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Answerman - Will The Macross Franchise Ever Be Made Available In The West?


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Sakura Shinguji



Joined: 09 Feb 2005
Posts: 145
PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:41 pm Reply with quote
Along the lines of something the questioner brought up, at this point I'm not entirely sure what Harmony Gold is even seeking to accomplish.

I mean, fair play to them for the license renewal and hanging on to an asset, but their astonishing inepititude in actually making use of it is just baffling. They're not actually releasing any products, and as far as I can tell they aren't in a position to be earning any passive revenue via royalties from existing products either, at least not in any meaningful amount.

At this point it seems like their business strategy is simply based around trademark squatting and hoping to reap financial benefits from theoretical lawsuits. I guess it's not a surprise, considering Frank Agrama's past criminal dealings. It seems like a very irresponsible way to run a business.

Right now I suppose their Hail Mary play is lazily sitting back and hoping that the live action movie gets made (Ron Howard narrator: "It won't.") so that they can collect some easy cash, since clearly they can't figure out how to make this work on their own.

Though it's not like any fans, even Robotech fans, really care to see them succeed. As evidenced by the resounding failure of their Kickstarter a few years ago, among other things.
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Rogueywon



Joined: 01 May 2011
Posts: 162
PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:50 pm Reply with quote
Of course, the extra little fun wrinkle on an already over-complicated saga comes from the added layer of complexity added by FASA and their Battletech franchise, which also has a long and heated legal history with Harmony Gold (and one which, to be fair, we should acknowledge started when early Battletech shamelessly ripped of mecha designs from several anime series, including Macross).
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AkumaChef



Joined: 10 Jan 2019
Posts: 253
PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:56 pm Reply with quote
I agree with Sakura 100% here. The ineptitude is staggering. Macross, as a franchise, has a lot of fans and a long list of titles to promote under that brand name. From a business perspective it makes a lot of sense too: you advertise "Macross" and you promote not just one title, but a whole list of sequels at the same time. I'd imagine they'd be popular watches on streaming services too.

As for sales of physical media, I can't help but wonder if they're stuck in a rut that some advertising might help fix. I suspect that many existing fans already own hardcopies (I still have my LDs) and that the series are not all that well known to many newer fans. I wonder if some kind of promotion combined with a streaming release might kindle some interest?
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jsevakis
ANN Director of New Media


Joined: 28 Jul 2003
Posts: 1674
Location: Los Angeles, CA
PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:56 pm Reply with quote
Sakura Shinguji wrote:
I mean, fair play to them for the license renewal and hanging on to an asset, but their astonishing inepititude in actually making use of it is just baffling. They're not actually releasing any products, and as far as I can tell they aren't in a position to be earning any passive revenue via royalties from existing products either, at least not in any meaningful amount.

They actually showed off a ton of licensed merchandise at the panel. They're streaming on Amazon (and Tubi, and Hulu) and get royalties from that. And there's the hoped-for live action movie. It's right there in the article.

Also, they do not actually have the rights to any other Macross other than the original series. They do have the trademark on the word "Macross", and some logos and designs.
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samuelp



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 2105
Location: San Antonio, USA
PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 2:02 pm Reply with quote
It was a kind of funny story:

When I went in for a tech check a day before our panel for J-Novel Club at Anime Expo, I was a little early and the previous person was still there, it was the guy from Harmony Gold and the slides were still up with the announcement... I did a double take in the room, composed myself, then was like "hi, I worked with big west a few years ago to subtitle the Macross Frontier Movies in english for the Japanese bluray release". He gave me a nice shifty-eye as he left the room.
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evileye_theblocker



Joined: 30 Nov 2004
Posts: 36
Location: Philippines
PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 2:07 pm Reply with quote
I wonder if it's possible just to "break" the Macross franchise apart? The newer series will be under a new name outside Japan, for example.
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Chrono1000



Joined: 05 Oct 2013
Posts: 1232
PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:23 pm Reply with quote
Sakura Shinguji wrote:
Along the lines of something the questioner brought up, at this point I'm not entirely sure what Harmony Gold is even seeking to accomplish.

