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*Historical* Significance of SDFM

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(Originally posted as a set of newbie Q's, but azrael suggested that this would be better subject matter for a separate thread.)

QUESTIONS:

Q1: Is there some sort of major historical significance to the original Macross TV series, which sets it apart from all other anime from its era in history? Did it feature something very unique and distinctive in either its concept, approach, animation, storyline, or distribution?

Q2: Was RT the first animated program to win a big following in the States that wanted to go back to the original Japanese source material, only to run into a legal road block? If yes, does SDFM therefore represent some sort of "victory" of hardcore, conscientious anime fandom over the conventional television network/producer/etc. mindset?

IOW, could RT/SDFM be said to have started a modern mainstream fascination with mecha anime as originally written, or to have spawned serious critical interest in mecha anime as a legitimate entertainment genre, to a greater extent than any other anime program before? (My apologies for mentioning them in the same sentence.) Were other animes all thought of as merely silly child's fare, or minor underground cult genre at best, while RT/SDFM somehow broke through to the masses?

Or does that honor belong to another anime property?

Or to no single specific anime at all?

REASON WHY I ASK: If "they" were to ever make live-action films of SDFM, I think they would need to provide some sort of "hook" to producers and studio execs that sets SDFM apart from all of its other anime cousins. Some sort of historical significance or the like would go a long way towards that goal.

From azrael's comments in the newbie thread about the show's creators' lack of interest, this might be a good idea to convince and motivate them, as well.

EDIT: My focus is the original series, rather than the variants, in keeping with the "historical significance" angle.

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my stab at your questions:

q1: Macross and Gundam were the first popular shows depicting giant robots as "real" mecha. The were simply machines, having no personality and had a set of rules that they followed. The human characters were the stars and focus of the shows and the mecha were merely props.

q2: yes, I think robotech is widly regarded as opening the gates of anime into the western market. While some of us were already watching anime because of our background or ethnicity, imo, the general public got it's first real taste of anime with robotech. Of course, there were other anime on the air at or around thr same time... Voltron, Mazinger and other super robot shows.

However, I think the case can be made that those shows were regarded by discerning viewers as "childish" or cartoons geared for younger viewers while robotech had a much more mature characters and storyline.

I would say though, if you were to ask this same question to Asian fans, most would say that Gundam has the honor of truly breaking the real robot genre and of pushing science fiction anime into thr mainstream with it's character driven and politically heavy (and anti war) storyline.

It's very possible that the only unique contribution Macross has had was the introduction of the tripple form transforming mecha.

As for a live action version of macross... Well, I think the technology is here to be able to pull off transforming mecha and make it look real.. I think the real thing the producers need to keep in mind is that Macross is about the characters first and the mecha second. Much like other epic stories such as LoTR, Macross fundamentally portrays real people caught up against a grand background. Without having that human anchor, macross would quickly become another souless sci-fi CGI fest.

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Q1: Is there some sort of major historical significance to the original Macross TV series, which sets it apart from all other anime from its era in history? Did it feature something very unique and distinctive in either its concept, approach, animation, storyline, or distribution?

A lot of what Macross did Gundam did ahead of it. Keep in mind Macross was originally scoped as a comedy and not as a serious show. Many shows of the era (Dougram, Dorvack, Crusher Joe, Orguss, Southern Cross, Mospeada, etc.) all had similair theme, tone, scripting, content, etc. Macross could be argued as the first "important" transforming robot show due to it's popularity, most of which stemmed from the neato triple-changing fighter and mechanical designs.

Q2: Was RT the first animated program to win a big following in the States that wanted to go back to the original Japanese source material, only to run into a legal road block? If yes, does SDFM therefore represent some sort of "victory" of hardcore, conscientious anime fandom over the conventional television network/producer/etc. mindset?

Being a child of the '70s I would have to say a big no. Battle of the Planets, Tranzor Z, Star Blazers, Astro Boy and the biggest and most socially notable to most americans SPEED RACER where America's first real taste of anime. Folks like Harmony Gold like to throw around Robotech as "the show that opened the door to anime in America", but in my book Speed Racer wears that crown. Robotech did indeed introduce people in the 1974-1979 generation to anime but to folks like me born in the 1968-1972 generation Speed is the man. Also say the word "Robotech" in open conversation with non-fans and a lot of them will not know what you are talking about... say the words "Speed Racer" and everyone is on the same page. My Mom knows who Speed Racer is... but she has no clue who "Robotech" is.

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Agreed with JsARCLIGHT. I remember watching Battle of the Planets (G-Force) and the odd episode of Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atom), while listening to recommendations to watch Star Blazers (Space Cruiser Yamato) (it was on at a disgustingly early hour of the day, never really saw it.) All of this was pre-Robotech.

Anyhow, I read somewhere, about a decade ago (!) about the 3 'firsts' in the golden age of mecha anime:

1) Realistic looking spaceships - Space Cruiser Yamato

2) Realistic 3-dimensional combat in space - Mobile Suit Gundam*

3) Realistic mass-production and realistic looking vehicle mode of transformers - Super Dimension Fortress Macross**

* By this, I don't mean 3D-CG, but a move beyond 2D, naval type battles, to truly 3 dimensional battles, with opponents coming from any direction, and not everyone has the same 'up' and 'down' as you. Sadly, the naval tradition of space combat in science fiction shows still shows up far more than it should in science fiction and sci-fi productions. T.T

** Yes, Gundam started the trend towards mass-production anime mecha, but it still has the hero in a one-of-a-kind prototype (the title mecha.) Macross is mass-production all the way. From the heroes VFs, to the enemy's battlepods, to even the spaceships fielded by both sides. In fact, it's not until 1994's Macross Plus that Macross gets it's first heroes-piloting-prototypes; a decade or so after the original series was first broadcast.

