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Giant space battles, transforming robots, and lots of plot twists make Macross one of the favorite anime standbys of all time.  Unfortunately, Macross is also a leading example of how things can go horribly wrong when brought to the North American market.

You see: the original Japanese story was a classic because it was a parody of another classic (Gundam!) that turned out to be unique in its own right.  Macross had a distinct feel of sadness and modesty.  It did not try to achieve epic proportions with pretension, and had a humbling anti-war message despite the fact that the show featured many battles.  By the end, viewers were convinced that our humanity was far more important than our warfare. 

So what happened with the American release?  Back in 1985, an American company called Harmony Gold, headed by Carl Macek, horribly mashed the entire Macross story by splicing it with two other anime series!  The other series were Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Pit Climber MOSPEADA.  Not only did they splice together the scenes, but they also dubbed it with dumbed-down dialogue, replaced the original music with crappy original renditions, and did everything they could to make the series completely un-watchable.

So don’t watch the American version, please.  If you are a serious anime fan, or just a budding one, you MUST watch the original subtitled Japanese version.

The real story goes something like this: World War III is in full force by 1999 when an alien craft smashes into a deserted island called Macross.  The international community declares a ceasefire while the ship is investigated.  Fearing that the aliens may come to retrieve their ship and attempt to conquer Earth, the war is stopped and the world unites to create the Unite Nations Space Navy!  The alien ship is then remanufactured into the Super Dimensional Fortress One, and its technology is spread across the world.  The story revolves around the crew of the ship as they fend off the alien invaders who do eventually show up to get their stuff back.  In a nod to conspiracy theorists, there is an entire storyline involving the fact that the aliens look very similar to ’the creators’ or some proto-culture who may have seeded the Earth with life a long time ago.

For those interested in watching the series, take not that there are also two additional sequel series to watch.  Macross Plus was a short-run OAV of fairly decent quality.  Macross 7 is generally considered to be the worst of the three series due to the main cast being a rock-band that fights aliens with music.