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Film:
DVD:

Directed by: Noboru Ishiguro
Starring: Tony Oliver, Melanie MacQueen, Rebecca Forstadt, Dan Woren, Greg Finley

Features:

  • The first 12 episodes of the series
  • Codename: Robotech “pilot” episode with optional audio commentary from writer/producer Carl Macek
  • Character model sheets
  • Demonstration of a scene dubbed in different languages

Released by: Adv Films
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: N/A, appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Own It.

An alien spacecraft crash lands (emphasis on “crash”) into the Earth, distracting all of the primitive humans on the planet from their day-to-day existence of trying to kill one another. Realizing that if there are aliens out there in space, they might want to come kick our asses (because, really, isn’t that what we would do in their shoes?), humanity bands together to figure out the technology behind the craft and get ready for what might be coming. Well, after ten years, we figure it out–and just in time, too, because a gigantic humanoid alien race known as the Zentraedi show up and want the ship. But we won’t give them the ship, finders keepers and all that. So, an interstellar period of kicking ass must surely follow.

I have such fond memories of Robotech. At six-thirty every morning, it would come on our local Fox channel (back then Fox was nothing more than cobbled together shows of various and sundry degrees of quality, it was the first channel we had outside the Big Three–Jesus Christ, I’m old) and I would be up to watch it. Why? Because it was different. It was the first animated show where more “mature” themes were at work. You had an interracial relationship, you had death and destruction that really looked like death and destruction, and you had just the most whacked out sci-fi cartoon concepts available at that time. I ate it up, all eighty-five episodes of it.

Flash forward to some semblance of the present day. I have since learned that the series Robotech was cobbled together from three completely different anime series. I have since learned that most things have a motive involved with them–this series was to sell models. I have looked at it again with older eyes and ears and noticed that some of the dialogue has a cheese factor that’s off the scale.

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And you know what? I don’t give a rat’s ass. It’s still unbelievably cool. Even the wince-heavy moments are tinged with enough nostalgia to keep me from falling over, so it’s still an amazing series. So what if people know it for being the vanguard of anime hitting Stateside? Me, I just remember it for expanding my horizons for what killer storytelling could look and feel and act like.

Now with that kind of build-up, you might very well be asking: can any boxed set stand up that kind of hype? Luckily, the answer is yes. You get the first twelve episodes, which are pretty cool in their own right, but you also get a bonus third disc. On this third disc, there are some cool bits. The model sheets for characters haven’t been available since the Robotech Art 1 book went out of print aeons ago. And the Robotech International thing, where they let you choose different languages for one scene, suffers because who can really stand to watch the same scene that many times? They would have been better served by doing the same setup as Pixar has done: show the scene, then switch through the languages as you go, with a title on the screen to announce which language you’re on.

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The best part of the bonus disc, though, is the inclusion of Codename: Robotech–a fairly ingenious device meant to act as both “pilot” for the series and also as a way of introducing the various characters and machinery involved in the series. Along for the ride is Carl Macek, writer/producer, who shares a wealth of information which managed to pretty much any question I had had about the series. How long did it take to put together? How did the company who put the show out, Harmony Gold, get away with the stuff they did? What was cut from the three series in order to make Robotech palatable for American audiences? It’s one of the best straightforward informative commentaries I’ve seen in a while.

Any fan of the series should pounce upon this with great gusto and buy it without looking back. Those who are unfamiliar yet should probably rent or borrow to get a taste for it, but with the proper amount of reverence for the context of the series in the history of anime, I’ve got a feeling they’ll get swept up in it too.

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