Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles (2006)
Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles
Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles is the 2006 animated sequel to the 1985 Robotech television series. It was released on DVD on February 6, 2007.
At Anime Expo 2004, Harmony Gold USA revealed that Robotech: Shadow Force was in production to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Robotech in 2005. The name of the new story arc was soon changed to Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, and the film was completed on January 27, 2006. This project was initially met with skepticism from the fan community, due to Harmony Gold's spotty track record of completing Robotech sequels and spin-offs in past decades. The first teaser trailer debuted at Anime Expo 2005. An official trailer was later released on The Shadow Chronicles website during the NATPE conference, a broadcast industry trade show. Harmony Gold held a number of film festival showings in 2006, but Funimation delayed the theatrical and Region 1 DVD release until January 5 and February 6, 2007, respectively.
Story and development
The storyline is a direct continuation from the 85th (and final) episode of the original Robotech television series, and the first third of the movie runs concurrently with the events at the end of the TV series — albeit from different points of view. The plot revolves around the Robotech Expeditionary Force (REF)'s final battle with the Invid on Earth, and the fallout from the events of that battle. An old enemy of the Invid is making its presence known, and is determined to wipe out all Protoculture users, including Humanity. The production is a mixture of 2D animation and cel-shaded CG mecha animation.
Though the involvement of original Japanese studio Tatsunoko Productions appeared to be limited to early development, the actual digital production of animation was handled by the Korean animation company DR Movie, whose credits include subcontracting on the inbetweens, ink and paint of Macross Plus, and the inbetweens of Yukikaze. Co-director Tommy Yune said in a Newtype USA interview (republished on the official Robotech website) that the producers "consulted extensively" with Kenji Terada, a writer on Southern Cross and Mospeada (two of the three series adapted into the 1985 Robotech series).
DC Comics' Wildstorm label released Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles, a comic prequel series bridging the end of the aborted Sentinels storyline with The Shadow Chronicles. Each of the issues features a "behind-the-scenes" article about the new animation production.
The main characters in the film include Vince Grant, Dr. Jean Grant, Marcus Rush, Maia Sterling, Scott Bernard, Ariel, Janice Em, Louie Nicols, Alex Romero and General Reinhardt. Rick Hunter is seen briefly at the beginning of the movie at an advanced age.
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In June 2044, the Robotech Expeditionary Force (REF) fleet gathers at Moon Base ALUCE for its final attempt to drive the alien Invid from the Earth. This time, the REF has important technological advantages thanks to the help of the Sentinel races; the Karbarrans provided the industrial resources to construct this armada, while a secretive and highly advanced cybernetic race known as the Haydonites have provided advanced technology including Shadow devices, which make REF ships invisible to Invid sensors, and Syncro-Cannons, which are significantly more powerful than the REF's earlier weapons. The REF fleet is led by newly completed SDF-4 Izumo, a Super Dimensional Fortress over 1.3 km (0.8 miles) long under the command of General Gunther Reinhardt.
Resistance forces on Earth, now aided by REF Commando units secretly dispatched in advance, are prepared to launch a simultaneous ground assault against the primary Invid hive at Reflex Point while the Invid's main forces engage the REF fleet. If both of these attacks fail, the REF has been authorized to use the devastating Neutron-S missiles as a last resort - although these missiles are more than capable of destroying the Invid, they will also wipe out most (or possibly all) life on earth.
Among the REF fighter pilots are Maia Sterling, Marcus Rush and Alex Romero, all of whom were born in space during the REF mission and have never seen Earth. Lieutenant Commander Maia Sterling, a daughter of famed pilots Max Sterling and Miriya Parina Sterling and sister of Dana Sterling, has just been given command of the famed Skull Squadron. Marcus and Alex, both lieutenants, are part of Wolf Squadron under the command of Captain Daryl Taylor. When Marcus first sees Maia, he finds himself attracted to her but only manages a bungled pass. Marcus, whose sister Marlene was killed in a previous REF assault on Earth two years earlier, harbors a deep hatred of the Invid.