At this point I think it is one of two possible answers. The first is that Harmony Gold believes that Robotech could be the next Transformers and out of greed they continue to fight over the claim that they own literally everything related to Macross. That way they can use ideas even from the newer Macross series. The other possibility is that this has become the lawyer equivalent of a vendetta and they know Robotech isn't going anywhere but out of spite they prevent any of the newer Macross series from getting released outside of Japan. I would say that either answer would explain why Harmony Gold has zero interest in how they are viewed by the anime community.

evileye_theblocker wrote:
I wonder if it's possible just to "break" the Macross franchise apart? The newer series will be under a new name outside Japan, for example.

I think if it was as simple as the western anime companies using different names for Macross Frontier and Macross Delta that it would have already happened.
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KabaKabaFruit



Joined: 20 Sep 2007
Posts: 1591
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:40 pm Reply with quote
Honestly, the more I look at the legacy of the Macross calamity, the more I'm now convinced that Big West should've told Carl Macek to take a hike when he approached them for the license to the property.

Sure, it would've denied anime to the western masses by a good decade but we may have had some responsible handling for it by then.
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SilverTalon01



Joined: 02 Apr 2012
Posts: 2039
PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:54 pm Reply with quote
It doesn't shock me that their rereleases of super old titles haven't sold well when they don't have any modern looking titles from the franchise available to the West which can bring in new fans.

Gundam was eventually able to get early series released here which seems to have worked out well enough despite the initial attempts at releasing First and Z. Getting people interested in a series that dated without a gateway in the form of a modern entry will be a tough sell.
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Marzan



Joined: 29 Mar 2009
Posts: 406
PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:04 pm Reply with quote
The writer of this piece is too lenient on Harmony Gold.
I don’t think anyone magically expects Macross to magically be released if HG lost their license, but at the very least their stranglehold over the term Macross in North America is one of the major impediments ti getting anything done. As to who one would talk to, then it’s clearly Big West that is the place to start.
Btw, Big West has started trademarking the Macross name in other markets were HG’s dubious claims on Big West’s intellectual property are much more contested.
I hope BW continues with the recent practice of including English language subtitles on their Japanese BD’s too.
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Stephen R. Bierce



Joined: 07 Aug 2019
Posts: 1
PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:51 pm Reply with quote
KabaKabaFruit wrote:
--we may have had some responsible handling for it by then.


Four Words: CLASH OF THE BIONOIDS
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MarshalBanana



Joined: 31 Aug 2014
Posts: 3486
PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 5:03 pm Reply with quote
Wow Shoji Kawamori was brutal on Robotech, usually Japanese interviewees are more reserved and try to skirt around the topic, he said exactly what he felt about it.
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Tenebrae



Joined: 26 Apr 2008
Posts: 409
PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 5:41 pm Reply with quote
Oh-ho, Kawamori's comments in that linked interview. He pretty much directly calls Harmony Gold pirates. It's easy to see how things would end if he were given the final say in the whole mess.
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AiddonValentine



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
Posts: 1656
PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 6:05 pm Reply with quote
Sakura Shinguji wrote:

Right now I suppose their Hail Mary play is lazily sitting back and hoping that the live action movie gets made (Ron Howard narrator: "It won't.") so that they can collect some easy cash, since clearly they can't figure out how to make this work on their own.


This is probably the biggest thing. They desperately want to make a live action movie, but let's be real here: it's never going to happen. It's never going to enter production, it's never even going to enter pre-production, it's a pipe dream they're going to dangle in front of the gullible for all eternity. The only way the movie is ever going to get moving is if someone calls their bluff and says "Either make the movie or your license is dead!" but that's never going to happen. HG is just going to sit around doing nothing except for licensing cheap merch that fewer and fewer people buy.
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Cardcaptor Takato



Joined: 27 Jan 2018
Posts: 1682
PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 6:12 pm Reply with quote
Didn't this whole thing with Harmony Gold claiming trademark over the Macross name get started when they tried to block a toy company from releasing Macross merch?
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