Title screen from the 1985 television broadcast
|Original work||Robotech (1985)|
|Owner||Harmony Gold USA|
|Films and television|
|Traditional||Robotech Collectible Card Game|
|Role-playing||Robotech role-playing games|
|Original music||Robotech music|
Robotech is a science fiction franchise that began with an 85-episode anime television series produced by Harmony Gold USA in association with Tatsunoko Production and first released in the United States in 1985. It was adapted from three original and unrelated, though visually similar, Japanese anime television series (Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospeada) to make a series suitable for syndication.
In the series, Robotechnology refers to the scientific advances discovered in an alien starship that crashed on a South Pacific island. With this technology, Earth developed robotic technologies, such as transformable mecha, to fight three successive extraterrestrial invasions.
Prior to the release of the TV series, the name Robotech was used by model kit manufacturer Revell on their Robotech Defenders line in the mid-1980s. The line consisted of mecha model kits imported from Japan and featured in anime titles such as The Super Dimension Fortress Macross (1982), Super Dimension Century Orguss (1983) and Fang of the Sun Dougram (1981). The kits were originally intended to be a marketing tie-in to a similarly named comic book series by DC Comics, which was cancelled after only two issues.
At the same time, Harmony Gold licensed the Macross TV series for direct-to-video distribution in 1984, but their merchandising plans were compromised by Revell's prior distribution of the Macross kits. In the end, both parties signed a co-licensing agreement and the Robotech name was adopted for the TV syndication of Macross combined with Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross (1984) and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA (1983).
The Robotech chronology, according to Harmony Gold, is illustrated below:
|Timeline||Generation / Saga (release date)|
|1999 (2009) - 2014||(1)||Robotech: The Macross Saga (1985)|
|2022||Robotech II: The Sentinels * (1987)|
|2027||Robotech: The Movie * (1986)|
|2029-2030||(2)||Robotech: The Masters (1985)|
|2031 (2042) - 2044||(3)||Robotech: The New Generation (1985)|
|2044-||Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles (2006)|
Note: Asterisked works are now considered 'secondary continuity' -- that is, that their events exist in the continuity of Robotech, but 'don't count' when conflicts arise with the primary continuity that comprises the three-part Robotech TV series and 2006's Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles.
In 2002, with the publication of the Wildstorm (DC) comics, Harmony Gold officially decided to retcon the Robotech Universe. The following Robotech material is now relegated to the status of secondary continuity:
While these materials are not precisely 'retired' or 'removed' from the continuity, their events are subject to critical review, and are strictly subordinate to the 'official' events of the 85-episode animated series.
Robotech (1985) is an original story adapted with edited content and revised dialogue from the animation of three different mecha anime series:
Harmony Gold's cited reasoning for combining these unrelated series was its decision to market Macross for American weekday syndication television, which required a minimum of 65 episodes at the time (thirteen weeks at five episodes per week).Macross and the two other series each had fewer episodes than required, since they originally aired in Japan as weekly series. On some television stations, the syndicated run was preceded by the broadcast premiere of Codename: Robotech, a feature-length pilot.
This combination resulted in a storyline that spans three generations, as mankind must fight three destructive 'Robotech Wars' in succession with various invading forces, each of which is motivated in one way or another by a desire for a powerful energy source called 'Protoculture'. While each of the three animated series used for its footage informs its content, the Robotech storyline is distinct and separate from each of them.
Robotech: The Movie, also called Robotech: The Untold Story, is a feature film and was the first new Robotech adventure created after the premiere of the original series. It uses footage from the Megazone 23 Part 1 OVA (Original Video Animation; made-for-video animated feature) combined with scenes from "Southern Cross" and additional original animation produced for the film.
The original plan for the film was to have it set during the Macross Saga, parallel to the SDF-1's return to Earth from Pluto. The film would also have served as a prequel to the Sentinels, as both projects were initially meant to share many characters. Harmony Gold producer Carl Macek worked with the OVA's original creators to make the story and the new ending work. The film had to be changed again after the distributor of the film, Cannon Films, saw an incomplete rough cut of the film and were upset by it. They ordered Macek to remove multiple scenes from the film and to add more violence (most of the scenes removed were scenes setting up characters and showing female characters interacting). Macek reluctantly did what they ordered, and created a new script and rough edit for the film in less than 24 hours. When the distributors saw Macek act out the new film, they were much more pleased with the new cut. The opening night in Texas received a positive response, but Cannon Films pulled out after noting that most attendants were adults; the bulk of the scheduled advertising for the series was targeted to children. The film had limited success in Argentina and Belgium.