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I'd have to argue, much as it pains me, that Robotech is historically significant to the US market.

Yes, Speed Racer, Starblazers, GForce, AstroBoy, etc. came first.

But then they fell off the air.

As someone born in 1981, there were only 2 "animes" on TV of any significance: Voltron and Robotech.

Robotech, for all the crap it takes, was by far the better show.

Similarly, my younger sister's introduction to anime was the Sailor Moon dub. Fortunately, no lasting damage was done.

And may God have mercy on the kids that came in with DBZ and Pokemon.

Macross is the most popular part of Robotech, of course. But as a show of it's own, it's got far less recognition. And serious legal snarls for US exploitation.

Robotech has a movie coming. Albeit a direct-to-video one.

Due to legal issues, it's based on MOSPEADA instead of Macross. But most of the generation won't understand what that means. They'll just complain because Rick Hunter looks funny.

And it's not live-action. At least HG did something right.

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Yes, Speed Racer, Starblazers, GForce, AstroBoy, etc. came first.

But then they fell off the air.

Actually Speed Racer came back on the air more times than Robotech. Speed originally aired in the late '60s on american TV then went off... only to come back on in the early '70s. It went back off but came back on in the late '70s, early '80s. It once again went off but came back on again in the early '90s both on MTV and regular TV in certain markets. It too had a "modern" spinoff of the "new" Speed Racer, which failed miserably like any other modern spinoff. Right now Speed Racer STILL plays on SPEED TV every once in a while (my Tivo picks it up) as well as on other cable and satellite channels, has a good following with DVD releases and still boasts a good selection of toys and merchandise both new and old. I was in a Hot Topic a few weeks back and they had Racer X and Speed Racer shirts... but no Robotech shirts.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that any argument that can be made for Robotech is met with a "Speed Racer ALSO did that... first". As much as people (mostly HG) love to lump praise on Robotech, Speed holds higher social awareness in the general American public. I bet if you did like CNN likes to do and show the public at large a picture of Speed Racer and the Mach 5 and ask them who it is then show them a picture of "Rick Hunter" and his "Vertiech" and ask them who that is almost everyone will know Speed but few will know "Rick".

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My point with macross and specifically Robotech, is that it opened the door in america and europe of animation being an acceptable medium to tell mature or adult stories. Not necessarily that it was the ambassador of anime in general.

As popular as speed racer was and remains, I don't think people regard that as anything more than a beloved children's cartoon show.

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for me the shows i remember as a kid that were anime esque were Astro Boy and Speed Racer. I was born in 79 BTW. Astro Boy was the big one when i was relaly young, and it was when i got older that robotech, Voltron and G Force all came onto my radar.

Also I think RT gets a lot of flack from us Macross fans; its true that its not as good as the original series it was based on. But at the same time, it was far froma bad show. as a kid i thought it was amazing! I was such a huge Max fan. It's fun to jump on the "Hg sucks" bandwagon, and they did do a lot of things wrong. But Id say 80% or more of western Macross fans started as robotech fans.

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Actually Speed Racer came back on the air more times than Robotech.

And?

Speed originally aired in the late '60s on american TV then went off... only to come back on in the early '70s. It went back off but came back on in the late '70s, early '80s.

I must've missed the 80s broadcast. And given how many cartoons I watched at the time, that was pretty hard to do.

I watched HeMan, Mario, Captain N, Smurfs, Voltron, Robotech, Transformers, Ghost Busters, Mister T, SheRa, GoBots, Centurions, Thundercats, SilverHawks, GI Joe, Scooby Doo, metric buttloads of Hanna-Barbara, disney, and WB shorts, and God knows what else... but I never saw Speed Racer until the 90s.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that any argument that can be made for Robotech is met with a "Speed Racer ALSO did that... first".

Speed Racer was one of the 2 relevant animes of the early 80s?

That was my entire argument.

Edited by JB0

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And?

Which shows Speed Racer had greater mass popularity and staying power in America than RT. RT came and went like a fart in the wind. Heck, in my neck of the woods at the time the show did not even stay on the air for a full year... it got yanked and replaced with something else before it even finished it's first run through. People can praise RT all they want for being a "pioneer" and "making people want to see more" but for the time when it aired it was a lukewarm show at best and a bit of a marketing failure at worst.

I must've missed the 80s broadcast. And given how many cartoons I watched at the time, that was pretty hard to do.

I watched HeMan, Mario, Captain N, Smurfs, Voltron, Robotech, Transformers, Ghost Busters, Mister T, SheRa, GoBots, Centurions, Thundercats, SilverHawks, GI Joe, Scooby Doo, metric buttloads of Hanna-Barbara, disney, and WB shorts, and God knows what else... but I never saw Speed Racer until the 90s.

Yet you only list a small handful of the shows on the air at the time. Speed was most certainly on the air in many markets in the early '80s and even into the late '80s. It was a popular syndication show... mostly because it had a large episode library and it came cheap as it was an old show. I even remember watching it before shipping out to the Army in '88 on cable.

Speed Racer was one of the 2 relevant animes of the early 80s?

That was my entire argument.

