The great FidoNet Robotech controversy

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greg
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The great FidoNet Robotech controversy

Post by greg » Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:23 pm

The FidoNet Robotech Echo eventually became officially endorsed by Harmony Gold in the early '90s, and ads for the BBS Echo were run in issues of Eternity's Robotech: The Sentinels comic books. There was also a section called "Robotegami" in which names and addresses of people wanting Robotech pen pals were printed, for those who did not have access to a BBS node to connect to FidoNet. Michael C. Ling, the artist/writer of the Robotech: Malcontent Uprisings, also was a contributor to the Echo. Great conversations were had, and people loved anything and everything Robotech related. It was great.

Eventually, a connection between the Robotech Echo and the Internet was established, by LISTSERV, I believe. This was around 1994, IIRC. Those of us on the Echo were excited that our numbers would grow, with more people joining the conversations. I did not have access to the Internet at that time, and this was when I first encountered elitism on the Internet. A schism eventually came into being over the Robotech novels. We regulars on the Echo realized that Robotech was a bit dopey, and that Macek was just throwing stuff out there without putting a ton of thought into it all. The Robotech novels were written by "Jack McKinney," a pen name for the writing duo of Brian Daley and James Luceno. Daley was an established writer and had done serialized SF novels before, most notably the magnificent Han Solo Adventures from the late '70s. The novels were a great read, but some changes were made to make the story a bit more coherent and credible. The writing style was patterned after Frank Herbert's Dune series of novels, and the concept of Protoculture was embellished a bit, making it a bit similar to the Spice in the Dune series. These two writers took the story of a cartoon series with dorky dialogue and stiff voice acting and made it a good read.

Well, the guys on the Internet side of the Echo were unanimously opposed to the novels. These guys took particular issue to the description of what the books called "thinking caps," which were the helmets the Veritech pilots used to control giant robots. The book described technology of the pilot helmets that read thought commands from the pilots. It made sense, because how else could you emulate human body movements with just a bunch of switches? It wasn't an original idea either, since the technology was shown in the 1982 movie Firefox and it was also shown in use in the anime, Macross Plus. This technology even exists today, which shows another example of how science fiction predates actual technology. But these elitists hated the concept. Their main ammunition against this concept was how complex movements could be made in video games like Street Fighter and Virtua Fighter via joysticks. Heh... yeah. So crouching on one knee, pivoting the torso, leaning over to look around a corner and firing the cannon over one's shoulder is a qcf+up+HK then followed by a full counterclockwise rotation while holding B, A, and Select at the same time? How goofy can you get?

Well, leave it to the Internet to make things nasty after a bit of some debate. It got pretty ugly. We original guys who were there from the beginning had our intelligences insulted repeatedly, and we started disappearing one after another. Essentially, this merger between FidoNet and Internet users, which was supposed to unite fans, only tore us apart and the good times became a thing of the past. Way to go, Internet. At the time, I kept thinking, "If this condescending snobbery is what I can expect on the Internet, then I have no desire to ever get on there!" The Internet: full of people who suck.
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Re: The great FidoNet Robotech controversy

Post by _D_ » Sat Mar 02, 2013 7:07 am

Thanks for the insight. I was never into the Robotech craze having watched the original series in question and starting with MS Gundam in 1980. One of the first tapes that my bud subbed was Gundam episode #1. Those early subbed tape efforts are still in their boxes. I wonder if I should cap them so they don't disappear entirely...

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Re: The great FidoNet Robotech controversy

Post by kndy » Sat Mar 02, 2013 10:59 am

Source: FIDOnet, Japanese Animation Chatter
Date : 23 Aug 94 23:16:43
From : Drew Webber
Title: A letter from Carl Macek

Here's a response from Carl Macek to a letter a pen pal of mine wrote to
Streamline. Please, try not to hurl...


