American cultural exchange with Japan over the last century has created a fascinating cycle of influence and interdependence. American Westerns influenced the look and feel of samurai epics, which in turn inspired young filmmakers such as George Lucas. Similarly, Walt Disney's animation techniques sparked the stylistic revolution that would lead to mainstream anime – which would then influence American productions such as The Legend of Korra.
One of the first and most beloved anime properties to be shown in the West was science-fiction series Robotech. Telling a tale of interstellar war spanning generations, Robotech captured the imagination of fans to the extent that they have been clamoring for a proper sequel ever since. These demands came ever-closer to fruition today, as Harmony Gold – the production company originally responsible for bringing Robotech to the United States – has announced that it will create a new miniseries titled Robotech Academy, which will be funded via Kickstarter.
Officially announced today at Los Angeles's Anime Expo (and via a widely distributed press release), Robotech Academy aims to create a quality, 22-minute pilot for an eventual miniseries with funding from Kickstarter. Aiming for a $500,000 funding goal, Robotech Academy's Kickstarter campaign will run through August 7th.
Robotech originally debuted on American television in 1985 after travelling a strange, winding road to production. Due to the syndication guidelines of the time, animated series needed to have at least 65 episodes to be considered for airing. As such, Robotech was cut together from three different Japanese television shows – Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospeada.
The result was a sometimes-stunning, sometimes-baffling animated series that was unlike anything else on American television at the time. Much creative rewriting and editing had to be done to convincingly stitch together three unrelated television shows, and it doesn't always work. At the same time, the universally well-regarded "first season" of Robotech (based on the Macross property) remains an instantly recognizable and iconic part of animation history.
This is not the first time that Robotech has made a concerted effort at a comeback. In 2006, a feature-length direct sequel to the series, Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, was released. Dogged by production and distribution troubles, The Shadow Chronicles ended up receiving a tepid response from both fans and critics.
Hopefully, Robotech Academy won't suffer a similar fate. Apparently developed from story ideas from original Robotech writer Carl Macek (Heavy Metal 2000), Robotech Academy has also gathered a team of promising writers and animators to back the project. The sheer adulation with which the original series is showered with will no doubt guarantee the project meets (and exceeds) its funding goal. With any luck, we'll finally get to experience the adventures of Admiral Rick Hunter – which fans have been anticipating for nearly 30 years.
Robotech Academy does not yet have a release date. Its Kickstarter funding campaign runs through August 7th, 2014.
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