Robotech Masters Remastered Extended Edition Vol. #02 -

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Mania Grade: B-

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B-
  • 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: 300
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Robotech

Robotech Masters Remastered Extended Edition Vol. #02

By Bryan Morton     July 25, 2006
Release Date: April 24, 2006

Robotech Masters Remastered Extended Edition Vol. #02
© Manga UK

What They Say
As the Southern Cross Defense Corps mount increasingly desperate offensive measures against the attacking Robotech Masters, a smitten Dana Sterling helps Zor Prime (the amnesia-stricken clone of the first Robotech Master) integrate with the rest of the 15th squadron, who are reluctant to accept their former enemy into their ranks. But Zor inadvertently places Dana and her comrades in danger when his creators activate him to serve his true purpose - that of a spy for the Masters!

With time running out in the race to recapture the protoculture matrix, both sides of the war pull out all the stops in hopes of achieving victory. But there are worse things in space than the Robotech Masters, and whoever comes out on top will face a much bigger threat in the form of the impending Invid invasion.

Episodes Comprise
49 - A New Recruit
50 - Triumvirate
51 - Clone Chamber
52 - Love Song
53 - The Hunters
54 - Mind Games
55 - Dana in Wonderland
56 - Crisis Point
57 - Daydreamer
58 - Final Nightmare
59 - The Invid Connection
60 - Catastrophe

The Review!
Another 12 episodes of Robotech sees the Masters arc to its conclusion,

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.

Robotech Masters is based on the 1983 series Southern Cross, and like the Macross Saga portion of the series benefits from remastered video. Thanks to the remastering work there's very little in the way of visible nicks and scratches, although it does look a bit soft-focussed & there are some segements where the video is quite grainy.

No packaging was provided with our review copy.

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.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Unaware that the Masters are using Zor as an unwitting spy (thanks to a neurosensor embedded in his brain), General Emerson decides that the best way to help Zor's missing memories to return would be to expose him to a military environment - and so Zor is assigned to the 15th Squadron, under Dana's command. While Dana's glad to have him, her troops are less keen on the idea, and Zor finds it difficult to gain any acceptance from the troops. Keen to try any possible approach to helping his memories return, Dana later takes Zor to a theme park, where a trip through a space tunnel ride seems to trigger the return of at least some of his memories.

From here on in, Zor plays a key role in the story, as a combination of the Masters' observation of him and, later, his own feelings of resentment towards them are central in how the war between Earth and the Masters plays out " and since Zor soon proves himself to be interested solely in his own agenda, with no concern for the warring parties, it becomes very difficult to like him. He's just too aloof and self-centred to really connect to.

The war itself is presented from two main angles. There's an overall view of the conflict as seen from the viewpoints of Supreme Commander Leonard (another man who's more interested in his own standing than the greater good) and General Emerson, who pays the price for opposing Leonard's war-at-all-costs attitude by being given command of a series of missions that seem designed to make sure he's killed along the way. This side of the story gives some good excuses for all-out space combat, which looks pretty good given the age of the source materials and feels more "real" than the millions-of-ships engagements we saw in the Macross arc.

At a lower level, the adventures of Marie (posted to Emerson's fleet), and Dana's squad (who remain based on Earth) give a more up-close-and-personal view of the war, and thanks to the 15th's mission to the Masters' flagship and time within the clone city there, we get to see both sides of the conflict. As the Masters get ever more desperate to recover Earth's protoculture supply, the clones find themselves on the receiving end of some particularly nasty treatment as the Masters try to even the odds, while contact with the humans and exposure to human emotions makes some question where their loyalties should lie. Add in a few budding romances, and you end up with a fairly good look at the human aspect of the war. There are a few silly moments, though, such as when Sean spots a guard patrol heading his way while in the clone city and opts to get out of the way by... chatting up a trio of clones right under the guards' noses. Smart move there. Fortunately, while scenes like that do provoke the odd eye-roll, they're few and far between.

In between the main story, the groundwork is also being laid for Robotech's third, New Generation arc, with frequent references to the evil Invid and their inevitable arrival on Earth. Here again we end up with a few unlikely plot devices to link the two unconnected source series together ("sensor nebulae" and flowers that can call the Invid across space? Uh-huh...), but the setup doesn't feel as forced as it actually is.

For all that the cast of Masters has been made up of the usual batch of anime stereotypes, for me they've been more interesting to watch than their Macross counterparts, as in general they're far less self-centred and interesting (with the possible exceptions of Zor and Leonard). The refusal of both sides in the war to consider negotiation is still frustrating, as are the somewhat cheesy romantic moments, but overall Masters holds the attention well.

In Summary:
I think I'm probably one of the few people who prefer the Masters arc of Robotech to the Macross arc, mainly as the characters here (with the exception of Zor) are much more likeable and easier to connect to, even if they are a little clichéd. The story does have a few inconsistencies brought about by the changes needed to link the original Southern Cross story in to the Robotech timeline, but for the most part Masters was enjoyable enough without being anything spectacular. The bargain price definitely makes it worth a look.

English Language 5.1

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


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