Items in italics are items that Pete claim I fabricated, or quoted out of context. Underlines emphasize major points with large bodies of italics.
Taking their cue from our interest in pursuing the Robotech cycle, Tatsunoko lost no time in sending out the character and mecha designs for the unrealized portion of Southern Cross.
At the same time, they also took the liberty of designing a number of new transformable weapon and transportation systems. The feeling at Tatsunoko was strong, at this time, to maintain the transformable aspects of Robotech in The Sentinels. Subsequent discussions would lead Tatsunoko, Harmony Gold, and even Matchbox far afield from transformable toys.
The same desire to tell the rest of the story was also heartfelt at Harmony Gold. Everyone at the company had been living with these characters for so long that, even though they were cartoon characters, they somehow managed to take on a life of their own. It seemed that way not only from the internal thinking of the staff but also from the countless letters received at Harmony Gold from fans who demanded to know the rest of the story.
Certain characters and storylines were more important than others to the overall concept of Robotech and Robotech II: The Sentinels. The most notable omissions in the new storyline from the Macross saga are Lynn Kyle and the three comic Zentraedi: Konda, Rico, and Bron. Their adventures would have to wait to be chronicled elsewhere.
More significantly, an entire new cast of characters had to be created if the story of The Sentinels was to have the same epic feel as the original series. Several characters had already been created either directly (as in the Robotech graphic novel - an original story) or de facto (direct reference in the original series without actual screen time).
The introduction of Col. B D.(sic) Edwards in the Robotech graphic novel was intentional. He would become a key figure in The Sentinels. Edwards' hatred for Roy Fokker, now transferred to Rick Hunter, forms a catalyst for much of the action of the series. Eventually Edwards and Hunter would face off in an ultimate showdown amid the burning ruins of the homeworld of the Robotech Masters.
Bowie Grant's parents were another element which, by the nature of the story, had to be designed. In the Robotech story, Bowie's parents joined the R.E.F. and accompanied Rick Hunter and the others on the critical mission to the homeworld of the Robotech Masters. This fit a similar pattern for Dana Sterling's parents, Max and Miriya. The reasons for this apparent desertion is simple: to a parent it would be foolish to take a small child on a mission in which combat with an unknown enemy is a possibility. And given the fact that the earth is, as far as these parents are concerned, relatively safe, it did not seem out of place for Dana and Bowie's parents to leave them on the earth. It was a curious situation which was described in the series, primarily due to the fact that in the original animation produced by Tatsunoko, The Southern Cross characters who ultimately became Dana Sterling and Bowie Grant had absolutely no relationship to the characters in the Macross Saga. The separate series' characters were part of two completely different storylines. However, since the situation was created it had to be resolved in The Sentinels.
The final major introduction which had to be included in the storyline of The Sentinels was Col. Johnathan (sic) Wolfe. Described in the original Robotech series as a famous war hero from the Robotech Expeditionary Force, Johnathan Wolfe had to have a history. That history would be documented in part during The Sentinels.
When the three (Hiroshi Iwata, Ippei Kuri, and Kenji Yoshida - listed on previous page- SB) returned to Tokyo the following month, they took with them a number of books, sketches, and story outlines detailing the first week of programming, which dealt with the launch of the SDF-3 on a mission to the homeworld of the Robotech Masters. These would form the basis of what would eventually become The Sentinels.
During the two weeks that the Tatsunoko's creative team was hosted in Los Angeles by Harmony Gold, they received a crash course in Robotechnology. They learned how Robotech differed from their original Japanese series. They also became aware of the direction in which Harmony Gold and Matchbox hoped to take the series. The logic of the plan was well received by the Japanese. The plan was simple - Western storytelling in the Japanese style. Given these basic plot points and concepts particular to the Robotech Universe, Hiroshi Iwata, the line producer for the magnificent theatrical film Macross: Do You Remember Lover (sic), would begin the character design. The first assignment: age the survivors of the Macross series.
Back in Japan, the names Rick Hunter, Lisa Hayes, Max Sterling, and Ben Dixon have little meaning. But Macross was such a mega-hit that every animator knew the characters' Japanese names: Hikaru Ichijo, Misa Hayase, Maximillian Genus, Hayao Kakizaki, etc. In producing a sequel to Robotech, certain liberties had to be taken with the original Japanese storyline.
