No matter how deep your interest in anime, chances are you’ll at least recognise the name Robotech in passing, and more likely than not will have enjoyed at least one anime that contains a passing nod to this seminal 80s action show. Manga Entertainment have been slowly but surely making their way through releasing the entire Robotech saga on DVD in recent times, from a remastered version of the original series, followed by Robotech Masters and now, what we are looking at today, Robotech: New Generation.
New Generation starts off broadly from where Robotech Masters left off – With yet another alien invasion of Earth. The evil (aren’t they always?) Invid have decimated and conquered the planet, keen to harvest it for its vast protoculture resources as a step to becoming the greatest power in the universe. News of this travesty soon reaches the expeditionary mission searching space for the home of the Robotech Masters and, packed with Robotech warriors armed to the teeth, a number of ships are instructed to return to Earth to deal with the crisis.
Enter the hero of the piece, Scott Bernard, left alone to deal with the Invid threat as the rest of his colleagues are wiped out while trying to enter the Earth’s atmosphere. As he searches for the Invid’s Achilles heel, called Reflex Point, and while exploring Earth for the first time (having been born and brought up off-planet), he builds up a small, motley band of freedom fighters from pockets of civilian life dotted here and there, and thus the battle to free Earth from its Invid occupiers begins…
The problems with this show start early on – The series begins with a long yet hurried monologue of the story so far (indeed, the narrator seems to love the sound of his own voice, often popping up to give some long yet pointless diatribe about the situations Scott and company find themselves in), followed by some incredibly rushed and half-hearted attempts at character building – Scott has a girlfriend on board the ship he serves on, he asks her to marry him and then she’s killed along with everyone else on board in a matter of minutes, not leaving us enough time to even care about his circumstances, let alone the loss of someone who has had barely any time on screen.
This just about sums up the series as a whole – The characters are two-dimensional, and sometimes just plain irritating, and the generally poor voice acting only serves to make the whole experience worse. Throw in some clichéd plots and rather unimpressive and unexciting alien invaders, and you’ve got New Generation down to a tee. You never find yourself feeling empathy or anger, be it for the good guys or bad, and that alone makes the show mind-numbingly tedious most of the time. Any attempts at introductions or character building are rushed through to reach the action sequences, which might be forgivable if they had you on the edge of your seat, but quite simply – they don’t.
Although volume one of New Generation is heavy on episodes (twelve of them in total, spread across two discs), its light on everything else. Aside from a short and sweet CGI menu screen, your only options are to watch all the episodes in one sitting or pick an episode to view. That means no extras and no Japanese language track, the awful US dub is all you get. As far as quality goes with the actual episodes themselves, picture quality is reasonable given that the source material is almost twenty years old, but obviously can’t cover up the rather cheap and cheerful animation style seen throughout the show. Once nice touch is that the pre and post advertisement animations for each episode have been left intact – Good news for the completist. The 5.1 up mix of the audio track is a mixed bag too – Effects such as explosions and the like sound very impressive, and dialogue is clear, but this only serves to make the background soundtrack sound very muddy in comparison.
Overall then, there's really nothing in particular to make Robotech New Generation worthy of recommendation, even for nostalgia's stake - Put simply, it's best avoided unless you're some kind of Robotech completist.