ICONIC SCENE: Not many choices, really, since it’s a clip show.

STORY DATE: November 2009

BROADCAST DATE: January 16, 1983

1. Here we get the first (of two) clip shows, and this one, I believe, was always planned for (the next one was an emergency fill-in). It’s become obligatory at this point to use clip shows as a yardstick of how far we’ve come in the past few decades: so, yes, back in the early ’80s, most households probably didn’t even have VCRs (I think my family got ours in 1983, but not all of my friends had one yet). If you missed an episode of your favorite show, it was gone.

Now, in the US, reruns were usually plentiful and if a series lasts long enough to make it to the magic 65-episode mark, syndication on a local independent station is always a possibility. Not so in Japan, which even now has just a handful of regular broadcast stations, and reruns don’t happen nearly as often.

(A semi-related anecdote: I was in Tokyo from November 2007 to January 2008. My first week, on a Wednesday night (or Thursday morning, if you prefer) still recovering from jet lag, I was flipping through TV stations one night and discovered Macross on TV. If I recall correctly, the episode was “Transformation.” I found out later that in honor of the 25th anniversary, they were rerunning the series (minus episodes 14, 16, 17, and 28 through 36)… at three o’clock in the morning. Some celebration. I tried to catch it as often as I could, because there seemed something kind of cool about watching Macross just on broadcast TV, as opposed to home video, but I often fell asleep during it.)

Anyway, my point is that a clip show like this served a purpose for both audience and staff alike. It reminded the audience of what had gone before, and it gave the staff something of a breather. But that was then. NOW, of course, we have streaming and Netflix and blu-rays and nearly every episode of nearly any TV show you might want can be seen whenever you want, and clip shows have lost their usefulness to the audience.

At least, that’s the received wisdom. Assuming you’re not marathoning the series all in one go, I think for a long and complicated series, the occasional recap is not a bad thing to have. And definitely, clip shows still happen, although often with a little more creativity thrown in. We’ll see this in a few episodes, with “Phantasm,” but it’s worth noting that, confining ourselves to Macross here, Macross 7’s clip show (Episode 39, “Basara Returns”) was done in such a way so as NOT to feel like a clip show, by telling a new story through recycled footage, and Macross Frontier’s clip show (Episode 15, “Lost Peace”) revealed a lot of important plot points through narration. So there ARE ways to make them necessary, even if it’s still annoying when you realize that you’re going to be seeing footage you’ve already seen.

2. Another thing worth pointing out regarding the availability of the series was that for a long time, there really wasn’t any way to buy it. At the end of 1983, six months after the series finished, two VHS (and Beta) tapes were released: The “Macross Special” containing Episodes 1 and 2, and the “Lynn Minmay Special” containing Episodes 4 and 27.

Then, in July 1984, in the run-up to the release of Do You Remember Love, the rather dull compilation “Macross Mech Graffiti” came out. You may have seen it… it was often bootlegged in the ’80s and ’90s, and just consisted of battle scenes with music from the show playing over them. It’s not great, but I’m still a little disappointed that it’s never been reissued (although again, if you own the series, it’s pretty superfluous).

And that was it until the LD box set came out in ’89, and the VHS set in ’92. So that’s six years when you couldn’t get the entire series unless you happened to know someone who had taped it off of TV.

(Of course, for the world outside of Japan, it was even worse… we wouldn’t get the full series until AnimEigo released their subbed DVD set in 2001, nineteen years after it debuted.)

3. Another weird feature of this episode is that although it’s technically Episode 14, the production staff called it “Episode 13.5,” and did the same thing with “Phantasm,” meaning that if you’re, say, searching at Mandarake in Nakano Broadway for old Macross scripts, you’ll find the numbers a little wonky once you get past this episode. (Also why there are only five sections in this post.)

As far as the story of this episode goes, it really just sticks to the overall plot, barely getting into the characters at all. I notice it also sticks to the art and animation that looks good. There are very few Star Pro shots in here.

We do get a few hints of future developments. Most immediately, Global talks about working on a barrier that will cover the entire ship. And also his suggestion that building the city aboard the Macross might give valuable information for future deep space flights.

4. As I mentioned before, on the AnimEigo DVDs, there’s an interesting little Easter Egg on the last two episodes, an interview with (the late) series director, Noboru Ishiguro. On it, one of the questions that came out of left field for me was, “So what WAS going on between Global and Misa?” Really? There was something going on? If so, they seemed awfully discreet about it…

5. So I think it was around this episode, the third week of the original broadcast of Robotech, that I fell into the Macross Purist camp for good. See, one day (and again, it may have been a little earlier, but I doubt it was later) my Mom took me to Karl’s Toys in the late, unlamented Plaza Pasadena mall (opened in 1980, managed to hang on until the mid-’90s, and was replaced with the much snazzier (and outdoor) Paseo Colorado). Now, I had been collecting the Robotech brand model kits for a while (which is why my friend John and I had tuned into “Codename: Robotech” initially), and I had gotten a lot of them at Karl’s Toys. THIS time, however, they had something different: a pure Japanese Macross Imai 1/72 Gerwalk. For $3.99.

I snapped that sucker up immediately. And discovered that even though the instructions were in Japanese, they were in color (showing how to paint it) and had complete diagrams. I put it together over the course of a day or two. Badly (hey, I was just a kid…).

And I puzzled over things like why it was called a “Gerwalk” and not a “Guardian”… which eventually led to the great unravelling, as I became obsessed with finding out the REAL names of the characters and mecha from Robotech.

Um, that happened a bit later.

Anyway, I know it must’ve happened THIS week in Robotech’s original broadcast, because “Rick” (Hikaru) still hadn’t moved on to the VF-1S yet. That would happen the following week. When he did, I tried to repaint the already-built Gerwalk into VF-1S colors. It looked awful. At some point, I repainted it into Max VF-1A colors, and it looked more awful still.

I, um, have gotten a little better at modeling since then, but not much.


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