Given my exposure to Robotech, it certainly was hard to recognize at first. I noticed it shared a lot with the original Mobile Suit Gundam series of 1979: a distinct late-1970s musical vibe, some dodgy animation compared to today's standards, and an enduring appeal. Music greatly defined Macross, and while Robotech pared down on Lynn Minmay's translated songs and introduced American 1980s battle themes, the original series has a lot of blaring battle horns and gives us the full gamut of Lynn Minmay's songs in all their aural glory, as sung by Mari Iijima. Her sheer volume of songs in this series alone could easily fill a short CD, or comprise 2/3 of a long one.
Macross' trademarks are its transforming VF-1 Valkyrie fighter planes, and they're still as amazing to watch as ever. But the real reason why Macross is so desirable is its love story---it takes as much importance as the space war drama.
The complex interplay between Valkyrie pilot/protagonist Hikaru Ichijo, pop singer Lynn Minmay and superior officer Misa Hayase really influenced me as an adolescent. Between them, all kinds of awkward situations conspire to keep lovers apart, or prevent them from being honest about their feelings, and we see the poignant consequences. In the instant death of the battlefield, we are taught to seize the day as it comes and live it as fully as we can. If Mobile Suit Gundam had mortality as its major humane element, Macross has 1980s-style romance...and really, really good music. So good, in fact, that it becomes a shock-and-awe weapon against the gigantic Zentraedi aliens. I kid you not.
I cannot recommend this classic TV series enough. It was a big part of me while growing up, and it still is today.