Robotech

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Fandom
Name: Robotech
Abbreviation(s):
Creator: Robert V. Barron and Ippei Kuri
Date(s): March 1, 1985 - 2013
Medium: anime, comic books, novels, games
Country of Origin: Japan
External Links: Wikipedia
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Robotech is an animated science fiction franchise.

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It was as a fusion of three unrelated anime series, Super Dimension Fortress: Macross, Super Dimension Calvary: Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA. It appeared in first run syndication in 1985 and on Toonami in the 90's. An RPG based on the series was published by Palladium Books from 1986 to 1995 and relaunched in 2008, but the publisher announced an end to the franchise in February 2018 following a long series of problems with a Robotech wargame. There have also been several video games based on the series, as well as books, comics, etc.

Canon

The anime depicts a multi-generation struggles that takes place on Earth with various alien invaders. The First Robotech War is Robotech Defense Force (RDF) against the Zentradi, race of clone warriors. The Second Robotech War pitted the Army of the Southern Cross against the Robotech Masters, creators of the Zentradi. The Third Robotech War had resistance fighters and remnants of Earth's military against the Invid, the enemies of the Robotech Masters.

Fandom

Robotech is credited with starting the second wave of anime fandom. The earlier wave was fans of anime that got into anime through Battle of the Planets, Star Blazers, and Speed Racer.

A fan's comments in 2017(?):

I try to break up my sections on dead fandoms into three parts: first, I explain the property, then explain why it found a devoted audience, and finally, I explain why that fan devotion and community went away. Well, in the case of Robotech, I can do all three with a single sentence: it was the first boy pilot/giant robot Japanimation series that shot for an older, teenage audience to be widely released in the West. Robotech found an audience when it was the only true anime to be widely available, and lost it when became just another import anime show. In the days of Crunchyroll, it’s really hard to explain what made Robotech so special, because it means describing a different world.

Try to imagine what it was like in 1986 for Japanime fans: there were barely any video imports, and if you wanted a series, you usually had to trade tapes at your local basement club (they were so precious they couldn’t even be sold, only traded). If you were lucky, you were given a script to translate what you were watching. Robotech though, was on every day, usually after school. You want an action figure? Well, you could buy a Robotech Valkyrie or a Minmei figure at your local corner FAO Schwartz.

However, the very strategy that led to it getting syndicated is the very reason it was later vilified by the purists who emerged when anime became a widespread cultural force: strictly speaking, there actually is no show called “Robotech.” Since Japanese shows tend to be short run, say, 50-60 episodes, it fell well under the 80-100 episode mark needed for syndication in the US. The producer of Harmony Gold, Carl Macek, had a solution: he’d cut three unrelated but similar looking series together into one, called “Robotech.” The shows looked very similar, had similar love triangles, used similar tropes, and even had little references to each other, so the fit was natural. It led to Robotech becoming a weekday afternoon staple with a strong fandom who called themselves “Protoculture Addicts.” There were conventions entirely devoted to Robotech. The supposed shower scene where Minmei was bare-breasted was the barely whispered stuff of pervert legend in pre-internet days. And the tie in novels, written with the entirely western/Harmony Gold conception of the series and which continued the story, were actually surprisingly readable.

The final nail in the coffin of Robotech fandom was the rise of Sailor Moon, Toonami, Dragonball, and yes, Pokemon (like MC Hammer’s role in popularizing hip hop, Pokemon is often written out of its role in creating an audience for the next wave of cartoon imports out of insecurity). Anime popularity in the West can be defined as not a continuing unbroken chain like scifi book fandom is, but as an unrelated series of waves, like multiple ancient ruins buried on top of each other (Robotech was the vanguard of the third wave, as Anime historians reckon); Robotech’s wave was subsumed by the next, which had different priorities and different “core texts.” Pikachu did what the Zentraedi and Invid couldn’t do: they destroyed the SDF-1. [1]

Fanworks

Online Fiction

Zines

Conventions

Drinking Game

Communities

Recs

Resources

References

  1. Dead Fandoms, Part 3, Archived version, date is unclear, likely 2017. See the entire post for many images.