Macross (pronounced muh-CROSS in the English dub, as opposed to MA-cross) is a science fiction series that combines giant transforming robots, apocalyptic battles, wartime romance, and victory through the use of various unconventional means, including bubblegum pop music. It features mechanical designs by Kazutaka Miyatake and Kawamori (both of Studio Nue) and character designs by Haruhiko Mikimoto. Macross also created one of the first anime idols Lynn Minmay, turning her voice actress Mari Iijima into an instant celebrity, and launching her musical career. Most of its animation (with edited content and revised dialogue) was adapted outside of Japan for the first saga of Robotech.
Due to the crew's inexperience operating the ship, they end up stranded at the edge of the solar system, with refugees from the city that grew around the restored space craft living within the ship. The malfunctioning fold system vanishes, causing the crew to take about a year to return to Earth using conventional engines. The Macross crew salvages everything they can, including South Ataria as well as two aircraft carriers that end up incorporated as the Macross's "arms".
Hikaru and Minmay were enroute back to South Ataria in his plane when the Macross folded along with them. When they realized they were in space, Hikaru crash lands into the Macross, where they are stranded for days in a sealed section. They nearly die after exhausting all their supplies before the Macross crew rescues them. They resumed civilian life on board, but Hikaru eventually joins the military and quickly becomes a decorated fighter pilot. Minmay rises to fame as model/singer/movie star to the people on board Macross. Hikaru is made leader to Maximilian Jenius and Hayao Kakizaki of Vermilion Squadron.
The Zentradi suspect the Miclones might be their progenitors, the Protoculture. Under the command of Vrlitwhai Kridanik and Exsedol Folmo, they plot ways to understand the alleged Protoculture. Fearful of their own myths of getting too close to Miclones, the Zentradi perform attacks to test their theories about the people on board the Macross and even have their Zentradi soldiers "micloned" (miniaturized) to learn more of their culture. The Zentradi manage to capture Misa Hayase and Hikaru during a mission and question their ways. Supreme Commander of the Zentradi, Boddole Zer, is puzzled over simple things such as socializing and romance amongst males/females. He confirms that the Miclones "are" protoculture during a demonstrated kiss between Hayase and Hikaru. After escaping, Hikaru and the others report their findings to their superiors, who have trouble accepting the simplicity and "ridiculous explanation" behind the Zentradi attacks as well as the huge forces the Zentradi possess.
After much difficulty returning back to Earth, the UN Spacy refuses to allow the Macross and the civilian passengers to return back to land. As far as the world is concerned, those on board the Macross and South Ataria were dead after an Anti-U.N. attack. However their security over the matter is lax, allowing Hikaru to bring Minmay back to Yokohama to reunite with her parents. It is there that Minmay's cousin, Lynn Kaifun, decides to join the Macross to see his parents and also look after Minmay. After deliberation, the UN Spacey treats the Macross as if it was a plague and orders them to leave Earth as a means to maintain planetary peace and get the Zentradi away from them. They are resupplied and sent off.
Both Kaifun and Minmay eventually rise to stardom in their first Kungfu movie, Shao Pai Long (Little White Dragon). Because of Kaifun's relationship and constant contact with Minmay, it isn't long before Minmay enters a romantic relationship with Kaifun. Throughout this time, Hikaru is often distracted as he thinks about Minmay or witnesses to their romance. This often leads to disputes between Hayase as he doesn't respond well while his feelings wander and so is reminded of reality by Hayase over the com.
Since the Zentradi's exposure to culture and to Lynn Minmay's songs, the Zentradi forces have less desire to fight and even wish to live with the Miclones. Because the "miclone contamination" becomes a threat to the main Zentradi forces, Boddole Zer orders the destruction of Earth. The people of Earth and U.N. Spacy (stationed on Earth) are all destroyed, and those from the Macross become the sole surviving remnants of humanity. Because Vrlitwhai Kridanik was "contaminated" as well, he has no choice but to side with the Macross and help defeat Boddole Zer and his armada. After Boddole Zer is killed, the surviving Zentradi and Humans/Miclones begin rebuilding the Earth.
The transition is difficult as some Zentradi can't stand the idea of a pacified life. They randomly cause violence, simply to satisfy their long adopted warlike habits. The Macross removes all civilian aspects from within the ship and rebuilds the South Ataria structures as part of "Macross City." In between this time, Hayase develops feelings for Hikaru. Minmay was with Kaifun, but has a change of heart after she can't tolerate Kaifun anymore. Because of his feelings for both women, Hikaru often feels conflicted about who to choose. Minmay makes the initiative to be with Hikaru while Hayase often hesitates or walks in on Hikaru at the least convenient moment. Hayase wants to resign from the military, but reconsiders when Global offers her a command position. Global tells her about the strong odds of another alien attack and the importance for humanity to spread across the galaxy to spread human culture. In order to preserve humanity, Hayase accepts the new command.
Meanwhile, Quamzin Kravshera can't stand life without combat and constantly incites conflicts towards the civilians. He repairs a damaged Zentradi warship to return to his old ways and attacks Macross City. Moments before the final Zentradi attack, Hayase tells Hikaru of her feelings and her decision to leave to space, helping spread humanity and culture throughout the galaxies. Minmay doesn't want Hikaru to leave to fight, but he does go to help defend the city. Quamzin Kravshera is destroyed by the Macross's main cannon. In the aftermath of a long emotional conflict choosing between Minmay and Hayase, Hikaru finally decides to be with Hayase, but Minmay and the couple remain good friends in the end.
