The last of our three part tribute to the late Carl Macek and his most well known work, Robotech. I may be in the minority here (if anyone agrees with me at all), but out of the thre wars, the subtitled “The New Generation” is my favorite. Basically, it’s different in tone and style from either of the previous shows (as its predecessor isn’t even one from the “Super Dimension” series), had a smaller cast, better songs, and cooler mecha (lack of a giant space fortress aside, of course). It’s the smaller cast that makes it easier to get close to the characters, and we aren’t distracted by the enemy until around the midpoint of the series. It’s all about the humans trying to survive.
SPOILER: Earth wins the second Robotech War, but the Invid Flower of Life–the source of the power source called “protoculture” which in a sense makes it the heart of Robotechnology–has bloomed. The Invid need it to survive, but the actions of the original Zor and the Robotech Masters (as well as their Zentraedi creations) have turned a once gentle race into ruthless killers, enslaving the Earth and decimating the Robotech forces. Admiral Hunter’s group, off on another mission by the time the Masters had invaded (and we would learn years later in The Sentinels was hoping to stop both the wars), sends a group to Earth to reclaim it from the Invid.
That means that for those of us who knew nothing about “anime”, “Japanimation”, or whatever term you prefer, this was the war the saga had been leading up to. Macek used the Invid to interlace all three series, but this was the epic showdown, a showdown we initially lost. Now the remaining people are scattered, and even Hunter’s reclamation force is wiped out, save one: Scott Bernard, who was forced to watch his fiance’s ship destroyed by the Invid, landing alone on a planet he never knew. He is joined by Rand, a scrounger of Robotechnology, and together they begin a journey to the heart of the Invid, Reflex Point. The narrator sums up the rest as we are introduced to the rest of the brave humans who will challenge a world to win it back!Vodpod videos no longer available.
“The New Generation” began as Genesis Climber MOSPEADA, as for some reason, they didn’t go with the third of the “Super Dimension” series, and I’m glad they didn’t. I haven’t seen Orguss, mind you, but I just love this show. “MOSPEADA” is an acronym for “Military Operation Soldier Protection Emergency Aviation Dive Armor, what we would come to call the Cyclone. It was meant to be used as an emergency battle system for the pilots, but instead became the primary hero mecha of the series. I still remember finding a “Cyclone” toy at a then local, now closed little store in Terryville and really wanting it. I saved up, hoping to get one, even if it did have foreign lettering on it. Yes, this was an actual MOSPEADA toy, and not a Robotech toy. Matchbox (who oddly had the license of a line that was mostly action figures) did produce a Cyclone toy, but it didn’t transform. There was a GoBots model that used the Cyclone mold for Cy-Kill, but it wasn’t the same.
Anyway, the toy was gone when I went back. It still disappoints me, and was the beginning of a long line of things gone by the time I had the money saved up in my life.
The smaller cast is really to the show’s benefit, as it allows you to better get to know the characters. You have Scott, the lone survivor determined to finish his mission at all costs, Rand, surprisingly the voice of reason when he isn’t being snarky, Annie, looking for love (and for a rather sad reason as we see in a later episode), Rook, the tough-as-nails girl with a secret past, Lancer, lone survivor of the FIRST attempt as taking back the Earth forced to hide his identity to become a female lounge singer, Lunk, deserter who must come to terms with who he is and what he’s fighting for, and later the mysterious amnesiac Marlene, who may well be the key to ending the last Robotech War (at least until Shadow Chronicles and the Academy comics books, but that’s for another time). With these few characters to monitor, it’s easier to get closer to them without all the military brouhaha distracting you.
I also find it interesting to watch the reactions of the human race to what’s befallen them. We didn’t see a whole lot of the citizens of Macross City dealing with anything besides the first few rebuilds in the first war, and the only citizens in the second war that had any focus belonged to the Robotech Masters. Here, the freedom fighters meet all kinds of people, and a few soldiers, who have either given up altogether, or act as “house slaves” for the Invid. The devastation isn’t in the background (if there at all), but center stage, showing us the horrors that have befallen an entire planet becoming a battlefield. While this leads to the occasional “what?” moment, like the one group who worships a dam and formed a tribal mentality, most of the stories, like the time Scott Bernard learns a horrible secret about his childhood hero (who would later become a tragic main character in The Sentinels in comic and novel form) can be interesting even without the giant mecha battles.
And I do love those mecha battles. The Invid crab-like mecha is more of a threatening presence than the Zendtraedi walkers or the humanoid robot Bioroids. All of them speak with the same voice until later in the show, that of the Invid Regis. In fact, one wonders if the Regis isn’t just acting through them at times. The Alpha Fighters (and later the booster ship Beta Fighters) are leagues cooler than the Veritechs of the first war–simple airplanes transforming are only cooler if they come from Cybertron–or the rather bland hovertanks of the second war. Then you have the Cyclone, which makes armor fan me very happy, like if Tony Stark decided to make battlesuits that attach to his regular armor and form awesome attack vehicles on their own.
Finally, you have the music. While the background music overall doesn’t change (being the uniting force of the three series), the songs, sung by Michael Bradley, are some of my favorite songs. Although I do find it odd that the series that is less of a war denouncement has more anti-war songs. While “Yellow Dancer” (voiced by Cam Clarke but sung by Bradley) does break out his own cover of Minmei’s “We Will Win”, most of the songs, like “Lonely Solider Boy” performed here, or the songs covered in the episode I used for “Fight Music” edition of Friday Night Fights that one time, are a condemnation of war. Considering that the wars have usually come to Earth, and you would think fighting back would be a positive (although I supposed keeping the Invid from blowing you up as a troublemaker would be in keeping with the whole “pretend I’m a woman singer instead of a male soldier” idea). Bradley is also a better singer than Reba West (who both sang and spoke for Lynn Minmei in the first war).
Naturally, we have to look at the original. However, outside of the names and some minor dialog changes there aren’t any real differences between the two.Vodpod videos no longer available.
And yes, I have to use another fanposting, because again only Macross gets any love. So if you thought Annie was annoying (I didn’t), “Mint” definitely is. Even I found her a bit much to handle. I kind of like the jazzy music, but when it comes to the background music, I thought Robotech did it better during the fight scenes. The biggest difference is that while Cam Clarke performed Lancer’s voice even when using the “Yellow Dancer” persona (one would assume, one being me, that “Yellow Dancer” has something to do with Yellow Belmont being written on the napkin, but only getting to the Yellow part), while in the original Japanese, a female performs as Yellow Belmont’s singer persona, while a male VA performs the “real” voice (although apparently Mr. Belmont uses the female voice even in his head while in character–talk about dedication).
And with this I conclude my three part salute to Carl Macek and the thrilling odyssey of Robotech. Rest in peace, and even you did piss off a few purists, you created a phenomenon of it’s time. My friends and I love this version even now, and all of your hard work was not in vein.