?Carl Macek passed away yesterday from a heart attack. The man was famous — and infamous — for creating Robotech and bringing it to America in the mid-’80s. The “infamous” part drives me crazy because if one man is responsible for making anime popular in America, it’s Carl Macek. Robotech was a brilliant idea, excellently executed — it’s not like Macross, Southern Cross or Mospeada had a chance in hell of getting on U.S. TV by themselves — and while G.I. Joe and Transformers had great toys, Robotech had a great story as well as great characters. Rick Hunter drove us crazy. We pined for Lisa Hayes. We wanted to chuck Minmei off a cliff. And we lost our minds when Roy Fokker died, a notion that seemed unthinkable in 1985.
I think Robotech was more instrumental in anime’s American popularity than Akira, because unlike Astro Boy or Speed Racer and to a much greater extent than Battle of the Planets or Star Blazers, kids could tell this was not regular animation, and learned it was Japanese; these kids became the nerd teens responsible for the ’90s anime boom. Even if you think Akira was more important, Macek brought that over with Streamline Pictures in the late ’80s, along with several other cult hits. The man was an anime hero, and I am saddened by his passing. Thanks, Carl. This one’s for you.
Robert Bricken is one of the original co-founders of the site formerly known as Topless Robot, and its first editor-in-chief, serving from 2008-12. He brought the site to prominence with “nerd news, humor and self-loathing” as its motto, raising it from total internet obscurity to a readership in the millions, with help from his savage “FAQ” movie reviews and Fan Fiction Fridays. Under his tenure Topless Robot was covered by Gawker, Wired, Defamer, New York magazine, ABC News, and others, and his articles have been praised by Roger Ebert, Avengers actor Clark Gregg, comedian and The Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman, the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax, and others. He is currently the managing editor of io9.com. Despite decades as both an amateur and professional nerd, he continues to be completely unprepared for either the zombie apocalypse or the robot uprising.