macross of my childhood. But this isn’t the point. If I watch this anime today, I’d probably vomit (at times, cry in a nostalgic stupor at times; or just ROFLMAO).
However, I posit that the novelization of Robotech by the writing partnership under the pseudonym Jack McKinney is awesome. Immensely readable and fun, especially for its use of Frank Herbert (Dune)-style quotes from metafictional texts at the beginning of every chapter (e.g. The Collected Journals of Admiral Lisa Hayes-Hunter, The Road to Reflex Point by Scott Bernard). This touch gives a Tolkien-esque breadth (if not depth) to the overall narrative.
Since many of such quotations are from future publications within the narrative but outside the main story, it gives a sense of history to the whole thing; documents from different people and perspectives provide in-universe analysis that provokes thought and speculation on the part of the reader. It’s quite delicious, actually.
While the readily enjoyable parts for the Macross fan in me were the first six installments (covering the Macross arc of the series), a special kind of fun begins upon reading the Sentinels series (5 books) and The End of the Circle finale. These books form the impetus as to why any Macross fan should have fun reading.
These books are basically the continuing adventures of our favorite characters from Macross: Rick and Lisa (Hikaru and Misa), Britai, Max and Miriya and the rest. The SDF-3 was built around Britai’s flagship! Special mention goes to Minmay who I can’t decide if McKinney really loves or truly hates. It’s because she just keeps on getting sluttier and sluttier, to universal proportions at the very end.
My friend Mechafetish gave me this idea that the Robotech novels are the most delicious examples of fanfiction. I think I can really get behind this. The world of Robotech takes many of the canonical parts of Macross and throws it in a blender with Southern Cross and Genesis Climber Mospaeda and spices it with a cocktail of hallucinogenic drugs.
I’m not kidding, Protoculture itself is a mysterious power source that is part of universal evolution and transformation. It’s derived from the Invid Flower of Life whose very leaves are ingested (by Khyron — Kamjin in SDFM) as a hallucinogenic drug. When you reach The End of the Circle, the elements of evolution, transformation, music, and love are taken to such far out levels you can’t help but guffaw at the audacity and ridiculousness of it all.
But I said ‘Not-Robotech,’ what do I mean by this? It’s because the novels are indeed so far out that they’ve been stricken by Harmony Gold from the canon! This makes me think of it as fanfic even more (I promise you I am laughing my ass off the whole time I’ve been writing this post). They still publish the books, and omnibus editions are available. Harmony Gold may not like them for its canon, but I’m sure they like money.
If you’re interested in speculative fanfiction, or just looking for unintentional lulz (there’s more than one way to enjoy these books) give these a try and you just may end up reading them ^9000 times over (maybe not, I just couldn’t get my hands on any actual Macross in the early 90s until Macross Plus came).