I believe it was my friend Josh who first pointed out that, for a guy who claims he doesn’t like anime, there are an awful lot of transforming robots in my DVD collection. Generally these fall into two simple categories: the more exotic flavors of Generation One Transformers continuity and all things Robotech.
Though I’m still laboriously re-watching the complete original series for the first time in my adult life, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to skip ahead a bit and check out the new Lionsgate release Robotech: 2-Movie Collection. This double DVD set pairs the two most recent Robotech film releases with a nice selection of supplementary material.
One disc is devoted to 2006’s Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, an animated sequel that sought to bring a little continuity and closure to a tale that was sorely low on both. Beginning near the end of the Third Robotech War (Robotech: The New Generation), it’s a slick and noticeably more modern take on the franchise that brings together disparate characters like The Sentinels‘ Vince Grant, The Macross Saga’s Rick Hunter and New Generation’s Scott Bernard, not to mention trades the Invid for an even more sinister threat.
For those who missed the 2007 standalone DVD release, The Shadow Chronicles is a must-see that only struggles with the now dated-looking overlap of its CG mecha modeling and the more traditional 2D visuals of the pilots and their environments. The film itself is also ably supplemented by bonus features like deleted scenes, animatics, an exhaustive image gallery and a great “Birth of a Sequel” featurette.
The real jewel of this collection, however, is the premiere release of Live Love Alive. LLA is a bit of an odd duck as, instead of treading new ground, it retells the events of Robotech: The New Generation from the perspective of Lancer Belmont as he participates in a pre-performance interview. Despite a smattering of new animation, it plays out like a clip show. Clocking in at a brisk 90 minutes, this means that series elements as central to the plot as the battle of Reflex Point, Scott’s relationship with Marlene/Ariel and even Lancer’s own gender-bending career as rock and roller Yellow Dancer get a little muddied in the rush.
As such, it’s hard to recommend Live Love Alive as a standalone product to fledgling Robotech fans. Still, it’s a nice bridge between established series canon and the new school slant of The Shadow Chronicles that completionists will want to add to their collections – even if its sole DVD extra consist of a pre-production character design gallery. (And Lancer fanboys/girls will no doubt squee at the delicate final scene featuring another returning character.)
Retailing for $19.98 – though currently less than $13 via Amazon – Robotech: 2-Movie Collection is a solid investment of both time and money for those who want to relive the show while also exploring the newest chapters of its continued narrative. While what we westerners refer to as Robotech was originally a rather protracted tale cobbled together from three different Japanese television series, the property as a whole endures specifically because of projects like The Shadow Chronicles and Live Love Alive, not to mention the fierce brand of fandom that makes them possible.
Review materials provided by: Lionsgate Entertainment