Macross Fans Are Morons: Some Thoughts On Why Spoiled, Unthinking Fans Ruin The Fun For The Rest Of Us

.....If there's anything that unnecessarily seeps its way into my reviews and especially this Editorial section, it's my disdain for groups of fans, especially when their preconceived notions conflict with my analyses. Obviously, this could very well mean that I'm an arrogant ass who has problems playing well with others.


.....But since you, my lovely audience, are reading this, I'm going to guess that you at least tolerate my biases. So, with that considered, we're going to take it for granted that at least some of the aforementioned groups of fans are total jackwagons. And, today, we will be using Macross fans as our whipping boys. Because, as stated above, Macross fans are frigging morons.

Macross fan. (Not really.)

.....Let's establish some context here first. Chōjikū Yōsai Macross (or Super Dimension Fortress Macross in English) aired in Japan in 1982-1983, and was a massive smash hit of epic proportions. The success was enough that Carl Macek and Harmony Gold struck a deal with Tastunoko Productions, to distribute the series internationally (the deal also granted Harmony Gold merchandising rights outside of Japan, with some exceptions. There were two problems: One, Macross was only 36 episodes in length-far too long to be effectively syndicated on weekends, and too short to be stripped on weekdays, as was the format of shows like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Two, model maker Revell had licensed a number of models related to Macross (and a number of other giant robot series of Japanese origin) under the brand name Robotech.
.....The answer was ingenious and insane all at once: Macross would be linked with two other cartoons (the chosen series, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA having the benefit of being produced by Tatsunoko and also represented in Revell's line of models) and renamed as Robotech. The resulting series was a smash success, but the failures of Robotech: The Movie (which repurposed animation from Southern Cross and combined it with the direct-to-video production Megazone 23 Part I) and Robotech II: The Sentinels (a planned newly-animated series that collapsed when Matchbox pulled financial support following a shift in the yen-dollar exchange rate) led Harmony Gold to retreat from animation until the DVD era. However, in Japan, Macross received multiple sequel series and films, many of which have been released in America, with Harmony Gold's blessing (as they hold the international trademark rights to Macross and all related elements to the original series).
.....The problems lie in why I omitted the word "all" from the previous sentence. The short answer is, "The internet." The long answer is that Big West (financial backers and copyright holders of Macross in Japan) and Studio Nue (who created the series and worked on most of the sequels) sued Tatsunoko over their rights, in part because Harmony Gold began serving cease and desist orders to online retailers who began importing Macross toys to sell to fans outside Japan. Harmony Gold's argument was that the imported merchandise interfered with their ability to make and sell Macross toys (including the licensing of those same toys for sale in non-Japanese markets where Harmony Gold holds the trademark and can therefore get a cut). Fans of Macross sided with Studio Nue and Big West (and began blaming Harmony Gold for every failure to distribute Macross material abroad), and the Japanese courts pretty much affirmed the status quo (the suit settled copyrights and licensing rights, but Harmony Gold's argument lies with their trademark rights).
.....Simply put, the American fans are so wrong it hurts. The reason why Macross 7 and Macross Frontier will never come to America is due to music rights (and if you've read this far, you know fully well that music is of primary importance to Macross). As for the various video games, almost all trade off the goodwill of the original series (read: they use elements from it). The end result, though, is that unless Big West and Studio Nue have a trademark lawsuit planned, they (and Bandai Namco, which currently holds the Macross video game license in Japan) has to deal with Harmony Gold in the US. The exception to this situation is the Macross movie, Do You Remember Love?, for which Toho has distribution rights (and which is edited on the Japanese Blu-ray release, funnily enough). But to the average Macross fan, these details are secondary to Harmony Gold leeching off the original series (totally ignoring the other two-thirds of Robotech) and suppressing Macross distribution in favor of a number of failed and/or stalled projects.
.....Oddly, this viewpoint ignores the influence of not only the original Macross on the sequels (as the mech designs are naturally based off the earlier work, and characters from the original have been known to return in later installments), but of Robotech as well. How is that, you ask? Macross 7 featured the daughter of Max and Millia Jenius in the lead. For those of you not up on Japanese names, that's Max and Miriya Sterling in the Robotech world-the same Max and Miriya whose daughter Dana is the star of the Masters third of the series. And that's just the tip of the iceberg: Macross II featured the Marduk as antagonists, who controlled Zentraedi forces using singers called Emulators, which is more than a little similar to how the Robotech Masters kept their forces in line. And, as a kicker, it's believed that the next Macross series shall involve a search for the long-lost Megaroad space cruiser which is led by Hikaru and Lisa Ichijyo......which just so happens to parallel with one of the longest unresolved Robotech plot threads, the quest to search for the SDF-3 and its crew, which never appeared at the end of the series, and whose crew included Rick and Lisa Hunter. (In fact, the stalled sequel to Shadow Chronicles, Shadow Rising, is supposed to start to resolve this storyline.) As Robotech was a known entity to many of the people who worked on each of its component series (to the extent that Carl Macek believed that Tatsunoko was planning on using The Sentinels as a basis for a MOSPEADA sequel series had production not ceased), these coincidences are hard to swallow as such.
