By Ollie Barder
[Source: Forbes] In a pretty astonishing turn of events, both Bigwest and Harmony Gold have agreed to work together on the global distribution of the Macross and Robotech franchises.
This has been one of the longest running legal battles in anime and I never thought I would see it resolved in my lifetime.
To put it simply, Robotech was built from three disparate mecha anime; Macross, Southern Cross and MOSPEADA. Tatsunoko Productions sold the these rights to Harmony Gold, who then edited them together to create Robotech.
The issue was that in the case of Macross, Tatsunoko Productions was not the only owner of the property. The other party involved was a Japanese company called Bigwest, that has in the years since funded the creation of new installments in the Macross saga.
There have been many legal battles about this issue of incomplete rights ownership, but it looks like these have finally been worked out between Bigwest and Harmony Gold.
While I thought this could be some kind of delayed April Fool’s joke, both the original Macross and Robotech sites have press statements to confirm this (here and here respectively). I even checked with Shoji Kawamori’s team and they confirmed this was actually real as well
Considering that the bulk of the Macross saga has been landlocked to Japan, I am just glad that both the work of Shoji Kawamori and Kazutaka Miyatake will finally be made more widely available.
As to the details of what this agreement entails, this is what the official press statement has to say:
“Tokyo based BIGWEST CO.,LTD. and Los Angeles based Harmony Gold U.S.A. announced an agreement regarding the worldwide rights for the legendary Macross and Robotech franchises. This expansive agreement signed by both companies on March 1, 2021, ends two decades of disagreements and will allow Bigwest and Harmony Gold to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential of both the Macross and Robotech franchises worldwide. 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. The agreement also 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. Moving forward, both parties will cooperate on distribution regarding future Macross and Robotech projects for the benefit of both franchises.”
Regarding the details of what Macross instalments will be given a wider release remains to be seen. I have also reached out to companies like Bandai Spirits to find out whether their extensive toy and model kit lines for Macross will also be finally released globally.
In any case, as a long-term fan of Macross, I can happily say that today is definitely a good day.