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You can look at the Robotech anime series in two lights: either as the biggest mistake in a North American translation or the biggest success thereof.  Though we’ve briefly covered Robotech in our Macross section, the scope of the series needs a proper treatment.

The full length of the American release of Robotech is 85 episodes.  It’s probably the only sci-fi anime television series to splice together footage from three separate Japanese anime series.  Though many hardcore anime fans criticize the series for its horrible bastardization of three important anime classics, many first-time viewers swear by Robotech’s apparent complexity and drama.

Back in 1985, Harmony Gold picked up the rights for Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Century Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospeada.  Instead of dubbing and releasing them separately, they decided that the three stories could be combined into one massive story arc.  Though diehards scoff at this ’network’ production choice, in reality it made Robotech (as the entire series was going to be called) marketable for weekly syndication in America.  Add in some pressure from toy makers for a single brand to push their products through, and the choice was obvious from a financial perspective.

This hybrid story of Robotech was presented roughly in this order: the original characters of the Macross story arc, followed by their ’descendants’ in the Southern Cross story arc, and capped off with the descendants of Southern Cross, the New Generation (Genesis Climber).  From a writer’s perspective it would seem an impossible task to corral three completely different stories into one continuous one.  Whatever they did, they did it right.  By furiously splicing scenes and dubbing with new dialogue, Harmony Gold managed to put together one of the most long-lasting anime series in America.  Even now, it’s been spun off into video games for the xbox, gamecube, and playstation 2. 

The story arc goes something like this.  As we discussed in the Macross outline, an alien ship crashes on Earth in the middle of World War III.  The world powers call a ceasefire and unite to investigate the new technology while preparing for the predicted alien onslaught.  This story is based on the original Macross story.  So the first part of Robotech focuses on the original defenders of Earth against aliens.  In the second part it’s up to their children to defend Earth while the original defenders take off to find the alien homeworld.  In the third part of the Robotech saga, the humans that ventured off for a while return to find Earth conquered and must fight to free it.  The mix works surprisingly well, and the main anti-war message of Macross still rings true despite the gratuitous action sequences that fill the Robotech series.