As the film opens, General Reinhardt sends Vince Grant, captain of the Icarus, one of the REF's five newly completed Shimakaze-class battlecruisers, on a rescue mission to look for the SDF-3 and Admiral Rick Hunter, chief military commander of all REF forces and a legendary veteran of the First Robotech War. In its last transmission to the REF, it seems that the SDF-3 was involved in an accident of some kind while overseeing the test of the Neutron-S missile in the Omicron Sector.
Despite the disadvantage of not having the SDF-3 and its powerful arsenal, General Reinhardt is forced to begin the attack. The assault initially goes well as the REF capital ships fire their massive Syncro-Cannons, which destroy many Invid Carriers before they can launch their fighters. REF fighter squadrons, armed with advanced weaponry and utilizing the Shadow technology that makes them invisible to the Invid sensors, easily cripple the first wave of the Invid attack. On the ground, the resistance forces and REF commando units push forward and approach within striking distance of Reflex Point.
However, the Invid Regis, obsessed with holding on to Earth no matter the cost, launches all of her remaining forces in one final attack wave. All Invid fighters capable of space combat are sent against the REF fleet and all remaining Invid ground forces are ordered to retreat to Reflex Point for a last stand. When Reinhardt tries to get an update from the ground forces, he makes contact with resistance leader Scott Bernard, a survivor of one of the previous failed REF assaults. Scott informs Reinhardt that the attack is going poorly and that the REF ground forces have been forced to halt their advance while still out of range of Reflex Point. Ending the communication, Scott meets with Ariel, an Invid princess that looks like a young human woman, and Scott's love interest. Ariel hopes to convince her mother, the Invid Regis, that the humans and the Invid can live in peace. However, the Regis is skeptical of Ariel's words as she recognizes the Humans' new Shadow technology as something used by an ancient enemy of the Invid — the "Children of the Shadow", and remains determined to fight to the bitter end.
In space, REF fighter squadrons, despite their technological advantages, become overwhelmed by sheer Invid numbers and begin taking heavy losses. Invid fighters begin punching through the frontlines of the fleet and attacking the REF capital ships, further straining the ability of the REF to continue the battle. General Reinhardt is informed that the fleet is taking heavy losses and further attempts to contact the ground forces get no response. Meanwhile, more Invid Carriers arrive in orbit, and begin launching thousands more fighters against the already overwhelmed REF fleet. With the ground offensive stalled and the REF fleet hopelessly outnumbered, Reinhardt authorizes the use of Neutron-S missiles, but is unaware of the missiles' true power. However, the Regis' daughter Ariel finally convinces her mother to leave Earth rather than allow both races to be destroyed. This request, combined with the Regis' knowledge of the true power of the Neutron-S missiles, convinces the Regis that her race no longer belongs on Earth. She realizes that the REF has been fooled - if the REF had known how powerful the missiles were, they never would have used them. The Regis transforms the Invid race into a massive phoenix of pure energy, in the same manner by which the Invid first arrived on Earth, and ascends into the sky. As a parting gift to Ariel, who chooses to remain behind, the Regis destroys the Neutron-S missiles. The Invid stream of light flies off into space in search of a new planet on which to continue their evolution, thus ending the Third Robotech War.
Meanwhile, in the Omicron sector, the Icarus arrives and locates the SDF-3 near a newly created black hole. The Icarus barely escapes the massive gravational pull of the black hole - but sustains damage to all of its Shadow technology, including the Shadow device and its Syncro-Cannon. A sensor scan then reveals that both the SDF-3 and the science vessel Deukalion, have been badly damaged by an accident involving the testing of the new Neutron-S missiles. Captain Vince Grant makes contact with Admiral Rick Hunter, who explains that they have discovered a critical flaw with the Neutron-S missiles and that the REF must be warned that the missiles cannot be used on Earth under any circumstances. He also orders Grant to take the Deukalion, which has recorded critical information. After securing the Deukalion with the Icarus' clamps, Grant moves the Icarus close to the SDF-3 so that its hyperspatial fold-sphere will encompass both ships and enable them to return to Earth. However, a group of unknown alien warships attack the Icarus. Just as they are about to initiate the fold-sphere, one of the alien vessels rams the SDF-3, pushing it out of range of the sphere and toward the black hole. Grant, following Hunter's orders that the REF must be warned about the true nature of the missiles, engages the Icarus's hyperfold drive and races back to Earth. The SDF-3 is left behind, adrift in space and caught in the black hole's gravitational pull.
