Though I was born in the tail-end of the 1980’s, I was never a Voltron Kid. Sure, I watched the other “essentials” of the decade, but I never found myself getting into it, nor did I have any recollection of watching it when I was younger. Recently, I gained some insight as why this might be the case via…well, my Mom. I was a Robotech kid.
Awhile back, the family had been sitting in the living room, watching something on TV, and we’d started talking about the Demise of Saturday Mornings. By that, I mean how the concept of a network TV block devoted to (good) animated shows has gone the way of the video arcade and Betamax. Mom brings up the stuff we’d watch together when I was little on Sundays: Captain Power, Transformers, and that one show with the girl who sang and the jet-robots….
My jaw drops. “Robotech?”, I ask her.
“Yeah! That’s the one!”, Mom replies. She tells me that she’s always wanted to see it again, to which I tell her that I won a Macross box set at a con awhile back if she wants to. I love being brought up in a family of geeks. Suppose we’re going to have a marathon one of these days, but that’s not why I’m writing this. I’m writing this because it came out just now via Twitter and Cartoon Brew that Carl Macek, best known for being the producer and story editor of Robotech, passed away this Saturday.
Say what you will about him being Butcher The Killer; the fact that he’d figured out a way to weave three shows together to form a massive science-fiction epic is just astounding. Even more amazing is that if you take a step back and think about it, Streamline Pictures (the company founded by Macek and Jerry Beck), was responsible for being the supplier of many a gateway drug: Akira, Vampire Hunter D, Dirty Pair, titles that many people can cite as being major influences and the reason they love anime. I mean hell, a group of friends of mine walked out of Pioneer’s theatrical re-release of Akira when they discovered the lack of the Streamline dub. Because that’s the version that started their love affair with Japanese animation, their loyalty speaking volumes of the impact it, and other Streamline releases had. (Well, that or they didn’t feel like sitting through a English dub that got Johnny Yong Bosch nominated for Best Actor in a Comedy at the American Anime Awards.) No matter how you spin it, anime would not be where it is today without his efforts.
Though I can barely remember watching Robotech, the seeds were definitely planted. I can almost liken it to hearing Mozart in the womb, as odd as that sounds, due to it being among the strange mixture of events in my Secret Otaku Origin. It’s why I find myself saying so much about a man who I’m sure I probably never thought that much of until now. In spite of all the criticism, Carl Macek will be remembered as a pioneer in getting those crazy Japanese cartoons seen by people overseas. To that, I say “Thanks, Carl, now get some rest. You’ve earned it.”
……Resisting the urge to say “Huh”.