Dear Mr. Jones,

First I must thank you for taking the time to hand write a letter to
Streamline Pictures to relate your feelings about anime and your opinion
as to how I am single-handedly ruining the entire experience for you.
(Drew: <Snicker>)

As you state in your letter you are new to the field. So perhaps a bit
of history regarding my efforts in bringing anime (Drew: Don't you mean
"Video Comics"? <Gag>) to the United States might be helpful in causing
you to rethink your position. (Drew: Decent dubs might work better...)

When Robotech was produced, ten years ago, it was made with the cooperation
of Tatsunoko Productions - the original Japanese producer. I was hired
by Harmony Gold to creat an original plot for Robotech which tied together
exisiting animation from three different series produced by Tatsunoko.
Robotech was considered quite succesful at the time, both in the U.S.
and the rest of the world. The success of this program was responsible
for creation a series of comics, novels, toys, role-playing game and other
merchandise. Profit from all these ventures was shared with the original
Japanese producers.

I did not own Harmony Gold. I merely worked for them. And realizing what
the odds were for getting any sort of anime onto American television
at the time, Harmony Gold did a remarkable job. And, although I can
understand your misguided anger (Drew: HA!) from what you think is a
violation of Macross, etc., realize that without the mass distribution
of Robotech, there would not be as strong an anime movement in this
country today. (Drew: The emphasis should be on "AS", there.) Also
realize that this production was done with the best wishes and cooperation
of the original producers.

Let me now jump ahead to Streamline Pictures. Starting in 1989 Streamline
has been at the forefront of bringing anime and other non-mainstream
animation animation to the attention of the American public. (Drew: Sorry,
Carl, but U.S. Manga and AnimEigo have been at the forefront since 1992.)
First, through our theatrical division, which has successfully released
14 motion pictures to theaters throughout the United States and Canada.
(Drew: Yeah, a whopping 200 theaters!) Streamline has also been
instrumental in getting anime back onto American television by licensing
programs to MTV, (Drew: Like "The Running Man", which has to be re-dubbed
by MTV before it was shown?) TNT, TBS, and the Science Fiction Channel.

Where you probably know about Streamline is through our video label -
Video Comics. (Drew: *HACK!* *SPIT!*) Over the past four years we have
released over sixty individual tapes, (Drew: And U.S. Manga has released
over 100!) the majority of them are English language versions of anime.

One general fact that you should be aware of is that all animation is
dubbed. (Drew: NOOOO.. really?! And one thing you should be aware of, Carl,
is the fact that most of your releases were originally dubbed WELL!)
Streamline follows the traditional (Drew: Traditions are meant to be
broken.) approach for releasing animation by presenting it in the
language of the territory that it is licensed to be released in.

Specfic to Streamline, you might also be interested to note that we do
not change the content of the story line of the material that we
distribute. Also the only instances in which we edit the visuals is
when the original producer is unable to provide neutral (textless)
footage for credit sequences or when Kanji appears on the screen. (Drew:
Wouldn't want to give people the impression that anime CAME FROM JAPAN,
eh, Carl?) Streamline uses highly qualified (Drew: <ROFLMFAO!!!>) voice
actors who are all member of the Screen Actors Guild.

We adapt the dialogue for our adaptations from the text of the original
Japanese script, not the final dialogue, because the animation is
produced and animated according to the script. We feel that by adapting
the script and not the dialouge (which may contain ad-libs) our work
is more authentic to the original intent of the filmmakers.

If you do not like the voice talent, that is your opinion. (Drew: And the
opinion of most people who have ears!) But to call them second rate is
quite (Drew: appropriate) insulting. (Drew: He's hitting to close to home,
eh Carl?) To that end, most of the tone of your letter is insulting
(Drew: Good!) and lacks current information and foundation. (Drew: What
the HELL?! Do you think fans are THAT STUPID?!)