With the battle over, the REF orders its damaged ships to Space Station Liberty for repairs. Since Earth will be vulnerable while the REF rebuilds, the fighter squadrons will remain at Moon Base ALUCE. However, the Invid took all of the Protoculture with them and the REF only has enough power to last a little less than a year. The only way to generate more power is with the Protoculture Matrix on board the SDF-3. Due to the heavy losses (including the death of Wolf Squadron commander Daryl Taylor), Wolf Squadron, home of Marcus Rush and Alex Romero, is folded into Maia Sterling's Skull Squadron.
Back on Earth, Scott is surprised to find that Ariel has stayed behind. Despite his feelings for her, Scott decides to leave and try and convince the REF leadership that humanity can co-exist with the Invid. As he flies to the main REF base at Moon Base ALUCE (Advanced LUnar Chemical Engineering), he stumbles upon the just-arrived Icarus, and several unknown alien fighters that it accidentally brought with it. He helps the Icarus against the fighters, and then escorts it to ALUCE. Once there, he is reunited with Marcus, who is the younger brother of Scott's late fiancée, Marlene, who was killed in a previous REF assault two years earlier. Marcus is overjoyed to see Scott again, and Scott is impressed that Marcus has become a skilled fighter pilot. However, Marcus' joy at seeing Scott again is soon tempered when Scott confirms that Marlene did not survive.
The Deukalion is examined, and the only surviving crew member is Janice Em, an gynoid that uses a holographic overlay that makes her look like a young woman. Louie Nichols, a scientist and veteran of the Second Robotech War, takes Janice to the science lab, and the two go over the test data to try and figure out what went wrong with the missile test. While there, Louie learns from Janice that the Haydonites aided the REF because they'd also suffered greatly at the hands of the Invid. Janice herself is a combination of Human and Haydonite technology, built to act as an emissary for the two races, as the Haydonites prefer not to deal with outsiders directly (as established in the prelude comic, only the most senior members of the REF are even aware of the Haydonites' existence).
Ariel, after using her teleportation power to travel to Moon Base ALUCE, suddenly walks up behind Scott, and surprises him. In an empty room, Ariel informs Scott that the reason she came to see him was because she had a vision. The Children of the Shadow are planning on attacking the REF. The Children destroyed the first Invid homeworld because they fear the power of Protoculture, and they will attack the Humans for the same reason. The discussion is interrupted by Marcus and Alex, and Marcus realizes that Ariel is an Invid. Scott is arrested and interrogated, where he warns of the impending attack, and reveals the Children's connection to the new REF technologies. The name Scott uses for the alien race is unfamiliar, while Reinhardt suspects that the warning is an attempt by the Invid to drive a wedge between the REF and the Haydonites.
Suddenly, all contact with Space Station Liberty is lost. When the Icarus arrives, Liberty is under attack by a large fleet of alien ships which have jammed all communications. The battle is going poorly for the REF; capital ships are being destroyed with just one hit by a disrupter wave emitted by the enemy fleet which causes the REF's Synchro-Cannons to overload and explode. Instead of charging into the battle, Vince sends Skull Squadron to collect information. While flying through the REF fleet, Skull Squadron records an REF carrier destroyed due to a single hit on its reflex furnace. Scans reveal that the Shadow device on the carrier caused its reflex furnace to implode when triggered by the enemy's disrupter wave. Janice sees the footage, and realizes that such an event should be impossible, due to the Shadow technology incorporated in all REF vessels. It then becomes clear that the Haydonites are in fact the mysterious Children of the Shadow, and that Ariel's warning was true. By now, 89% of the REF forces that engaged the Haydonites at Liberty have been destroyed. Captain Vince Grant, after watching the carrier explode, slams his fist as he realizes that every piece of technology the Haydonites have given to the REF contains some kind of Trojan Horse. Grant, suspecting that Janice may also be aligned with the Haydonites, orders her arrested and removed from the bridge. Unable to restore communications, Grant is unable to warn the remaining ships of these findings, and they are left to fight a hopeless battle.
