The trauma of fiction sticks with you, even when you're an adult, even when you haven't seen the show in years. Death wasn't part of our TV cartoons. Even Acme dynamite couldn't kill the characters we loved. Robotech, though, was a far cry from Looney Tunes.
"It's almost like Game of Thrones now," says Tommy Yune, the Creative Director for Robotech at Harmony Gold USA. The comparison to the HBO hit is warranted. For the elementary school kids of the 1980s, death in Robotech hit like the Red Wedding, swiftly and unexpectedly.Robotech was a lot of things. It was a soap opera that appealed to kids. It was a space odyssey set in a future that was almost the present. It was three separate Japanese cartoon series combined for an audience that didn't recognize the term anime. It's a show whose influence is still felt 28 years after it first aired in the U.S.
Harmony Gold's Sunset Boulevard headquarters appear ordinary from the outside. These days, the nondescript office building is best known for a large theater on its ground floor. It's home to a lot of private screenings, as well as the occasional film festival. Head upstairs, though, and the legacy of Robotech spills out into the hallways. There are posters and a plaster statue of a very large robot. There are offices filled with collectible toys, rare box sets and other ephemera. Then there are the vaults -- multiple, closely guarded rooms filled with the footage that made this phenomenon possible.
There are tapes of the show in a variety of formats that are ready for broadcast. Master recordings of the music used in the show. Tucked into a corner one of the archival rooms are the origins of Robotech, a collection of 16 mm reels that came from Japan.