Otaku #06: Robotech

Mech drama in space brings back memories

Brandon Beatty, contributing editor

I decided to follow in my GI comrades’ footsteps and begin a new segment where I review animated properties, but with a little anime flavor. While I will continue to review great manga that reaches our shores, I hope that all of you will like this new addition to Otaku. For now, I give a big hearty welcome to Otaku Corner Theater where the motto is “reviewing great anime for, by, and worthy of the otaku.” (patent pending).

To celebrate OCT’s grand opening, I’m starting off with a legendary anime series that is undisputedly considered not only as essential to an otaku’s collection, but also a required piece to introduce those who are new to the wonderful world of anime. This series has not only launched the careers of well-known voice acting veterans in the anime industry, but also is well known among sci-fi anime series such as “Starblazers” and “Mobile Suit Gundam.” It’s none other than “Robotech” from ADV films.

For those who are unfamiliar with this series, a bit of background information is in order. “Robotech” is an 85-episode series produced in the 1980s by Harmony Gold USA and Tasunoko Productions, also known for Karas, G-Force, Tasunoko All-Stars vs. Capcom.

Consisting of a rich story that spans three generations, “Robotech” has mankind engaged in battle with alien space forces for control of the “Protoculture,” a mysterious and powerful energy source. The first chapter of the series focuses on the “Macross Saga,” in which Earth, recovering from a brutal global civil war finds in its possession a highly advanced warship called the SDF-I, sent from space. Upon finding the SDF-I, humanity must defend its self from the Zentradi, a warlike race whose main goal to reclaim said ship by using SDF-I’s advanced technology. In addition to this great space opera, you are introduced to the exploits of amateur pilot Rick Hunter and his mentor Roy Fokker as they and the rest of the SDF-I’s human crew battle the Zentradi through space to protect the restored battleship, but also its innocent inhabitants and Earth itself.

As an anime fan growing up in the ’80s, “Robotech” met my needs for any great space-based anime. It had heroic characters and cunning villains, and it was the first, in my opinion, to boldly fuse concept designs of vehicles and mecha. For instance, the SDF-I and Veritech fighter jets took on actual designs of a naval carrier and its fighter jets and combined them with the designs of a fighting mecha, resulting in futuristic war machines of which my favorite hero Juggie would give his “custom made” seal of approval. The Zentradi’s ship design, also impressive despite their cucumber-shaped look, displays incredible speed and firepower that is also reflected through their “battle pods” design, which consists of a cross between a metal ostrich and a gattling gun.

While ADV and Harmony Gold did do a outstanding job in remastering this series, they do deserve credit for retaining renowned voice actors. Tony Oliver and Dan Woren to reprise their original roles as Rick and Roy, respectively. I also give ADV and Harmony Gold credit for not only keeping the storyline intact, but also keeping the original music and sound effects refreshed using Dolby Digital. There’s also unseen bonus footage, ensuring that “Robotech” stands the test of time as an anime series. This means a lot to me because during my first time viewing Robotech when it was released on VHS, the tape cut off mid-play, leaving me with unanswered questions about the SDF-I and how Earth played a critical part in regard to Protoculture. However, watching Robotech Vol. 1 got me caught up, and I give ADV and Harmony Gold my highest praise for doing so. Although the “Shadow Chronicles” saga has revived “Robotech” for a new generation of otaku, the original will show its viewers how the saga started and, without fail, show the brilliance of a world-renowned animation studio.

If you would like more info on Robotech, visit the official website at www.robotech.com.

Brandon Beatty is the contributing editor of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

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