Why Was Southern Cross’ ‘Robotech’ Season Such a Flop?

Many anime fans still fondly remember the series Macross from back in the 1980s, or perhaps they've seen the numerous sequels it's spawned. Western fans might be more familiar with the American adaptation Robotech, which is well known in its own way. Though most of the shows related to Macross became hits, one "sequel" went on to be anything but.

Southern Cross was the third entry in the "Super Dimension" trilogy that included Macross, though it's universally considered to be the worst one. This reception reflects a hellish production history, a surprising lack of merchandise and an even more ironic second chance through Robotech. Here's why anime fans have rarely experienced "deja vu" when thinking back on Southern Cross.

What Was the Southern Cross Anime?

Southern Cross is set in the futuristic year of 2120, where humanity has taken to the stars in order to colonize other worlds. Defending the human race is the Southern Cross army, who pilot powerful vehicles and mechanized armor. Their latest colony is the world of Glorie, which was once populated by the alien race known as the Zor. The two species quickly come into conflict with each other, and their war isn't unlike the battle between humanity and the Zentradi in Macross.

Southern Cross began as a concept by controversial artist Aki Uchiyama, who was known for his salacious, adult-oriented art. This series was going to feature female historical figures in a comedy of sorts, including Joan of Arc. Eventually, it was decided to drop the lolita aspect of the concept's characters, make them older and put them in a science fiction/fantasy setting. To make this change complete, staff from the classic mecha series Aura Battler Dunbine was brought over, but when that show's medieval setting failed to connect with audiences, it presented a problem.

Thus, the show finally became a pure sci-fi mecha series that was able to secure the "Super Dimension" moniker from sponsor Big West. This didn't mean it was a sequel to The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, however -- it simply shared a similar prefix like the second Super Dimension series, Orguss. In fact, Macross is even referenced as a show within the universe of Southern Cross.

Why Wasn't Southern Cross Successful Like Macross?


Unfortunately, much of the other staff weren't used to animated complex mecha designs, resulting in Southern Cross having some outright horrid-looking giant robots. Given that it was, in fact, a mecha series, these unflattering designs were a deterrent. It didn't help that, ironically enough, Southern Cross didn't have much in the way of official merchandise. Though there were some products, none of these amounted to a line of mech toys or model kits such as those for Macross or the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise.

The biggest batch of salt in the wound was the fact that Matchbox produced toys based on the series' mechas when footage from Southern Cross was used in the "Masters Saga" of Robotech. This saw Japan importing the American toys for Southern Cross as they had none of their own, all the while reversing the situation for the first part of Robotech, where legal entanglements prevented American toy companies from importing Japanese Macross toys.

Another big issue was that Southern Cross was a rush job that had to be produced quickly to be a time slot follow-up to Orguss. Further deterring its success was the pending release of the Macross movie, Do You Remember Love?. There was much more advertisement for this than Southern Cross, keeping the first Super Dimension series in the public eye while downplaying the newest one. This was probably deserved, since the series wasn't exactly great. Its intended 32 episodes were cut down to 23, so its story had to be truncated to a horribly paced degree. Plots and concepts are introduced but quickly dropped, and the characters aren't much better.

The show also failed to get the crossover success of Macross due to a combination of lethargic action by way of even poorer robot designs, as well as none of the great romance Macross was known for. The love stories in Southern Cross, if they can even be called that, are shallow and poorly developed, and it doesn't help that the main character is a bit of an annoying airhead. With all these issues combined, Super Dimension Calvary Southern Cross came and went in 1984. The best thing to come out of the series was its admittedly decent music, namely the hip intro song "Hoshi no Deja Vu" by Yoko Katori. It can be streamed through Tubi TV, though it's only really worth it for the most die-hard of Macross or mecha anime fans.

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