What strikes me as odd, is your complete lack of awareness about the
Streamline's Robotech Perfect Collections (Drew: Yeah, all three tapes!)
which contain complete and uncut Japanese versions of Macross, Southern
Cross and Mospeada with subtitles, together with corresponding episodes
of Robotech. If you would take the time to actually compare various
series on these tapes, you will soon realize that not much was cut from
the various original Japanese series which formed Robotech (only what
was absolutely necessary to have the material broadcast - look at what
other broadcasters must delete when they broadcast "R" rated movies on
television). You will also realize that the Robotech story gives
validity to the fine animation in Southern Cross and Mospeada (which
were considered minor successes if not out-right failures when they
were first released in Japan).

If you were a true fan of anime you would (Drew: Like to see Streamline
go down in flames!) want these films to be seen in the broadest possible
audience. The companies which you laud as being friends to anime fandom
have recently begun dubbing their product. Take a look at AnimEigo's
laughable English version of Riding Bean, or L.A. Hero's amatuerish
Macross II. (Drew: People who live in glass houses...) After reviewing
these and most other weak attemrts at trying to do what should have
been done in the first place, (Drew: Yeah, SUBBED!!) then sit back and
re-evaluate your opinion of Streamline's efforts. (Drew: Oh, like Fist
of the North Star, which was so bad that my brother, who isn't even
an anime fan, said he'd rather watch subbed then listen to s*** dub?) I'm
sure you'll see that Streamline's goal is to get quality animation into
the hands of the broadest possible audience, not a group of xenophobic
couch potatoes.

Streamline has build its business on consistency (Drew: Yup.. all of their
releases suck!) and professionalism. (Drew: BWHAHAHAHAHAHA!) We are not
trying to win over fandom. (Drew: Then you're going to lose a large
percentage of your audience, bub.) We think that the work speaks for
itself. (Drew: Yup.. and it says to me "Carl Macek should be shot.")

I have been insulted by misinformed fans to the point that I have no
respect for that faction of fandom which feels compelled to coment in
the loudest and rudest way possible without command of the facts. (Drew:
What? Don't youi like consumer feed back, Carl?)

If, as you say, you relish a good debate, then take to heart the
information contained in this letter. (Drew: WHAT INFORMATION?!) I could
have brushed off your insults and comments as merely the rantings of
a misinformed otaku, but I choose to let you in on a few of the facts.

When you try to comment as an adult about the international business and
popular culture, do so from a point of view which deals with facts not
hearsay and second-hand information. (Drew: I'm sorry, but like you said..
"the work speaks for itself.")

It is not important to me whether you respond to this letter or not, I
only hope you read it with an open mind and view Streamline's adaptations
in context.

Sincerly,

Carl (Drew: Anti-Christ) Macek


So.. anyone want to make comments on this? I'll post Ryan's reply to this
in another packet...

... "'Got enough guilt to start my own religion." - Tori Amos, Crucify

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Re: The great FidoNet Robotech controversy

Post by greg » Sat Mar 02, 2013 5:23 pm

Oh WOW, I remember reading this post on FIDO!
kndy wrote:Also the only instances in which we edit the visuals is
when the original producer is unable to provide neutral (textless)
footage for credit sequences or when Kanji appears on the screen. (Drew:
Wouldn't want to give people the impression that anime CAME FROM JAPAN,
eh, Carl?)
This is what also infuriated me with AD Vision. They went to great lengths to conceal the fact that anime comes from Japan.

And Carl's talking about those so-called Robotech Perfect Collections... They never even released more than a handful of VHS volumes of those! With so few episodes per tape, being released at a snail's pace, is there any wonder why nobody bothered buying them? All that Streamline had to do to appease those whom Carl considered "anime purists" was to just release subtitled versions. They FINALLY did this with Akira, but for all the other stuff, we were stuck with DUB ONLY Dirty Pair, DUB ONLY Nadia, DUB ONLY FotNS, etc.

I do appreciate that Uncle Carl was involved in bringing anime to the West through his efforts, and I won't ridicule him for combining the three shows together to create Robotech. It was business, and the show had to adapt to US syndicated TV requirements. But he just wouldn't adapt his business efforts while anime fandom changed. People wanted anime to be authentic, and what's this line from him?
kndy wrote:Specfic to Streamline, you might also be interested to note that we do
not change the content of the story line of the material that we
distribute.
What about Windaria, then?