Speed Racer is nonetheless a very "relevant" anime regardless of decade of origin. This "argument" may have been only about the '80s but I am speaking more to "all time" and "most recognizable" to the common man, the people Hollywood markets to. RT started as niche, ended as niche and to this day remains niche. It's like the '80s Battlestar Galactica or the '80s Buck Rodgers... folks love to laud praise on those shows as being so "ground breaking" and "influential" but they still tanked horribly at the time of their release and where canceled fairly soon into their runs. It was only a small but loyal fanbase that kept them and continue to keep them alive.

The original question of this thread was "what does RT offer 'history and performance' wise to encourage modern Hollywood to make a movie out of it"... and my answer is nothing. It did not "take off" originally, was nowhere near as popular as it's peers of the day and to this day only has a very small following. Legal issues aside, it's potential for mainstream success is low as it's history of mainstream success is low. Giving the show unearned credit for "starting anime booms" or "getting people interested in anime" are not provable or "interesting" to Hollywood deal maker types. They want to see proven sales, a history of high public popularity and money-making ventures. They want to see something like Transformers or GI Joe that have spawned endless sequels, spinoffs, toy lines and merchandising. Had RT done THAT then it would deserve all the praise it gets. Until then Hollywood will look at properties like Evangelion, Gundam and other more market-savvy properties that have cash on their books with earnest while RT languishes on the periphery of fandom.

As for what truly "got people into anime" that varies for everyone, giving one show credit doesn't really fly. Personally for me, someone showed me Akira in college and that got me into anime. RT was a long lost foggy memory mixed in with Jace and the Wheeled Warriors and The Legend of Galaxy Rangers that I did not get back into until after I saw a subtitled copy of DYRL many moons after getting "into" anime.

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i cant speak as eloquently as that, but in the end to me R.tech wasnt what pulled me in to anime. I never

thought of it as such. It wasn't until I saw movies like Appleseed or Akira that called my attention. To me R.tech

was just another cartoon that I watched in the afternoon. Yes i enjoyed it and wanted to see more but it just

wasnt' anime to me. course i wasn't anime savvy. I dont see Robotech or Macross as needing a renewal in the

way of a Hollywood movie even now the "failure" of HG to artfully market Shadow Chronicles leaves me

unwilling to believe that R.tech could be anything more than what it is, a favorite of the children of the 80s

perhaps it will get the opportunity to have new life breathed into it. I just dont see it happening any time soon.

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Which shows Speed Racer had greater mass popularity and staying power in America than RT. RT came and went like a fart in the wind. Heck, in my neck of the woods at the time the show did not even stay on the air for a full year... it got yanked and replaced with something else before it even finished it's first run through.

And yet, MOST of the anime fans from my generation seem to start talking about Robotech at some point.

And, of course, there's the modern toy market.

The superposables wound up damn near everywhere. SOMEONE thought they'd sell.

People can praise RT all they want for being a "pioneer" and "making people want to see more" but for the time when it aired it was a lukewarm show at best and a bit of a marketing failure at worst.

I remember it as being moderately successful.

But then... I wasn't exactly old enough to judge.

Marketing failure certainly didn't hold true long-term, though.

And I'm not praising RT as a pioneer or anything of the sort. I'm just saying it was a generation's first real exposure, much like Sailor Moon or Dragonball Z(neither of which is exactly great company to be keeping).

Yet you only list a small handful of the shows on the air at the time.

Indeed. I COULD go on(I loved MASK, didn't care for Spiral Zone, have memories of Bionic Six as "that show that was on after Robotech went off", to name a few), but... why?

Speed Racer is nonetheless a very "relevant" anime regardless of decade of origin.

Which I never argued against.

I didn't say "Speed Racer sucks, Robotech rules!"

I was saying "Robotech is relevant because it introduced a specific generation to anime, and it's already being exploited, so no one needs to be told it has any historical significance."

This "argument" may have been only about the '80s but I am speaking more to "all time" and "most recognizable" to the common man, the people Hollywood markets to. RT started as niche, ended as niche and to this day remains niche.

It's no more niche than Evangelion is, and there's a movie based on THAT in production.

So clearly Hollywood DOES see that niche as large enough to exploit.

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My point with macross and specifically Robotech, is that it opened the door in america and europe of animation being an acceptable medium to tell mature or adult stories. Not necessarily that it was the ambassador of anime in general.

When RT aired it was competing against GI Joe in the Regan 80's. GI Joe was like Mac 7 where no one really died only the equipment was destroyed, so when HG kept in the whole death of Kakizaki, many parent's groups were outraged by the portrayal of war as "real" and that made it controversial for it's day.

RT didn't "open the door" to anything except expose Western fans to the outstanding story of Macross (even the original MS Gundam hasn't been broadcast on any Western TV channel AFAIK...) which is the main reason fans watched the show past that "chapter" of RT, endured the middle and were rewarded with Mospeada at the end.

The "door" was already opened, what most current anime fans fail to realize or appreciate that it was avid fans back in the past who kept pushing and through grass roots methods continued to "grow" the fan base of anime, through friends and family to even raising their kids to appreciate the superior Japanese animation art form over the wester shlock that was on the air.

Passing on to the future generations of fans their insistance that anime should be dubbed with the same story it had back in japan, no "adaptations" or "re-scripting" would be tolerated anymore.

In so doing they "built" the market that is now coming into it's own with merchandising and respectfully dubbed shows. Anime is still an niche market, but it has become a profitable one, which means the product is now self sustaining, something that wasn't the case back in the 70's and 80's.

What we appreciate today was built by fans over the decades, not some magic bullet program that saw 1 1/2 seasons on the air back in the mid 80's.