The show's production history was a turbulent one: Originally proposed in 1979 to capitalize in the great success of Mobile Suit Gundam, the show created by Studio Nue (from an original concept by member Shoji Kawamori) was sponsored by a group called the "Wiz" (Uizu) Corporation, who were prepared to fund a 48-episode run. The people from "Wiz" wanted to produce the Sci-Fi show as an anime outer space comedy, what clashed with Studio Nue's original ideas of a more serious and epic anime "space opera" storyline. This constantly caused animosity between both companies and made the initial production of the series very difficult and full of delays.
However, by 1981, Wiz had gone out of business, and the "Megaload/Megaroad" (Macross) project seemed to be in permanent hiatus. Studio Nue bought the rights of the show from "Wiz" Corporation and searched for a sponsor with no avail. Big West, an advertising agency looking to branch out into animation sponsorship, approached Studio Nue about the project and agreed to sponsor it. However, they insisted on a leaner budget, not convinced that the show would pan out as profitable. Big West pared the episode count to 27 episodes (meaning the show would have ended with the battle against Boddole Zer's fleet). Even then, Big West found that the show was going to run more expensive than they had bargained for, and to secure more money, entered into a partnership with Tatsunoko Production which included international distribution (what would culminate in the creation of the "Robotech" adaptation a few years later).
Among other production headaches, the master copy of one nearly-completed episode was reportedly accidentally left on a train by a courier, forcing the members of the production staff themselves to search for the footage - otherwise they'd have to re-animate it all, at a considerable cost in time and money. Eventually they found the reel, and so disaster was averted.
When Macross debuted in October 3, 1982 (with only 3 episodes made so far), its stunning success among Japanese T.V. audiences convinced Big West to green light an extension to 36 episodes, allowing the staff to end with the "two years after" story arc.
Studio Nue was unable to carry all of the animation work itself at the time (although the success of Macross meant that they were able to do so with nearly all of their other animation projects), and so work was farmed out to a number of satellite studios, including Artland (Haruhiko Mikimoto's employer), the nascent AIC and GAINAX studios, and the Tatsunoko-supplied AnimeFriend and Star Pro. AnimeFriend and Star Pro are infamously notorious among fans of the show for having brought in very spotty, off-model and continuity error-laden animation work.
There were plans for a splashy ending to the series, one that would have shown Misa and Hikaru blasting off in the colonization ship Megaroad-01, but the sequence was scrapped due to lack of time and budget. However, due to fan demand this sequence was later used in the Macross Flashback 2012 OVA (1987).
The Super Dimension Fortress Macross was produced as the first of three Super Dimension mecha series in Japan. It was followed by The Super Dimension Century Orguss (1983), and The Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross (1984).
In 2000, Big West and Studio Nue took Tatsunoko Productions to the Tokyo District Court over who had the rights to the first Macross series, due to Harmony Gold's attempt to bar Japanese Macross merchandise in North America the previous year. During production, Big West hired Tatsunoko to assist in the production of the series. Before the series premiere, Tatsunoko was given the license to distribute the show worldwide (i.e., outside of Japan), as well as earning some royalties to the merchandise. Tatsunoko then sub-licensed Macross to Harmony Gold USA for the production of Robotech. In 2002, the Tokyo District Court ruled that Big West/Studio Nue is the sole owner of the original character and mecha designs for the first series, while that same court ruled in 2003 that Tatsunoko owned the production rights to the first series.
In the autumn of 1984, Harmony Gold released the first English-language version of Macross: an English-dubbed VHS video release containing unedited video footage of the first three episodes with a new English theme song, adapted dialogue scripts, and several name changes (which were later used in Robotech, aside from Rick Yamada/Hikaru Ichijyo, who became Rick Hunter). This release was cancelled after one volume when production of the Robotech adaptation began. The first episode of this 1984 English dubbing was later released as an extra in the Robotech Legacy Collection 5 and Robotech Protoculture Collection DVD releases, and is also included in the first volume of ADV Films' 2006 release of Macross.
Streamline Pictures then released Robotech Perfect Collection: Macross on VHS in the summer of 1994, combining two English subtitled episodes of Macross and the corresponding dubbed episodes of the Robotech adaptation in each volume. This was the first English subtitling for Macross, but it contained unedited video footage with incomplete and mistranslated English subtitles and was cancelled after eight volumes and 16 episodes.
In December 2001, AnimEigo released a The Super Dimension Fortress Macross DVD box set. It was the first complete, unedited English release for Macross, containing unedited English-subtitled video footage with no English dubbing. The nine DVDs in this set were re-released in three smaller 3-disc boxes and later in one final new artbox. In 2003 Madman Entertainment released a 6-disc PAL format version of this edition entitled Macross Ultimate Collection.
In the summer of 2005, ADV Films announced that they would be releasing an English dub of Macross on January 10, 2006. This is the first complete, unedited English dub for Macross. Mari Iijima, the Japanese voice of Minmay, will play the same role in the English dub.