Gosh, I have a text file of all of my FidoNet signature taglines backed up on a Zip disk, but apparently I must have gotten rid of the Zip drive before my move to Japan. I bet I can score one for cheap on Yahoo Auctions Japan and upload those sometime.
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Re: The great FidoNet Robotech controversy

Post by megazone » Sat Mar 02, 2013 5:53 pm

I worked for Carl for a brief period at Streamline.
Oh the stories I could tell you.

My lips are sealed!
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Re: The great FidoNet Robotech controversy

Post by greg » Sat Mar 02, 2013 7:58 pm

megazone wrote:I worked for Carl for a brief period at Streamline.
Oh the stories I could tell you.

My lips are sealed!
No way! So whose decision was it to just not ever release anything subtitled? That wouldn't be saying too much, would it?
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Re: The great FidoNet Robotech controversy

Post by _D_ » Sun Mar 03, 2013 3:47 pm

greg wrote:
Gosh, I have a text file of all of my FidoNet signature taglines backed up on a Zip disk, but apparently I must have gotten rid of the Zip drive before my move to Japan. I bet I can score one for cheap on Yahoo Auctions Japan and upload those sometime.
You mean one of these:

Image

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Re: The great FidoNet Robotech controversy

Post by davemerrill » Mon Mar 04, 2013 1:50 pm

Wait a minute, fans start petty feuds with each other? Over the most inconsequential, trivial details? Well I never. Certainly such things never happened before the Internet was invented, he said sarcastically.

The only thing I remember about FIDO was getting into an incredibly stupid argument with somebody who went by the name 'fat bastard' over something to do with Masamune Shirow and/or Todd McFarlane. If there was ever any positive benefit that came out of FIDO, I didn't see it; as far as our projects at the time were concerned it was more of a hindrance or a distraction than anything helpful.

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Re: The great FidoNet Robotech controversy

Post by greg » Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:00 am

_D_ wrote:You mean one of these:
Yes! That's the one.
davemerrill wrote:If there was ever any positive benefit that came out of FIDO, I didn't see it; as far as our projects at the time were concerned it was more of a hindrance or a distraction than anything helpful.
Wow, that's harsh! Did you already have access to the Internet? For those who did not, FIDOnet was a great place to discuss things. Granted, I did not participate as much on the Anime Echo as I did the Robotech Echo (or the Star Wars Echo or Blade Runner Echo, for that matter), but it was the best way for fans to connect if they did not have either the Internet or one of those other online services like Delphi, GeNie, Prodigy, Compuserve, or AOL. Oh heck, I never used AOL, but I imagine that anything FIDO was better than the cesspool of stupidity that was AOL users at the time. Their idiocy was legendary. I remember being so upset when the usual website URL text for each episode of Babylon 5 was replaced with an "AOL Keyword: Babylon 5" text. Cue a Darth Vader "Noooooooooooooooo!" soundbyte.
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Re: The great FidoNet Robotech controversy

Post by davemerrill » Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:24 am

In my experience, we were going to anime conventions and publishing fanzines and fan-subtitling and shooting parody videos and running local anime clubs and programming anime rooms at SF/comic cons, swapping tapes with people across the country and around the world, drawing fan art, writing fan fiction, doing all that anime fan stuff. Fidonet helped with none of it. It was all the arguing, pedantry, nit-pickery nonsense of your typical fandom APA, with none of the actual meaningful conversations or connections that made APAs worthwhile.

There was plenty of arguing on the GENIE network, but that also was used to promote fan activity (until they raised their prices and everybody quit). USEnet was a valuable tool. Our local Atlanta anime BBS was a good way to get information out to a small subset of the fandom, though obviously its use was very limited. One user at at a time, that's pretty limited.

Once it got to be 1996 and the internet started to become what we know it as today, things like Fidonet got kicked to the curb without even a second glance. Dropped like a bad transmission, as they say. I don't miss it one teensy bit.

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