Robotech

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Agent Richard07, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

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    Robotech first came to my attention in the mid 80s. I turned my nose up at it and didn't even give it a chance because it took the time slot of one of my favorite shows at the time. It was either Transformers or Battle of the Planets. Then over the years, it became one of the most iconic amime shows around. It's probably best known for its Veritech fighters that can turn into robots. You've probably seen them...

    [​IMG]

    Then recently, I read up on the show to familiarize myself with what it's all about. It's an english language anime that was made from three Japanese shows… Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA. These shows were cobbled together because the original Macross saga only had 36 episodes and at least 65 were needed for a North American syndication package. Those shows, integrated into one, and properly edited, became known as the first, second and third Robotech wars. Three unrelated shows became three seasons in a new product. The franchise also includes a failed attempt at a spinoff called Robotech: The Sentinels which only produced three episodes. There were also several attempts at movies, but they never materialized. One sequel movie made it through though. It's called Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles. It was released in 2006. There's also a live action project that's supposed to be in the works, but not much seems to be coming of that.

    Anyway, I purchased the complete series along with the 2006 movie on DVD a few weeks ago and watched everything. I wanted to see what this iconic series was all about and have it under my belt. In my review that follows, I'll just cover the basic plot and how I felt about it without spoiling too much, if anything. Random and more detailed points that I want to address will be put in spoiler tags for those who've seen the show.

    Here we go...

    [yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDVX3AYDT6I[/yt]

    The Macross Saga (The First Robotech War) - 36 Episodes

    A space ship that's almost a mile long crash lands on Macross island in 1999. Over the next decade, a city is built around the crash. Engineers and military men reverse engineer and repair the damaged ship and use its technology to develop fighter jets that can transform into robot guardians. Then on the day of it's commissioning, Earth is attacked by an alien force known as the Zentraedi. This new ship, known as the SDF-1 is then launched into action, bringing along it's crew and the civilians that populated the island. What ensues is a war with an alien force and a lot of good character drama.

    Our main characters include the pilot Rick Hunter and a sweet girl he just met named Lynn Minmay, who wants to become a star. There's also Rick's brother, a few members of their fighting squadron, the SDF-1's commanding officer Captain Gloval and the bridge crew made up of gossipy ladies nicknamed "the bridge bunnies".

    The writing can appear simplistic on the surface with a lot of bad science and stuff that's glossed over, severely rushed or contrived to serve the plot, but oddly enough, it's still a solid piece of work. The story is well structured, it advances and the characters feel like real people you can care about. When it's over, you'll miss them. The show is often praised for it's adult themes and it delivers, but I do wish it had more severe consequences to some of the heavier things that happened.

    Now for a few spoilery thoughts and observations for those who've seen the show…

    - The SDF-1 is only a mile long, but they managed to build an entire city inside it that looks much larger than the limited space it's supposed to occupy. It was a little weird to see, but I learned to accept it.

    - I really liked Lynn Minmay at first. She was nice and sweet, but that didn't last too long. I quickly began to see her as a flaky selfish girl who wasn't mature and didn't know what she wanted. Lisa Hayes was a much better woman for Rick and I'm glad they got together.

    - Lynn Minmay's song was stuck in my head for a while. I read that the Japanese version had a larger variety of songs.

    - Max and Myria's story was pretty touching and remains one of the most memorable aspects of the series even if was one of the prime examples of "severely rushed & glosed over".

    - The whole concept of protoculture wasn't explained very clearly. At first, I thought it was some force or emotion that had to do with human reproduction. I thought this because of the way it was set up. The revelation of protoculture being on the SDF-1 coincided with the Zentraedi's shock at how human males and females mingled toghether. Then as the series progressed, protoculture was just there as a form of energy that was used.

    - This first war ends with a pyrrhic victory, which is unfortunate. Pretty surprising how they can build cities and put toghether most of the elements of a civilization on a devastated Earth in just a couple of years. Again, more of that aforementioned rushed/glossed over/contrived writing, but still interesting to watch.