When preproduction of The Sentinels began, great care was taken to avoid any reference to the original Macross storyline. If rumors were to surface that a sequel to Macross were being produced, whether true or not, it would have sent shockwaves through the Japanese animation community. There had never been any plans to make a sequel to Macross. The driving thought was to produce a sequel to Robotech.
To avoid confusion, code names for various characters were established and a variety of character design compromises were made to preserve the sanctity of the original Macross universe. The most glaring design compromises took place in regard to the Zentraedi. Breetai and Exedore were not only aged, they were, for all practical purposes, redesigned. This is nothing new for the Japanese animation community. Most of the costumes and several of the original characters and mecha from Macross were redesigned during the production of the Macross theatrical feature. This redesign was eventually written into the storyline (advancements in cosmetic surgery, familiarity with the concept of fashion, the need to be micronized in order to make the long space journey, special ceremonial costumes, etc.).
In the weeks following their visit to Los Angeles, Hiroshi Iwata, Ippei Kuri, and Kenji Yoshida began to assemble a topnotch Japanese production team for The Sentinels. Masaru Shibata was to be the head of the production. Hiroshi Ohnogi and Yuko Tomita were assigned as the scenario writers. Hiroshi Ogawa became planning designer. Hirotoshi Ohkura, Takashi Ono, and a talented staff of artists would design the characters and mecha.
The production of the artwork moved swiftly. The initial scripts did not progress as rapidly. The interfacing between the "constructed" timeline in Robotech and the proposed timeline in The Sentinels was virtually impossible to reconcile with the Japanese writers. They were not willing to reintroduce the familiar characters like Rick Hunter and Lisa Hayes into the early episodes (regardless of the need for continuity). They felt compelled to focus on the new characters - Jack Baker, Karen Penn, Rem, Cabell. Perhaps it was an unconscious reaction to dealing with characters protracted from Macross. Whatever the reason, the initial scripts written by the scenario writers chosen by Tatsunoko were far afield from what everyone was expecting for a sequel to Robotech.
It was and still is my own personal opinion that the Japanese intended to take footage from The Sentinels and reedit it to create a new program - without the characters from Macross - and present it for broadcast in Japan. In viewing the final animation, more attention to detail can be seen in the scenes featuring Jack Baker and the battles on the homeworld of the Robotech Masters. The scenes with Rick, Lisa, and Minmei were relatively pedestrian - also these scenes did not follow the model sheets. It is difficult to say with certainty if this was the case seeing that the full production was never completed and communications were broken off with many of the Japanese writers and designers before these questions could be asked.
The only solution was to return to Los Angeles and construct the scripts with American writers. These scripts with a series of sample storyboards would be forwarded to Tatsunoko for comment and then put into production.
With this new direction, a creative team was assembled in Angeles to form the core of material needed to facilitate the production of The Sentinels. Kent Butterworth, a veteran storyboard artist and writer, was hired a script supervisor. Kevin Altiere, Paul Power, and ButterwortI~ began storyboarding initial scripts written by myself to illustrate the direction in which the stories should go. A group of science fiction authors, including Arthur Byron Cover, Steve Barnes, John Shirley, Richard Mueller and Steve Roberts, were brought in to write dialogue and construct scenarios from my plot points. Walt Kubiak, Eric Bernstein, and Duane Capizzi rounded out the writing pool.
For six weeks this group would meet to discuss the plot and receive script assignments.
The initial scripts for the first six episodes were written prior to assembly of the creative team in Los Angeles in order to give animators in Tokyo something to work on so that some animation could be presented at the 1996 toy fair. The process was slightly different from traditional American animation, which uses prerecorded voice tracks to guide the animation. The production technique we adopted was to provide dialogue and specific timing for the individual scenes and allow the animators as much freedom as possible to create an interesting visualization of the storyboards
The storyboards for the scripts were done in Tokyo and Los Angeles.... (The next page continues on the subject of storyboards, including the fact that for ease of use by the animators, the American storyboard artists did theirs in the Japanese standard 5-frame vertical orientation, instead of the usual American system that goes horizontally).