Retro-Geekery: Did Robotech Inoculate Me Against The Transformers?

Geeks in their late twenties and early thirties had been very, very excited for the recent release of the Transformers movie, roughly twenty years after the original animated TV series. John from the Movie Blog, for example, apepars to have written several hundred posts about the movie.

I’m of the right age, gender and a movie geek. Why wasn’t I excited, too? In fact, I was so unexcited, I listened to the two hosts of Slate’s Spoiler podcast disclose and soundly mock the movie’s apparently obscure plot.

My initial theory was that I was just the little bit too old to really have fallen in love with The Transformers. But then I thought of something else, possibly to deflect my attention from that age theory.

Around the same time, I discovered and fell in love with the Japanese animated series, Robotech. I liked it so much that I got up at 8:30am on Saturday mornings to watch and record (on Beta) every episode in my parents’ bedroom. Patient people, my parents.

Robotech featured cheesy plot lines and transforming machine, too. Maybe there was only room for one such show in my childhood? Maybe I was just drawn to those enormous anime eyes? Plus, Robotech seems a lot darker. For probably the first time in fifteen years, I watched a clip from my favourite episode. Earlier in that episode (if I recall correctly), 75% of the Earth’s population is vapourized from space. You won’t see the Decepticons getting up to that on American television.

It turns out they similarly made a follow-up animated Robotech movie last year that pretty much went straight to DVD.


  1. Great post Darren. My brother was the Transformers guy. I’m still waiting on a live-action Battle of the Planets. Much more interesting characterization, especially the love triangle between Mark, Jason and Princess.

    Go Keeyop!

  2. In university we would get up early to watch Robotech in the dorm common room. As I recall Robotech was kind of a sci fi soap opera.

  3. I’m with you Darren, but I was innoculated against Transformers and Robotech by Albator (aka Captain Harlock), which I had the fortune to see when I was 8 or 9 years old and living in France–don’t you know they start everything younger over there. Apparently it aired in Canada in the early 80’s and was later shown in the US as Captain Harlock and the Queen of a Thousand Years.

    Back in the US, I liked Transformers as fun toys, but the TV show was just another poorly drawn robot cartoon with a story that didn’t interest me. Robotech had true anime graphics, but Albator and his ship could’ve taken care of everything in a much more melancholic and brooding way.

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