A mere two years after a similar "ultimate" collection set was released. Robotech is once again being put on shelves by A&E. For fans of the show, the main question is "does this set warrant an upgrade from the previous set?" For those who have no knowledge of the show going into it (like myself), now is the perfect time to jump into this fantastic franchise.
For those who are not familiar with Robotech, it's a pretty big deal, it was one of the revolutionaries for Japanese Animation in the United States. Sure, Japanese Anime in the West wasn't a grand slam hit until Dragon Ball Z or Pokemon came around in the 90's, but series' like Robotech certainly paved the way for those to even happen in the first place.
Robotech has a little bit of everything for any fan of anime. The series consists of epic mecha fights, sci-fi elements, great fleshed out characters, surprises and twists. It's a great series from start to finish. If you dig shows like Martian Successor Nadesico, Crest/Banner of the Stars or The Irresponsible Captain Tylor, then this show is right up your alley.
Despite all 85 episodes being termed as Robotech, the series contains 3 different shows, to review it properly, I'd like to section the review into three different categories, The Macross Saga, The Robotech Masters, and The New Generation as they are 3 different complete series' loosely tied together under the same name.
Taking place in 1999, An alien ship crashes onto the Earth island of Macross and saves the world from war with the threat of a bigger enemy. As the humans study the alien ship and realize it holds the potential to develop mecha and war technology, an army known as the Zentraedi are searching for the missing ship with the purpose of taking the crashed ship for themselves. However, the crashed alien ship is now the foundation of a city and has been turned into the battle fortress SDF-01.
To defend the planet from the Zentraedi, the only thing that stands in the way are the untrained crew of the SDF, Rick Hunter, our lead protagonist. Roy Fokker, the young hotshot and Rick's best friend. Lynn, a girl saved by Rick during the war, after which they start a relationship. Lisa, another young women who was saved by Rick. Lastly, Maximilian Sterling, who is one of the most renowned pilots of the war.
The Macross saga deals with primarily two main story lines, one involves the war with Zentraedi and the other storyline involves the relationships between Rick, Minmei, Roy and Lisa. It's a fantastic series from the start, and the series caps off with a terrific ending that not a lot of series would have the guts to do.
- Rich and well developed characters.
- Some legitimate twists and turns.
- Solid animation for it's time.
- A good dub cast, again for it's time.
- Great pacing.
- Great ending.
- The Rick/Lisa/Lynn triangle started to frustrate me.
- Lynn singing. The voice actress isn't bad at all, but it gets annoying after a while.
Overall - 4.5 out of 5
Taking place fifteen years after the Macross Saga, there is a new threat attacking Earth known as the Robotech Masters, the leaders of the Zentraedi. They have come to Earth looking for their supply of Protoculture, the Invid's life blood, and it's up to the new defenders, including Dana Sterling, the daughter of Max Sterling and Miriya from Macross Saga.
Some of the characters along for the ride with Dana is Rolf Emerson, the charismatic leader who has custody of Bowie, another squad member who would rather be writing and playing the Piano than fighting due to his conscience. Lastly, Sean, an expert pilot who is a playboy and a bit too cocky for his own good.
This is hands down the worst Robotech series. After the brilliant Macross Saga, Robotech Masters was somewhat boring, dragged out, and a shell of it's former self. Don't get me wrong, it's still a decent show, but nowhere near as good as it's predecessor or even it's successor.
- The main story...
- ... Not much else besides the main story.
- The emotional ties to the characters that is important to Macross and New Generation is absent.
- The characters, especially Dana. Compared to the previous lead characters Rick and Roy, Dana is flat out terrible.
- The character development is nowhere near as good as the other 2 entries.
Overall - 2 out of 5
The New Generation
The Invid make an appearance on Earth and conquered the planet, turning it into a desolate wasteland. A decade later, the Robotech expeditionary Force's, led by Rick Hunter (who never actually appears) is sent to Earth to try attacking the Reflex Point, which is the Invid's main hive, and reclaiming their home. Unfortunately, the entire fleet is annihilated by Invid forces, and only one person survives, Scott Bernard.
Before being destroyed, we also get a brief appearance from Scott's fiancée, Marlene, who was in one of the ships in the fleet and perished in the battle as well, I liked this addition as it humanizes our lead character to which he has to cope with losing her as well as having a motive to try and continue on with the mission he was sent to Earth to do.
Soon Scott is left to destroy the Reflex Point on his own, gathering some friends along the way. Joining Scott are Rand, a survivor who has managed to avoid capture and slavery from the Invid. Lancer, a war veteran who disguises himself as a female singer named Yellow Dancer as a cover for his work to avoid capture and defeat the Invid. Annie, a free spirited and spunky young girl. Lunk, A bio maintenance engineer who left his best friend to die. Lastly, Rook, a survivor who runs into Scott's resistance group and joins them, eventually developing feelings for Rand. With our character's introduced, we have the Earth's last hope.
New Generation was a HUGE step up from the previous installment. There are just enough lead characters for all to get enough screen time and development to where you have an emotional attachment, unlike season 2 where all of the characters were unruly and boring. It recaptures the atmosphere and heart that made the Macross Saga special and where Masters lost it's way. New Generations may not be as good to the classic Macross, it comes close.