In 2011, A&E Home Video released, as a part of their Robotech: The Complete Series collection, a 29-minute version of Robotech: The Movie containing only footage used from "Southern Cross". There was no attempt to remaster the footage.
This aborted American-produced series would have followed the continuing adventures of Rick and Lisa Hunter and the Robotech Expedition during the events of The Masters and The New Generation. The feature-length pilot is composed of the first three (and only) episodes that were produced. The Sentinels featured characters from all three Robotech sagas and introduced the SDF-3 along with an overview of their new mission. The series was planned to have a total of 65 episodes.
In Robotech Art 3: The Sentinels, Carl Macek blamed the cancellation of the series on the crash of the Yen/Dollar exchange rate, which caused toy partner Matchbox to withdraw from the project. Harmony Gold lacked the funds to produce the series on its own, and production ceased after only three episodes.
Robotech II: The Sentinels was released on VHS by Palladium Books. In 2011, a "remastered" version was released on the A&E DVD set, Robotech: The Complete Original Series DVD. This version has opening titles resembling those found on the "Robotech Remastered" DVD's, as well as a new ending with text explaining the fate of the SDF-3. Also, all of the flashback footage used from "The Macross Saga" has been removed, including the re-used footage from the episode "Wedding Bells".
In 2002, Tommy Yune announced development of a new sequel film, which was untitled until 2004 as Robotech: Shadow Force. The storyline overlaps with and continues from the unresolved ending of the original series. The title of the story-arc was soon changed to Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles. The first trailers with finished animation were shown at Anime Expo and Comic-Con International in 2005. It was not until February 2006, when Kevin McKeever, operations coordinator at Harmony Gold, was able to confirm that the pilot movie had been completed. After a series of delays, FUNimation Entertainment was finally announced as the home video, broadcast, and theatrical distributor at the 2006 Comic-Con International in San Diego with the possibility of producing further sequels. Harmony Gold premiered the movie at various film festivals in 2006, and it was first seen by a public audience at MechaCon on August 9, 2006, where it was showcased as a charity screening to help raise funds for the ongoing Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita recovery effort. A limited theatrical run followed in January 2007, and the film was released on DVD on February 6, 2007. A 2-disc collector's edition was released in November 2007.
First revealed in late 2011 in the final minutes of Carl Macek's Robotech Universe, a documentary on the making of Robotech dedicated to the then-recent passing of Macek, Love Live Alive is an adaptation of the 1985 Genesis Climber Mospeada OVA, Love Live Alive, incorporating some brand new animation. The film was released on DVD on July 23, 2013 by Lionsgate Home Entertainment.
This promotional VHS tape created by Matchbox was included with their Robotech Wars playset. This video includes two episodes cobbled together from clips of The Macross Saga. Titled "To the End of the Universe" and "Battle Royale", these episodes contain no new footage, and are not meant to follow any continuity established in the TV series.
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Carl Macek revealed ideas for another proposed series, Robotech: The Odyssey, which would have picked up where The New Generation and end of Robotech: The Sentinels left off, and eventually created a circular storyline that would end where the original Robotech began in a giant 260-episode cycle to fill up all the weekdays in a year. According to Macek, The Odyssey would have involved the SDF-3 travelling back into the past to the days before the birth of Zor (as well as Scott Bernard's search for the SDF-3). The SDF-3's crew would become citizens of the Robotech Masters' homeworld and change time by becoming a part of its history. Ultimately, it would be revealed that Lynn Minmei was the mother of Zor, making Minmei the focal point of Robotech. The final episode of the Odyssey would be of Zor dying and his Super Dimension Fortress (the SDF-1) being launched into space, and eventually crash landing on Earth in 1999. The next episode after that would be "Boobytrap", episode 1 of the original series which in turn will create an endless loop within the Robotech universe. After the failure of Sentinels, Odyssey never went into development, although some of its ideas were worked into the final Jack McKinney novel The End of the Circle, which wrapped up all of the outstanding plot threads left by the original series and the previous Robotech novels.
Fan publication Macross Life interviewed Harmony Gold executive Richard Firth in 1986, where he revealed that Macek had "plans through ROBOTECH V, which would give us an episode for each day of the year for a year and a half." He also said that these two installments would have brought the series to 285 episodes. Regarding the plot, Firth mentioned a "retired Commodore Hunter, whom ever that may be, could very well be speaking at the graduation of the later day cadets or whatever, and they ask him to tell them the story all over again: it comes back [to the first episode of the series]."
