Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Gerwalk This Way
Just stumbled upon the news that a seminal series from my childhood has been given perhaps the biggest free-content compliment any show could be granted in this day and age, a Hulu release! It is no secret that one of the flagship few that drew me hopelessly into the fanboy web called otaku was a little TV series called Robotech. Its three seemingly connected stories featuring a struggling humanity against far more powerful alien foes while sporting some awe-inspiring mecha was something of a godsend for a kid who's love of Star Wars had reached critical mass. As the Holy Trilogy had indeed been over for a little over a year, it seemed only sensible that this project would crack the code of my mind, and present me not only with a great follow-up to shows such as Star Blazers(Uchu Senkan Yamato), Battle Of The Planets (Science Ninja Team Gatchaman), and Voltron (Golion). But this series had elements that were special in how it took some incredibly absurd ideas, and made them pillars of legend.
Most notably, the first series within the trilogy, Superdimensional Fortress Macross (originally produced in 1982 by Studio Nue & Tatsunoko) was the singular event that possibly heralded my future interests within and beyond the anime medium. It was a series that took the space war format, and created a world where not only action was the order of the day, but so was the unwavering power of culture. It also presented me with something I hadn't ever considered in this type of tale, an honest to goodness love story fraught with complications, pratfalls, and ultimately growth. Macross' brilliant tapestry of Mecha melodrama, War Tale, Science Fiction Epic, Love Story, and paean to all things creative was perhaps a sparking point in what would ensure my return to the medium several years later (after I had once assumed maturity, and beyond such things-go figure). It is a series made by fans for fans, and was apparently speaking in a timbre I immediately recognized because its resonance can still be felt today. Yep. That silly bar was raised quite high very early on.
And now, the Americanized version I first grew up with is on Hulu with every episode uploaded. And despite the fact that as an elder lover of the original Japanese series, this is as good an opportunity as any to catch a singular part of my wandering days as a child. (This was years before catching the 1984 feature film, and inevitably the untouched Japanese version, not to mention all the follow-up TV and Video series.) Just be wary that this version was produced in the less trusting 1980s where dubs were a dicey proposition, and often not known for their quality. But in its defense, I will say that much of the original scripts, however juvenile at times, remain intact with the exception of inferences to "Robotech Masters" later in the series, these were merely inserted as lead-ins for the other two (in reality) unrelated tv series (Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross & Genesis Climber Mospeada) as part of a means to play them off as a sort-of trilogy.
Ok...As goofy as that just sounded, it's important to consider just how rare it was to even have anime brought to the US at this point. This was the only reasonable way to even bring Macross to the West, which is why I don't fault Carl Macek or Harmony Gold for taking the measures they did in order to bring this amazing series to a broader audience. Even to this day, it still remains an extremely fun, inventive, thrilling, and even strangely moving experience that I can recommend to just about anyone. And that's a big part of Macross' greatest claims to fame, it balances the human and the absurd in appropriate doses to deliver all encompassing entertainment, and it shouldn't be missed by anyone interested in anime history. For all its age, and influence, the song of Macross travels on...
(If you still need convincing, and maybe even wish to know more about Macross, check out DarkMirage's post as he explores every series and comes up with some interesting thoughts.)