THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH
Well, with a new series coming, I figured it was high time I did a Macross rewatch. Macross was (and continues to be) of course an EXTREMELY important series. For starters, it was one of the first real fruits of the “anime generation” that grew up in the ’60s and ’70s, falling in love with shows like Yamato and Gundam, and trying to push the medium further. It was also the first show (of a rather depressing “only two”) created from the ground up by Studio Nue, who were THE science fiction design firm in Japan at the time, basically creating throughout their anime designs and book illustrations what most people think of when they think of mecha or Japanese SF. Third, it was the series that introduced the word “otaku” to the Japanese fandom at large, but we’ll get into that soon enough.
Of course, a few years later, it also helped create an audience for anime in the west, but that opens up a completely different can of worms. I’ll probably address it at some point, but it’s not a priority.
Bare-bones history time: In 1979 or 1980, the design team of Studio Nue (which at the time, as far as I can tell, comprised about four people) decided to create their own animated series, instead of just doing designs for other people’s. So they hammered out ideas for a series under the family-friendly title of “Genocidas,” which was gritty, military SF. And absolutely no one wanted it. They couldn’t secure anywhere near enough funding to make it.
So they created another, more lighthearted show, figuring that they could produce it first, and THEN do Genocidas. It was called “Battle City Megaroad,” and IT got funding. Unfortunately, the first sponsor wanted to make it even more lighthearted than it already was, essentially a parody, but that sponsor went out of business soon, so it didn’t turn out that way. Another sponsor, the advertising company Big West, had a boss who loved Shakespeare, and insisted the show be titled “Macbeth.” The staff balked, but eventually came up with “Macross” as a compromise.
The staff was assembled, with some Yamato and Gundam veterans, and a lot of untried new staff (especially Valkyrie designer Shoji Kawamori and character designer Haruhiko Mikimoto, and later, their college buddy Hiroshi Ohnogi), and production on “Super Dimension Fortress Macross” began in earnest in 1980.
And then they burned through their unprecedented year-and-a-half lead-up time, finding themselves with only two complete episodes by the time the show was set to debut. HOWEVER, the show following it (the otherwise-unremembered “Rainbowman”… not the Super Sentai show, but an anime) wasn’t ready yet, so some higher-up somewhere hit on the “brilliant” idea of having a “Macross Special,” and the first two episodes would be shown back to back.
We’ll be talking about this later. A LOT.
It’s worth noting that the timeslot (Sundays at 2 PM) was NOT a usual anime timeslot. Indeed, the show that it replaced was a celebrity interview show.
Anyway, enough warm-up: let’s get into it.
Oh, wait: THANKS TO THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE INCREDIBLE SPEAKER PODCAST CREW!!
Plenty of what I say here can be found in the Speaker PodCast, or in Renato’s interview translations.
(Seriously, Renato should be as famous in anime circles as Helen McCarthy. Even I’m envious, and I’ve held eye contact with Aya Endo!)