Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Goodbye, Carl Macek

Shocking news rattled the world of anime this weekend. American anime producer Carl Macek suddenly passed away due to heart attack. Carl was probably best known as the man behind Robotech, the epic science-fiction TV series that was constructed from 3 unconnected anime. Robotech was a gateway for many fans into the larger world of Japanese animation, and it's completely fair to say that if not for that show, the scope of the anime business and fandom outside of Japan would just not be what it is today. He was also a part of Streamline Pictures which released several important anime films in English including Akira and Fist of the North Star. Although he did not, as far as I can tell, work on any Tezuka projects, his work was so important in marketing anime to a mainstream audience in the generation that came after after shows like Astro Boy and Speed Racer. He was a controversial character, and was perhaps unfairly vilified in some ways, but was certainly a knowledgeable figure in this business who enjoyed speaking with fans. Both his insight and his friendly attitude will be sorely missed.

I did not grow up watching Robotech and came about knowing of anime through other ways. When I did watch Robotech it was only after its DVD release, as an adult. The show struck all the right chords with me and I loved it. The fact that it was made by combining 3 other shows didn't bother me at all, because what I saw was a multi-generational epic, bigger than any one show could offer. I could certainly see what made it so important at it's time, but I also appreciated it in a modern context. I consider it to be a must see for any anime fan, and there are a number of easy ways that one can see it, including legal online streaming.

I also highly recommend everyone give a listen to this recent Anime News Network Podcast that features a long interview with Carl. It's an amazing history lesson into the state of anime in the early 80's and a huge reality check regarding why certain decisions were made. With the state of the anime business being what it is today, there is certainly a lot we can learn from this.

While I am sure there are still purists out there who don't understand the reasoning behind some of the edits and changes that happened under Carl Macek's watch, he really was an interesting guy who just did his job and wanted people to watch anime. You can read some great tributes to Carl on