Macek himself has never mentioned Robotech IV or V in any interviews or writings. Taking the three different "generations" of the original series as separate parts, and the canceled Robotech: The Sentinels as the "fourth" part, Firth could have been referring to the proposed Robotech: The Odyssey as Robotech 5, since it would be a fifth part of the overall saga.
Macek attempted another sequel with the development of Robotech 3000. This all-CGI series would have been set a millennium in the future of the Robotech universe and feature none of the old series' characters. In the three-minute trailer, an expedition is sent to check on a non-responsive mining outpost and is attacked by "infected" Veritech mecha. The idea was abandoned midway into production after negative reception within the company, negative fan reactions at the FanimeCon anime convention in 2000, and financial difficulties within Netter Digital who was animating the show. The trailer is hosted on the official Robotech website, and was included in the 2007 release of the Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles 2-Disc Collector's DVD, along with behind-the-scenes motion capture footage.
In October 2004, veteran animation writer and producer Greg Weisman revealed that he wrote developed an animated spin-off series titled Robotech: Mars Force . When asked about the project, Weisman said that he was under a non-disclosure agreement with Harmony Gold and was only allowed to mention that he developed the series.
In 2006, Harmony Gold Creative Director Tommy Yune elaborated on the project in the Space Station Liberty Podcast, saying that Mars Force was a series geared at younger audiences, following the children Robotech Expeditionary Force. A similar plot would later be used for canceled 2014 spin-off, Robotech Academy.
A sixty-second public service announcement for the 60th anniversary of the United Nations, featuring Scott Bernard and Ariel, was animated during the production of The Shadow Chronicles. Although it did not use the original voice actors and the dialogue was somewhat out-of-character, it nonetheless marked the first fully completed Robotech footage in many years.
On July 27, 2007, at their Comic-Con International panel, Harmony Gold and Yune unveiled the second entry of the Shadow Chronicles production, titled Robotech: Shadow Rising and was to be a co-production with FUNimation Entertainment. Pre-production reportedly began on February 2007 and a projected release date of sometime in 2009 was originally expected. Production ceased after Harmony Gold terminated their deal with FUNimation Entertainment due to creative differences.
On July 5, 2014, Harmony Gold started a Kickstarter project for Robotech Academy, which Macek had developed before he died. The goal of this project was to raise US$500,000 to produce a new 24-minute pilot episode. The crowdfunding project was to have closed on August 9, 2014; however, on August 2, the project was canceled with a pledge level of US$194,574, or 39% of its target. Harmony Gold however, announced that further plans to fund the project were being explored. At the 2014 Long Beach Comic Con, it was announced that the producers at Harmony Gold were in talks with at least one New media network on the prospect of producing the show. As of December 7, 2015, the project remains abandoned.
In the 1990s, Seishun Shitemasu, an anime fandubbing group, produced the parodies Robotech III: Not Necessarily the Sentinels and Robotech IV: Khyron's Counterattack, using footage from, respectively, Gunbuster and Gundam: Char's Counterattack, continuing the tradition of the original Robotech's adaptation of unrelated anime series into a single continuity.
On July 2, 2010, Ecuadorian animator Patricio "Pat" Mosquera uploaded to YouTube a teaser for Robotech Skull Knights. On August 17, 2010, second teaser revealed Rick Hunter standing in front of an image of the VF-4 shown in the final episodes of the original series. Robotech Skull Knights has not been released yet. In July 2013, Patricio Mosquera was included as an animation director in the staff list in the IMDb page of Love Live Alive.
On December 31, 2012, Cesar Turturro uploaded to YouTube an Argentinian fan trailer for Robotech Valkyrie Project. On December, 2013 the first episode was uploaded to YouTube, and in January 2014, the second episode was also uploaded. The series was cancelled after Harmony Gold issued a "cease and desist" letter to the producers. The team was, however, hired to do the CGI effects for Robotech: Academy.
On September 7, 2007, The Hollywood Reporter stated that Warner Bros. had acquired the film rights to Robotech and would be producing a live-action film with an as-yet-unknown release date.Tobey Maguire is producing the film through his Maguire Entertainment banner and is pursuing the lead role, in what the studio plans to be a tentpole science fiction franchise. Maguire stated, "We are very excited to bring Robotech to the big screen. There is a rich mythology that will be a great foundation for a sophisticated, smart and entertaining film."
