What I remember:

I remember Robotech Macross Saga being one of the first shows whose action exceeded my imagination. It was the pace of the action, the scale of the setting, the lights. Something about the light effects stick in my mind as incredible. There is a scene that I can recall rather vividly when a giant laser cannon charges up, collecting bits of effervesent bits and spheres into a large ball at the muzzle of the cannon— which was itself n entire gigantic machine—then releases a giant laser beam that blasts through the ocean. The scene pulls back to show the entire planet, where a bright straight line grows gently from a place on the globe—supposedly the location of the laser cannon. A huge blast on the micro, a thin bright line on the macro.

laser cannon


The lights still strike me, their incredible brightness and the motion they carry. It is more than ink, it is the backlighting, it is action, it is the intensity. I doubt I had ever seen anything like it in American cartoons before. As I re-viewed Robotech I was struck by the speed of the action, both in terms of scene and narative movement. I can see how I would have loved it as a child, the 0 to 60 acceleration, guided by a narration that dotted the path with fictional technical jargon like "reflex weapondry" to that could snare the imagination of an eight year old. I still love Robotech, and as I watched the first episode I remembered how much I loved it then too. I remember how many of the robots and characters I forced my parents to buy me as action figures. Action figures that I continued to play with long after I had forgotten the action of the cartoon.

I can see how the scale of Robotech's setting grabbed me when I was young. The characters are relatively weak and the action is somewhat predictable in retrospect. But the scale of the setting - all of planet Earth, and of outer-space, and the space/time continuum—that was and is remarkable. I can remember not caring about the characters when I was young. What I loved about Robotech was the space it left me to inject myself, my own characters and imagination and emotions into the cartoons action. It was easy to input myself into a setting and action large enough to carry a giant robot-space-fortress which housed a small city. Robotech translated directly from the screen to the toy chest to the blank canvas of my room in an instant; in a way Looney Toons never could. That translatability and space for invention that bound me to Robotech isn't so surprising, it sort of embodies the dilemma of an only child's somewhat lonely childhool: wher the imagination, the searching, the long quiet hours, the solitary and vivid mind's eye, the wanting and dreaming represent a constant companion. Something about the long quiet hours.

Robotech Macross

An interesting side-note: After watching Robotech Macross Saga I caught a glimpse of the limits of science fiction—when reality catches up to a not so distant future. Watching the opening scenes of the first episode, as the narrator speaks of world peace and the marvels of robo-technology and the years count away at the bottom of the screen: 1999,2000,2001... 2009. 2009! Here we are, 2012: no mega space fortresses, no Zentrati fleet attack, not even a Veritech figher. Just global climate change, smartphones, and Prii (multiple Pruis). Maybe the failures of the future are just another part of growing up.

Toyota Prius