Shamus Kelley | April 8, 2021 |
Photo: Big West/Harmony Gold
The day anime fans thought would never come is here.
Premiering in 1982, Super Dimension Fortress Macross was the start of a massive anime franchise that’s continued to this day with numerous sequels and films. While the first Macross series came to the west as the first part of the Robotech series (and was released uncut later on), most of those sequels and films haven’t been released outside of Japan due to varying legal disagreements between rights holders Big West Co. LTD., Studio Nue, INC. (who were both involved in the original creation of Macross) and Harmony Gold U.S.A. (who created Robotech.)
That all changes today.
An “expansive agreement” between Big West, Studio Nue, and Harmony Gold will allow immediate international distribution of “most Macross television sequels and films.” It also affirms Harmony Gold’s rights to the Robotech franchise. Going forward, Big West and Harmony Gold will both cooperate on the international distribution of future Macross and Robotech projects post 2021.
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From the press release,
“Tokyo based BIGWEST Co. LTD. and Los Angeles based Harmony Gold U.S.A. announced an agreement regarding the worldwide rights for the legendary Macross and Robotech franchises. This expansive agreement signed by both companies on March 1, 2021, ends two decades of disagreements and will allow Big West and Harmony Gold to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential of both the Macross and Robotech franchises worldwide.
The landmark agreement immediately permits worldwide distribution of most of the Macross films and television sequels worldwide, and also confirms that Big West will not oppose the Japanese release of an anticipated upcoming live-action Robotech film. The agreement also recognizes Harmony Gold’s longstanding exclusive license with Tatsunoko for the use of the 41 Macross characters and mecha in the Robotech television series and related merchandise throughout the world excluding Japan.
Moving forward, both parties will cooperate on distribution regarding future Macross and Robotech projects for the benefit of both franchises.”
This is a major shift for the Macross franchise in the west. For years fans outside of Japan have been clamoring for official releases of the Macross sequels and films and now they’ll be getting most of them! The press release doesn’t mention which sequels and films will be excluded so stay tuned for more information on that as it becomes available.
The press release also contains the fascinating tidbit that Big West won’t oppose a Japanese release of the upcoming live-action Robotech film. Hopefully ironing that out removes one of the road blocks in that film moving forward.
Big West representative director, Kaya Onishi said in a statement, “stories that feature Valkyries, a transformable realistic mecha, in action among the galaxies while diva’s sing in the background, as well as love triangles involving the pilots and singers. That was and continues to be the concept behind the Macross series, and I am happy that I can now help bring Macross to people all over the world on the 40th anniversary of the series. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Harmony Gold Chairman, Frank Agrama for his courageous decision in this matter.”
Haromy Gold USA chairman, Frank Agrama adds, “this is an incomparably historic moment for both Harmony Gold and Big West and the anime industry overall. This is also an exciting moment for fans of Robotech and Macross worldwide. I thank my friend, Big West Representative Director, Kaya Onishi for her hard work to help us reach this long-desired resolution that protects both of our franchises while building a better tomorrow for both our companies.”
While there are no doubt many questions from fans about this new agreement, it’s great to know that after waiting so long we’ll finally be able to legally see much more of the Macross franchise available outside of Japan. Alongside the license renewal for Macross (and the other shows that made up Robotech) between Harmony Gold and Tatsunoko, another player in the original creation of Macross, hopefully this can only mean good things for both Macross and Robotech moving forward.
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Stay tuned to Den of Geek for more as it becomes available.
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(If you want more Robotech check out the RoboSkull Cast, a podcast by this writer which features discussions of EVERY episode of the original Robotech anime series, and the movies.)