In an interview, Harmony Gold representative Kevin McKeever said that Warner Bros. had approached Harmony Gold about the project, that Harmony Gold would have "a say" in its creative direction, and that it was not expected to affect the production schedule for Shadow Rising. He was unable to confirm any details of budget, casting, expected release date, or storyline, explaining that it was too early in the life of the project for these things to have been decided.
In June 2008, it was reported that Lawrence Kasdan had been hired to write the film, with Charles Roven and Akiva Goldsman joining Tobey Maguire as producers. During the Robotech Panel at Anime Expo 2008, the involvement of Maguire and Kasdan was confirmed, with Kasdan writing the script for the live-action film. Tommy Yune also revealed that the film is planned as a re-imagining of the original Robotech universe (with new updated mecha and character designs) and will take place several years in the future, departing from the original cartoon's 2009 setting. 
Roven is currently no longer working on the proposed film adaptation of the Robotech animated series, but he wished the remaining producers Goldsman and Maguire "fantastic luck" on the project.
The Mania.com website reported on June 23, 2009, that British television writer and novelist Tom Rob Smith "has taken over writing duties" for the proposed film adaptation. Smith wrote for the British soaps Family Affairs and Bad Girls before writing the critically acclaimed crime suspense novel Child 44. Smith will be the fourth writer or writing team to be reportedly attached to the upcoming film's pre-production.
In early 2013, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Warner Bros. was in talks with commercial director Nic Mathieu to direct the film. On July 24, 2013, it was reported that Leonardo DiCaprio had turned down a role in Star Wars: Episode VII and has shown interest to star as a main character in the upcoming big screen version of Robotech. DiCaprio is a longtime friend of Tobey Maguire; they co-starred in The Great Gatsby. Maguire will probably participate in the film as another one of the lead actors -- while Nic Mathieu will direct. On February 4, 2015, Deadline.com reported Gianni Nunori and Mark Canton selected Michael B. Gordon to write the film's script and are looking at Andy Muschietti to direct it.
On March 25, 2015, Variety announced that the Robotech franchise had been acquired by Sony Pictures, who views Robotech as a potential film franchise. On April 29, 2015, Deadline reported that James Wan is in talks to direct the film. On June 3, 2015, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Wan is confirmed to direct the film.
On July 3, 2015, Kevin McKeever of Harmony Gold announced at Anime Expo that Sony has the rights to release this film worldwide, with the exception of Japan.
On March 27, 2016, Wan told IGN that the film will follow the roots of the franchise.
As of April 4, 2016, Harmony Gold's Kevin McKeever revealed on the official Robotech Facebook page that their deal with Sony is still not finalized.
At the time of its broadcast, Harmony Gold also launched Robotech through a popular line of comics to be followed by novels, role-playing games, toys, and other consumer products. With the cancellation of Robotech II: The Sentinels, many of these licensed products were discontinued, and led to a drought of Robotech product through much of the 1990s, except for publishers who continued The Sentinels storyline in print.
In 1986, Starblaze Graphics published Robotech Art 1, a reference book containing artwork, Japanese production designs, and episode guides from the original television series. This was followed by Robotech Art 2, which was largely a collection of art by various American artists and fans. In 1988, Carl Macek collected much of the unused designs from Robotech II: The Sentinels into Robotech Art 3: The Sentinels, which also included his story outline for the rest of the unfinished series, with an explanation behind its cancellation. In 2007, Stone Bridge Press published The Art of Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles.
Robotech comics were first published in 1984 with DC Comics' short-lived Robotech Defenders and Comico's adaptation of the first episode of the Japanese version of Macross. However, the first adaptation of the Robotech television series did not arrive until 1985 with Comico's Robotech: The Macross Saga Number 2, which continued from the first Macross issue.
The various comic publishers include:
The first Robotech collectible card game was released in 2006 by Hero Factory, which had previously produced Robotech trading cards.
Since 1987, Robotech was adapted into novel form by "Jack McKinney", a pseudonym for the team of James Luceno and the late Brian Daley, a pair of writers who had been working with Macek since they had collaborated on the animated series Galaxy Rangers. Using fictitious epigraphs in the style of Dune, McKinney's novels fleshed out the chronology (including adapting the incomplete Sentinels source material) in far greater detail than the original animation. Many Robotech fans consider the McKinney series to be an unofficial canon of its own, despite notable divergences in the writing from Harmony Gold's current official animation-based canon. Despite no longer being considered core-continuity by Harmony Gold, the novels have been recently re-issued by Del Rey Books as Omnibus compilations.
