Anime Film Review: Robotech 2-Movie Collection: The Shadow Chronicles and Love Live Alive

Robotech 2-Movie Collection: The Shadow Chronicles and Love Live Alive was released on DVD on July 23, 2013. The first disc in the set is The Shadow Chronicles Collector’s Edition, which includes the film and several bonus features. The second disc includes Love Live Alive and a couple of bonus features.

Robotech 2-Movie Collection: The Shadow Chronicles and Love Live Alive
English Publisher: Lionsgate
Format: DVD
Release Date: July 23, 2013

The first third of Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles runs concurrently with the events at the end of Robotech; however, these scenes are shown from different points of view, and characters who appeared in the scenes in the television show version are conspicuously absent in the film adaptation and are only briefly mentioned in passing in the dialogue. The only characters to remain from these scenes are Scott Bernard, Ariel, and the Regis.

During the battle, Commander Reinhardt sends Vince Grant on a rescue mission to locate the SDF-3 after a transmission shows that the ship appears to have been involved in some kind of accident. Vince and the crew of the Icarus locate the SDF-3 and the damaged scientific vessel, the Deukalion; they discover that an accident was caused by testing the Neutron-S missiles. Admiral Hunter orders Vince to warn the fleet at Earth not to use the missiles, but before a transmission can be sent, an unfamiliar alien warship attacks the SDF-3, and the Icarus is forced to return to Earth with the Deukalion.

Meanwhile, Ariel meets with the Regis at Reflex Point. The Regis recognizes the Human’s new Shadow technology as something used by “the Children of the Shadow,” an old enemy of the Invid. After seeing the Neutron-S missiles, the Regis realizes the Humans have been tricked. The Regis and her children, minus Ariel, leave Earth and destroy the Neutron-S missiles in the process.

Scott Bernard leaves Ariel on Earth and joins up with the REF at Moon Base ALUCE, where he is reunited with Marcus Rush, the brother of Scott’s dead fiancée, Marlene Rush.

He also meets new characters Alex Romero and Maia Sterling. Maia is supposedly another daughter of Max and Miriya Sterling, but if she is, then she cannot be the age she is portrayed as here. According to the Sentinels movie that was released on video and DVD, Dana Sterling was about seven when her parents left on the SDF-3, and she did not have any siblings. In the Southern Cross arc of Robotech, Dana was portrayed as being around 18 years old. In the series, it’s depicted that a short amount of time lapsed between the end of the Southern Cross arc and the beginning of the Invid arc. Even though Scott mentions that he and the group he traveled with spent roughly two years getting to Reflex Point, there is just no way Maia can be this old and be as highly ranked as she is.

While Scott is at ALUCE, the Icarus and the Deukalion return. The Deukalion is examined, and the only survivor on board is an android named Janis Em, who was developed using Human and Haydonite technology; she uses a holographic overlay to look like a young woman. This portrayal goes totally against what was shown in the Sentinels movie; in the Sentinels, Janis was created by Dr. Emil Lang, and is a product of Human technology only.

On Earth, Ariel has a vision about the Children of the Shadow, and goes to ALUCE to warn Scott. Ariel is discovered, and Marcus tries to kill her. Scott stops him, and Marcus accuses Scott of being a traitor. Scott is interrogated, and at first, his warnings about the Children of the Shadow are not believed. However, an attack on Space Station Liberty triggers what happens in the remainder of the film.

Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles uses both 2D animation and cel-shaded CG mecha animation; unfortunately, the combination as it is used in the film does not work. The two animation styles do not mesh well, and it’s very jarring when the animation jumps between the 2D and the CG mecha animation. The CG animation looks rather clunky and cheap, and is comparable to what would have been “top of line” for CG animation around 10 years before this film was released. Sadly, after seeing the little bit of CG that was used in Love Live Alive, that makes the CG in Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles actually look somewhat decent.

Robotech: Love Live Alive is based on a Genesis Climber Mospeada OVA that was originally released in Japan in 1985. This is essentially a clip show that is narrated by Lancer as he’s being interviewed by a reporter named Kay before one of his concerts. The interview focuses heavily on Lancer’s involvement in the rebel movement that fought against the Invid.

