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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