Robotech Legacy Set 1 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, February 10, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, June 19, 2001
What They Say
Strap into your Veritech and get ready for the ride of your life! When a mysterious space battleship crashes onto Macross Island in the South Pacific, the future of mankind is changed forever!
Realizing that there are hostile forces in the universe, the people of Earth race to rebuild the SDF-1 as their first line of defense against a possible alien attack! But even as they struggle to master the science of Robotechnology, the vengeful Zentraedi armada is approaching the earth!
Don?t miss out on the action as ROBOTECH, the classic animated sci-fi series that?s thrilled millions of viewers for over twenty years finally arrives on DVD!
Contains both Robotech DVDs (1 & 2) plus and entire Bonus DVD containing supplemental materials such as animation model character sheets!
DVD Features: Audio commentary track by Carl Macek (Story Editor for Robotech), Production Sketches, International Clip featuring French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese audio tracks, and English version of Codename: Robotech (75min.).
Up until maybe two years ago, every year I'd haul out my set of six F.H.E. Robotech VHS tapes and sit down for a week and just absorb the first thirty six episodes of Robotech. Those tapes lasted me years, but finally bit the dust and had too many errors. My longing has now been reignited with ADV's release, which essentially presents what I saw on the VHS release with a few changes. This isn't nostalgia folks, this is a show I simply really enjoy.
For our primary reviewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of English. And with English being the only audio track available on the disc it wasn't a hard choice. The series and extras are presented in a straightforward stereo mix, though it's essentially a mono mix across the front soundstage with very little in the way of directionality, but that's really expected for a show this age. There were a few moments on the first disc where things sounded a bit low, but not an actual dropout or anything. Other than that, the audio track on all three discs is what one would expect and serves the material well.
What I mentioned above is accurate, this is essentially the VHS version I had viewed for so many years but with a few changes. The main problem with the video is that it's definitely very grainy, which will cause a different look on probably every player. We watched everything on our Skyworth first, which did an excellent job of smoothing things and making it look great outside of the grain. Passing the first disc through out Apex player showed a lot of artifacting with the grain. There's a number of small nicks and scratches and a few hairs here and there, but no rainbows and hardly any line noise. Honestly, it all comes down to the grain and how it'll affect your playback. I found this to be almost exactly like the VHS versions, and knowing ahead of time that this release is essentially just that, it doesn't bother me hardly at all.
Unless I'm mistaken, this is ADV's first real stab at a box set, even if it is one for just three discs. Give the box designer a raise, as this is one sweet looking box, one that brings me to the mind of when I had all the various Robotech RPG books and comics, poring over the videos and messing around with the die-cast metal toys. The layering of the artwork and logos works exceptionally well and the overall look of the box reminds me of some of the best Hollywood box set design. The box is also fairly sturdy, not a flimsy piece of paper cardboard. The individual keepcases are also very nice, bringing back the old feeling as well. The keepcases themselves are white, which means Amaray cases, and I hope we see white for all the remaining volumes. The covers for the first two volumes have some great pieces of artwork that I don't think have been used in past video releases. Only the disc of extras has an expanded version of the cover used for the first FHE video release, and I think was sold as a poster as well (yeah yeah, I had Robotech posters, sue me). Also a big plus is that on the individual volumes back covers, the episode numbers and titles are all listed as well as the spines listing the volume number. The overall design feel is very slick looking, in giving old time fans some new artwork for covers and giving new folks something that's more artwork driven than animation stills for covers.
The menus used here definitely fall under the simple and straightforward category. The main screen is basically a clip of animation playing and the episode selections on the right as well as the trailers section. Moving about is pretty fast and the look works well for this release. I'm not sure if doing a bit CG style menu would have worked well, since it wouldn't fit quite right with the age of the materials.
With a third disc full of extras, there's definitely going to be some treats in here for folks. The big extra is the 75 minute long Codename: Robotech, which served as a movie of sorts to introduce people to the TV series by dealing with the first 13 episode arc of the series. The way things were moved around and the way the combined episodes felt was interesting, but the real treat to the show is that there's also a commentary track on it by Carl Macek, where he talks about this show in particular as well as going into detail about how Robotech came about and why things were changed, moved and so forth. It's really an interesting look into how things had to be done back in the mid 80's in such a different market than there is today. There's also a great inclusion of 33 production sketches of character designs, mixing both colored and pencil sketches. One extra that a lot of people are going to have fun with is the international clips where the same scene is shown in different languages.