Maia Sterling initially leads her Skull Squadron into battle, but is called back (since the Haydonite-supplied Syncro-Cannons equipped on the fighters will make any engagement futile) and is ordered to head to Space Station Liberty, and try to acquire fighters that don't incorporate Haydonite technology. As they approach Liberty, the squadron is pursued by Haydonite fighters. Alex Romero tries to engage them but his Syncro-Cannon, crippled by the Haydonite attack, malfunctions and his fighter becomes stalled. Despite the pleas of Maia and Marcus for Alex to eject, he flies into the enemy squadron as his fighter explodes, destroying himself and the enemy fighters. Maia is visibly upset by Alex's sacrifice while Marcus, who was Alex's best friend, is completely devastated.
Since the Icarus, which is equipped with Shadow technology, is no longer a viable ship, Vince orders the Icarus to dock with Space Station Liberty. Louie scans Liberty's ship registry for capital ships that have no Shadow technology but finds only one: the massive colony ship Ark Angel. Vince orders the evacuation of all station personnel to the Ark Angel, and gives Louie one hour to get the ship's inactive reflex furnace online. Ariel uses her teleportation power to assist in the evacuation after transporting Louie and his team immediately to the Ark Angel. In the meantime, Skull Squadron has located brand-new prototype Advanced Shadow Fighters that haven't had the Shadow technology installed yet, and Maia promises to buy time for the evacuation.
As Janice is taken to a detention area, two Haydonite soldiers blast into the hallway and confront her. After Janice refuses to cooperate, the soldiers decide she is now expendable. Just then, Scott Bernard appears in combat armor and opens fire, killing one of the soldiers. The remaining soldier then removes his cloak, revealing the true form of the Haydonites. As it flies toward Scott, Grant also in combat armor, appears and opens fire, mortally wounding it. Realizing that Janice was also betrayed by the Haydonites (who now want her dead), Grant asks her to continue to serve with the REF, to which Janice readily agrees.
Scott and Vince board Cyclones, and prepare to head into the space station. Liberty has the remaining stockpile of Neutron-S missiles, and Vince sets one to self-destruct. The Ark Angel is able to depart as planned, with the Icarus following closely. The Haydonites, unaware of Grant's plan, move their fleet towards Liberty to destroy the Ark Angel as Skull Squadron continues to engage the Haydonite fighters. During the battle, Maia's fighter takes damage and she is forced to eject. Marcus uses his fighters' robotic hands to grab Maia's ejection pod and throw it towards the Ark Angel as it prepares to enter a spacefold. Marcus, deciding he has no reason to live, holds down his weapon triggers and launches a suicide run against the Haydonites to hold them off long enough for Ark Angel to escape. Just as the Ark Angel initiates a spacefold, the Neutron-S warheads detonate with a massive explosion, destroying Liberty and the entire Haydonite fleet.
Marcus sees a white light and has a vision of his sister Marlene, who tells him it is not his time to die and that she will always be with him. Marcus begs her not to leave him, before he wakes up on board the Ark Angel, with Ariel by his side. Ariel then reveals that she used her teleportation power to save him. Marcus, almost angrily, asks Ariel why she saved his life, since he has so much hatred for the Invid. Ariel simply tells him "hatred can only breed more hatred. It is not what we seek... any of us" and Marcus is left at a loss for words.
As the Ark Angel approaches Earth, Maia and Marcus console each other over the recent events. Marcus is despondent as he states that everyone he has been close to; his sister Marlene, his former commanding officer (Daryl Taylor) and his best friend (Alex Romero) have been taken by war. Maia is also despondent as she states that most of her family was aboard the SDF-3, which is lost in space and may have been destroyed. Maia puts her head on Marcus' shoulder and the two look out a viewport as the Ark Angel flies over Earth's surface, which neither of them has seen until now.
