Robotech Masters Remastered Extended Edition Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: C
  • Video Rating: C-
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Manga UK
  • MSRP: ¬£14.99
  • Running time: 286
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Robotech

Robotech Masters Remastered Extended Edition Vol. #01

By Bryan Morton     July 17, 2006
Release Date: February 27, 2006


Robotech Masters Remastered Extended Edition Vol. #01
© Manga UK


What They Say
Fifteen years have passed since the war against the Zentraedi forces...

The peaceful life of the first alien battle's survivors soon ends with the invasion of the Robotech Masters! They've come to reclaim the Protoculture Matrix, the source of power for the mysterious Robotechnology that was discovered by mankind decades earlier when the interstellar battle cuiser, the SDF-1, crash-landed on Macross Island.

Defending Earth against the Robotech Masters is the misfit 15th Squadron under the leadership of Dana Sterling, daughter of the ace Veritech pilot Max Sterling and Zentraedi pilot Miriya Parino...

Episodes Comprise
37 - Dana's Story
38 - False Start
39 - The Southern Cross
40 - Volunteers
41 - Half Moon
42 - Danger Zone
43 - Prelude To Battle
44 - The Trap
45 - Metal Fire
46 - Stardust
47 - Outsiders
48 - Deja Vu

The Review!
Robotech moves into its second story arc with a new set of characters and a new invading force for Earth to deal with.

Audio:
The audio on this release is provided in English only, and has been remastered into 5.1 surround, helping to add some depth and direction to the show's sound effects. Unfortunately, the background 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. There's also a problem with out-of-sync audio during the latter part of episode 37, where the soundtrack runs about a half-second ahead of the video for a while.

Video:
Robotech Masters is based on the 1983 series Southern Cross, and like the Macross Saga portion of the series benefits from remastered video. The end result this time around looks quite good, with very little in the way of visible nicks and scratches, although it does look a bit soft-focussed. Unfortunately, there are some obvious interlace effects in some scenes, while later episodes (particularly 46) suffer from some noticeable encoding defects.

Packaging:
No packaging was provided with our review copy.

Menu:
Strangely in 16:9 format when the rest of the disc is in 4:3, the menus here are very simple. An image of one of the main characters is projected on the walls of the 'room' used by the menus, while a video clip is shown through a projector at the side of the room. There are only two options, Play All and Episode Selection, with the camera's point of view shifting depending on which option you choose. The opening theme plays throughout. There are short transition animations when selecting options that slow things down a bit, but the menus are clear and easy to use.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
This release covers the first half of Robotech's Masters arc, but before that really gets underway there's one final return to the Macross end of the story in an effort to link what were really two separate stories. Fifteen years after the events of Robotech's Macross Saga, Earth's military academy produces its first graduating class of new cadets. Among them are Lieutenant Dana Sterling (daughter of Max and Miria), and Lieutenant Bowie Grant (nephew of Claudia). With Bowie's first love being music, he's beginning to believe that maybe the military wasn't the right career choice to make. In an effort to cheer him up, Dana tells him the story of how her parents met, hoping to prove that their story of love across the human / Zentraedi divide will prove that the military isn't just for hardened killers. However, her story is interrupted when a hostile alien fleet is detected approaching Earth - the Robotech Masters have arrived.

The first 15-20 minutes of this episode is almost a clip-show of scenes from earlier Macross Saga episodes, and covers ground that anyone who's been watching until now will be very familiar with, so it does feel like it's been tacked on " which of course, it has. It's only towards the end of the episode that we get to the new story, with the arrival of the Masters and the first real action for Dana and her comrades in the 15th Squadron.

The Masters have followed the Zentraedi to Earth in search of the last remaining protoculture matrix, which seems to lie within the wreck of the SDF-1. Zor, who created protoculture, was one of the Masters, but his knowledge died with him and their attempts to clone a successor with the same skills have so far proven unsuccessful. Their need for protoculture is now growing desparate, as a third race, the Invid, are themselves following the Masters and searching for a source of protoculture " and the consequences should they get their hands on it are likely to be dire.

The Masters aren't portrayed as being inherently evil or warlike " they just have a desperate need for protoculture, and Earth's military are standing in their way. The issue here is that this feels very much like a problem that could be easily solved by negotiation (there's no evidence that Earth has been using protoculture since the SDF-1's destruction, or that the military is initially even aware that the protoculture matrix the Masters need is even there), but neither side even makes the attempt " so we're left with a war that feels more than a little contrived. That's problem number one.

Dana Sterling comes across pretty much from the start as a bit of a ditzy blonde, who "earns" rapid promotion in the first few episodes as much through good luck as good fortune. She does have some things in her favour, though, such as the solid support of most of her squadron and a determination to do what's right, regardless of the cost " two things that ensure she's able to get out of most of the scrapes she and her team find themselves in. As the story progresses, their missions bring them into contact with some of the inhabitants of the Masters' flagship " to all appearances human, but we're told that at least some of them are androids or clones under the Masters' control " and this is where we run into problem number two. On the basis of very brief meetings with two of the aliens (Zor Prime, the original attempt at cloning Zor who is now a bioroid pilot and group leader; and Musica, a mysterious woman who controls the bioroid pilots through her use of a harp-like instrument), both Dana and Bowie find themselves losing the will to fight against the invaders. If the invaders are androids or other "non-persons", what's the problem, and where does the attachment come from? If Zor and Musica are taken to be androids, it's hard to believe why Dana and Bowie respond to them the way they do. From what I understand, this is a side-effect of the adaptation from Southern Cross, where the characters would have been captured humans " think of the story in those terms, and it makes a lot more sense.

It's not all bad, though " Masters does have its moments. The 15th Squadron are a likeable enough bunch, even if some of them are destined to be short-lived, and there's a liberal sprinkling of action moments to help distract you from the story's shortfallings. It's also all presented quite well, given the age of the source materials.

In Summary:
Robotech Masters brings a new set of heroes and villains to the Robotech universe, without playing too much with the basic idea of the series " although there are some aspects of the original Southern Cross story that it would have been better to leave alone. While there's nothing here that will set the world alight, Masters was never a chore to watch, and with this set giving you 12 episodes for a lower price than most 3- or 4-epsiode releases, you do get your money's worth, and that makes it worth checking out.

Features
English 5.1 Language

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

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