Bigwest To Release All Post-1987 Macross Anime, Merchandise, and More Worldwide

Bigwest Co., Ltd. announced on the Macross portal that it will release all Macross anime made after 1987 worldwide. In addition, it will also release post-1987 Macross games, toys, live performances, and “other content and merchandising.”

On the day of the announcement (April 22), the The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Flash Back 2012 video was uploaded on the Macross YouTube channel, where it will stream for a limited time. 

The announcement included messages from Macross creator Shouji Kawamori and character designer Haruhiko Mikimoto. Kawamori said, “For creators like me, our work only comes to life for when it is viewed by people. It seems that the time has just started to move, after years and years of stillness. I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to all the people involved who have helped bring Macross to the world. Last but not least, I am deeply thankful for all the support and understanding from the fans around the world. Together, aiming for further freedom, and a brand new deculture.”

Meanwhile, Mikimoto said, “On a personal level, I was frustrated not only over the fact that the global reach of the anime titles were impeded, but so too were all the production design sheets, the illustrations and the comics that were created through the involvement of many people. I am very happy to hear that the situation has been sorted out enough that audiences around the world would be able to fully access all this material.”

Bigwest’s worldwide release announcement comes after another announcement earlier this month by Bigwest and Harmony Gold, in which the companies revealed an agreement, signed on March 1, to “allow immediate international distribution of most Macross television sequels and films, while affirming Harmony Gold’s rights to the Robotech franchise.”  

“The landmark agreement immediately permits worldwide distribution of most of the Macross films and television sequels worldwide, and also confirms that Bigwest will not oppose the Japanese release of an anticipated upcoming live-action Robotech film,” that announcement said.

The announcement added that the agreement “recognizes Harmony Gold’s longstanding exclusive license with Tatsunoko for the use of the 41 Macross characters and mecha in the Robotech television series and related merchandise throughout the world excluding Japan.”

Super Dimension Fortress Macross, the first anime in the Macross series, ran from 1982 to 1983. Meanwhile, Robotech, which was adapted and edited from Super Dimension Fortress Macross and two other anime called Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA for a North American audience, premiered in 1985. Both series spawned animated follow-ups and video games. In Macross’ case, the anime follow-ups included 1994 to 1995’s Macross Plus and Macross 7, 2008’s Macross Frontier, and 2016’s Macross Delta

Macross and Robotech were mired in legal issues for many years, with the distribution agreement announcement acknowledging the previous “two decades of disagreements.” Part of the complications stemmed from the parties involved in Super Dimension Fortress Macross‘s creation. As noted by Kotaku in 2013, there were two other companies aside from Big West, Studio Nue and Tatsunoko Productions, which were involved. Kotaku wrote, “Studio Nue and Big West were partners, with Studio Nue providing the story, characters designs, etc., and Big West the financial backing. Tatsunoko Productions was brought on board to produce the bulk of the actual animation. As part of its payment, Tatsunoko received the rights to the physical animation of the original The Super Dimension Fortress Macross anime (but not characters, concepts, designs, etc.) as well as the rights to distribute the anime series—and related merchandise—outside of Japan.”

Anime News Network’s Answerman column wrote in 2019 that, “The myriad of lawsuits and rulings over the years between Tatsunoko and Macross producer Big West complicates things to such a degree that, even if someone approached them to license some Macross, it’s not even clear who they would talk to, or how a deal would even get done.” 

As Forbes reports, it was Tatsunoko, who also animated Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA, that sold the rights to Harmony Gold for its Robotech series. Harmony Gold renewed its Robotech license with Tatsunoko in 2019. 

Macross’ legal disputes were not limited to the anime. In the 90s, the now-defunct FASA was sued by Harmony Gold for using several mech designs from Super Dimension Fortress Macross in its Battletech tabletop game. As reported by PCGamesN, the matter was eventually settled out of court. The miniatures in question became known by fans as the “Unseen” and had their art removed, although the mechs still existed in the game’s fiction. 

In 2017, Harmony Gold sued Piranha Games, developer of the Mechwarrior Online and Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries shooter games, and Harebrained Schemes, developer of the BattleTech turn-based game, over the use of several mech designs. Piranha Games President Russ Bullock announced in 2018 that the dispute had been settled, with Piranha Games to continue using the “classic” BattleTech designs. Meanwhile, the copyright infringement case against Harebrained Schemes was dismissed with prejudice.

Source: Macross Portal

Melvyn originally wanted to write about video games, and he did so for a few years, starting from his college days. He still writes about video games sometimes, but now focuses on anime-related news content and the occasional review. Some of his free time is spent self-learning Japanese, both out of interest in the language and because English-translated light novels and manga are expensive. Every anime season, Melvyn looks forward to discovering new standout episodes and OP/ED animation sequences, as well as learning about the storyboard artists and directors behind them.
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