Super Dimension Force Macross
Like Tetsujin 28-go and Mazinger Z, 1982’s Super Dimension Force Macross was remixed and given a different name when it eventually made it to America. The iconic series was one of three shows spliced together to make 1985’s Robotech (the other two were Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber Mospeada), which papered over the gaps in the three unrelated anime series through the magic of editing and revised dialogue.
Super Dimension Force Macross is the best remembered of the three, which is why it makes the list today. In the show, the Macross is a city-sized space fortress built from the reverse-engineered remains of an alien ship that crash-landed on Earth in 1999. Things go awry when a race of aliens called the Zentradi shows up at the launch, triggering the Macross’s auto-defenses and lighting the fuse on an intergalactic war that would last for 36 episodes (Robotech tacked on two more shows to boost the episode count for American syndication).
Though the series is named for the titular space fortress, Macross is also well known for the original design of its mecha. The humans fight their space battles using transforming jet-mechs known as VF-1 Valkyries (VF stands for variable fighter) that, like the Macross, was reverse-engineered from alien technology. With an operatic aesthetic that leaned heavy on romance, Super Dimension Force Macross stands alongside Mobile Suit Gundam as a formative series that would foreshadow the future of mecha fiction.
Gundam Build Fighters
Critics have long argued that children’s TV shows are little more than glorified toy commercials, and that accusation does have an element of truth. After all, Transformers was created to move merchandise. History is littered with abandoned Saturday morning TV shows whose action figures failed to strike a chord with children.
Well, 2013’s Gundam Build Fighters makes the marketing in American shows look subtle by comparison. A meta offshoot of the Gundam franchise, Gundam Build Fighters eschews the usual sci-fi setup and is instead set in the real world. There are no mechs. The fate of the universe is not hanging in the balance. Rather, Gundam Build Fighters is a show about the kids who collect and build model Gundam toys (called Gunpla), and then use those Gunpla to battle other kids in Gunpla Battle tournaments (the end result is comparable to Pokemon). Needless to say, all of the Gunpla featured in the show are also available on store shelves. Gundam Build Fighters is an entire anime devoted to Gundam fandom that conveniently tells you exactly what you should buy if you want to display that fandom.
Though insignificant when compared to the rest of the list, Gundam Build Fighters is an absurd exercise in self-promotion, inventing a universe in which Mobile Suit Gundam became a national sport to amplify the legacy of the show. At the same time, the mere existence of such a masturbatory spinoff speaks to the longevity of the franchise. You might not want to watch this series in its entirety, but Gundam Build Fighters is an amusing novelty that reflects the allure of mecha toys amongst the civilian population.
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