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Anime History 101: The 1980s - "We're Only In It For The Money"

Discussion in 'Anime Discussion' started by Walkurefan45, June 15, 2017.

  1. #1 Walkurefan45, June 15, 2017
    Last edited: June 16, 2017
    Back in the 70s, it was easy to forgive production companies for giving us poorly translated and badly dubbed english versions of anime. But something happened in the 80s - COMMERCIALISM - and it changed how we here in the US saw anime forever.

    It's 1984, and there are dark clouds on the horizon. A man named Carl Macek had bought the rights to distribute three different series from Tatsunoko Productions. He had promised to keep the series' contents separate, and not change a thing.... But he had hidden plans. Under his production house, Harmony Gold, he had his writers come up with a storyline that kept certain original elements intact, and scrapped any last vestige of the original stories. He also changed character names, not for the usual reason, which was to give the heroes names a child could easily pronounce, rather his agenda was to further the damage he was causing. Later on, around 89 or so, Macek's infamy among American otaku was showing. Conventions were cancelling his appearances entirely, or Macek was getting booed off stage during panel sessions. His earned reputation as the "Anime Antichrist" had brought him what he truly deserved. He ended up as a pariah, with no true otaku left willing to buy any of his releases, whether they were done by Harmony Gold, or its latter-80s analogue, Streamline Films.

    The series that brought the rage of the fans to the exploding point: ROBOTECH. In a hastily contrived plan to sell toys by the truckload (which DIDN'T happen), Macek gutted the 3 classic series Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimensional Army Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA. When the toys weren't selling (mainly because they were TOO expensive in general), and the show's ratings dropped lower and lower, Macek pulled another hatchet job, this time destroying the classic OAV "Megazone 23", and calling it ROBOTECH THE MOVIE: THE UNTOLD STORY. In many cases, theaters flat-out REFUSED to show this movie.

    robotech. RobotechTheMovie.

    Around the same time, Marvel Productions and Sunbow Productions in association with Hasbro were working on a new show for weekday afternoon and saturday morning television time slots - The Transformers. Hasbro was already importing and selling the Transformers toys from Japan over here in the US, and later on discovered that Toei Animation Company had already been running an animated series. In this case, changes were more direct, but nothing was changed too drastically for the American version of Transformers.

    transformers. maxresdefault.

    Moving on, we have VOLTRON: DEFENDER OF THE UNIVERSE, produced by World Events and arguably THE MOST POPULAR giant robot series of the 80s - in the US. Voltron has a strange past. This was another case of the producers trying to repeat the Robotech formula with different results - and this time, IT WORKED! It worked primarily because only the character names were altered, and the story in general was left alone, due to the fact that the producers never had access to ANY translators - They guessed - and didn't fall too far from the mark. What's really odd about Voltron was that there were supposedly 3 different Voltron robots (at least in the toy stores), but we only saw 2 on our TV screens. The most popular of the three was definitely Lion Team Voltron, (Original name: King of Beasts GoLion) The other Voltron, sometimes called Vehicle Team Voltron (Original name: Armored Fleet Dairaga XV) was pretty imposing as a toy, because it had a LOT of vehicles to put together. Lion Team Voltron only had the Five Lions, which was comparatively easier to put together in toy form.


    The missing Voltron series was meant to come in between the Lion and Vehicle teams. This was going to be called "Gladiator Voltron" (Original name: Lightspeed Electroid Albegas), but the producers realized by this time that the fad was starting to peter out, and kids were wanting something newer.

    P5248841. Middle_Universe_Voltron. (for some reason, there were toys of this particular version, but not an actual series)


    So basically, the production houses of the 1980s DID bring anime more into the mainstream here in the states - but they also came very close to letting their greed (and the 80s was all about GREED) destroy anime for everyone. They were only in it for the money.
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