Sunday, April 14, 2013

Day One Hundred and Four - Robotech: Season 1, Episode 1, "Did... did that cartoon just show people DYING?"

Almost thirty years ago, Robotech and Voltron were the first anime that I was ever exposed to... and I loved them immensely.

This was particularly the case with Robotech. Sure, it was a silly actioner with giant robots fighting giant people (who were also in giant robots), but it was also leaps and bounds ahead of regular 80's cartoons when it came to story, drama, romance, and special effects.

It was also the first cartoon I ever saw that didn't mince when it came to death. In that first episode we see quite a few folks disintegrate when caught in explosions. My child-self found it awesome that a show marketed to me didn't pull punches and thought I was mature enough to handle fantasy depictions of death.

Adult-me still lauds Harmony Gold.

Unfortunately, adult-me is also privy to the fact that Harmony Gold took three distinct shows and threw them together with a very loose story that, upon reflection, makes little to no sense... especially when you get to season 3, The New Generation.

But, hey... we're talking about the first season, The Macross Saga, here.

Alright, first things first, yes... the animation is rough. Not as bad as, say, GIJOE or HE-MAN, but still, you can definitely tell the difference between 80's era anime and its modern cohorts (say, Evangelion... but even EVA is feeling dated when compared to stuff like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Gurren Lagann).

There's a certain amount of maturity to the story progression and character dynamics, though. Sure, it follows your typical alien invasion plotline and the players are pretty much just tropes and archetypes (The Rookie Natural, The Ace Pilot, The Stoic Admiral), but it's not bad at all.

Yes, there's a lot of cheese and you have to stretch your mind a bit and forgive the silly Harmony Gold narrator who force-feeds you exposition, but it still, somehow, works.

I'm also a big fan of the fact that it's a multinational taskforce... something that you never really saw much of back then. Granted, they changed Hikaru to Rick Hunter in a terrible anglicizing of the character, but just about every ethnic group is represented in Macross City... and not a one is a stereotype beyond Minmei's Aunt and Uncle running a Chinese restaurant.

Plus, GIANT ROBOTS... and semi-realistic ones that transform from obvious F-16 Tomcat base models. They're not like Voltron with his obvious human features and emotes (something that always pulled me out). As far as cheesy scifi vehicles go, they're actually fairly believable. Much props to the original creators of Macross.

I love Robotech. It follows a grand, ambitious series arc and does it with just the right amount of action, drama, and romance for the kid in me, both now and then.

Yes, I have to suffer through the silly antics of Minmei, but it's still worth it after all these years. It's not a 5-star series, but it's competent and entertaining, almost thirty years later... and that's a rarity (as I cannot really stand MacGyver or Murder, She Wrote anymore).

Can I recommend it? Well, yes and no. It should be tried, I think, by anyone interested in Anime or Scifi, but it's not a sterling example to try and hook someone into either medium or genre with.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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