Many on these boards can attribute their first exposure to Macross & Mospeada via RT, but that is the most that show had accomplished.

The reason why they did the sequel based on Mospeada is that it is wholey owned by Tatsunoko and HG with no legal challenges by the actual creators of the show.

Macek tried to do a sequel to the Macross part of the show called the "Sentinels" and even that had heavily modified mecha and character designs to the point of having little resemblance to the original mecha.

It would be nearly impossible to to do the same now as the current Macross legal challenges in Japan would tie up the project for years as well as the fact that HG has no legal basis to claim any post SDFM shows, dispite it's erroneous claims.

Then there is the fact that the Mospeada portion of RT was left with an open ended cliff hanger as to what happened to their SDF-3, which as it turns out is a perfect spring board into a new story.

Now I am not dissing the show, I like it for what it is and particularly am glad the "sequel" is based on Mospeada, however it had more profound personal impact on Macross fans as opposed to a large impact on the anime genre in North America itself.

Edited by Zinjo

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And yet, MOST of the anime fans from my generation seem to start talking about Robotech at some point.

And as I said earlier that is because for that generation at that particular time, RT was one of the several japanese conversion shows on the air in the US. Of those that saw it and liked it, some of them can honestly claim it is what got them "into anime"... but when you look at the actual numbers that lot of people is quite small. RT aired in 1985 in the states, it was all but gone by 86. That only gives a small handful of people the opportunity to see the show and credit it with anything. When people (like HG likes to do) paint with a broad brush and throw out statements like "RT started interest in anime" it simply is not true. It can become true when you put tons of qualifiers on it like "RT started people's interest in anime... if they where part of that generation, saw it on it's original run, had not seen any other 'landmark' animes prior or post etc. etc. etc. on and on."

And, of course, there's the modern toy market.

The superposables wound up damn near everywhere. SOMEONE thought they'd sell.

Actually the "modern" RT toy market was and is failing just as it's original one did. The superposables never got any further than niche status. They where not "everywhere", the best retail outlet exposure they got was to have three or four of them on a peg in a Gamestop... at which they failed to sell. Here in the midwest Gamestop had to clearance, discount and tantamount "give away" all their modern RT merch. It tanked terribly, sure they might have sold one or two to the occasional die-hard fanboy coming into the store but the bulk of the case lots just sat on the shelves. Consumer interest in RT toys was and still is abysmal. The internet and it's online stores mask true point of sale popularity of many "fanboy" toy lines. The new RT toys -appear- to sell well online, but in actual brick and mortar retail locations they tanked quite badly. Which points more to RT still being a very niche property. If it was anything but niche the toys would have truly been "everywhere", in TRU's and Targets, and they would have been selling like hotcakes. Instead we saw them eeking out a meager sales trend online at places like eBay and the Valk Exchange while they became bargain bin fodder at larger point of sale stores.

I remember it as being moderately successful.

But then... I wasn't exactly old enough to judge.

Well, I was 15 at the time and I set my VCR to record the afternoon cartoons I liked while I did my homework, of which RT was part. RT "the show" came and went quite fast... It started in early/mid 85 and was off the air by Christmas. It was replaced with reruns of Tom and Jerry if I remember right for a few weeks before being permanently replaced by MASK. I actually have quite a fond memory of watching my daily tape and when RT was supposed to come on they had Tom and Jerry instead. I got a little miffed and checked the TV guide and it said RT was supposed to be on. I even called the local station and asked what the deal was only to be told it was canceled and it's time slot would be filled with something else later on.

Sadly the original RT toys came and went from toy stores quite fast as well. I used to go to the mall quite often back then (the mall in the mid '80s was the center of the universe to a teen) and I remember the week the local toy stores got them in. They had a big display in the "boys toys" isle as well as a few endcaps and those freestanding bins in the front. Well, they warmed the shelves... Christmas 1985 came with little fanfare for the RT toys and after that all the RT toys and models went clearance in 86. They lingered on in the discount bins for months en masse, even into 87 in some stores... but that was only because no one was buying them. I can even remember seeing the occasional carded RT action figure rotting in that toy store bargain bins all the way into 1988 (mostly Zentradi figures and those small carded destroids).

I personally did not see any popularity or fan interest in RT until well after the show was dead and buried. In all honesty a lot of RT's popularity today I believe bends on the fact that the show tanked and was removed quickly from the public eye. Kids (and then teens like me) never really got a good "look" at the show because it vanished so quickly, leaving in some of us the desire to hunt it down and see more of it. On the other hand mass saturation shows like GI Joe I could care less about... mostly because I saw "too much" of it back in it's heyday. So, one could argue that a big reason for RT's popularity today is resultant from it's unpopularity when it was first released. That is generally the case for most of today's fanboy focuses... shows and toys that failed to resonate at their time of release that small groups of diehard fans hold candlelight vigils for for decades until they are old enough, and spending enough money, to warrant the show's resurgence. I firmly believe had RT been such a success at it's original time of release it would have a much larger market share today and we would be seeing Superposables in Target and Walmart and not seeing them discounted to two bucks on the back rack of a Gamestop.

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When RT aired it was competing against GI Joe in the Regan 80's. GI Joe was like Mac 7 where no one really died only the equipment was destroyed, so when HG kept in the whole death of Kakizaki, many parent's groups were outraged by the portrayal of war as "real" and that made it controversial for it's day.

