Loving the Alien, Hating the Hybrid: A Cultural Study of Robotech by Chris Mich

Below is a brief synopsis and peer review of an article titled “Loving the Alien, Hating the Hybrid: A Cultural Study of Robotech” published in the Academic peer reviewed MOSF (Museum of Science Fiction) Journal of Science Fiction Volume 2, Issue 1, September 2017 ISSN 2472-0837 (International Standard Serial Number). The article was written by Christopher H. Mich. It was published in September of 2017. The author’s twitter is @ChrisMich1.

This 9 page article is available for free here, here, here, and here.

Abstract 1. Taken from Mr. Mich’s article and reprinted here.

In 1985, young science fiction fans were starving for entertainment to fill the void left with the 1983 conclusion of the original Star Wars trilogy. These fans suffered through poorly produced television series and films that did not capture the emotion, drama and mythos of the Star Wars trilogy. Enter Robotech – the brainchild of Writer/Producer Carl Macek. A fan of Japanese Animation (also known as “anime” or “Japanimation”), Macek acquired the rights to three separate anime television programs. With each series deemed too short to run as individual series on American television, Macek melded all three series into one overall series under the Robotech title. The series focus isn’t limited to the universal war unfolding but to how the war affects individual characters’ personal relationships. In Macek’s own words, Robotech is more “soap opera” than space opera (Macek, VIII, 1985).  Yet, a textual analysis of Robotech reveals that the franchise actually promotes the supposed need for racial purity/isolationism and that the hybrid is truly something to be feared. And, as the documentary Otaku Unite announced, Robotech is one of the most controversial anime series of all-time (Bresler 2004). This stems from the fact that from the moment Macek shared his process of altering the original Japanese animated series into one American-released series, several fans issued verbal and written threats against his life. This essay explores this phenomenon of life imitating art via the fear/rejection of the hybrid of Japanese art and American rewriting by its own fan base.

Abstract 2. Taken from Mr. Mich’s article and reprinted here.

Dana Sterling

In 1980s Japan, a struggle between the old guard, harmonious collective mentality and the idealism of the new breed of independent, rebellious youngsters became illustrated in anime. Three examples of Japanese animated series that televised this struggle were acquired, repackaged, rewritten, and rebroadcast in America by Carl Macek under the one name — Robotech. Robotech, the American TV series, is a hybrid in and of itself with its Japanese-created visuals married to an American-rewritten storyline. In addition to the show’s own mixed heritage, Robotech contains multiple interracial and interspecies (human and alien) couples and hybrid offspring. This paper explores the hybrid nature of the American Robotech animated TV series and how the Eighties’ generational struggle in Japan manifests itself through two hybrid, interspecies characters: Dana Sterling and Marlene/Ariel.

Synopsis written by Super Dimensional Analysis

This article proposes Robotech promotes interracial and interspecies breeding but rejects the offspring created from these unions. The article proposes the relationships of Max and Miriya and Bowie and Musica are evidence of promoting mixed marriages. It also points out a movement in 1980s Japanese culture of Shinjinrui which translates as new beings. While Japan is traditionally a homogeneous island nation with individuals working together collectively, the new generation living in 1982 rebelliously desired individuality. The article also references a change in 1980s Japanese youth culture of celebrating the gaijin or outsider as opposed to historically shunning this lifestyle. The first Robotech war worships Minmei as a culturally Chinese girl living in a Japanese society while Dana and Ariel are central hybrid characters of the second and third Robotech wars. This article suggests Lancer is also a gaijin of Shinjinrui culture. Another theme of Robotech proposed by this article is the concept of the middle generation which is defined as a child of parents from different races or cultures. The racially mixed child must balance the struggles between their two cultures.  The middle generation is sometimes rejected by the culture of each parent as the offspring from their union is not purely one or the other but a combination of the two. Dana and Ariel are examples of this struggle.

Post-publication Peer Review by Super Dimensional Analysis

Interestingly, the paradigm Mr. Mich utilizes to explore the gaijin of Shinjinrui culture at the microcosm level of individual characters can also be applied to the macrocosm overview of Robotech and its three original Japanese source materials. Mr. Mich’s proposed concept can be applied to individuals as well as the fictional societies they inhabit. In the first Robotech war, or Super Dimension Fortress Macross, the multicultural forces of Earth defeat the monocultural gender segregated enemy clone antagonists. In the second Robotech war, or Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, the multicultural forces of Earth (Glorie) defeat the monocultural hive-mind enemy clone antagonists. In the third Robotech war, or Genesis Climber MOSPEADA, a collection of misfits defeat the monocultural hive-mind enemy clone antagonists. The protagonists of each of these series can be viewed as the gaijin of Shinjinrui culture proving victorious over antagonists which are thinly veiled analogies for the traditional Japanese cooperative collective old guard. Returning to the microcosm level of the individual, the societies of the antagonists also contain rebellious characters. These rebellious characters are some Zentreadi, Musica, Zor Prime, Sera, and Ariel. They all abandon their societies and choose micronian culture.

Additional Reading

A blog titled Spores, Molds, and Fungus posted a somewhat related essay written by username Incisivis on 11/26/2011. The essay is titled “A Discussion of Post-Super Dimension Fortress Macross Zentradi and Peace Children Characters.” However, it relates to the entire Macross franchise and not Robotech. The essay is linked to below. The link was active as of 11/19/2019.

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