Robotech and Consent

As I mentioned previously, I enjoy anime from time to time. I found a collection of the old early-80s show Robotech (aka Macross) and have been making my way through it. This post contains spoilers for a show that’s almost 40 years old.

The villains in Robotech, the Zentraedi, are warlike humanoids who know nothing of culture or love. They are defeated in part by the singing of one of the main characters, Minmay, and also observing people kissing, which is something they don’t understand. In an early episode, Commander Hayes “orders” Lieutenant Hunter to kiss her while they are held captive by the Zentraedi. Later on, once the Zentraedi are their allies, Commander Breetai (formerly the leader of the Zentraedi invading force) wants to use Minmay and kissing to throw off a group of evil Zentraedi before they attack them with jets and giant robots. Commander Hayes is on board with this plan, but Commander (he was promoted) Hunter is not, and he says, quite clearly, “I do not consent to this kiss.”

Bless Robotech. They tried. But this was the early 80s, when it was commonly thought that men cannot be victims of sexual assault, and so Commander Hayes kisses Commander Hunter anyway. The concept of consent is not mentioned again in that episode, and I haven’t yet come to another episode where these characters “have to” kiss again. But viewing this episode through the lens of my own personal history, as well as with the knowledge that yes, men can be victims of sexual assault, it doesn’t hold up as well as the rest of the show does.

Look, I get it: it was a different time, and the show is Japanese so the culture is vastly different than my own Western views, but that doesn’t make it right.

Don’t kiss someone without their consent.

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