RT didn't "open the door" to anything except expose Western fans to the outstanding story of Macross (even the original MS Gundam hasn't been broadcast on any Western TV channel AFAIK...) which is the main reason fans watched the show past that "chapter" of RT, endured the middle and were rewarded with Mospeada at the end.

The "door" was already opened, what most current anime fans fail to realize or appreciate that it was avid fans back in the past who kept pushing and through grass roots methods continued to "grow" the fan base of anime, through friends and family to even raising their kids to appreciate the superior Japanese animation art form over the wester shlock that was on the air.

Passing on to the future generations of fans their insistance that anime should be dubbed with the same story it had back in japan, no "adaptations" or "re-scripting" would be tolerated anymore.

In so doing they "built" the market that is now coming into it's own with merchandising and respectfully dubbed shows. Anime is still an niche market, but it has become a profitable one, which means the product is now self sustaining, something that wasn't the case back in the 70's and 80's.

What we appreciate today was built by fans over the decades, not some magic bullet program that saw 1 1/2 seasons on the air back in the mid 80's.

Many on these boards can attribute their first exposure to Macross & Mospeada via RT, but that is the most that show had accomplished.

The reason why they did the sequel based on Mospeada is that it is wholey owned by Tatsunoko and HG with no legal challenges by the actual creators of the show.

Macek tried to do a sequel to the Macross part of the show called the "Sentinels" and even that had heavily modified mecha and character designs to the point of having little resemblance to the original mecha.

It would be nearly impossible to to do the same now as the current Macross legal challenges in Japan would tie up the project for years as well as the fact that HG has no legal basis to claim any post SDFM shows, dispite it's erroneous claims.

Then there is the fact that the Mospeada portion of RT was left with an open ended cliff hanger as to what happened to their SDF-3, which as it turns out is a perfect spring board into a new story.

Now I am not dissing the show, I like it for what it is and particularly am glad the "sequel" is based on Mospeada, however it had more profound personal impact on Macross fans as opposed to a large impact on the anime genre in North America itself.

uhm... you're disagreeing with me to agree with me?

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uhm... you're disagreeing with me to agree with me?

I'm making a point, if it is in opposition or complimentary to anyone else's point, it wasn't directly intended.

As many have pointed out, RT doesn't deserve any "watershed" credit for the modern anime genre in the West. The fanbase we currently enjoy was created by the sweat and stubborn persistence of it's fans when the genre was still in it's infancy here.

When the only way to see anime was to have connections to Japanese fans who would supply you with copies of existing vhs tapes or laser disc transfers. Where there were no distribution machines churning out 30 titles a year for the market, but groups of fans translating and subbing the shows for their local fan clubs and trading these tapes around the continent.

Those fans are to be credited with building the genre and the fanbase that exists here today. They exposed others to the genre and cultivated the market until it could stand on it's own.

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Thanks for the responses, guys, but methinks something was lost in the translation. I realize that other anime existed pre-RT, and was shown in the US. Certainly I recall Speed Racer and the seemingly neverending wave of super robot shows throughout the '70s. And I have read about the zeal of the almost "underground" cult fans of anime back in the day.

But I guess what I'm asking though, is whether those shows were actually taken seriously here in the US, or merely laughed off as silly child's fare? And so, was RT taken more seriously, leading to a new respect for the genre? At some point, a transition definitely occurred, and I'm trying to pin it down, and determine what role RT/SDFM played in it.

Sure, Speedy got lots of air time. But was he ever thought of as anything more than just a silly cartoon guy?

Sure, Star Blazers adapted Yamato, but did it faithfully preserve the original storyline, or cop out and unload lowest-common denominator idiocy for dialog to appease the censors and networks stateside?

As was said above, RT came and went here in the States in its first run. Was that because it was considered bad, or too serious/controversial/complex? Was it offed because it was considered too mature for kiddy fare?

While the creators of SDFM originally envisioned the show as a comical satire against its robo-show predecessors, did the RT version nevertheless lead in the change of how anime is perceived in the West? Or was it anime fans who attempted an end-run around HG RT?

Or was it the sum-total of zealous underground fans who did it with a whole slew of different anime shows, and SDFM was just one of many, and the Americanized RT takes far too much credit?

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But I guess what I'm asking though, is whether those shows were actually taken seriously here in the US, or merely laughed off as silly child's fare? And so, was RT taken more seriously, leading to a new respect for the genre? At some point, a transition definitely occurred, and I'm trying to pin it down, and determine what role RT/SDFM played in it.

In a word, no. Most anime that made it to American television was edited and "dumbed" down for a younger audience. Animation is/was generally considered a medium for kids. The few Western animated movies/shows aimed at older audiences, while considered "cult classics" (and have a following), generally didn't last long on air (or didn't do well at the box office). "The Simpsons" is considered to be the first major success of animation aimed at older viewers. And even that had a stronger fanbase among the younger crowd.

Sure, Speedy got lots of air time. But was he ever thought of as anything more than just a silly cartoon guy?

Having watched it myself as a kid in the mid-70's, and knowing many Baby Boomers who watched it in the 1960's, I can safely say that you are right on the money.

Sure, Star Blazers adapted Yamato, but did it faithfully preserve the original storyline, or cop out and unload lowest-common denominator idiocy for dialog to appease the censors and networks stateside?

I can't say for sure, never having watched the Japanese original. But considering the nature of censorship rules for American television in those days, I believe that it could be safely assumed that some degree of editing did occur. And the complimentary "dumbing" down if the original dealt with heavy topics.

