Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Robotech and Carl Macek: A small tribute

Carl Macek.

In the anime community he is both loved and hated. He introduced anime in the western hemisphere, and to do so (thanks to western cartoon requirements and standards that were totally different from Japan) spliced and diced three unrelated sci-fi anime into one giant space opera we recognize to this day as ROBOTECH.

Here's a news snippet that i found in Anime News Network:

"American producer Carl Macek passed away due to a heart attack on Saturday. Macek and Beck had co-founded the anime importing company Streamline Pictures in 1988.

Macek is best known for producing Robotech, the 1985 redubbed and edited adaptation of three different anime series — Macross, Southern Cross, and Mospeada. He also worked on the dubbing of many anime projects from Captain Harlock and the Queen of a Thousand Years (redubbed and edited adaptation of Captain Harlock and Queen Millennia) to more recently, Bleach and Naruto. His other dubbing production credits include Vampire Hunter D, Robot Carnival, My Neighbor Totoro, and Aura Battler Dunbine. Although Streamline Pictures did not dub the 1988 film Akira, it did release the film in theaters and on video tape in the United States. "

Robotech was the next anime I was obsessed with right after my childhood favorite Voltes V. During the days when internet was non-existent (yes folks, i am that old!) i used to scour back-alley anime shops in Greenhills for any remnant of Robotech, its merchandise (fake or not, i wasn't choosy), asked or begged relatives from China, Taiwan and the US to get me those Robotech toys, in which i was promptly sent GOBOTS, much to my chargrin. One or two would actually send me the Japanese merch. My uncle bought this Super Deformed VF-1S with FastPack from Taiwan. This link goes to a similar more recent toy but lacks any accessories and has this annoying pull back action. The ultimate gift came from my mom, who bought me the 7 inch high transformable VF-1A "Brownie" or the cannon-fodder version, where in 1988, P350 for an original metal and plastic transformable action figure can make your own mother rant about our over-inflated economy and the false wisdom of toys being "educational".

In high school I was able to find and hang out with an extremely small interest group who was both into Macross (the japanese version) and Robotech, whose ultimate treasure was the Palladium Books Table Top Role Playing Game ROBOTECH. It was the goldmine for it had all the available character specs and mecha it could offer. Trips to the school's xerox machine was like pilgrimage, for the owner hated having his precious RPG sourcebook flattened over the copier, ruining the book's spine. I was the exception then, since i was good at drawing, i was given the most leeway in getting copies of the source-book, and making comics of our RPG adventures. And every Saturday from 7am to 10pm, it would be all role-playing and dice at a designated friend's house, pretending to be wing men to legendary characters like Roy Fokker and Max Sterling. We were there when Roy died, and when Ben died, and when Max married Miriya, and finally "witnessed" the destruction of Earth by Zentraedi forces.

Many a hardcore enthusiast would condemn a man like Mr. Carl Macek for brutalizing the original series and making up their own stories. He had his own reasons, because he wanted such a wonderful medium to be introduced to the western market. And he didn't just spliced it into some unrecognizable Frankenstein, he made sure it had a good, no, GREAT story to begin with, that would seamlessly connect three unrelated anime into one coherent story. He made sense with everything, from why Macross' VF-1's look so similar to Mospeada's Alpha Fighters, to the reason why 20 foot giants, triumvirates and giant insect-like aliens trying to conquer our war-torn world. And why the power of song and love does have something to do with keeping the peace.

Mr. Macek, thanks for inspiring me to go just beyond the toys and the awesome mecha, the stories and novels that inspired a mythology, and making sense in world that did not have any idea what the Japanese were talking about in the originals. XD

Like Roy Fokker, you will be missed.

Carl Macek
(October 12, 1951 – April 17, 2010)

Thank you Carl. You made anime understood.

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