    The Sentinels - Movie

    I watched this as a movie that was just over an hour long, but it was in fact the first three episodes of a failed series. It was supposed to continue the adventures of our characters from The Macross Saga because they don't appear beyond that. I watched it at this point because continuity-wise, it fits here between the first and second seasons eventhough it was made a year or two after the original series ended. I really enjoyed this little movie because I loved the characters so much. It's a real shame that this thing fizzled out so early on. I think there was financial trouble somewhere. If Robotech ever continues someday, this is where it needs to pick up.

    The Masters (The Second Robotech War) - 24 Episodes

    New chapter, new characters. This time, the central figure is the grown daughter of two other characters from The Macross Saga and the supporting cast includes the members of her squadron. Gone are the iconic Veritech fighters and in their place, we have hover tanks that can turn into robot guardians that our characters pilot. The enemy is different (they were introduced in the first season) and this time the battle is on Earth. I don't have much else to say because this saga was pretty damn boring. I couldn't wait for it to be over. This wasn't the Robotech that I had come to love.

    The New Generation (The Third Robotech War) - 25 Episodes

    The third and final season still isn't as good as the first, but it's engaging and it's a big improvement over the second season. The action follows yet another set of characters as they roam an Earth, occupied by a third alien force. Their goal is to make their way to their stronghold in order to destroy them or drive them away. Their vehicles of choice? Motorcycles called "cyclones" that transform and envelop the rider to become battle suits. The story's set-up is very good and the characters we meet are likeable and endearing in their own right. My interest was recovered.

    - I really liked the original Marlene and was saddened by her death.

    - The Earth was awfully populated given that humanity was pretty much wiped out only a generation before.

    - I thought that Yellow Dancer's voice was a little odd and wondered if she was a guy, then sure enough… ;) Daring move. I loved the character.

    - It was weird seeing a tribe of people who thought that the nearby dam was controlled by a god. They aren't that far removed from our modern day civilization.

    The Shadow Chronicles - Movie

    The first half-hour of this 2006 movie overlaps with the last episode of the series and then moves on to it's own plot. In fact, some of the scenes from that final episode were redone in the movie's updated animation style. What did I think of the movie? In short, I didn't like it. It was boring and lacked a lot of the heart that the show had. It felt like just a bunch of shooting and space battles. I also missed the catchy and fantastic soundtrack from the show. This wasn't Robotech and I'm not too keen on seeing a continuation of this particular storyline.

    I do have to admit though that I wouldn't mind seeing how Scott and Ariel's relationship progresses. I'm starting to like them together.

    In Closing…

    I'm a fan of Robotech now. It's good character drama for an anime, but it veered too far from it's roots as well as the characters that made it good. If it ever continues, I hope it goes back to those roots.
     
  2. Bishop76

    Bishop76 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    This really is my gateway to anime series in the 80s. Loved it then, love it now. Macross saga is obviously the best and I still enjoy the MOSPEADA part too. Southern Cross not so much. At any rate, if you're interested Macross has had several movies and sequels in Japan - some good, some bad.

    Macross Do You Remember Love (Ai Oboeteimasuka) is the movie version of the original show and is a phenomenal distilling of the story down to 2 hours.

    Flashback 2012 is a neat little music compilation video of scenes from the original series and DYRL with a few minutes of new animation showing Hikaru (Rick) and Misa (Lisa) leaving earth on the colony ship Megaroad 1.

    Macross 2 is the canon-disavowed sequel that was a 6-episode straight to video series. It was okay, but basically a retelling of the original story with the Zentraedi masters, The Marduk, attacking earth.

    Macross Plus is a phenomenal story set 30ish years after the original story - 4 straight to video episodes compiled into one movie about a couple of competing test pilots going for the military contract for the next generation Valkyrie (Veritech). Also both chasing the same piece of ass.

    Macross 7 sucks. Period.

    Macross Zero was a prequel and turned out about as great as most prequels do.

    Macross Frontier is the latest series and it's actually mostly good again.

    Anyway, if you're interested at all, I really recommend most of the continued Macross universe.
     
