Loving the Alien, Hating the Hybrid - A Cultural Study of Robotech

Christopher H. Mich

Abstract


In 1985, young science fictions were starving for entertainment to fill the void left with the 1983 conclusion of the original Star Wars trilogy. These fans suffered through poorly produced television series and films that did not capture the emotion, drama and mythos of the Star Wars trilogy. Enter Robotech – the brainchild of Writer/Producer Carl Macek. A fan of Japanese Animation (also known as “anime” or “Japanimation”), Macek acquired the rights to three separate anime television programs. With each series deemed too short to run as individual series on American television, Macek melded all three series into one overall series under the Robotech title. The series focus isn’t limited to the universal war unfolding but to how the war affects individual characters’ personal relationships. In Macek’s own words, Robotech is more “soap opera” than space opera (Macek, VIII, 1985).  Yet, a textual analysis of Robotech reveals that the franchise actually promotes the supposed need for racial purity/isolationism and that the hybrid is truly something to be feared. And, as the documentary Otaku Unite announced, Robotech is one of the most controversial anime series of all-time (Bresler 2004). This stems from the fact that from the moment Macek shared his process of altering the original Japanese animated series into one American-released series, several fans issued verbal and written threats against his life. This essay explores this phenomenon of life imitating art via the fear/rejection of the hybrid of Japanese art and American rewriting by its own fan base.


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