came to China in the 1990's. Even though it was not the first imported animated series to China, it was undoubtedly one of the most influential ones. Taikong Baolei, the Chinese title of this early 90's anime hit, together with Bianxing Jin'gang (Chinese title of Transformers), became adolescent cultural symbols of that era in China.
Shanghai TV Station acquired the licensing rights to broadcast a Chinese version of Robotech in mainland China from Harmony Gold in 1990. STV was one of the largest regional television stations, serving several provinces in East China. A group of experienced professionals were called up to work on dubbing Robotech, and most of the voice actors were well-known from their previous work in classic foreign films. It was rare for an animated TV series to have such a strong voice crew and even today the same is true.
In order to make the series friendlier to Chinese kids, the more understandable Chinese title Taikong Baolei (Space Fortress) was chosen instead of the verbatim translation. From July 22, 1991, 5 episodes a week of Taikong Baolei were aired on Shanghai TV to East China.
Taikong Baolei successfully caught the eye of the young audience, with little advertisement. The excitement it created soon spread beyond East China and reached Tianjin, Beijing, and even some western provinces. It was aired almost continuously by more than ten local channels in the following three years. Both boys and girls had to hurry home after school to catch the latest episode, or else they couldn't take part in the discussion of the plot with their buddies the next day. Those who owned a Valkyrie or a hovertank toy were always surrounded by jealous stares.
Robotech was imported together with several other cartoon series from the United States (ie. He-Man, GI-Joe, etc.). It was considered an original American animation for a long time. But when the Japanese original anime, SDF Macross, entered China in the late 90's, many Taikong Baolei fans were perplexed by their similarities. However, it was Rick Hunter, not the unfamiliar Ichijo Hikaru who moved them more. Mostly because of the great Chinese voice-acting of Taikong Baolei.
It is admitted that Taikong Baolei wasn't a master piece. The translation quality was not stable, many details were lost in translation, and some terms had different Chinese counterparts in a single episode. It was made even worse during the course of the censorship audit. The series was considered to contain too many love scenes and plots unsuitable for children. Almost every episode was edited to conform to the censorship standards, and episode 33 & 34, were deleted from the series all together. Though all the 85 episodes were dubbed, only 83 were permitted to be broadcast. That was the largest drawback of Taikong Baolei.
Taikong Baolei made a deep impression on the memories of a now grown-up generation. Even today, it isn't out of date for its theme and it is creating new fandom. In 2001, Hainan Satellite Channel re-aired Taikong Baolei twice, and Shandong TV opened a real time VOD for it in 2002. In the summer of 2004, Taikong Baolei was awarded "Best Robot-theme Anime of all time" at the Cartoon Channel of China Education Television. The glamour of Taikong Baolei will never fade.