General Reinhardt gives Vince his new orders: Vince and his crew are to take the Ark Angel and attempt to locate the SDF-3, which may not have been destroyed as initially thought. As Scott and Ariel share a kiss, Louie does his best to reassure a confused and uncertain Janice that "We will win."
- Richard Epcar as Vince Grant
- Eddie Frierson as Louie Nichols
- Mark Hamill as Commander Darryl Taylor, Wolf Squadron Leader; Haydonite leader
- Alexandra Kenworthy as The Regis
- Yuri Lowenthal as Marcus Rush
- Melanie MacQueen as Marlene Rush
- Chase Masterson as Janice Em
- Edie Mirman as Maia Sterling
- Iona Morris as Jean Grant
- Tony Oliver as Admiral Rick Hunter
- Arthur Santiago as Alex Romero
- Gregory Snegoff as Scott Bernard
- Michael Sorich as Sparks
- Kari Wahlgren as Ariel
- Dan Woren as General Gunther Reinhardt
Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles premiered at the Cannes Film Market on May 22, 2006 in the Grey One Theatre to an audience of distribution representatives. A number of independent film festivals screened the film during the summer and fall. It was awarded Best Animated Sci-Fi Feature at the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival.
Harmony Gold and Funimation Entertainment released Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles on DVD on February 6, 2007. A 2-disc collector's edition with additional features was announced by FUNimation at Anime Expo 2007 and released on DVD November 20, 2007. The Blu-ray version was released on September 4, 2008. It is currently available for streaming on Crackle (ad supported streaming service from Sony) in the US.
Madman Entertainment in Australia was the first international distributor to license and release Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles. The film was released on Region 4 DVD on March 14, 2007.
Revelation Films released the film in the United Kingdom on July 23, 2007.
Guangdong Qianhe Audio & Video released the single-disc Standard Edition in the People's Republic of China on August 20, 2007 and the 2-disc Collector's Edition on May 1, 2008.
The musical score was composed by Scott Glasgow, and was recorded with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. However, budgetary issues resulted in synthesized elements being mixed into a number of the cues, particularly four of the tracks in the film, and one of the tracks on the soundtrack CD ("Dogfight"). Chase Masterson sang the parts for her robotic character Janice. Melissa Kaplan, the lead singer of the band Universal Hall Pass, vocalized some of the background music.
Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles has received mixed reception from fans and critics. Justin Sevakis of the Anime News Network gave it an overall rating of C-, commenting that while the movie had good music, it suffered from mediocre animation, a clichéd story and a host of forgettable characters. Slop Reilly of Ain't It Cool News gave it a 1 out of 5 stars, citing a poor screenplay, weak character development and unnatural character design and animation. Tasha Robinson of the Sci Fi Channel's Sci Fi Weekly gave it a B, while Jeffrey Kauffman of DVDTalk recommended it.
On February 27, 2007 at the New York Comic Con, Shadow Chronicles director Tommy Yune said, "Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles has been doing good business at retail, and we are currently in production on the sequel." Later that same day, Yune mentioned that the sequel would be a feature movie. The title of the sequel was revealed as Robotech: Shadow Rising, and the film was expected to be released within two years of the time of the announcement, earliest. While the two-year date was stated by Yune to be possible, it was never intended to be an actual release date.
Subsequent announcements in mid-2008 made it clear that little-or-no progress had been made on the film, which was indefinitely postponed, pending developments with the live-action film. At Anime Expo 2009, Kevin McKeever and Yune confirmed that Robotech: Shadow Rising had been put off indefinitely since Warner Bros. Pictures was actively developing a big-budget Robotech live-action feature film.
It was later reported that production of the film had actually ceased in late 2007 after Harmony Gold terminated their deal with FUNimation Entertainment due to creative differences.
At Comic-Con 2012, Tommy Yune announced that Love Live Alive would pave the way for Shadow Rising. As of 2015, the Shadow Rising trademark has been abandoned since 2007.