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ADV Films presents
Robotech: The Macross Saga #1: First Contact (1985)

"This whole mess seems incredible to me. Yesterday I came to Macross Island to visit my friend and watch the launching, and today I'm right in the middle of an intergalactic war."
- Rick Hunter

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: June 06, 2001

Stars: Greg Snow, Reba West, Jonathan Alexander, Drew Thomas
Other Stars: Deanna Morris, Thomas Wyner, Brittany Harlow, Donn Warner, Alex Roberts, Tony Oliver, A. Gregory, Noel McGrath, Sandra Snow
Director: Robert Barron, Ippei Kuri

Manufacturer: DVDL
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild animated violence)
Run Time: 02h:22m:27s
Release Date: June 19, 2001
UPC: 702727017728
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Robotech holds a fairly unique place in the history of anime. Unlike other series that are simply redubbed (and usually somewhat edited) for distribution in North America, Robotech was created by combining existing artwork from three separate Japanese TV series, rewriting the storylines, and editing a new series together for American audiences. Depending on who you ask, series producer Carl Macek is either an anime God or the devil himself.

In 1985, Macek was running an art gallery in New York specializing in pre-production artwork for movies and Japanese anime. Here, he met a staff member from Harmony Gold, a U.S. company licensing and distributing animation from Japan. Among its titles, Harmony Gold held merchandising rights to Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, but had no plans to release it in North America. Around the same time, model company Revell was launching a new science fiction line in the U.S. under the "Robotech" brand, based on designs from Japanese companies, which included mecha characters from popular Japanese TV series. The idea of culling together some of Harmony Gold's assets to cross-promote the model series was brought to Macek, but due to syndication guidelines, they needed more than the 36 episodes available in Macross. The idea was born to combine and re-edit that show with Southern Cross and Mospeada, two completely separate anime series created by the same company that did Macross. Tying the three together with new storylines, they created a new 85-episode series, based on existing Japanese animation, which also required building one completely fabricated episode from scratch. They also had to contend with production guidelines from NBC, which required the removal of nudity and the many communal bathing sequences found in the original animation. Character names were also Americanized for Robotech, which went on to become a highly successful and extremely popular show in North America. ADV will be releasing the entire 85 Robotech episodes on both individual discs and a series of mini boxed sets, featuring a wealth of supplemental material. Unfortunately, we only got the single discs for review....

In Earth's future, war has fractured the globe, leaving many countries near extinction, until the day when the planet is approached by a huge alien spacecraft that crash lands on Macross Island in the South Pacific. Recognizing the threat from outer space, this event causes world powers to unite in an effort to restore the abandoned craft and ready itself against inevitable confrontations with otherworldly forces. Ten years have passed since the historic landing of the Super Dimensilonal Fortress, and the ship has been refurbished, aided by the discoveries from the spaceship, spawning a new form of technology: Robotech. Ready for its inaugural test runs, a celebration is in place, featuring the elite pilots of the new Varitech fighter jets. Unfortunately, the re-energizing of the ship alerts a group of giant aliens, the Zentraedi, who have been searching for the missing enemy spaceship. They proceed to make their way to Earth to destroy the craft and its occupants, unaware that Earthlings are now in control of its technology. The fact that the new owners don't know quite how to properly utilize it becomes obvious when after a series of skirmishes on Earth's surface. The Admiral decides to engage the ship's hyperspace system to jump them out of sight behind the moon, and manages instead to transport not only the SDF-1, but the entire Macross Island out beyond the orbit of Pluto! Now, the crew have to fend off constant attacks by the Zentraedi, while trying to rebuild Macross City inside the SuperFortress and make their way back to Earth.

While I have to admit that watching anime in English is a weird experience for me, I will confess that I enjoyed the six episodes contained on this disc, though I am also now pretty seriously thinking about getting the original Macross set that is being restored by Animeigo, which should be an intersting contrast both in story and in content from Robotech. I really liked the older style animation, and especially the character designs—you just don't see hair like Lisa Hayes' (Misa Hayase in the original version) in modern anime. The action is plentiful, there are some great character interactions, and the mecha designs are pretty cool. This disc is the first of six covering The Macross Saga portion of the series.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The original Macross series is undergoing extensive restoration at Animeigo, which unfortunately isn't applicable to Robotech. The source material is in somewhat rough shape, and the video quality here certainly isn't up to ADV's usually good standards. There is a fair amount of artifacting and blocking, colors are somewhat washed out, and print damage and dust are fairly common. It is far from unwatchable, but don't expect a pristine transfer by any means.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: I find it very alienating (pardon the pun) watching anime in English, which is of course the only option for this series. Sound quality is good, though not that impressive. I doubt those who grew up watching this on TV will have any issue with the presentation.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 30 cues and remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Getter Robo, Martian Succesor Nadesico, Orphen, Evangelion, Gasaraki, Gunsmith Cats
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: With six episodes stuffing the disc, extras are limited to trailers for Getter Robo, Martian Succesor Nadesico, Orphen, Evangelion, Gasaraki and Gunsmith Cats, which are accessable from the trailers submenu, though buyers of the box sets get an extra disc of material with each set. 5 chapter stops per episode are available, and they do include the commercial "eye catches" from the original broadcasts. Since this series is English dub only, no subtitles or other languages are available.

Those who have been loathsome of ADV's use of Scanavo cases will be happy that this series gets white Amarays instead.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

If one can get over the fact that Robotech is a bastardization of three Japanese anime series, edited, rewritten and dubbed for a U.S. audience, then you have a basis for enjoying this DVD. While the video quality is fairly mediocre, ADV is pricing this at a pretty good bargain for almost 150 minutes of animation. And if you were to get the box sets, there are some pretty noteable extras. Despite its origins, I did find myself enjoying the series, though I think I'd prefer the original version.


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