.....Now, however, the malicious attitudes towards Harmony Gold and  Robotech by Macross fans has reached a new low. Harmony Gold launched a Kickstarter campaign over the Independence Day holiday weekend, and many opposed to Harmony Gold's continued control of the Macross license have decided to pledge for the sole purpose of complaining about Harmony Gold's practices and otherwise attempting to sabotage the campaign to fund the pilot for a new Robotech series. Have we really come to the point where a group of fans feels the need to shit on another group of fans for the simple act of supporting something they enjoy? And this isn't some aggressively creepy like the Bronies or insulting to the fans like all of the Hasbro-based movies, it's a project to make more of a massively influential franchise. And in the face of some increasingly aggressive rewards and at least one solid detail about the pilot in the updates, the actions of these unthinking fans just looks more and more petty-and Harmony Gold has noticed, creating the "Enemy Spy" tier specifically for these haters. (As of this writing, only four people have taken the bait.)
.....This is not to say that Harmony Gold is a saintly company and that they should be blindly followed. Frank Agrama has a past of dealing with shady individuals, as he produced live action content in South Africa during the '80s when the country was under Apartheid control, and had ties to Silvio Berlusconi during the same time frame, and would probably have nothing to do with Robotech if not for the prodding of folks like Tommy Yune and Greg Snegoff, who are much more committed to the franchise than Agrama. Naturally, a lot of this boils down to the crib death of The Sentinels and The Movie, but this lack of faith at the very top of the company (aided by Big West not wanting to play ball with Macross sequels that could net Harmony Gold some additional cash and exposure) explains a lot of the false starts over the years. But these valid concerns don't seem to be the issue: it's all about Macross and the continued conflicting bitching about Carl Macek, and in objecting to this Kickstarter-at the same time some jackass is getting thousands of dollars worth of pledges for a fucking potato salad-in the absolute worst and most irresponsible fashion possible.
.....A big problem in play is the sense of entitlement that runs deeply through the so-called "anime" fans. This is inherently silly considering that even with Discotek releasing catalog titles without dubs and with minimal extras in an effort to minimize costs, a great many classic Japanese series are wildly underrepresented in America, with franchises like Lupin III, Mazinger, Golgo 13 (which has had a pretty loyal cult following since the two NES games based on the franchise were released in 1988 and 1990), and even Gundam having gaps in what's available. (This doesn't even get into how many early imported shows that were more heavily adapted for American audiences like Speed Racer, Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion, and Gigantor have never seen their unedited Japanese versions brought over to American shores.) There is no universal right to have every cartoon you want released to DVD. While it is more than reasonable to expect your DVD to be uncut/without mastering issues/etc., this does not automatically mean you can get pissy when there is no release. There are multiple releases I personally want to see, but openly trolling the rights holder at every step (as opposed to simply complaining which is the second thing the internet was made for after porn) is utterly ridiculous. It's not limited to fans of Japanese animation (Google "Doctor Who omnirumor" and grab your snack food and beverage of choice), but in the age of fansubs, message boards, and Crunchyroll, it's particularly virulent in this particular niche. While I tend to believe that these factors help home video sales (awareness is a great promotional tool), DVD publishers have a dimmer view, and will scapegoat the former two factors if DVD sales aren't that hot. And given that no one has even bothered to try releasing the various flavors of Macross beyond the original, Plus, and II on DVD in the West, I'm going to guess that DVD sales aren't as spectacular as fans would lead one to believe (or at least they aren't enough to justify the cost of music licensing in Macross 7 and Macross Frontier).
.....Sadly, rational thought will not win the day here. The arguing on Kickstarter and elsewhere will continue on and on, and the fate of Robotech Academy (currently hovering at about $130,000 with about three and a half weeks left in the campaign) will not be enough to sway opinions, even if the pilot sells and becomes a massively successful series. As much as a godsend as the internet can be for building communities, it's also a great magnet for the downward spiral towards belligerent and uninformed squabbling that is a sad reality in America (see: the decay of political discourse in the US). That downward spiral is the enemy here, not some company that will (or will not) release what has been likely pirated already (and, for reasons that are publicly known, couldn't possibly begin to afford to release in a satisfactory format anyways). Until that understanding is reached, no one will "win" this battle.

Back to: Editorials
Main Page
- What's New - Cartoons - Videos - Video Variations - Editorials - FAQ - Credits - Links