- EVERYTHING improves on Masters, the characters, the writing, atmosphere, drama, action. The list goes on and on.
- While he doesn't appear in person, Rick Hunter plays an important part of the story, I'm glad that they kept such an important part of the franchise in the franchise despite not being able to physically show him. He even provides a lead in for the follow up film, Shadow Chronicles.
- I didn't particularly like Annie. Why does every anime need that one annoying, grating character?
- Lancer picks up where Lynn left off with the singing. WHY?
- Still not quite as good as Macross.
Overall - 4 out of 5
Video and Audio
The animation remastering was quite great for Robotech. Obviously with a series this old the animation itself is dated and aged to a pretty bad degree, clearly showing signs with poorly detailed characters and the frame rate. However the video quality itself is great, the grain has been cleaned up for the most part beautifully and the transfer is wonderful.
For this release, Robotech is upscaled to a 5.1 Audio track. While nothing is really added to the dialogue or singing scenes, the battle scenes get quite a bit of attention to the point of not being able to hear much else going on at the time, it really pops with all of the explosions and fight scenes. I definitely felt the overall audio to be lacking as it sounds exactly similar to the previous release.
A&E has pretty much went all out in terms of extras giving us nearly 12 hours of bonus content. We have a 5 discs of nothing but extra's, along with 2 discs featuring the films.
- Love Live Alive - A film that was dubbed nearly 25 years after the original series had been dubbed. Also included is a trailer and some production artwork photos.
- Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles - A follow up to the original Robotech. The bonus features include a 45 minute Making of video, deleted scenes, Animatics, Comic Con interviews, Trailers, Photo Galleries and a Music Video.
- Macross Pilot Episode.
- Macross Saga and Masters Animation sheets - Basically shows the models for characters, mecha, as well as a biography on each character.
- Macross and Masters comic book gallery - A collection of a combined 60 Robotech comic covers.
- International clips - 9 clips from both Macross and Masters' presented in several different laguages (Enlgish, French, Spanish, Italian, and Portugese.)
- Galaxy of the Stars - A 2 minute video showing a Robotech convention from 1986.
- Toy Commercials - A collection of a bunch of commecials which amount to about 6 minutes in total. These were pretty nostalgic to watch.
- Toy presentation - A 43 minute infomercial focusing on the different toy lines. It's pretty in depth when it comes to showing off each toy and it's specs.
- Toy line promotional reel - A 9 minute video hyping up the release of the toy.
- Merchandise - A collection of videos showcasing some Robotech merchandise like fan club packets and press kits.
- Genesis Climber Mospeada unaired pilot.
- Deleted Scenes on all episodes - I should note these are in Japanese only, there is about 100 minutes of content here.
- Pre-Production art.
- New Generation model sheets, comic covers and International Clips. Same as the Disc 1 extras.
- Carl Macek's Robotech - A 36 minute retrospective documentary about Robotech with the cast and creators.
- A 3 minute Series overview.
- Alternate episodes and scenes. I should note that it has Carl Macek listed for commentary on episodes 1-4, he actually only talks for the first 2 and a half episodes.
- Macross extended pilot which clocks in at just over an hour long.
- Robotech: The Sentinels - A 70 minute film with optional commentary by Carl Macek.
- Robotech: The Original Movie - This was a huge disappointment as it is HEAVILY edited, clocking in at just over 29 minutes.
- Opening and closing themes for the various TV series' and films.
- 12 music videos: 5 are sang by the voice actress for Lynn, 1 by Musica, 1 by 3 Dog Night, and 5 by Yellow Dancer. They all combine to make approximately 35 minutes worth of material.
- Robotech Video Games: 4 videos showing gameplay from Crystal Dreams, BattleCry, Invasion, and New Generation. It's all about 12 minutes in total.
- Robotech Promotional Reels.
- 2005 China Launch Party - a 13 minute video featuring a convention celebrating Robotech.
- Merchandise: A collection of various merchandise like Board Games, Novels, Comics, CD's, Trading Cards, Shot Glasses, Toy Laser Guns, Character busts etc.
- Robotech: The Inside Story - A 15 minute behind the scenes featurette
- The Making of Love Live Alive - A 26 minute behind the scenes documentary on what it was like to return to the franchise 25 years later.
- Mospeada: Love Live Alive - A live concert played over a 53 minute clip show.
- Animatics from Love Live Alive - A 2 minute comparison video of the animation process to the actual finished film.
- Love Live Alive deleted scenes, which are about 5 minutes total.
- Promo videos.
If you're not a Robotech fan, this is about as perfect of an introduction as you'll get to the franchise. All 85 episodes, 3 films, and over 12 hours of bonus features is an amazing deal for the prices you'll find this for. I'm sure the hardcore fans will upgrade, but personally I don't feel it's worth it. They don't add on much from the previous set besides the 2 films, which you can find elsewhere, and they actually take a few bonus features out, more than likely holding out for that next "Ultimate Collection." Highly Recommended