So, Robotech finished its first run on SPACE: The Imagination Station today. God bless that two-episode-every-weekday airing; it got me hooked, and let the tedious later pieces pass by very fast. Here it is, eighty-five episodes done almost two months after the fact.
The New Generation saga only served to tell me again what I already knew: I was on this Robtech geek-out primarily because of the Zentraedi, and how their experienced clicked with my view that (popular) culture is natural to the sentient psyche, not to mention they made real and likeable characters out of a cliche.
Without that, well...there’s nothing to hold me to this thing. Giant robots can get me into a series, but favourite characters keep me there, and I didn’t like any of the characters in the other two sagas, and thus found it all boring. I really had no idea what the hell the ending to the series was all about. So the latest big bad just up and leaves because she sees that humans will always fight? ....what?
So I don’t have much to say about the New Generation. Except that I’m surprised a cross-dressing character made it into an eighties anime dub (and Lancer is, may I say, awfully good at changing his entire figure for the job).
So let’s talk Robotech in general, shall we?
Keeping Lancer intact was just another part of Robotech’s weirdness. Is it better or worse than most anime jobs of the time? It kept in the stuff edited TV dubs normally take out, but altered things in much more radical ways.
I’m part of the “Pokemon Generation”, at once too old and too young for Robotech. After reading about it in Toyfare once upon a time, I wondered “...did he [Carl Macek] really do that?” Part of the reason I watched it was to see how it was pulled off.
Well, there are so many limitations set, and of course it will look different to someone living in the 00s anime market, so I can’t adequately judge the success of Robotech’s gene-splicing. I think it worked out fairly well, helped by the similiarities in art styles and mecha designs.
It’s curious the parallels that spring up: The New Generation has the pop singer character again, who also happens to be the bishounen who turns the green-haired enemy woman over to the side of the angels. Sound familiar? Yeah. That must be why Lancer was voiced by Cam Clarke, too.
Still, between the Macross Saga and the Sentinels, I’m finding more than enough to fuel my interest. The Sentinels, as I’ve mentioned, was a side story designed to be all-original animation, with all the freedom that would bring. The deal fell through, but novels and comics, though not considered canon, picked it up. I found torrents of both (though the comics one was missing a few issues). It tells the story of Rick Hunter and a bunch of other Macross-saga guys (and girls) a bunch of new characters, on what started out as a mission of peace to the Robotech Masters’ homeworld, but soon develops into a complex tangle of politics, rebellions, and planetary journeys. “Sentinels” refers to a rebel force, suitably ragtag, composed of familiar and new characters, including aliens from an Invid “zoo”. That’s where the mysterious Mr. Hunter is at.
Despite all the fun I’m having, despite the fact that this feels like my Next Great Interest, I’m not going to touch the fandom. The breadth (though perhaps not the depth) of its material is too great, and I don’t want to follow it all. Furthermore, it looks like the fandom is caught in several ruts, including debates over the merits of various aspects of the multiverse, and where the franchise should go from where it is now.
I know I’m new at this, but I’ve got a strong suspicion that Robotech is not going to be flying high anymore. There’s a lovely amount of overlap between fans of Robotech and “normal” anime, but I’d imagine that people like me, new and young Robotech fans, are pretty rare. I can’t imagine many others, living in a time where you can find unedited, bilingual anime DVDs at Wal-Mart to give Robotech the time of day. It’s an antique, a relic, a leftover from bad old days that it helped get rid of. But with purpose served, it’s been outclassed by its own descendents. And without new blood, they have little to go on.
I just happen to have very odd tastes. I feel, basically, that art, be it popucult or otherwise, is not bound by “rules” unless we speak of money. You put your stuff out there, things will happen. Things will be bent, spindled, folded, or mutilated, changed beyond recognition. Art is an ecosystem; nothing is valued, nothing is sacred but its own existence. Because of this, I don’t feel guilty for liking Robotech, because the ultimate goal is to be entertained.
And because I want to see rules broken and bent, I find it thrilling that Robotech really has become its own animal, building an empire of novels and comics and being much more than just “that Frankenstein anime”. That’s not enough to save it, because this additional material is much more obscure, but I just think that’s really cool.
And I am in no way done yet. I feel the urge to write essays and fanfic, which hasn’t happened in a while. So onward....
- Hold Me Closer, Tiny Lancer