Robotech: New Generation Vol. #2 (of 2) (Mania.com)

By:Bryan Morton
Review Date: Thursday, September 07, 2006
Release Date: Monday, September 04, 2006



What They Say
Scott Bernard's courageous band of insurrectionists make their way to Reflex Point, the site of the protoculture matrix and ground zero for the final battle between the Robotech forces and the Invid. But getting to Reflex Point is no easy task, as our heroes will have to cross treacherous terrain in unpredictable climates, evade the ever-present threat of the Invid, and contend with the mounting tensions and frustrations that threaten to tear their patchwork family apart.

With both sides of the conflict fighting to preserve their respective ways of life, those caught in the midst of battle will be forced to make dramatic, desperate choices before the final shots in the Robotech Wars are fired.

Episodes Comprise
73 - Sandstorm
74 - Annie's Wedding
75 - Separate Ways
76 - Metamorphosis
77 - The Midnight Sun
78 - Ghost Town
79 - Frost Bite
80 - Birthday Blues
81 - Hired Gun
82 - The Big Apple
83 - Reflex Point
84 - Dark Finale
85 - Symphony of Light

The Review!
Through mountain & desert, the long trip to Reflex Point continues. Then through more mountains. And another desert. And...

Audio:
As with the previous releases in the series, the audio on this release is provided in English only, and has been remastered into 5.1 surround. This helps to add some depth and direction to the show's sound effects, although battle effects are sometimes boosted to the point where you can't hear much else, while the dialogue has been left rooted to the centre channel. More could probably have been done with the soundtrack to bring the series alive, and this is something of a missed opportunity.

Video:
Based on 1983's Mospeada, New Generation is presented in its original 1.33:1 fullframe aspect, and has been remastered as for the previous Robotech series. Picture quality for these episodes definitely doesn't seem to be as good as it was for the previous volume, with some noticeable drops in the detail of the animation to go with some obvious nicks and scratches.

Packaging:
No packaging was provided with our review copy.

Menu:
You would think you were playing a racing game at first, as the disc loads with the "camera" racing down an abandoned road before coming to a halt in from of the disc options. With no extras or language options, just Play All and Episode Select options are provided (plus Trailers on disc two of the set), the menus are as straightforward to use as you could hope for - although there's an error on the Episode Select screens for both discs, where the wrong episode numbers are given (eg disc 1 lists the episodes as 67-73, when it's really 73-79). There's a short transition animation when you select your option, which always annoy me as they slow disc access down unnecessarily, but otherwise no problems here.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
With reaching Reflex Point being the first step in Scott's plans to take on the Invid, there's a lot of travelling for the gang to do, and as you'd expect they're being pursued by Invid fighters every step of the way. That's all very well, but the series really gets into a rut of "location of the week" that soon begins to feel a little tired " one episode we're travelling through a desert, the next we're in the mountains, a trip across the ocean then on to another desert. Rinse, repeat. Each location throws a problem at the gang, they deal with it, and they move on. After several cycles of that, things really do being to feel a bit same-y. That said, the people they meet along the way can at times be quite interesting (a group of people who have reverted to living like primitives, a group of elderly war veterans who don't take kindly to Scott's gung-ho attitude, a victim of the Invid's gruesome experiments...) and are enough to keep you from losing all hope of the story reaching a decent ending.

Events begin to pick up a bit with the introduction of Corg and Sera. Like "Marlene" (or Ariel, to give her her Invid name), they're creations of the Invid Regess, who has decided that the human form gives her race the greatest chance of survival. While Corg and Sera were "born" together and created in the same way, they couldn't be much different " Corg's a ruthless killer who's quite eager to see the remnants of humanity wiped out, while Sera soon begins to suffer from the same difficulties dealing with human emotions that Ariel's been having to deal with. Since Sera's the one who is appointed by the Regess to deal with Scott and the others, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to learn that, especially after meeting Lancer, she finds that the idea of killing humans really doesn't appeal.

This is almost the same territory that the Macross and Masters arcs covered " a race of heartless killers come face to face with human emotions and find themselves at first unable to understand what they're dealing with, and eventually some of their number fall in love with their enemies and end up siding with the humans. Having seen the basic idea before, and not that long ago, does make the events in the latter part of the series very predictable. Perhaps if I'd been watching this arc without seeing the previous two it would have still had a sense of surprise about it and been a bit more enjoyable.

The other main thread to the story across these episodes is the arrival of Admiral Hunter's fleet on a mission to free the planet from the Invid. This side of things will keep action fans pretty much satisfied, as it gives an excuse for some fairly decent battle scenes in the final episodes. While the fleet's previous attempts to defeat the Invid resulted in humiliation, this time they're prepared, with the new Shadow Fighters that are invisible to Invid sensors " just what's needed to tip the tide of the war. The Admiral himself fails to appear, his ship having apparently gone missing during the final jump to Earth " a little story hook thrown in for future Robotech incarnations.

In summary:
New Generation never quite gets to the point of actually being dull, but it covers a lot of the same territory as the previous two Robotech arcs and gets quite repetitive within itself at times. Some believable characters and situations help keep the attention, but the series simply doesn't hang together as well as it could have. It's decent enough for the price, but certainly not a classic story.

Features
English Language 2.0

Review Equipment
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.



Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: C+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: TV PG
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: Manga UK
MSRP: 14.99
Running time: 325
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Robotech