Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Why the time is NOT right for a ROBOTECH reboot

Tor.com have published an article arguing that, following in the footsteps of Voltron, there should be an animated reboot of classic 1980s animated series Robotech. Unfortunately, the article ignores several major problems with this idea.


If you're not familiar with Robotech, please check out my Franchise Familiariser on the series here.

To recap briefly, in 1985 an American animation company, Harmony Gold, was in need of a new TV series. They really wanted to release the classic Japanese animated show Macross in the USA, but Macross was only 35 episodes long and they needed at least double that for syndication purposes. Producer Carl Macek stepped in and cleverly edited together three unrelated Japanese anime - Macross, Southern Cross and Mospeada - so it looked like one story unfolding over three generations with three different sets of characters and antagonists. The resulting show, dubbed Robotech, was very popular and led to some video games, comic books and an excellent 21-volume novel adaptation by Brian Daley and James Luceno.

However, whilst this was occurring in the USA, in Japan Macross became a monster hit show, spawning multiple sequels, prequels and spin-offs. The Japanese creators were keen to share Macross in the West, but Harmony Gold's contract allowed them to block the release of all material under the Macross banner, which they duly did, fearing the confusion that would result from Macross and Robotech coexisting. This situation has earned Harmony Gold the enmity of the anime fanbase ever since and various legal challenges have taken place since then.

The latest result of these these legal challenges is that Harmony Gold will lose its Macross licence in 2021. This will mean that, after 2021, the Japanese studio behind Macross can finally release the original show and its myriad sequels in the United States and Europe. This will also make it dramatically more difficult to make any new Robotech material, as it will not be able to use any elements from the Macross portion of the series, which is by far the most popular part of the franchise.

Sony are developing a feature film version of Robotech, with Andy Muschietti, the director of the two-part It movie, assigned to bring it to the screen, but the status of the project in the wake of the legal decision is now unclear. It may be that Sony will be developing an all-new version of the story that does not use any pre-existing designs or characters so won't run afoul of the new limitations, although in that case you may ask what is the point?

I think we can safely say that Netflix - the most likely home for a new Robotech series (given their immense success with Voltron - won't be interested in starting a reboot of Robotech if they'll lose the licence to the best part of it in just three years.

1 comment:

ex-sell69 said...

Well, the real problem is: It's not Harmony Gold saying that, it is its fans (who are also jealous of Voltron Legendary Defender) who want a reboot (to the head) of Robotech... Yes, well if its fans opinion ment anything, the live action movie would had been made by now (instead of 10 years with nothing to show for it). So they want a reboot of Robotech, that wasn't made by or support the people who made the original (SDF Macross). That justs proves the point of: When you rename and rewrite an anime to be something it's not, you don't make these people into fans of the original anime, you make them fans of this new work. With their excuse being back in 1985, they needed 65 episodes to air it on TV... Well guess what? THIS ISN'T 1985 ANYMORE! Even back in the 1990's anime like Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, Gundam Wing, etc. didn't need 65 episodes to get aired on TV! So, remember, if fans want a reboot or more Robotech (that has nothing to do with Macross)... The only ones stopping Harmony gold from doing so, is Harmony Gold themselves!
All hail lord Shoji Kawamori! Long live Macross! Death to Harmony Gold!ed