It’s considered one of the most influential anime series of all time. Macross — or Robotech: The Macross Saga as it’s known in the West — was a pivotal introduction to anime for most people in the 1980s. While the series managed to stick to the same sci-fi and mecha tropes of other popular series of the time (Voltron, Transformers, etc.), it also elevated them to newer highs for the West by introducing more complex themes and a dramatic, wide-arching plot to an audience and investors who may have been more concerned with cool robots and toy sales than the ethics of space exploration and the horrors of war.
The series was licensed in the West by production company Harmony Gold after obtaining the rights from Macross’s co-production company Tatsunoko Productions and from there became the Robotech series. The Western version of the show was actually an amalgamation between the original Macross and two other series produced by Tatsunoko Productions: Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber Mospaeda. Harmony Gold took this approach in order to make the series long enough to support the possibility of future syndication.
The show was by all accounts a commercial and consumer success, from VHS sales, to conventions, to merchandising. Harmony Gold intended to continue their high-flying success with the film Do You Remember Love?. However, Tatsunoko Productions, Studio Nue, and Macross’s advertising company Big West clipped Harmony Gold’s wings when they refused to hand over licensing rights to the film. They had observed the success of Robotech in the West and wanted to distribute the film to Western audiences themselves. This would set off an avalanche of decades-long legal battles, a trail of failed Robotech-themed projects from Harmony Gold, and a deluge of Japanese Macross content that’s never been accessible… until today.
Recently, Harmony Gold and Big West released a joint statement on the official Macross website stating that the studios will be working together to release previously unaccessible Macross content, worldwide. The official statement is as follows:
Tokyo based Bigwest Co.,Ltd. and Los Angeles based Harmony Gold U.S.A. announced an agreement regarding the worldwide rights for the legendary Macross and Robotech franchises. This expansive agreement signed by both companies on March 1, 2021, ends two decades of disagreements and will allow Bigwest and Harmony Gold to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential of both the Macross and Robotech franchises worldwide. The landmark agreement immediately permits worldwide distribution of most of the Macross films and television sequels worldwide, and also confirms that Bigwest will not oppose the Japanese release of an anticipated upcoming live-action Robotech film. The agreement also recognizes Harmony Gold’s longstanding exclusive license with Tatsunoko for the use of the 41 Macross characters and mecha in the Robotech television series and related merchandise throughout the world excluding Japan. Moving forward, both parties will cooperate on distribution regarding future Macross and Robotech projects for the benefit of both franchises.
This is a game-changer for a classic series and for company Harmony Gold, as the main issue in the dispute between the companies for years was whether or not Harmony Gold had international licensing privileges for future Macross content. They were originally given the rights to license Macross content for the West. Hopefully, this means long-time fans will get the reboot they’ve been hoping for, as well as access to previous Japan-only content they’ve been deprived of. Considering that that content consists of four TV series, four movies, six OVAs, one light novel, five mangas, and forty video games, it seems there’ll be no shortage of content to catch up on.