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American anime pioneer Carl Macek passes away

Robotech

Robotech

Writer and producer Carl Macek, best known for his work on the popular 1985 syndicated anime series Robotech, died April 17 of a heart attack, former business partner Jerry Beck reports. Macek was 58.

A somewhat controversial figure among anime devotees, Macek served as producer and story editor for Harmony Gold USA on Robotech, a sprawling space opera that was actually a redubbed and edited adaptation of three different mecha anime series: Macross, Southern Cross and Mospeada. Although Macek would later be criticized for that approach to Robotech, the series was an undeniable hit that’s regarded as key to anime making inroads in North America.

The TV anime spawned a feature film (which also used repurposed footage), novelizations, toys, games and comic books — the latter perhaps most notably from Comico.

With art historian Jerry Beck, Macek in 1988 co-founded Streamline Pictures, the distribution company that imported and dubbed such anime as My Neighbor Totoro, Akira and Fist of the Northstar. He also partnered with animator John Kricfalusi on Spumco Inc., and helped to sell Ren & Stimpy to Nickelodeon.

“Carl had his critics,” Beck wrote. “But one thing is certain: the popularity of anime in the North America would not be where it is today without Macek’s groundbreaking work on Robotech and his efforts on behalf of Streamline Pictures.”

Tom Spurgeon, Rob Bricken and Anime News Network also have obituaries.

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5 Comments

I met Carl before Robotech – he used to sell animation cels at conventions. The Cartoon Fantasy Organization used to meet at his store in Orange. He wll be missed.

Were it not for Carl Macek, his detractors never would have been able to buy the original series on domestic DVDs with professional translation and subtitling so that they could criticize his version of them.

Seldom has a show ever been produced that was so sprawlingly epic in its setting and so personally intimate with its characters. For all of its production flaws, the show had a grand vision and actually pulled it off.

Anime may have taken a longer time to catch on in the US without Robotech, if at all, but it has never had a better ambassador.

If it wasn’t for this guy there wouldn’t have been the ROBOTECH we know and love in the U.S. and who knows if guys like me would ever know what the hell MACROSS is – best wishes to Carl and his family – a true loss to my culture.

I knew Carl a bit back in the Streamline Pictures days, and composed the soundtrack he used for both the live-action and OVA 8-Man movies. He was a great guy, and I regret losing touch with him for so long.
I hope his family all the best. He will definitely be remembered.

i always wondered if or why Daina died her hair! and even after reading the saga’s were seperate anime edited together to make a longer series, it never quite dropped- because it felt so natural and logical to watch- each war would ware down the human resources so things got pretty tight- so going from large ships to smaller scale mecha and limeted resources made sense. i hate the concept of fusing shows-in-translation in principle, but watching robotech can show how ‘editing’ need not be the evil butchering monster of an original show- it actually made the other two shows better (likely saved them from fading further into memory) though still, the concept still scares me- i really love the robotech collection and consider it to be one of my defining favourites of my collection, i would not change it back for anything- thanks carl.

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