25 Jun 2006
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Robotech!
That's what the Superman-like theme tune suggests anyway.
Robotech is set in the distant future of 2029, where the Earth has survived the first Robotech war against alien invaders, all of which is hastily glossed over, but for shots of a very large Macross robot.
The story revolves around Dana Sterling, the teenage lieutenant of the 15th armoured division and her squad of rookie delinquents, er...I mean 'soldiers'. They disobey orders, squabble amongst themselves, get thrown in the brig on a daily basis and somehow still manage to save the day.
The first thing you will think when you see Robotech is how dated it is and that every detail appears to have been 'borrowed' from somewhere else. Robotech is a hybrid of the 80s: Take a few Macross designs, some Starcom uniforms, a pinch of The Transformers soundtrack, the voice actors from Ulysses31, a large slab of cheese and this is what you get.
The characters are bland and stereotypical: Dana is the typical feisty teenage heroin. There's Angelo, a doubtful veteran who always questions insubordinate orders, Bowie, the token ethnic guy and Sean, the long haired, insubordinate ladies man. Last and probably least, is Louie, the technical guy with trademark glasses. All of them spout clichés like they're going out of fashion. The dialogue is terrible, the voices are awful and that's just the beginning of the raw cheesiness of the series.
This was probably great twenty years ago. However, if we overlook the series age and everything it suffers for being dated, there is a massive flaw: The absence of a 'big baddie'. There's no Skeletor, Mum-Ra, Saw Boss or Megatron here. There is no evil laughter, no cursing oaths, shaking fists, or "I'll get you division fifteen, if it's the last thing I do!"
The bad guys never win a single confrontation and the endless sea of faceless enemies weakens the series as a whole and doesn't make our heroes' situations any more exciting.
To make matters worse, it isn't until half way through the series that any trace of a plot appears, beyond a squadron of rookies saving the day over and over. Up until half way, the series is without meaning. What is this substance called Protoculture? Why do the aliens who call themselves The Robotech Masters want it? And why didn't a smart human salesman think of a great way to market and sell it to them instead of trying to shoot them out of the sky?
But who cares? They're Aliens and it's the 80s, so surely they must be full of evil intent.
The biggest problem is that I can't quite decide if it's dreadful or if it's simply so dreadful that it's oddly entertaining. There's spades of action, gunfire, transforming robots and explosions -Most likely it's this that has kept me watching.
Despite all of its flaws, it's oddly entertaining and it didn't even require a couple of beers to do it. However, there are better things to spend your hard earned cash on and if you had spent money on this, you'd be disappointed, especially as there are no extras.