In the mid 80’s my tweenish self was introduced to something that blew my mind and that was Robotech. I (and most of the western world) had not encountered Japanese animation or Anime before. With it’s complex story arc, the alien Zentraedi intent on wiping out humanity, cool transforming robots and awesome mass battles, I was hooked.
When the story started to span generations of characters and the even bigger threat of the Invid was revealed, young me was stunned. This was perhaps the first time I had encountered space opera and never ever had I seen a “cartoon” which such a vast scope.
Here is the first episode of the 85 that made up the series: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x149lw9
Of course in later life I discovered that Robotech was actually a mashup of 3 different Japanese TV shows, artfully edited together and dubbed to make a cohesive story. Anime purists view Robotech as an abomination but personally I think it is one of my favorite Anime series.
One word of warning… it has singing, yep singing. For some strange reason the series always seemed to have a singer as one of the characters and in true 80’s Anime style the songs and accompanying animation are endlessly recycled. Luckily older me has access to digital versions of the shows so I can just fast forward through these bits, a luxury that tween me did not :)