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The Wayback Machine: Robotech!

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Posted by: Byron Brewer, Contributing Editor
created 06/20/2013 - 2:44pm, updated 06/20/2013 - 5:04pm

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Besides the Lost in Space brand and possibly the Vision, I was never really big on robots. But a sci-fi anime series by the same name (I thought) really impressed me as I left college for the world of real work (whew!).

So let’s walk the short distance from my cubicle in the CBN offices here on Knowhere (near Buffalo, NY) and access the Wayback Machine, spinning the dial to, oh say, 1985!

Robotech is an 85-episode sci-fi anime adaptation produced by Harmony Gold USA in association with Tatsunoko Productions and first released in the United Statesin 1985. It was adapted from three original Japanese TV series.

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.

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 Japanas 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.

The first Robotech War (The Macross Saga) concerns humanity's discovery of a crashed alien ship and subsequent battle against a race of giant warriors called the Zentraedi, who have been sent to retrieve the ship for reasons unknown. In the course of this chapter, Earth is nearly annihilated, the Zentraedi are defeated, and humans gain knowledge of the energy source called protoculture. Humanity also learns of the Robotech Masters whose galactic empire the Zentraedi protected and patrolled.

The second Robotech War (The Masters) focuses on the arrival in Earth orbit of the Robotech Masters, who have come seeking what turns out to be the sole means in the universe of producing protoculture. Through a combination of mistrust and arrogance, their attempts at retrieving this meet with opposition from the humans and unleash a war that leaves the Masters defeated and Earth awash in the spores of a plant called the Flower of Life—the source of protoculture and a beacon to the mysterious Invid who scour the galaxy for its presence.

The third Robotech War (The New Generation) begins with the arrival on Earth of the Invid, who are lured by the Flower of Life and rapidly conquer the planet. References in the previous two chapters explain to viewers that many of the heroes of the First Robotech War had left Earth to seek out the Robotech Masters on a preemptive mission, and it is this Robotech Expeditionary Force that sends missions back from across the galaxy to attempt a liberation of their homeworld. The storyline follows one group of freedom fighters as they work their way towards the final battle with the Invid.

Cool, eh?

 
 

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