Why Legendary Anime Macross Never Aired In America For 40 Years

By Brian Myers | Published

The Macross franchise, long a favorite in Japan, helped to launch the popular U.S. animated series and films known as Robotech. However, though it was a part of Robotech’s roots, Macross’s films and series were not legally allowed to be aired in the United States due to multiple lawsuits filed by several companies that each asserted rights to Macross. Thankfully, those battles are now behind us, paving the way for U.S. audiences to enjoy one of anime’s greatest franchises.

The Influence Of Macross

The influence of Macross is almost immeasurable. The expansive universe of the innovative anime franchise began in 1982 with its first 36-episode series, which was followed by a movie two years later. Since then, three additional television series have followed, along with three additional films, six direct-to-video movies, and a slew of manga. There are almost too many video games to count, and the merchandising for the franchise is proof of its enormous pop culture impact.

Mecha Anime

The robots that are part of the lore of Macross are largely piloted by humans, and some have the ability to transform into other objects. With that in mind, you’d be hard-pressed to find many sci-fi animated films and series from the 1980s forward that didn’t have elements of Macross looming as an influence. Macross has shown that influence in Godzilla vs. Kong, Star Wars: Rebels, Transformers, and countless others.

Mashed Up, Butchered, And Incomplete

With so much interest in Macross from the Far East, it’s no wonder that Western nations took an interest in bringing it to their audiences. Taking a Japanese creation in the 1980s and having it undergo severe alterations or combining them with other creations to make a mashup that makes original works less recognizable was customary 40 years ago. The legal issues surrounding Macross stem from a similar act.

Harmony Gold And RoboTech

When Robotech was created in the West by Harmony Gold, it was a mashup of the first Macross entry, Superdimension Fortress Macross with Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber Mospeada. But Harmony Gold believed that this creation entitled them to all future titles in the Macross franchise. However, three different studios claimed rights to the Macross name as a result, which kept any Macross titles from legally airing in the United States.

A Decade Of Legal Action

In 2021, a long-standing legal dispute between the final two sides, Harmony Gold and Big West, was finally resolved. The end result is one that will delight many fans of Macross in the United States, as this agreement means that most of the Macross titles will now be available to stream here. And now, after several more years of negotiating contracts with providers, audiences finally know where they will be able to view them all.

Macross On Disney+

It was recently announced that Disney+ acquired the rights to show nearly the entire Macross library, with a launch date expected sometime later in 2024. However, fans in the United States will not be able to access them through this streaming giant, as it is only going to be for Disney+ subscribers in the United Kingdom, Canada, and other nations who have access to the Disney+ Star library. The good news for U.S.-based fans is that the same Macross titles will be available on Hulu, one of Disney’s alternate streaming services.