Keith Palmer (krpalmer) wrote,
Keith Palmer
krpalmer

Robotech: Prelude to The Shadow Chronicles

When I checked my email this morning, I saw a shipping confirmation from an online store I sometimes order anime DVDs from. This wouldn't be worth bringing up, if not for that this particular shipment included something that might not quite be anime, but still caught my attention. Ahead of its official "street date," I'm being sent a copy of "Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles."

Robotech started as just one of the animated programs crammed with action and giant robots (that just happened to also be on store shelves) that I watched whenever I could (my grandparents had cable; my family didn't) in the mid-1980s, and yet it wound up holding my attention in a way others didn't quite. For one thing, it didn't go to extremes to try and present its conflict as casualty-free, something anyone who had watched the Star Wars trilogy ought to have been able to deal with, although I suppose things were different on Saturday morning TV... Even after it was off the air, it had done well enough to have novelisations written that stretched out my interest in it for a full decade, and by then I was on-line and indulging in some idle searching for information on it. I learned things fast. Robotech had started as three completely separate anime series, linked together with some rewriting to make it long enough to sell in syndication. For some people interested in animation from Japan, that made it the most controversial Saturday morning cartoon of the 1980s, and for those who weren't quite as obsessed with that issue, there were still seething debates over the novelisations and other spinoff material that, in the eyes of some, tried to smooth out the story by overwhelming it with mysticism. The thought that Robotech might be reinterpreted as something approaching "hard SF" was intriguing enough for me to ride through the disagreements, right through to when the series became something to be sold on DVD for purposes of nostalgia. Robotech fans were pretty burnt out by then, but anime fans in general seemed to have mellowed somewhat... and there was talk that the company that had assembled Robotech was trying to make a sequel that would go beyond a conclusion somewhat open-ended. There had been an attempt to create a spinoff series in the 1980s, but it had ground to a halt with just three episodes complete due to changes in the dollar-yen exchange rate and a toy line assembled in some haste not selling. Of course, in some ways trying to create something "anime-esque" isn't as surprising now as it might have once been.

This new sequel, intended from the start to be a short movie, took its time in arriving. There were constant rumours about the company trying to find a distributor, and I had ambiguous thoughts that, just perhaps, it was being laughed out of screening rooms... and then they signed with an anime company to release it. I've heard that "The Shadow Chronicles" doesn't look expensive, and at times that's among the more positive comments; I might at last find myself unable to let the actual event exceed the anticipation just like everyone else... and yet, right now I'm interested enough to try and preserve this moment of waiting.
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