With the unexpected conclusion to the war with the Invid, the people of Earth are finally liberated and an expedition prepares to search for Admiral Hunter’s missing fleet. Scott Bernard saved the Earth from the mysterious aliens and now he’s back on a ship, and trying to get over the fact that the woman he loved was actually an alien. But there’s new trouble: Rick Hunter and his ship, the SDF-3 are missing and new races of alien enemies are approaching.
I’ll admit, I have been a Robotech fan. Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles aims to entertain both returning and new Robotech fans. I imagine this film hopes that it will serve as a launching point for further Robotech works. Chances are, if you are bothering to read this review at all, you know the long and complicated history of Robotech. This 88 minute flick picks up just before the end of the original series, when the good guys were finally ready to take Earth back from the third in a succession of alien invasions. The Shadow Chronicles actually has a cohesive, climactic story that functions as a clever continuation of the original series and works well as a standalone feature film.
Compared to its precursors, Shadow Chronicles isn’t a badly-written movie, but the question of who might enjoy it leads to a difficult answer. On the one hand, the script presupposes that the viewer is intimately familiar with the Robotech canon. The sheer volume of characters and subplots may be daunting to newcomers, but by the end of the first act, inductees should be on fairly equal footing with old fans of the show. The animation suffers a similar fate. CG space scenes, with their grandiose battles between countless spacecraft, often look like a Scifi Channel original with a little Macross influence.
But all of this isn’t to say that the story can’t still be quite entertaining at times, because it really can. The character interactions are done pretty well for the most part, and the story’s pacing will hold the attention of even the most A.D.D. stricken fan. And while the story can feel a little uneven at times, it really hits home on the emotional level. I do credit Robotech as one of my first dives into anime. It was the first time that I actually got a sense of how cool it was to fly, and is probably seminal in my development of my love of kung fu films. But honestly, I’m just hoping Harmony Gold USA’s next Robotech film looks a lot better.