I went to the New York Anime Festival under the pretense that I was going to re-connect with anime. I had let my interest in the genre lapse, and to be honest, I missed it. I missed my Naruto, I missed my Bleach, I missed my Bebop, and I missed my FullMetal Alchemist. So I wanted to go to NYAF to get all of this back, to find out what was going on in the world of anime, and for once, to be caught up with, for lack of a better phrase, the new shit, instead of constantly playing catch-up.
This was my intent.
As you may have guessed, what happened was nothing like that. Not only did I not become the up-to-date anime savvy otaku that I had intended to, I actually regressed in my knowledge; that is I began a love affair with all things old school. When I say old school, I mean my appreciation for the anime that I originally liked came back with a vengeance. I longed to see Voltron, Project A-Ko, Gunsmith Cats, Ranma… hell, maybe even a little Golgo-13. What I wanted to see the most, however, was Robotech. Yes, I am a lapsed Robotech fan, and that weekend I was brought back into the fold, largely through the efforts of a man named Kevin McKeever. Kevin works for Harmony Gold, the fine, fine people who have always brought us Robotech in America. He is a Robotech missionary, getting the word out that the Robotech Defense Force is back and better than ever. I was completely unaware of this. As Kevin said, there were a couple of different types of Robotech fans; the new generation, who only knew about Robotech from the latest movie “Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles” (which is available on Hulu and you should go watch immediately), and there were the “lost fans” people like me who watched the original Robotech series, and maybe even the Macross sagas, but knew nothing of all the new developments going on. What completely leveled me was the news that there is a new full-fledged live-action Robotech film in the works. That blew my mind.
If you recall, in “Independence Day” with Will Smith, there are a couple of gigantic air battles between the USAF and the Alien Fighters. Both of these battles took place with the backdrop of a giant alien starship in the background. When I watched that, all I could think was “wow, this looks exactly like what a Robotech movie would look like”, except, you know, the F-18 Hornets didn’t transform into Giant Robots. The failure of machines to turn into giant robots is endemic in our military, and something needs to be done about it immediately… but I digress. The point is in my mind the groundwork for such a movie was laid way back then. Only now, when Warner Bros. is realizing that they have milked Harry Potter for all it’s worth and hey! People seem to like Giant Robos, has a Robotech movie been floated down the river. Robotech was my, and a lot of other people’s first introduction to anime, maybe other than Voltron. I remember vividly the first time I saw it because it was a cartoon where people actually died… and stayed dead… like for real… no coming back! This was definitely a watershed moment in my life. Robotech is, to paraphrase Mr. McKeever, an animated Soap Opera in Space with Giant Transforming Robots. Think Battlestar Galactica with more believable acting.
Robotech is ripe for spinning as many stories as possible, and Harmony Gold is determined to make sure that Hollywood doesn’t spin straw into crap. They want to spin that straw into, well; Gold, and they are doing everything possible to make sure that happens. Kevin did a great job of getting that point across, as during the two Robotech panels that he did, he was peppered with doubts and misgivings from an audience that had obviously seen the Transformers and G.I. JOE movies. This was an audience that had seen those movies and were, let’s say, less than pleased. Basically, I think we are all a little gun-shy about having our favorite series and memories brought up and “re-imagined” into unrecognizable crap. Kevin is very good at his job however, and I think all of the fans present left feeling reassured that Harmony Gold would do it’s level best to make sure that no movie put out would be bereft of story, character, and plot. Warner Bros. did an admirable job with the HP movies, so there is some reason for optimism in this area.
Long story short, the Anime Fest brought about a lot of feelings in me, some great, some… well, fairly uncomfortable, and I will definitely get to those stories as well. But for three days, I was living in the days of Robotech, Irresponsible Captain Taylor, and the days when anime didn’t consist almost solely of soul-rending emo-madness that made one want to cut themselves (Deathnote, Berserk, Battle Royale, I’m looking at you…)