  3. Mark_Nguyen

    Mark_Nguyen Commodore Commodore

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    I'm actually going through Macross 7 right now, for the third time since watching it with the anime club back in the 90s. I understand that it's a love-hate sorta thing with its fans. Personally, if you can get through the first 12 episodes or so (which even I think aren't good), it picks up in tone and overall quality. Some like it, some don't. It was reasonably successful in Japan. Being a general Macross junkie, I can't deny its place in the Macross canon and enjoy it as light, cheesy entertainment. The Macross 7 movie and Macross Dynamite 7 OVA series that follow it are in the same vein, but with much better animation; I quite liked 'em too.

    (To be fair, I'm currently watching Macross 7 two episodes at a time while on the treadmill in the morning, and probably wouldn't be doing it otherwise. :P)

    Robotech was also the real gateway into anime for me, though like Bishop above I've largely forsaken it in favor of its original constituent series. Give plenty of credit to Carl Macek and those who stitched together three unrelated stories into a reasonably decent saga. They did better than Voltron (and vehicle Voltron!) and other similar efforts of that era, IMO.

    Mark
     
  4. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I loved this show as a kid, and was surprised to find that the opening Macross Saga actually holds up really well, and feels incredibly cinematic. Yeah it does get a bit repetitive at times (especially with the constant battles and reused music and animation), but the overall storyline still works really well.

    I think the second series must have passed me by, or it wasn't aired in my area, but I definitely remember the third one. I thought those bikes that transformed into armor were cool as hell, and the Invid were a great looking enemy as well.
     
  5. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

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    Jun 20, 2001
    I've yet to get the Macross stuff ironed out in my head. I might check some of it out. I have the Macross pilot dubbed in English but haven't seen it yet, and then there's Robotech: The Movie which can be seen here. I don't know where it fits though. I read that it takes place during The Macross Saga. I didn't go out of my way to see it because I also read that it's only loosely connected to the series. I don't now what that means, but a few weeks ago, I didn't want to bother with anything that wasn't canon or really essential.
     
  6. Hound of UIster

    Hound of UIster Vice Admiral Admiral

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    There is also an anniversary sequel that is going to come out soon.

    No it's not. It only looks good in comparison to Zero or Seven.
     
  7. Mark_Nguyen

    Mark_Nguyen Commodore Commodore

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    There's a Macross 30th anniversary GAME that will be out soon for PS3. Haven't heard about any new anime...

    And I quite liked Macross Frontier. Ignoring the clueless "lead" character, the rest is very enjoyable IMO.

    Mark
     
  8. billcosby

    billcosby Commodore Commodore

    It was my understanding that ending at Macross had it's share of advantages... get out before the story gets convoluted beyond repair.
    I've got it on my shelf but my mind tends to drift away from it around halfway through the series. There are some high points in there, though. Really a gem of a series and groundbreaking when it aired as "Robotech" because they didn't really have space soaps for 'kids' in North America until then.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2012
  9. Bishop76

    Bishop76 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It really is a love it/hate it thing in fandom. But, like you, I still accept it because I love all things Macross, even the mildly retarded series like this one. I think my biggest problem with it is that Basara is such a ridiculously unlikeable character. That and it was really repetitive, even after episode 12. Again, critical me considers it trash, but Macross fanboy me still kinda loves the VF-17 design and loves seeing Max and Milia again, etc, etc...

    Nice to see I wasn't the only one waiting on VHS trades of the Central Park Media subs back in the mid-90s - lol. Is it weird that I kind of miss those days?

    Agreed - he did a hell of a job at a time when no one really cared about the quality of children's programming. He brought a series over, added a few series to it to make it playable here, and kept it mostly true to the source material. Enough so that it made a life-long fan of me. Macek gets a lot of hate, but not from me.

    It's garbage. It's another unrelated anime that they tried to cram (MUCH less successfully) into Robotech continuity. It's actually a movie called Megazone 23 which itself is only okay. If you're a "must see everything" Robotech fan, you're gonna hunt it down anyway probably, but I would caution you against it.

    It does look better, of course, but I also do think it's actually quite good. The main character is personality-less and basically acts as a viewer cypher - which sucks - but the story of the series is cool, the new designs are cool, and the 25th anniversary nods to the previous stuff is really cool. I do like the movies better, though. Alto actually sacks up and makes a choice at the end and it's a bit of a tighter story all around.

