Hitting TV screens in March 1985, Robotech ran for 85 episodes and detailed what happened on Earth after an alien starship crashed on a South Pacific island and Earth developed technology from it. This technology included giant robotic machines that were used to fight three successive extraterrestrial invasions.
What made Robotech interesting was that it was adapted for Western markets by Harmony Gold USA from three unrelated anime shows The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospeada. Harmony Gold stated these shows were chosen because they initially planned to market The Super Dimension Fortress Macross for US-American weekday syndication but in order to do so they would need a minimum of 65 episodes so all three shows were combined and adapted with edited content and revised dialogue to become Robotech. This combination resulted in a storyline that spans three generations as mankind must fight three destructive Robotech Wars in succession over a powerful energy source called “Protoculture”:
- The First Robotech War (The Macross Saga)
- The Second Robotech War (The Masters)
- The Third Robotech War (The New Generation)
The initial pilot for the show Codename: Robotech is a 73-minute animated pilot that preceded the series. It is set within the events of the First Robotech War. The series then opens with the events of The First Robotech War (adapted from The Super Dimension Fortress Macross) where Earth is in battle with a race of giant warriors called the Zentraedi, who have been sent to retrieve the crashed ship for reasons unknown. In the course of this chapter, Earth is nearly annihilated, the Zentraedi are defeated, and humans gain knowledge of the energy source called protoculture. Humanity also learns of the Robotech Masters whose galactic empire the Zentraedi protected and patrolled.
In The Second Robotech War (The Masters) the Robotech Masters arrive on Earth seeking what turns out to be the sole means in the universe of producing protoculture. Through a combination of mistrust and arrogance, their attempts at retrieving this meet with opposition from the humans and unleash a war that leaves the Masters defeated and Earth awash in the spores of a plant called the Flower of Life—the source of protoculture and a beacon to the mysterious Invid who scour the galaxy for its presence.
The Third Robotech War (The New Generation) begins with the arrival on Earth of the Invid, who are lured by the Flower of Life and rapidly conquer the planet. References in the previous two chapters explain to viewers that many of the heroes of the First Robotech War had left Earth to seek out the Robotech Masters on a preemptive mission, and it is this Robotech Expeditionary Force that sends missions back from across the galaxy to attempt a liberation of their homeworld. The storyline follows one group of freedom fighters as they work their way towards the final battle with the Invid.