From the Archives: Reintroducing The Mecha Domain

From the Archives header
From the Archives header

From the Archives is a deep dive into MAHQ’s history that revisits some old content that still has historical value.

If you have been visiting MAHQ for any length of time, you might at some point have wondered, “who is this Burke guy that gets mentioned so much?” The answer, briefly, is that MAHQ’s mecha content originally came from a defunct site called The Mecha Domain, run by Burke Rukes. Originally hosted by Gundam.com, Burke shut down the site in 2001 and allowed MAHQ to continue his work. The rest is history. Presented below is an introduction he wrote for The Mecha Domain, dated January 1, 2001.

I thought it would be fair to tell you about the course of my life which led to the Web site you are now viewing. Like most any other young boy who grew up in late-20th-century American society, I was partially raised by the television. My escape from the typical “problems” of childhood was into the fantastic worlds brought to me over the airwaves. And although I did see a LOT of shows as a young boy, my favorites were those cartoons and shows sporting fantastic machinery. My first big fascination lay with Speed Racer, and the only real reason I watched the show was to see how many cool gadgets were squeezed into the Mach 5. I was also hooked on the “supermachine” television shows of the early ’80s, such as Knight Rider and Airwolf. Forget the cheezy characters and bad plots… I watched those shows for the MACHINES.

Of course, in 1985 premiered a new robot cartoon show unlike any other on television at the time… a little jewel called Robotech. Rather than robots being sentient, mechanical aliens from another planet who just happened to have Earth handy as a battleground, Robotech was something different. Robotech‘s “robots” were, in fact, not robots at all. Instead, they were mechanized, humanoid-shaped machines (known to us anime freaks as “mecha”) that were piloted by humans… much in the same fashion as a fighter jet or a tank. The mecha themselves were simply tools or plot devices used to help accelerate the story played out by the characters. Robotech‘s characters also had a realistically HUMAN quality to them. And, of course, the mecha were simply very cool to watch. And, thus, I was a Japanese anime fan long before I even knew what “anime” was. My fascination with Robotech led me to a well-known booked titled Robotech Art 1. In the back was an article tracing Robotech‘s original Japanese roots, as well as a history of Japanese anime and manga (comics) dating back for many years. My interest was quickly piqued, and I found myself hunting through local comic shops to find anything I could on the original Japanese versions of Robotech… namely, Macross, Southern Cross and Mospeada. That’s when, around 1992, I discovered a magazine called Mecha Press.

I snagged up the first few issues of the Canadian-produced Mecha Press magazine. While I was able to find sources of Macross info and videos through this mag, the publication’s main focus was on this little series called Mobile Suit Gundam. I was drawn in by detailed descriptions of a epic, fascinating character story laced with politics, sociology, psychology, military issues… and, of course, cool mecha. In fact, I learned that Gundam was actually the pioneer series which launched the “realistic” mecha revolution of the ’80s… including my beloved Macross. I knew that there was a local anime club in the Oklahoma City area, and I had seen them running anime videos at local conventions. So I rented a room and bought a weekend pass for the next con, determined to fulfill two very important goals: find and join up with this local anime club… and see some Gundam!

Finding the anime guys was no problem… I was immediately drawn into their little group, and I am still good, close friends with several of those people today. And, I finally got to see what my soul had been searching for… dreary-eyed and tired, I soon found my adrenaline rolling at 2:00 A.M. in a little hotel room, watching the film Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack. My life was changed forever…

Several dozen model kits, countless video tapes, laserdiscs, and DVDs, and eight years later, I am still running high on this mecha anime phenomenon. About four years ago, I first went online and found the Gundam Mailing List, and with the help of many of its members, I put together the first (at least, I think it was the first) regularly released and updated list of Gundam mecha specs. Called “Burke’s Big List O’ Gundam Mecha,” it received regular updates and postings to the Gundam Mailing List, until I decided to take it in a new direction. My work on the Big List spawned the idea of putting the information it contained up on the World Wide Web, complete with line-art design illustrations, series reference info and links, etc. The Web page you are now viewing is the result. I hope, as a fellow “mecha junkie,” that you will get as much use and enjoyment out of this page as I have putting all the work into it.

So stay tuned, keep enjoying the site, and believe in the sign of Zeta!


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