And just to give a bit more fun for the fans, the Codename: Robotech show is provided with a third audio track, which is just music and effects. Fandub time folks!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As I said, it's not nostalgia that keeps me coming back to this show. It's just something that I really enjoy. Robotech was definitely a life-changer when I started watching it back in the day as a young lad after school. My mother would let me watch it before doing my homework, since she saw the value in the show and was surprised at how mature it was for a cartoon. When we revisited it a few years later, and as anime started becoming more available, we used to spend one night a week watching new shows. Her exposure to Robotech got her to try Kimagure Orange Road, Bubblegum Crisis and Grave of the Fireflies. Robotech definitely changed her perception of animation as a real storytelling medium.
And for me as well. Robotech wasn't something you'd really see on TV. The closest to it was a number of years earlier with the airing of Starblazers, but that was at the wrong time for me. Robotech was the right time.
The first twelve episodes of Robotech contained within this set pretty much cover the first arc or so of the the Macross portion of the series. We're introduced to the world in a state of war, which comes to a sudden halt when a massive battleship from the stars crashes on an island. The world governments form a unified government and begin reconstruction of the ship over the span of ten years. We're shown the progress of the construction and then are thrust into the launch day celebration, where we're introduce to the cast of characters, such as the hotshot civilian pilot turned reluctant military pilot in the form of Rick Hunter, the veteran flying ace Roy Fokker, the young aspiring entertainer Minmei, the serious and career focused Lisa Hayes and a lot of the secondary characters, such as Captain Gloval, the bridge bunnies and eventually, the group Rick commands in the form of Max Sterling (it's all about Max!) and Ben.
The series opening arc follows the arrival of the Zentraedi forces, giant humanoids whose sole purpose is war, arrive into the solar system and begin tracking down the newly christened SDF-1 battle fortress. The two forces begin playing various games of cat and mouse, eventually causing the SDF-1 to run back down to the island and perform a "space fold" to jump out to the orbit of the moon, but in effect jumping to Pluto's orbit and taking along most of the island as well. This simple accident brings about one of the most unique things about Robotech/Macross, in that it takes a large military vessel and displaces 70,000 civilians and brings them on board and mingles them together. It's essentially a military base town shifted into space during a war. It's simple, but it works so effectively and helps showcase the technology of the shows era as well.
A good number of the secondary plots for the show focuses on the characters adjusting to life with civilians or life with the military and in just dealing with the impact of aliens invading. The lives of everyone onboard becomes a strong theme of the show, as they're constantly under attack from the Zentraedi, bringing a desperate feel to things at times that works very well.
The main plots, at least this early in the series, tend to focus on the primary characters, such as Rick's adjustment to military life as well as leadership and his feelings about fighting a war in general. We're also introduced to the beginnings of the classic love triangle between him, Minmei and Lisa (bah, who needs Minmei! Give me a woman in uniform...). This starts to set the stage for a lot of the character development and interactions, especially as it's played out across the relationship between Claudia and Roy and through observations from other characters, such as Max and Ben.
Of course, we've also got the Zentraedi continually hounding the SDF-1 as they try to head back towards Earth for help, even though the SDF-1 is really the most powerful weapon humanity has. The ship finds itself being augmented quite skillfully during its travels, being modified under human notions and imagination, which brings some really interesting things to the battle sequences as the SDF-1 crew brings some very surprising evolutions out against the Zentraedi that really throw them for a loop. Even moreso than seeing men and women interact on a regular basis, something that's expressly forbidden in the culture that the Zentraedi have.
With it having been a few years since my last viewing of the show, I was really unsure of how it would play out for me, if it'd just completely turn me off of it. After the first episode, I found myself settling in nicely and just enjoying the program as much as I have each time I've watched it before. Robotech is something that I'm exceptionally pleased to have in my DVD collection. I can't wait to see more of it again.
English Language,Audio commentary track by Carl Macek (Story Editor for Robotech),Production Sketches,International Clip featuring French/Spanish/Italian and Portuguese audio tracks,English version of Codename: Robotech (75min.)
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: A
Age Rating: 3 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 375
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2