13/07/2018 by Lee
Reflections on a Robotech The Macross Saga rewatch
Recently I discovered that Stan (a streaming service in Australia) had added three seasons of Robotech to its collection (for some reason I thought it was five but that’s not really relevant right now lol). Robotech is a series that I watched on and off as a kid but I’m not convinced I ever watched the whole thing. I was a Transformers, He-Man and Star Blazers kid and whilst I thought Robotech looked awesome, the ongoing storylines and adult themes (at the time they seemed like adult themes) kept me from really getting into the show.
I must have been watching it at the start regularly because I have a very clear memory of my Mother commenting on Rick being a “dirty stop out” (because of the whole Lisa and Minmay love triangle). But I definitely don’t remember staying with it and I know that I only watched one or two episodes of the subsequent seasons.
So there was a little nostalgic curiosity around Robotech and it’s not a long show so it was an easy one for me to put on whilst inking illustrations etc.
What I wasn’t expecting was to be completely drawn into the long and epic Macross Saga and to be completely invested in the main characters, but lo and behold that I was.
It was with some amusement that I noted my completely horrified reaction to the destruction of the SDF-1 at the hands of Khyron’s crippled battlecruiser plus the sadness at the death of the bridge crew. It’s an amazing ending to a show that midway through wipes out all life on Earth and spends the second half of the season following the 70,000 survivors resurrecting the planet and dealing with the stranded Zentraedi.
At the very core of the story is, of course, our hero Rick Hunter who goes from irresponsible pilot to battle-hardened Skull Squadron leader and is torn between his two loves Minmay and Lisa (I was team Lisa all the way). Here amongst the giant robots and attacking aliens we have a love story that spans years?!? It’s ridiculously soap opera material but strangely engrossing and as I mentioned, so easy to become invested in.
I got to the end emotional end of the Macross Saga and fell in a heap as the second season starts and it is set in the future (and comes from a completely different show that doesn’t have Rick and Lisa), the closure not there I had to seek out the three episodes of Robotech II The Sentinels that was original content following the Macross City survivors and most importantly shows the wedding of Rick and Lisa, giving me the closure at least that they are together in the end.
There are books and comics that follow the stories to their eventual conclusion and there is a film that I’ll watch at some point that apparently ties all the versions of the show together.
But for a cartoon that was cobbled together for a western audience, the show is way before its time in giant story arc storytelling. It has inspired me to have a proper rewatch of one of its contemporaries and one of the shows that were very dear to me as I grew up, Star Blazers or its original title Space Battleship Yamato (宇宙戦艦ヤマト). I’ve had the DVD set for years and have only really dipped in to watch it occasionally for nostalgia purposes. But Robotech ripping my heart out has made me wonder if Star Blazers might do the same, I know that it was another epic storyline that spans three seasons with an equally if not more catchy theme tune.
I’m not even sure if I can recommend Robotech to anyone who’s never seen it, I’m not sure how kids today would take it, there’s an 80’s sensibility about it that requires you to imagine more to almost every storyline and accept the sometimes abrupt plot points that are thrust upon you. I think if you watched it as a kid and wondered what it’s like in its completeness then definitely check it out but be prepared for that gut hit as the SDF-1 fires one last desperate shot.