It’s not easy being a Robotech fan. Like a lot of people my age, I first encountered the franchise in its original incarnation as an animated series that ran in syndication on local TV stations in the mid-1980’s. The series really captured my imagination at the time and I’ve been a fan ever since.
For the uninitiated, Robotech began as a mashup of three Japanese anima series that actually had very little to do with each other. In order to meet U.S. TV syndication requirements, Los Angeles-based producer Carl Macek combined the three different shows (Macross, Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross, and Mospeada) into a new story called Robotech, which allowed Macek to meet the requirement that daily animated TV shows have at least 85 episodes. Macek reimagined the three disparate anime series as an epic intergenerational sci-fi series that would see planet Earth caught up in three different intergalactic wars. At the time of Robotech’s debut, there hadn’t been anything like it. The storylines were deep and complex, and contained dramatic elements like interpersonal relationships and the deaths of lead characters.
Despite its early success, the Robotech franchise has gone thru some tough times. Plans for two sequels to the franchise (The Sentinels and Robotech 3000) were scrapped due to various reasons. Macek left the franchise in the 1990’s, leaving the studio that owned the property, Harmony Gold, to go thru a rubber-stamping period that saw the rise of all kinds of Robotech-related merchandise and media. Some of that stuff was great and some of it was terrible.
The 21st century found Robotech trying its best to expand its reach. A full-length animated film called Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles was released in the mid-2000’s. Plans for a sequel went into action but it seemed like the Robotech curse had returned, as that project was put on hold and another idea for a new Robotech TV series was canned when the project couldn’t generate sufficient funds via Kickstarter to produce a pilot episode.
Despite these setbacks, the Robotech franchise continues onward. It was recently announced that a new comic book series was in development. And while full details haven’t been announced as to what the series will cover, the first previews of artwork from the series show some promise. The series is set for release during the summer of 2017 and will be produced by UK-based publisher Titan Comics.
The preview panels contain no dialog, but hint that at least part of the series will take place during Robotech’s first story arc, as the characters and vehicles depicted are definitely from the Macross Saga.
It’s doubtful this series will do much to truly revitalize the franchise. But it’s good to see something coming out of the Robotech camp these days that looks intriguing.