As was said above, RT came and went here in the States in its first run. Was that because it was considered bad, or too serious/controversial/complex? Was it offed because it was considered too mature for kiddy fare?

Robotech was a syndicated program, which means it's not as vulnerable to ratings as the Network-aired shows. A good example of this would be Star Trek: The Next Generation. It basically sucked in the first two seasons and didn't get good reviews. If it had been a Network program, it would have been cut fairly quick. But syndication allowed it to survive long enough to develop into a good show (by Season Three).

One of the things that hurt Robotech was the violence. Back in the 1980's, there was a backlash against violence in children's television programming. I remember the heavily edited old Warner Brothers cartoons (with the more violent scenes cut out for fear that children would emulate them). And by the late 80's, the only place where you could see the original 1960's Johnny Quest, on a semi-regular basis, was on cable televison (or, more rarely, on local stations late at night).

While the violence in Robotech was toned down from what was shown in Macross, it was still a bit more than typical in contemporary American televison animation.

As for being complex or controversial, I don't see it that way. It was too dumbed down to be taken in a serious light by older audiences. And the more mature themes evident in the original Macross were edited out for American television. Examples would be the toning down of the genocide angle (in the results of Bodolzaa's actions), and the removal of the cloning element in the post-Space War era.

Of course, it could have dissappeared from televison because of it's commercial failings. But don't see where ratings would have a big impact on such.

While the creators of SDFM originally envisioned the show as a comical satire against its robo-show predecessors, did the RT version nevertheless lead in the change of how anime is perceived in the West? Or was it anime fans who attempted an end-run around HG RT?

No, I don't believe so. The only thing Robotech was credited for was the creation of the so-called "Second Wave" of anime fandom. Not for the creation of anime fandom in general. As for the general public (those not being serious fans), there hasn't been much change in the perceptions of anime. It's still considered a "bunch of cartoons for people who haven't grown up". If anything has changed, it was the over-focus on the more disturbing elements of anime by the public (by non-fans in the know, that is).

As for anime fandom itself, it goes beyond the issue of Robotech. There was no need for an "end run" around HG or RT. The exposure to other series had just as much (if not more impact) on growing anime fandom, as Robotech. Or previous "Americanized" anime shows, for that matter.

Or was it the sum-total of zealous underground fans who did it with a whole slew of different anime shows, and SDFM was just one of many, and the Americanized RT takes far too much credit?

While "underground" fansubbers had a great deal to do with getting anime to the States, there were other ways that I wouldn't exactly label as being "underground" in nature. Military brats/personnel, people with relatives in Japan, etc. were also a factor. In fact, I was exposed to Macross long before I even seen Robotech. And it was through people who had been overseas.

The fanbase built up enough by these means that a potential market was perceived and it went from there. Of course, it helped matters that some of the big movers in the American anime marketplace were fans themselves (Carl Macek, the founders of Right Stuf International,etc.).

On a side note, in the case of mecha anime, model kit hobbyists also had a larger influence than most would give them credit for.

Harmony Gold, does indeed, take too much credit. They (and the hardcore Robotechies) overstate Robotech's influence on the rise of anime fandom in the United States. It was dedicated anime fans who did the most to make it happen, IMO.

Edited by SpacyAce2012

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Well one must define "violence" in the 80's. The violence SpaceAce refers to was the type directed at characters, not in any general sense. GI Joe had massive amounts of violence, just never directed toward any of the characters.

In terms of broadcast anime RT can claim to have aired a show with more mature themes than anything airing at the time. It also did expose a larger number of new fans because it was broadcast on syndicated TV.

The biggest drive to the market was the home video releases and as already pointed out the pressure by kit builders to get their hands on the very cool Japanese anime kits.

SpaceAce pointed out military personelle who were instrumental in this movement. Mostly the "old guard" are aware that US Manga Corps, was started by a group of soldiers shipping out fan subbed VHS tapes out of a base in Florida.

The 90's is when the market really began to grow, particularly with the home video market. Now keep in mind that back then an anime tape would cost between $60.00 - $100.00 depending on the title, so many fans wouild get their fixes through comic shops and video stores that would stock the titles for rent.

That is when US Renditions, US Manga Corps & Streamline Pictures were the heavy hitters of the day.

Then DVD came along and the industry transformed into what we have today.

The model market also matured in the 90's with the availability of the Japanese "garage kits" through distributors like" Right Stuff Int'l".

The Toy business seems to be latest evolution in the Western anime market, With Bandai opening a branch office in North America, it brought it's considerable weight to bear and successfully convinced major retail chains to carry Gundam toys even before any Gundam shows were ever broadcast here (that's skill!).

So you see RT was a drop in a very large bucket of a grass roots efforts to bring anime to North American shores and it took decades to accomplish.

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As was said above, RT came and went here in the States in its first run. Was that because it was considered bad, or too serious/controversial/complex? Was it offed because it was considered too mature for kiddy fare?

