Robotech: An Animation That Accompanied a Generation
Nearly forty years ago, series for boys were going through a period of splendor. He-Man, She-Ra, Transformers, or ThunderCats were some of the titles that attracted the attention of the smallest (and some adults) in the house.
But from that family of well-remembered proposals, there was one that stood out with its own voice. It was about Robotech, a fiction with more adult themes and with a story that was far from the stand-alone episodes of traditional cartoons.
The Raw Material of Robotech
The “Mechas” is one of the most popular genres in the world of comics and Japanese series. Its name refers to those stories centered on giant robots piloted by a human, along the lines of Mazinger Z.
From its birth in the seventies until today, this theme has evolved, and many series prefer to give priority to the drama of the pilots who had to ride those robots rather than the spectacle of destroying buildings.
Carl Macek and Robotech
The arrival of Carl Macek made Robotech into what it is now. Located in the United States, production company Harmony Gold acquired the rights to Macross for its US release. In order to adapt it for the North American market, he hired screenwriter Carl Macek, who never imagined the challenge he would face.
The established norms required that a production scheduled to be broadcast from Monday to Friday must have a minimum of 65 episodes. Macross was only 36, so if Harmony Gold planned to release it in the United States, Macek needed to pull out at least another 29 episodes.
Macek asked Harmony Gold to buy the other two animated series, Southern Cross and Mospeada, under the promise of carrying out a curious experiment. He then rewrote numerous scenes from the three stories and invented a conceptual bridge between them that he called “protoculture,” an element that cut across the three stories.
The Success of Robotech
As expected, Robotech was a resounding success not only in the United States but throughout Latin America and especially in Argentina. Today, Robotech is considered to be instrumental in the global invasion of anime.
Continuations, Controversies, and the Memory of Macek
Faced with the success of Robotech, Harmony Gold asked Macek to shape a possible sequel. In this way, the scriptwriter wrote an original series that continued the story of Rick Hunter and Lisa Hayes.
To Macross, the original title that served as the basis for the first generation of Robotech, there were countless sequels produced in Japan. There is no doubt that Macek was an artist who knew how to educate an entire generation of children and preteens about the world of Japanese animation.
Today, his work is essential because thanks to him and Robotech, anime is one of the most important cultural phenomena. However, Macek’s decision to unite very different fictions continues to mark a division among fans and even one of the creators of Macross, Shoji Kawamori, was outraged.