    Yeah, new game called Macross 30 for the anniversary and there is a animated thing called FB7 but as I understand it, it's just stock animation from Frontier and 7 - it's the characters from Frontier seeing what happened to the 7 fleet, but it's only a retelling of Macross 7.

    I'm actually heading over to Japan next April and I'm looking forward to snagging a copy of Macross 30.
     
  10. zakkrusz

    zakkrusz Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I do like Robotech as well, it was also one of my first anime series. Also watched all of Macross as well, except Macross 7 which I couldn't stand.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2012
  11. Kelthaz

    Kelthaz Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Never saw Robotech, but I have watched Macross.
     
  12. Hartzilla2007

    Hartzilla2007 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I can't help but think this is why I'm becoming more of a Macross fan, well that and the Macross Universe is less depressing than Robotech since all their later wars happen in space instead of Earth getting crushed into the ground by repeated alien invasions.

    Too bad the chances of a US release are when hell freezes over.

    Interestingly enough on the Robotech forum somebody pointed out that this would have made a better basis for the Robotech Masters Saga than Southern Cross.

    I first saw that on the Sci-fi channel's Anime Monday block, that pretty much what started to shift my interest to Macross.

    Yes, yes it does.

    I think it suffers from trying make Macross more Gundamish with the both sides are bastards thing.

    Yes it was.

    It doesn't help that they use the repetitive ship of the week format

    Thats probably the only reason I got through the whole thing

    Yeah the guy does deserve more credit then some of the more anal Macross fans give him.
     
  13. Ian Keldon

    Ian Keldon Fleet Captain

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    Technically speaking, Robotech isn't "anime", it's "Japanimation", which is the practice of re-editing (and sometimes even rewriting the basic story of) anime properties for a Western audience. This was done with the anime properties behind Robotech, Voltron, and Battle of the Planets, among others.

    And I wouldn't suggest even MENTIONING Robotech among hard-core anime fans...it's not well regarded to the point people get extremely and vocally upset when it comes up. I've personally been a victim of this both on-line and face-to-face.

    About the OPs problems with Shadow Chronicles...it had a lot to do already, being essentially a pilot for a proposed new series. As a pilot, it had the unenviable job of establishing the base characters and setting, at the expense of on-going plot development (though we DID see some advance in the Scott/Ariel relationship).
     
  14. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    Robotech was definitely a game changer for me as a kid. I really didn't know what animation was capable of until it came along--characters that can change, fall in love, and even die--and some fairly serious stuff like the extermination of most of the Human race and most of Earth being laid to waste. And the whole multi-generational aspect of it was something I never encountered before. It totally blew my mind back then.

    Even though there's lots of anime that I've grown to love since and have touched me emotionally even more, Robotech remains at the top of my all-time list though.
     
  15. Emher

    Emher Admiral Admiral

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    Robotech was my intro to anime. Loved it as a kid and loved it even more later on when I discovered Macross. As far as I'm concerned, Macross is where it's at. Both the original series, Plus and Frontier. Great stuff.
     
  16. Retu

    Retu Commander Red Shirt

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    You really haven't watched Macross, until you've seen it dubbed in Swedish and with Finnish subtitles on a poor quality VHS tape. That's how I saw Macross - Do you remember love for the first time. Somehow all the foreign children's animated shows were translated like that during that time. I still have a Transformers "movie" (actually the first three episodes of the first G1 season) and a pilot of some obscure anime series called "Balatack" on VHS and both are dubbed in Swedish.
     
  17. Bishop76

    Bishop76 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    My first copy of Ai Oboeteimasuka that I tracked down was an Australian dub of the film. It was TERRIBLE. But, it was the only thing I could find back in the early 90s so I made do.
     
  18. DWF

    DWF Admiral Admiral

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    Robotech is my favorite anime series, it's a wild ride though all three stories, amazing character development, epic events and some fantastic music. It's also the only anime series that ends in my home town of Columbus, Ohio or what left of it by that time.
     
  19. Robotech Master

    Robotech Master Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, I'm a fan of it (obviously).

    Seen all the animation, read all the novels, read most of the comics, have all the art books and rpg books...
     
  20. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Huh. That must explain why I've never been able to get into any OTHER anime since, and find most of it completely and utterly baffling. Lol

    I guess Robotech was just kind of it's own thing.