In 1986, Palladium Books published a role-playing game based on the Robotech series, including several books covering the Sentinels portion of the storyline. The original Robotech RPG line went out of print as of June 30, 2001, but Harmony Gold and Palladium Books signed an agreement in 2007 to produce a new line of Robotech RPG books, beginning with a book covering and promoting the feature-length film The Shadow Chronicles. The Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles Role-Playing Game sourcebook first book was released on March 21, 2008, followed by sourcebooks covering the Macross, Masters, and New Generation chapters of Robotech (redrafted to reflect the Harmony Gold canon). Other sourcebooks and supplements are reflected in the Palladium Books production pipeline.
On April 18, 2013, Palladium started a campaign on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter for a tabletop miniatures game based on the Robotech RPG called "Robotech: RPG Tactics". The miniatures are being produced by Ninja Division (combining sculpting talents from Soda Pop Miniatures and Cipher Studios), and will feature multi part plastic miniatures that can be posed during assembly. The campaign reached its goal in 3 hours, and was initially scheduled to release in December 2013, but delays have persisted into late 2017.
Action figures in the 3.75 inches (95 mm) size of the three Robotech generations were initially released in 1985 by Matchbox toy company, but then reissued in 1992 by Harmony Gold (Lunk and Corg were only released by Matchbox and Lynn Minmei was only released by Harmony Gold). Each included a weapon and helmet where appropriate. Matchbox also released 6 inches (150 mm) figures of Zentraedi characters from the first generation. These figures were supposed to represent the size difference between the Humans and the giant Zentraedi forces, but to be correct these figures would have to have been made about 20 inches (510 mm) tall. None of the larger figures came with weapons but the Armored Zentraedi came with a removable helmet.
Also many toys depicting the vehicles and mecha from the series were released by Matchbox in 1985, Harmony Gold in 1992 and Playmates in 1994 (under the Exosquad line). There were major differences in packaging, toy stickers and colors between the different releases. The vehicles were designed to be used only with the 3 3/4 inch figures. The SDF-1 Playset was only released under the Matchbox line in the 1980s and could be used with both the 3 3/4 and 6 inch figures.
Harmony Gold and Matchbox were unable to sell the 1/55 VF-1 Valkyrie toy originally sold in Japan by Takatoku Toys due to Hasbro licensing it as Jetfire in the Transformers toy line. Because of this, they settled with manufacturing a non-transformable Veritech Fighter that could fit any of the 3 3/4 inch action figures, as well as importing the transformable super deformed Veritech Fighters (originally manufactured in Japan by Bandai as Macross VF-1 Valkyrie "Joke machines").
Since the late 1990s, there has been a resurgence of Robotech-related toys. In 2001, Toynami released the Robotech Masterpiece Collection line, featuring replicas of the Veritech Fighters of The Macross Saga. Since then, Toynami has become the exclusive toy manufacturer of the Robotech franchise - having covered mecha from The Macross Saga, The New Generation and The Shadow Chronicles.
Robotech spawned five video game licenses, of which the most recent three were released:
Robotech is often a polarizing subject amongst anime fans. Some critics look down upon the show for its extensive edits to the source material (Westernizing character names, editing for content and chiefly, forging a connection between previously unrelated series), while supporters of the adaptation have pointed out that the weaving of three unrelated series into a contiguous whole necessarily required reworking, and that it helped to maintain a slow but continuous rise in the consumption of anime in the US.
Series writer/actor Gregory Snegoff said in an interview on the now-defunct Shadow Chronicles News fansite that, "afterward, we received compliments from the Japanese who thought our dialogue and stories were better than the original," likely a reference to the creators of the latter two series, both of whom worked with the team on The Sentinels. The producers offers Megazone 23 Part 1 were very happy with the original plans for Robotech: The Movie (where the incomplete film would have been added to the Robotech mythos to play part in The Sentinels storyline), and worked closely with Carl Macek to plan the new ending and animation. When the film reached a limited release, the new ending was released on a laser disc of Megazone 23, with the title "Present For You."  However, Animag magazine (issue 11) and Animerica magazine (issue 9, volume 4) reports that the staff of Macross at Studio Nue and Artland, such as the original story creator and mecha designer Shoji Kawamori and chief director Noboru Ishiguro, expressed their concern over the Robotech adaptation, and surprise at its differences.