Robotech has a unique history that could have only come about in the 80’s. Originally intended by Harmony Gold as a direct to video series adapting The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, syndication requirements lead to two more series being added on and Robotech was born. After premiering in 1985, the series would continue in various movies, attempted sequels, comics, novels, and role playing games.
While Robotech garnered a legion of fans, Macross itself began to slowly accrue it’s own fanbase outside of Japan. Since its debut, Macross spun off many sequels and companion series without any connection to Robotech. In the 90’s several of the series were released outside of Japan including Macross II and Macross Plus. Since then no Macross series, except the original, or Macross toys have been officially released outside of Japan.
To many fans of Macross, the blame is solely placed at Harmony Gold’s feet. Harmony Gold’s past assertion that they hold “the exclusive license to all Macross-related materials outside of Japan” makes them an easy target for disgruntled Macross fans. Why aren’t fans seeing any other Macross products outside of Japan?
According to the team at Harmony Gold, it’s very complicated.
“It’s not that we don’t want to talk about it,” says Vice President of Marketing at Harmony Gold, Kevin McKeever, “When you’re surrounded by it, you know we can’t say anything. I know that frustrates a lot of fans out there and they want answers and it’s a legitimate question to. It’s just something we can’t comment on. If you notice, the Japanese don’t comment on it either. They’re very quiet about it to. There’s a reason for that. It’s a very complex issue.”
In a 2015 interview with Forbes, Shoji Kawamori, one of the original creators of Macross and who has worked on nearly every Macross sequel since, had this to say about Macross and its relation to Robotech.
“When it comes to Robotech, it’s difficult to comment. It’s not something I can talk about openly, as this possibly became a court case.”
So McKeever is correct that neither side is able to open up about it. That doesn’t stop rumors spreading about Robotech and Harmony Gold’s part in all of it.
Recently documents from the most recent court case dealing with the rights of the Japanese series were released to the public. In brief summary, it says Harmony Gold could lose the license to the series that make up Robotechin 2021.
When asked about this for an upcoming episode of the Robotech podcast, RoboSkull Cast, President of Animation at Harmony Gold, Tommy Yune explains,
“All the information is out there for everyone to see. We’re not going to comment on it but we hadn’t had issues extending our licenses in the past.”
Billy Davis, Executive Vice President of Harmony Gold, is sympathetic to the fans, “In a perfect world everyone would have everything but the world isn’t perfect.” He elaborates,
“We’re really trying really hard to give the fans what they want in every aspect of this business. It’s a little disheartening I will say, from a personal level, to see people get so caught up in hate that they can’t see that we’re trying. And we are. And we want to work for them and we want to bring them everything that they want. That’s what we want. There are limitations.”
McKeever stresses that the passion fans show about both Robotech and Macross is appreciated and it demonstrates Robotech still has an impact to this day.
Davis makes sure to add however,
“I just think there are lines there. If you have an opinion? Fine. If you have passion? Fine. I’m good with critiques and criticism. I’m fine with all that. How do you move forward if someone isn’t brave enough to say, ‘Hey, this is what we think.’ Just don’t be personal. People don’t know us. They don’t know me. They don’t know my family. That’s where it’s not cool. Everything else is fine.”
Without either side being able to openly talk about the problems keeping the other Macross series and products from being released outside of Japan, fans shouldn’t be so quick to infer they know what’s going on.
Until everything with that can be sorted out, at least the original Macross series is streaming on Amazon and McKeever is grateful they were able to get the series out there to fans, “We think it’s a big win for everyone.”
Shamus Kelley is a champion and knight of a new day. Follow him on Twitter!