We've been covering a lot of Macross here in the last month, and the news that I read this morning wasn't the Macross news I wanted to read about. The Producer for the American version of Macross, Robotech, passed away on Saturday of a heart attack. He was only 58.
Robotech was a groundbreaking show for American cartoons at the time. Before Robotech, cartoons were pretty shallow "villain of the week" type shows made to sell toys. Robotech, being based on Macross, Southern Cross, and MOSPEADA, was mostly about characters in a future war who fell in love, started families, and dealt with the death of those loved ones. These concepts were not found in He-Man.
The decision at the time to take three unrelated shows and edit them into one, probably wasn't very controversial at them time, but has since garnered it's critics. I have never been bothered by the reediting done by Carl Macek and Harmony Gold. Robotech helped paved the way for anime in America. Back then, you couldn't sell a syndicated cartoon show to studios without 65 episodes. Macross was only 35, so something had to be done to extend it's life. What happened was Robotech, and because of that I have been able to experience how incredible a franchise it was, over the last month.
For me personally, like most kids, Robotech was my drug to wean me off of Transformers. In fact, just this last weekend, the same day Carl Macek passed (though I didn't know it at the time), I was at my parents house digging through all my old toys, trying to find any remaining vestiges of my Robotech figures. I didn't have much luck, other then a lone little green Spartan figure, missing a leg. That also reminded me of the exact moment I stopped watching Robotech, because every time I watched the show it reminded me my figure was broken. Regardless, Robotech was there during my most crucial development period.
So I can imagine that kids who didn't grow up in the 80's probably don't have the same level of respect for Carl Macek, but they should. Any anime fan, despite personal hangups over Harmony Gold, should thank Carl Macek for what he has done to help bring anime to America.
I also think the Robotech timeline is just as legitimate as any canon Macross Timeline. I like the idea that one show spawned three separate universes. In one you have the original Macross and it's subsequent sequels and prequel, Macross Plus, Macross 7, Macross Frontier, Macross Zero. In another universe that starts with Macross, you get the world that created Macross II. And then finally in the the last universe you get the Macross that spawned Robotech. They all had the same beginning, but they all went in three different directions. I find that to be an amazing exercise in creative expression.
So hats off today to Carl Macek, and respect what he did, so that you can enjoy all the shows you love today.