When I was 12, when we had just gotten cable in Son, there was this channel called 'SuperChannel'. They ran Robotech in a slot during the weekend mornings. I used to get up at 08:00 to watch Robotech, because it was such a cool series. I fell into the middle of the 'Invid Invasion' (really Mospeada), and while I recognised the superior storytelling as opposed to then-hot US-made cartoons (M.A.S.K. and GI Joe and their kin), I had too little grasp of the actual storyline to appreciate it for what it was. When the series ended, I was sad... But, the next week, Super Channel just restarted the whole series from the very start! Finally I could get to see the whole story develop!
And so I watched all of the Macross saga. Having seen it from the very start, it blew me away. This was a war story with character with believable motivations. It had lots of nicely choreographed action, showing the chaos of the battlefield. The aliens were... alien, and the technology was very, very cool.
I distinctly remember the episode where Roy Focker is killed. To me, that was the turning point: this was a series that did everything right.
Unfortunately, Super Channel went under somewhere halfway through the Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross-arc, so I never got to see that one. It would be years until I saw some more anime.
But when it came around, I recognised it for what it was. It must have been '92, when I saw Akira at a cultural centre in Nijmegen. I recognised the style, the types of storytelling, the fast-paced action. I had re-discovered anime.
In '98, we saw some VHS tapes of Record of Lodoss War, and we bought the first two volumes. Later we bought the complete VHS set from Amazon -- it's the reason we have a VCR that can play NTSC tapes.
In 2000 I got access to cable-internet. I surfed the web a lot, looking at mostly random stuff. Of course, I searched for stuff that mildly interested me, and I stumbled upon the various anime sites. And with that I discovered anime fansubs. From that day on, I have been consuming anime like there is no tomorrow -- regular readers of my Journal will know that.
In 2000, AnimeEigo released a 9-DVD boxed set of the original Macross. Due to the muddled licensing rights, this box was only available in the US. Lucky for me, muri_san had just moved to the US, and he ordered it for me. I got my coveted box at Ambercon UK 2001.
Of course, the first thing we did when we got home was to watch the DVDs. It was like coming home. The extensive liner notes gave us lots of information -- I hadn't known Macross had been so influential. Did you know that it was the first series to feature transforming mecha? Did you know it launched the career of Shoji Kawamori (of Escaflowne fame)?
Macross has spawned many spinoffs. There is the abominable Macross II, the excellent Macross Plus, and Macross 7. Twenty years later, the franchise is still going strong -- in 2002, the five-part OVA series Macross Zero was released to celebrate the twentieth birthday of the Super Dimensional Fortress. During our honeymoon in Japan, I picked up a model of a Gerwalk Valkyrie and a Zentraedi battleship from a model shop in Akihabara.
And there is the Macross Movie: Do You Remember Love? Created two years after the series, it is a retelling of the events in the Macross series. Everyone who knows the franchise seems to think that DYRL is the superior anime in all of the Macross continuity. However, again due to the muddled rights situation of Macross in the US, there was little chance that I could ever get to see it.
Until, somewhere in December, DYRL was released as a fansub. I got all excited, and this weekend and yesterday we watched it.
I have to agree: Do You Remember Love? is awesome. The characters have much more emotional depth and seem so much more mature. The plot is deeper than that of the TV series and does a good job of explaning just what Protoculture is(*) and how it affected the Meltrandi and Zentraedi. Some side-plots are skipped or only given cursory attention (a wink and a nod to the fans of the series), and the movie starts off in the middle of the action.
And, it is a lot more bleak. The situation of the Macross is pretty much hopeless all throughout the movie, and the characters know it. There is also a lot more brutality: blood splatters liberally in several scenes. It is made certain that the humans are locked in a desperate battle with aliens -- and the aliens are winning.
The movie seems much more realistic than the series. and has so much more stunning visual details. The love triangle between Misa, Hikaru and Minmei is handled so much more mature. It is, indeed, the definitive telling of the Macross story.
(*): Carl Macek told us that Protoculture was some kind of technology or enery source. But it's not: Protoculture is the culture that came before -- before the humans, before the Zentraedi... It makes the story so much deeper.