The year was 1985. I was living in Fresno, California and we had two local independent television stations offering shows on after school. The first station ended up becoming one of the first FOX affiliates a year later. The second remained ‘independent’ and probably, eventually, became a WB station but that was long after I’d moved away.
Most of my friends were watching a little something called ‘The Transformers’ but I’d seen a commercial for something new airing on station #2 – it was called ‘Robotech’.
Oddly enough, Robotech was partly responsible for my getting seriously into comics. I decided to give the show a try and immediately fell for it. I think they even followed it with Captain Harlock or Voltron so it was a double feature of Japanese Animation. A local comic book store, ‘Sierra Comics & Books’ (long since gone, having went from several locations to 2, then 1 then none 🙁 ), kept advertising on the show and talking about how they had Robotech comics and other stuff, which lead me to go check them out. The rest is history.
The show itself was so different. At the time, it was probably the most ‘adult’ and ‘intelligent’ show I’d seen. It dealt with heavier stuff than other ‘kid’ shows on at the time. I’m specifically thinking of stuff like ‘GI Joe: A Real American Hero’, Thundercats’ and ‘The Transformers’. In GI Joe, people hopped out of their vehicles a second before it blew up so no one every really ‘got hurt’. Story’s were never very deep or involved.
In Robotech, people died; Roy Fokker, Ben Dixson, Admiral Gloval – heck, whole squadrons of fighters were lost in battles, Human and Zentraedi alike. It was really different and really engaging. Nothing was wrapped up easily either – heck, in the first part of Robotech, the Earth itself was devastated by an orbital attack that left most of the surface a wasteland – that sort of thing just didn’t happen in ‘GI Joe’.
Robotech was split into three sections: Macros, The Robotech Masters & The New Generation. I didn’t like the second part at all – it felt wrong somehow, like it didn’t fit. I liked the first and third sections though, liked them a lot and considering that the show was on at the same time as ‘Transformers’, I chose to watch it instead of the other. Most of my friends thought I was nuts.
What I didn’t know then, but know now, is that the three sections were actually three separate and unrelated Japanese television shows. Whenever I’m in BestBuy, I take a walk down the Anime isle and see what they have. Really, I’m looking for Robotech. I mean, you never forget your first love, right? They never have anything worth buying – Robotech tends to be expensive when they do have it. This last Friday, they actually had a remastered edition of the complete series AND it was on sale, so I picked it up.
It was a walk down memory lane. The dialogue could be right out of a George Lucas movie – it’s that corny. Remastered and extended, it’s been fun to go through the first few discs and remember what I liked about the show. Curious about why the second part just didn’t feel right to me, I took a look online and found out that the ‘complete series’ was actually three different series that were recut and sort of forced together to form a longer show that could better be syndicated here in the States.
Originally, the shows were three different mecha anime series: The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospeada. I’d known that companies looking to bring Japanese shows here had done some similar things before, so it sorta made sense to me. I just hadn’t realized that they’d done it with Robotech, nor on such a scale.
The shows still arc well enough, I suppose. But given this new knowledge, I better understand why the second series didn’t seem right. I get what they were trying to do, how they tied it in, but it just looked and felt different. The third section at least looked the same.
For me, Robotech opened up a couple of new worlds; comics first and foremost – I went to that comic book store and I picked up books like GI Joe and The Transformers at first, learning that those books were a lot more in depth and less superficial than their animated counterparts. Which lead me down the road to tons of amazing books that I collected for years and years. It also opened up a whole new world of animation for me. I’d no idea that an animated show or movie could be so complex and deep – before this, most of what I’d seen was Disney, and Disney up to that point, was never, ever, deep.
So, I’m enjoying this revisit to the Robotech universe and to a show that opened up a whole new world to me when I wasn’t even looking for one.