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Robotech Remastered - Volume 1 Extended Edition
Robotech has been credited as the series that started the interest in Japanese animation here in the US. There had been several other anime shows broadcast on American TV prior to Robotech, but none of them generated the excitement of this 1985 show. It ran for three years in the states, and paved the way for more anime to be imported.
Robotech was not just a Japanese series that was dubbed for broadcast, it was actually three different shows that were heavily edited before the English soundtrack was added. The first season, adapted from the Japanese show Macross, contains 36 episodes. ADV has remastered these shows and are releasing them in double DVD sets with 12 episodes per set.
The story starts in 1999. A giant space fortress, heavily damaged, warps into our solar system. Hurtling uncontrolled through space, the unmanned ship crashes on a small island on Earth. The warring factions of Earth unite to study this ship and its strange technology. A city is built on the island where the ship crashed. The technology that is discovered is dubbed "Robotech."
Over the next ten years, the ship is studied and repaired. Using the newly discovered knowledge a fleet of jets is built that can transform into giant robots. Then, on the day that the rebuilt space fortress, named SDF-1, is to take its maiden voyage, the Zentraedi attack. These aliens have been searching for the damaged space fortress because they too want the technology that it contains. The only thing that stands between the Zentraedi taking over the earth is the untested SDF-1, its untrained crew, and a fleet of Robotech fighters.
This series is a lot of fun! My introduction to anime was with Starblazers, years earlier, yet I have fond memories of setting my VCR to tape this show when I was in college. (Yes, I was a geek. I admit it.) It was altered from its original form, and the dialog is a little corny, but when compared to the other children's shows being broadcast at the time, it was very sophisticated. An intersting show with an engaging plot, Robotech is fondly remembered by many.
This set of the first 12 episodes contains covers the first story arc of the show. (That in itself was something strange for kids programming. Most shows have very little if any continuity.) You are introduced to the main characters and their relationships, and the conflict with the Zentraedi begins. The show is full of action and excitement, just about every episode has a battle scene with laser cannons blasting and ships exploding. The program isn't just combat, there is a good deal of interpersonal relationships and a touch of romance. It's a well rounded show that manages to balance the fighting with drama. It's easy to see why this show spawned an interest in Japanese animation in the states.
This is actually the third or fourth time ADV has released this series, depending on how you count. Starting back in June of 2001, the series was released as single discs with 6 episodes each, or you could buy two DVD sets, called the Robotech Legacy Collection, that had an additional DVD of extras not available separately. Then in 2002, ADV released the series as season sets. This release was identical to the first DVDs, except they came in a keepcase 'brick' instead of individual cases. The quality of these DVDs was not very high. They had slightly better than VHS quality video. This set is a great improvement. See the Video section for more details.
You have the choice of English or Spanish audio, both in 5.1. (There are no subtitles avalible.) Since the show was edited heavily, there is no Japanese language track. The sound during the frequent battle scenes is very cool. They make full use of the sound stage, with planes swooshing from the rear to the front and all over the room. There are laser blasts coming from all corners. This part of the mix is very dynamic and exciting, the audio track really puts you in the middle of things. Unfortunately, after the battles end, the sound collapses to what is basically a mono mix. The dialog is centered over the screen, and rarely moves about. Even the music is piped to the front speakers most of the time. I wish they had thrown some of the music and sound effects to the rear speakers throughout the entire show and not just the exciting parts.
The audio quality is good. There is no hiss or hums, though some of the dialog does sound a little flat. The music is not dynamic, though it does sound better than I remember it from television.
The video quality is a vast improvement over the previous ADV release of this series. The first DVDs looked like they were taken straight from video tape. The image was very soft and blurry. It looked horrible. This set looks a lot better. The lines are tight and clean, and the soft look is gone. It is not a perfect image though. There is a lot of aliasing, with many vertical lines having a stair step effect. The colors are not as bright and vivid as I was hoping, but they look significantly better than the previous DVDs. There were also some spots on the image that looked like they were on the cells themselves, but they were not a major problem. The 1.33:1 presentation is overall very good.
I was very disappointed that ADV did not include the supplemental disc of extras that was previously available if you purchased the first two volumes together. As it is, there are not any exciting extras on these two discs, just some previews.
Is it worth upgrading?:
If you have already invested in the previous release of Robotech, should you plunk down your hard earned sheckles once again for this remastered set? For me, the answer is "yes" based on the much improved video quality. This is a series that I enjoy rewatching time and time again, and the first release just didn't look very good. The 5.1 sound is really impressive during the battle scenes, and there are plenty of them to keep your speakers busy. At a retail price of less than $15/DVD, I think it is worth the upgrade.
I really enjoy Robotech, and have never seen it look this good. The image quality is an improvement over the older version, and though it's not perfect, I consider it worth the upgrade, especially when you factor in the high replay value. If you've never purchased this series, this edition is a no-brainer. Highly recommended.