As a clip show, you expect to see a lot of reused scenes from the original series. However, it turns out that this also reuses some of the new footage that was created for the interview portion to help bridge between some of the clips. However, I don’t if this reuse of the new footage made for the original 1985 OVA is the fault of the original OVA or if the footage was reused when this English version was created.

It’s obvious that this feature was re-edited for the English version, though, because footage from the Robotech Masters portion of Robotech was edited in, as well as some new CG animation to help fill in some of the gaps. Unfortunately, the quality of this CG animation looked terrible, and it made absolutely no attempt to try to make it mesh in to any degree with the animation from the 1980s. In fact, the CG used in Love Live Alive almost makes the CG in The Shadow Chronicles look like a masterpiece.

Overall, I thought the Love Live Alive had a rather choppy feel to it. While I expect some of the choppiness because of this being a clip show, the inserted CG animation early on only made the choppiness feel more pronounced than it might have otherwise. And at the concert at the end of the piece also feels choppy, because we see Lancer have three different looks, including different hair colors, over the course of one concert.

I’m glad that I was able to see Robotech: Love Live Alive by checking out this DVD set from the library. After seeing it, I really have no inclination to rush out and buy a copy of this set to own it. I’m just glad I can finally say that I’ve actually seen it.

When it comes to the bonus features, Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles includes the bonus features from the Collector’s Edition. The first bonus materials are six featurettes.

The first featurette is “Robotech: Birth of a Sequel – The Making of Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles,” which runs for 45 minutes. It includes interviews with fans at Anime Expo 2005, as well as interviews with various people involved with the film. Personally, I think the featurette ran a little on the long side, and some of the interviews, especially the Anime Expo 2005 ones, could have been cut back on.

The second featurette is “Score Music Video,” which runs for 8 minutes and 10 seconds. There are a total of 13 music pieces included, and it runs in one continuous piece. The video incorporates footage from Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles.

Next is “Anime Selects: Robotech at Anime Expo,” which runs for 2 minutes. This includes panel footage, an interview with a Harmony Gold employee, and some footage from Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles.

Next is an anime podcast, which is an interview with Tommy Yune that runs for 11 minutes and 14 seconds. In the interview, Yune talks about working on the film, about making the film relevant for a younger audience that doesn’t remember Robotech from the 1980s, his influences, anime titles that he’s fond of, and what was next for him at the time the podcast was recorded.

“Robotech 3000” is a preview for the Robotech 3000 series that was first unveiled in 2000. This series was ultimately canceled, and after watching the preview, I can see why. The CG not only looked bad, it looked unintentionally comical.

“Robotech 3000 Motion Capture” runs for 21 seconds, and it includes two scenes that were seen in the preview.

There’s also “Deleted Scenes,” which run for 6 minutes and 41 seconds, as well as 3 minutes of outtakes. “Animatics” includes line tests and animatics with the scene from the film being shown in the bottom corner of the screen.

In “Trailers,” there are several spots for Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles: a 30 second television spot,  a 33 second promo for “Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles,” an NATPE teaser trailer, a DVD trailer, and a trailer for the Collector’s Edition.

There’s also galleries of line art, which fall into several categories: 19 pages for “Personnel Dossier,” 11 pages for “Ship Registry,” 11 pages for “Mecha Database,” 5 comic book covers and one collected set cover for “Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles,” and 24 images in “Secret Files” (mostly from Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, but some at the end come from Robotech 3000).

For Robotech: Love Live Alive, only two bonus features were included. The first is “Pre-Production Gallery,” which includes 18 pages of line art primarily of Lancer and his band.

The other is a 30 second trailer for Robotech: Love Live Alive, which was done in the style of the next episode previews that appeared at the end of each episode of Robotech. While I understand that they were trying to do an homage, it felt kind of cheesy to me.

Ultimately, I can only truly recommend purchasing Robotech 2-Movie Collection: The Shadow Chronicles and Love Live Alive if you’re a completionist and want to own everything from Robotech on home video. If you’re not a completionist and want to watch Robotech: Love Live Alive, I would recommend trying to find a way to watch it for little or no cost, such as checking out this set from the library. Ultimately, though, after watching Robotech: Love Live Alive, I don’t feel it’s truly a “must see” for Robotech fans. It doesn’t really include anything new that’s of any major significance.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Robotech 2-Movie Collection: The Shadow Chronicles and Love Live Alive that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Additional post about Robotech:

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