Personally I believe RT came and went fast NOT because of what it was but because of what it WASN'T... not what it DID but what it DIDN'T do. RT was far from a commercial success, and at the core that is what all '80s children's shows where about... cold hard cash. Could the network sell commercial time on the show? Could they market toys? Would those toys sell well? The big difference between the imported anime of the '60s and '70s and that of the '80s was that by the '80s children's television and it's lucrative toy market tie ins where all the rage. You could not have a kid's show without toys... and toy companies footed the bill of most of the show production in some cases. It was even better if you could import an already produced Japanese show and then import and repackage the already designed and built japanese toys for that same show. Half hour toy commercials, featuring a new toy every other episode was the norm. RT followed this model and was brought to the states on the back side of the big "robot toy/show" boom and was brought to cash in on that boom. Coming to the arena a year after Transformers was the crap, when Go-Bots still hung on the pegs, Maxx Steel and Roboforce had a real robot and Voltron was on every kid's 1984 christmas list instantly made RT the underdog. It had to compete with the trend starters and beat them, which was a tall hill to climb

HG originally wanted to just push Macross but saw more openings in syndication so they tacked on two more shows. Their next gauntlet was to get the companion toy line chugging. Transformers had already boosted the Valkyrie design from Takara for their own ends while cheap "bargain bin" toy line "Convertors" had harvested many of the Takara "Train Station" toy molds and so on and so forth. RT's quick and dirty "import, repackage and sell" toy prospects where slim... so they did what they could. They got the few toys they could out of japan, repackaged them and got them to market. But their big card to play was to get Matchbox on the phone, a company who wanted to expand their toy offerings to include action figures, and they produced a line of toys that actually competed with GI Joe rather than Transformers.

IMHO that was the big mistake... they had this great show full of all sorts of transforming robots (the popular trend of the time) and they "blow their wad" both in marketing and toy shelf exposure on a main toy line featuring ZERO transforming robot toys but instead a bunch of cheap 3 3/4" plastic GI Joe-like figures and kind of flimsy non-transforming vehicles (the hovertank doesn't count). Sure they had a handful of actual REAL transforming and triple changing toys, but compared to the "main push" of the Matchbox action figure line they faded into the background of most toy isles. Add to that the confusion a lot of kids had when they saw this bigass awesome "Jetfire" transformer at the same time they saw the Valkyries in RT... anyone can guess what happened. I clearly recall hearing kids back then claim RT ripped off Transformers! Kids being kids and not knowing one from the other assumed Transformers had made "Jetfire" and not RT because transformers where first to market with the design. To lump even more fire on the blaze the aforementioned Convertors toy line also had Valkyrie toys on the shelves under different names. Kids are lame consumers... they only know what they saw on TV and when they went into the toy isle to buy their toys with their allowance money almost all of them went right to what they knew... GI Joe, Transformers. RT toys confused them. Where they transformers? No, they didn't come in Transformers packaging. Isn't that Jetfire? No, that's a cheap copy of Jetfire. Where they GI Joe? No again, no GI Joe packaging.

So with their brand muddled due to no fault of their own (other than not securing the rights to license and product distribution, which echoes still to this day) selling RT in the toy isle became a losing battle. And when a toy lost in the toy isle, it's show went into the can. I'm sure there is some legitimacy to people who say RT was pulled by complaining parents but the real thing that killed it was that it's "support", it's toy lines, failed. It's like trying to fight a war with your supply lines cut... you don't get very far.

Which brings me sort of to the second "front" on which RT didn't do something the other shows did... it didn't ingrain itself in the minds of children. It could be argued that it did indeed do that on a small scale otherwise it would not have the adult following it has today... but at the time RT was fourth, perhaps even fifth or lower teir behind the juggernauts of the day. "Groundbreaking" and "entertaining" are nothing when compared to "popular". How well a show/toy does could (and still can) easily be gauged by walking onto a playground and seeing what the kids where playing with and what they most of all wanted to play with. Are the kids prentending to be Rick Hunter and Scott Bernard? Not really... they where pretending to be Voltron, Optimus Prime and Michael Knight. Now, I was a teenager at this time in the '80s and did my best to NOT buy toys and run around pretending to be cartoon characters (otherwise be branded a dork and lose my chance at a date that weekend) but I did see what kids played with and I did hear what the younger kids in my family wanted for birthdays and christmases... they wanted Voltron, GI Joe and Transformers. Not a single one of them wanted RT.

Years, even decades after the fact, RT has hung around as a subculture. It has never been super popular, even in it's second life of "adult fetish collectible fandom". I bet if you went out and took a poll the hot toys of that time frame, GI Joe and Transformers, would STILL today be more popular and traded in higher numbers in the states than RT toys (Real Macross product included or not).

The thing is everyone can debate and discuss the philosophical and metaphysical reasons and conjecture behind RT's impact on the media, it's impression on youth, it's relative complexity or simplicity against it's peers and whether or not kids actually liked the show... but the core issue that killed RT in it's day was it could not parlay it's presence into profit. The age old sword that kills all media. Was that because it was too complex for kids? Perhaps... I tend to think it was rather a gestalt of errors on behalf of the folks marketing it, strange coincidences that hurt it's marketability and it's late entry into the "big cool robot" genre. I can say that I firmly believe had RT hit the states BEFORE Transformers, not had all the issues with the "jetfire" fiasco, been edited a slight bit more to eliminate the "concerned parents" angles and had it's toy merchandising handled slightly differently it would have become a powerhouse. Instead it was a quick cash-in shot taken by an American production company looking to profit off of the robot toy/show boom. People who say otherwise are fabricating to make the goals seem noble.

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GI Joe was like Mac 7 where no one really died only the equipment was destroyed,

I beg to differ regarding Mac 7. Kinryu & Physica of Diamond Force as well as the two VF-19F pilots of Emerald Force are all shown all dying in combat.

Also Ray's friend and fellow pilot Stephan(?) of the Pink Pecker Squadron is also killed in combat.

Graham

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I beg to differ regarding Mac 7. Kinryu & Physica of Diamond Force as well as the two VF-19F pilots of Emerald Force are all shown all dying in combat.

