Macross is one of the finest and most influential anime of all time, but for over 20 years the international distribution of the series’ later instalments—basically everything made after 1995‘s Macross Plus—has been held hostage by a fierce legal struggle between several companies.
We wrote an explainer on the whole mess back in 2013 if you want to catch up in detail, but the tl;dr version is that when the American company Harmony Gold licensed the original Macross back in the early 80s for a Western release (as part of the compendium series Robotech), they thought they were getting the international rights to every Macross series that would ever be released subsequently, which triggered various legal battles between them and Tatsunoko Productions, Studio Nue and the advertising company Big West, who argued they absolutely were not.
Those battles have raged ever since, and are the reason that no Macross series from the last 20 years—including the outstanding Macross Zero—has ever seen an official international release.
Until now! Harmony Gold and Big West just announced today that they’ve finally made peace, issuing a statement on the official Macross site that reads (emphasis mine):
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.