Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman
Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles is a film that is a direct continuation of the final episode of the Robotech television series. The plot revolves around the Robotech Expeditionary Force's final battle with the Invid, and the arrival of an old enemy of the Invid who are determined to wipe out all Protoculture users (including humanity). The film was shown at festivals during 2006, and was released on DVD in February 2007.
The first third of the film 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. Vince and his crew discover 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 fiancee, 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, if she is supposed to be Dana's sister.
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 before this film was released.
The DVD includes some special features. There is a featurette that runs around 45 minutes titled, "Robotech: Birth of a Sequel - The Making of Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles." 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. In the special features menu, you can also see the trailer for Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, as well as several FUNimation trailers.
As a long-time Robotech fan, I was very disappointed in Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles. There's a lot of continuity problems, the story is weak, and the CG animation isn't very good. There are plans to release a sequel film for Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, but at this time, I have no plans to continue following The Shadow Chronicles.
If you're a Robotech fan who must have everything related to the property, then you'll want to acquire a copy of this film. However, if you aren't, then it would best to avoid this DVD.
I wrote this review after watching a copy of this DVD that my husband and I purchased.