Disney+ Is Getting the Most Influential Mecha Anime Series of All Time

By Shanna Mathews-Mendez | Published

Fans of Macross will be pleased to hear that they will soon be able to watch almost all of the franchise on Disney+. Arguably the most influential mecha anime series of all time, the Macross franchise includes movies, television series, OVA (original video animation) series, music videos, and even a short. Though two elements of the Macross canon will only be available in Japan, this news still comes as a pleasant surprise for loyal viewers. 

The Origin Of Mecha

For those unfamiliar, mecha anime was born in the late 1950s. After World War II and Japan’s surrender to the Allies, the United States occupied Japan to help it become part of the international community. This occupation included westernization, development of infrastructure, and technological advancement, not to mention the cultural influences of music and movies. Mecha anime, and ultimately Macross, was born of these shifts. 

In The Grim Darkness Of The Far Future, There Is Only War

As Japan became more industrialized, Japanese artists began creating comics, television series, and films that reflected a combination of both Japanese and American cultures. This combination included a fascination with machines and technology. In the 1950s, this fascination was laced with hope and aspiration. By 1982, when Macross made its debut on Japanese television, hope had turned to foreboding. 

Super Space Fortress

Macross gives us a taste of that foreboding. The series is based in the future, 1999, in which an alien ship with advanced technology crashes onto a fictional island on Earth. Scientists spend the next ten years reverse engineering the technology to form a massive (or macro) spaceship fortress that can travel across galaxies. The name of the ship, Macross, comes from these two words, macro and across. 

All is well until another alien civilization, the Zentradi, arrives and recognizes the technology on the Macross as that of their sworn enemies. This alien civilization declares war on the Macross and, by extension, Earth, and all hell breaks loose. 

A Massive Franchise

The war extends across the series, movies, OVA series, and shorts, and an integral aspect of Macross is the role of machines as either helpful or hurtful. What makes mecha anime so interesting is precisely one of the best parts of Macross —- the concepts around what is possible when it comes to humans and machines. 

Robots That Transform

Macross features giant robots piloted by humans, and our hero, Hikaru Ichijyo, pilots one of the most famous giant robots of all time: Valkyrie. For Gen Xers and older millennials who grew up watching Transformers, Voltron, and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the influence here is clear. Macross essentially gave birth to the idea of robots that could work with humans and transform into other objects, like cars or cassette tape players. 


The relationship between Japanese mecha anime and American television series and toys is undeniable. Shortly after the release of Macross, film production company Harmony Gold USA released Robotech here in the United States, an Americanized version of Macross and two other mecha anime series. That same year, 1984, American kids got Saturday morning cartoons Transformers and Voltron, which led to a series of toys from Hasbro. A decade later, kids across the country raved over the Power Rangers

In the end, for those either looking to watch their favorite show all in one place, or those interested in exploring the origins of their childhood cartoons, Macross is coming soon to Disney+, and it will likely draw in an entirely new crowd of fans of all ages.