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American series combining the anime series Macross, Southern Cross, and Mospeada into a single series.
Overview In 1999, a giant alien battlecruiser crashes on Earth. The human race decides to stop fighting each other and unite in case the aliens ever come looking for their missing ship. Ten years on, the ship has been renamed the SDF-1 and reconstructed, but the global celebrations are interrupted by an alien attack. Earth's forces under Captain Gloval fight off the threat. As the SDF-1 attempts to save Earth, it uses its untested Spacefold drive and is transported deep into space, where it must fight a prolonged war with the invading Zentraedi fleet. Young pilot Rick Hunter finds himself in a complex triangular relationship with two very different women, ship's officer Lisa Hayes and singing star Lynn Minmay. After 36 episodes, known as the Macross Saga, encounters with giant aliens, and big emotional tangles, the soap-in-space ended with the devastation of Earth and the deaths of several important characters. Fifteen years on, the story takes a new turn with the Robotech Masters saga. Rick Hunter has set off in SDF-3 to find the world of the Robo-tech Masters, but the Masters themselves are already heading the other way. Young cadet Dana Sterling, offspring of the first interspecies marriage, is thrown into the thick of the fighting when the Robotech Masters attack Earth in search of their lost "protoculture factory." She and her young comrades encounter a strange man who has spent years with the invaders and whose motives are unclear, but who finally destroys his own culture to save them. In the interval between this Second Robotech War and the third season, New Generation, the Invid aliens arrive and conquer Earth. Terran defenders are too exhausted to resist, but a generation later, Scott Bernard and his reinforcements arrive to try and liberate their homeworld. Their task seems hope-less, but if they can somehow contact Admiral Rick Hunter and link up with his space fleet, Earth may have a chance.
The Robotech phenomenon is a curious hybrid of Japanese material and American ambition. Originally conceived as a U.S. video release, it was handed to Carl Macek to dub, and the first Macross tape, starring Japanese-American hero "Rick Yamada," was premiered at the 1984 World SF Convention. However, Harmony Gold made further deals to bring the show to TV and asked Macek to find a way of expanding it beyond 36 episodes, which is too small for TV syndication. He acquired Southern Cross and Mospeada from the same studio, providing another 49 half-hour episodes of similar design and background. Macek renamed many of the characters, creating cross-generational links that were absent in the completely unlinked original series, and devised the concept of an ancient alien technology that could generate robots and weapons for space combat, rooted in a mysterious concept called "protoculture." The model-kit company Revell, owners of the Macross merchandise rights, already had a trademark line called Robotech, and a tie-in was born. The Robotech line, having been established before the series was conceived, included robots from shows not involved in Macek's rewrite, like Dougram and Orguss, and did not include anything from Southern Cross or Mospeada.
The success of the concept led to the construction of Robotech the Movie, a dub for the U.S. market of the first part of Megazone 23. Since this had absolutely nothing to do with the characters or story lines of any of the three original series, it was presented as a "side story" happening within the chronology of the Robotech Wars. Extra footage was animated for the film in Japan and included as a bonus on the Japanese Megazone 23 release.
The story was to have continued in a fourth segment focusing on the forgotten SDF-3. Though all 65 episodes were written for a Japanese-American coproduction, the project was never completed. The footage already shot (four partly completed episodes plus other material) was used to make up a single feature-length video, Robotech II-The Sentinels, the last animated installment of the saga.
Robotech gained such a hold on its American fans that it spun off into print with greater success. A series of novels by Jack McKinney (a pseudonym for James Luceno and Brian Daley) fills in many narrative gaps and explores many of the minor characters in greater depth, while Robotech comics have been produced by four different publishers over 14 years. Many of the comics and novels are based on the completed scripts for Sentinels, even though most were never filmed. The "close" of the Robotech saga is the final novel, End of the Circle. Similar recycling went on in Japan, where Tatsunoko placed some of the unused designs in the unrelated Zillion.
Robotech attracts passionate response; fans either love or loathe it. Like Nausicaä's U.S. reedit, it is variously viewed as a welcome adaptation of unfamiliar material for a new, less adventurous audience, or a watered-down travesty of its origins. Its supporters cite a complex story line with material rarely seen in U.S. animation-the unexpected deaths of much-loved characters, the fact that the good guys (humans) usually ended up losing, or even the introduction of a cross-dressing hero. Its detractors point out that all this was present in the original Japanese series and that the destruction of the internal logic and character relationships was unnecessary and excessive. The best way to describe it is probably not as anime but as an American reworking of the Japanese original, but, unlike most palimpsests, enough of the original text remains to entice viewers back to the source material.
Robotech: Shadow Chronicles (2005) is a 90-minute video sequel to the series, but is not technically anime as it was made by a predominantly American and Korean staff. It features the search for the missing Admiral Hunter and the introduction of a new adversary.