Also Ray's friend and fellow pilot Stephan(?) of the Pink Pecker Squadron is also killed in combat.

Graham

Not to mention the scores of Red Shirts........errr, I meant Thunderbolt pilots killed in action.

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Yes Astroboy and Speed Racer and Kimba the White Lion were all shown on US (and Canadian) TV. Battle of the Planets was shown in a seriously dumbed down version. But the first serious science fiction anime show imported that was not completely butchered in the translation was Star Blazers/Space Cruiser Yamato.

That is what opened my eyes to Japanese animation and made me receptive to Robotech.

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OK. I think I understand, now.

JsARCL, it's not what I wanted to hear, but it's what I suspected... Damn that almighty dollar!

If they were to ever make movies, then it looks like they would seriously have to market/promote the hell out of the merchandising.

I am reminded of the debacle of the resurrection of the Masters of the Universe in the last couple of years. Walmart gave Mattel a golden opportunity, but Mattel's mismanagement of that toy line extinguished Walmart's interest in the toys, which in turn killed both the toys and their associated new show. Which is all completely separate from the underwhelming quality of the resurrected show itself.

It's sad that quality products often don't get matched to quality managers.

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I honestly don't think a live action macross movie will ever happen.

No japanese production company has the sheer money needed to finance the level of special effects needed and the space opera market in the US is so flat... even a show like BSG which is critically well received still isn't getting the type of rating necessary to justify more money.

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I hope a live action Macross never happens. I have no interest in seeing it. I'm quite certain that it would end up as an abomination regardless of whether it was produced in Japan or Hollywood.

I'm quite happy with Macross staying as an anime thank you very much. I've never understood this fascination some people have with turning perfectly good anime into live action.

Graham

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I don't recall any parental outrage at there being death in RT. I think this might be retroactive politicization of things.

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I don't recall any parental outrage at there being death in RT. I think this might be retroactive politicization of things.

There was, it was amusingly ironic considering at the time "The A-Team" was the big hit in prime time... :rolleyes:

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There was, it was amusingly ironic considering at the time "The A-Team" was the big hit in prime time... :rolleyes:

I'm sure someone, somewhere, wrote a letter to their local station. But was it substantial enough to affect the show's success? I don't recall anything approaching that level.

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The Toy business seems to be latest evolution in the Western anime market, With Bandai opening a branch office in North America, it brought it's considerable weight to bear and successfully convinced major retail chains to carry Gundam toys even before any Gundam shows were ever broadcast here (that's skill!).

Bandai has a presence in North America before they started bringing Gundam over. I specifically remember them releasing the Power Rangers toys back in the mid 90's.

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Well for me it was Battle of the Planets that did it for me I am a Child of the Seventies. Even then I noticed the Similarity of the Character drawings to other animation series. It was much later around the time of Robotech that the penny dropped for me.

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I hope a live action Macross never happens. I have no interest in seeing it. I'm quite certain that it would end up as an abomination regardless of whether it was produced in Japan or Hollywood.

I'm quite happy with Macross staying as an anime thank you very much. I've never understood this fascination some people have with turning perfectly good anime into live action.

Graham

I COPY you loud and clear on Hollywood bastardizations of good material.

But I still dream of live-action films though, because they still seem more real to me. Animation works to a point, but it still always lacks something for me. I want that deeper, more visceral connection to the story than a cartoon can't provide, but which photorealism can.

And since we still have the confusion over TV chrono/movie style, I think a series of films could help to give us the corrected, definitive version once and for all. In my dreaming mind, at least. :)

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(Originally posted as a set of newbie Q's, but azrael suggested that this would be better subject matter for a separate thread.)

QUESTIONS:

Q1: Is there some sort of major historical significance to the original Macross TV series, which sets it apart from all other anime from its era in history? Did it feature something very unique and distinctive in either its concept, approach, animation, storyline, or distribution?

Q2: Was RT the first animated program to win a big following in the States that wanted to go back to the original Japanese source material, only to run into a legal road block? If yes, does SDFM therefore represent some sort of "victory" of hardcore, conscientious anime fandom over the conventional television network/producer/etc. mindset?

IOW, could RT/SDFM be said to have started a modern mainstream fascination with mecha anime as originally written, or to have spawned serious critical interest in mecha anime as a legitimate entertainment genre, to a greater extent than any other anime program before? (My apologies for mentioning them in the same sentence.) Were other animes all thought of as merely silly child's fare, or minor underground cult genre at best, while RT/SDFM somehow broke through to the masses?

Another historical fact about what makes macross different from other anime at that time was the introduction of anime idols with jpop. Lyn Minmay became the first ever anime idol. With music singles and merchandise released under the character's name. This was in Japan of course.

I don't know much about robotech (in fact i've never heard of it until a few years back), i think it wasn't aired in the UK, if it did then it didn't make much of an impact over here. So judging by the USA, i would say it was a major factor in introducing anime to the USA.

Edited by kung flu

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I hope a live action Macross never happens. I have no interest in seeing it. I'm quite certain that it would end up as an abomination regardless of whether it was produced in Japan or Hollywood.

I'm quite happy with Macross staying as an anime thank you very much.

Graham

I couldn't agree with this more.

I've never understood this fascination some people have with turning perfectly good anime into live action.

...Not to mention novels, comics, video games, TV shows, etc.

9 times out of 10 the film version is a massive artistic failure and nothing but a cheap cash grab. Hollywood could never create a live action version of Macross that would live up to Plus and Zero.

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