This is one I’ve seen going on for a while, and being a huge fan of the classic Robotech, I’m always surprised when people are so heated when they talk about hating it compared to the original version. A little background for all the readers that aren’t in the know. Macross is an anime series released in Japan in 1982 by Studio Nue, and later adapted in 1985 by Harmony Gold for release in the United States. The U.S. version is called Robotech: The Macross Saga. The series is about an alien space craft, later dubbed the SDF-1, that crashes on Earth. The realization that we are truly not alone causes the Earth’s countries to form a world government, which also sparks a long war. Eventually the war is won, the spacecraft is rebuilt and adapted for human-sized crew (it is originally designed by giant aliens), and everyone goes to the island to celebrate the ship’s maiden voyage. The real action starts when aliens that had been searching for the ship finally track it to Earth and seek to reclaim it. The series is full of action, drama, romance, love and loss. It touches on mature themes, not sex or graphic violence, but death, sacrifice, and dealing with fear. Having watched the entire Robotech series I can safely say this classic will appeal to kids and adults alike, and is a fond memory of my childhood.
I have wanted to write this up for a while, but have yet to see the original Macross until recently. After I did, my assertion that this debate is pointless is even more concrete. Sadly I couldn’t get very far in the series. It was the same as Robotech, for the most part, but I had some issue with the voice acting mainly. Watching something more than once can be fun, I’ve rewatched plenty of series and movies, but rewatching something in a version that you find inferior is nearly impossible, even for research. I know, shock and awe, I called Macross inferior. It’s my opinion, and I’ll explain shortly.
Like I said, I watched the first few episodes of Macross and I couldn’t honestly get much further. It’s not bad mind you, but to me it wasn’t as good as Robotech in enough places to make me want to sit through the entire series. But, first the good. I liked the music better in this series for the most part. Some of the Robotech music had a tendency to be redundant and blaring, sometimes not fitting the scene it was placed in. Robotech didn’t have bad music at all, but when I watched a couple of episodes of Macross I noticed that I liked the music there much better. Other than that, what I liked about the series is the same as what I like about Robotech, because they are the same show. The story is the same, animation and sound effects are the same. I did notice that Robotech cut out little bits here and there, if I’m remembering correctly, and I imagine that was due to making it fit U.S. TV show formats at the time. Nothing major mind you.
What didn’t I like about it? Well, really the thing that made me turn it off and send my discs back to Netflix is the voice acting. The casting of the english voices and the acting was awful in my opinion. Here you have a story about a military organization fighting to save the world, and most of the characters sound and act like whiny teenagers, especially the hero Hikaru Ichijyo (Rick Hunter in Robotech), who sounds like he’s about thirteen. Now, I watched the dubbed version I imagine, and I’m sure purists would recommend you watch the original format with subtitles, but then we are back to square one. Watching the same series but reading dialogue instead of listening. I just couldn’t get over this, having watched Robotech, where the voice acting was dramatic, adult, and very well done for a children’s animated series.
I can’t say the show is bad though. It’s exactly like one of my favorite animes of all time. There’s just a couple of things that make me like it a little less than Robotech, and therefore no reason for me to watch it all the way through. I do intend to watch the rest of the movies and shows that come after if I can find them, and I will pray the voice acting is better.
Now, onto Robotech. What can I say that hasn’t already been said. I love this series. It deals with the human experience of war, love and loss with the backdrop of impending world annihilation by an alien invasion force. It doesn’t avoid difficult topics like fear and death, like many children’s series did at the time. While it’s an anime series which is normally considered an adult market, this show was released in the U.S. at a time when animated shows were still for kids.
I have fond memories of watching this show on TV (yes I’m that old) with my mom and brother. My mom, at the time, said she liked it as much as some of her day-time TV, which says something about the writing and direction of this series. It is different, in little ways, from the original series, Macross. Voice actors and the narrator are different. Music is different, but the core of the show, the animation and the story are the same. I bought the complete series on DVD some years ago, complete with all the extras and bonus material, and watched it through completely, and I wasn’t disappointed. The series holds up well over time and with both of us having matured many years since last I saw it.
I’ve even taken to reading the books that were put out quite some time ago. They are fun little reads, and I think would be good for adults and children alike.
Now, why is it pointless to debate which is better? Because they are the same! Sure, like me, you can have a reason why you like one over the other. You can have an opinion on whether watching in its original form is more entertaining, but you can’t really lay down a definitive fact about which is better. I’ve seen some of the dumbest, elitist, arguments about this and it just makes me shake my head. One of them…well I’ve seen this more than once, but the one that really makes me want to choke kittens is, “The animation in Macross is so much better.” WHAT?! The animation cells are EXACTLY THE SAME! The only difference I noticed in the show’s animation was some coloring, and I may be remembering this wrong on both accounts, and a few tiny cuts in the length of shows. As far as the actual animation goes, there is no difference. All in all, debating which is better is completely pointless. Tell each other which one you like better and why, but for goodness sake, stop trying to prove that one is factually better than the other.