ROBOTECH Remastered Extended Edition Review

by Henry Killman

If you used to be a Robotech fan when it was playing on TV around 1985, with various reruns until the present day, then you will be well pleased with the remastered Robotech DVD set.

Not long ago I purchased myself the first three boxed volumes, containing the Macross Saga on 6 disks. 

A lot of websites online state that the aspect ratio is 1.33:1, which is just a fancy way of saying 4x3, which is the old scan TV aspect ratio and not some type of widescreen in case you've wondered like me :) 

If you've seen it on TV and taped some episodes, like I did in 1996 from the Sci-Fi Channel, then you might have thought of Robotech as having some white face overexposed characters, color that sometimes kept changing from warm to cool to warm to cool to warm to cool for some reason, and seemingly being a video transfer that is zoomed in quite a lot on the original film picture and cutting off a lot on the sides and top and bottom.

All that changes with this remastered edition though - they achieved a picture quality that is superb in comparison!  Colors are rich and stable and the framing of the picture is done right so you see more of the picture compared to the old TV version.  

You also see slightly more material than in the old TV version;  back then you might not even have known that shots were cut.  But for example, when Rick and Lisa are on the alien ship and Lisa is grabbed by a Zentraeti, in the old version you would have just seen Rick fire one of the big enemy guns in the room and then see the Zentraeti guy is dead with Lisa in his hands.  In this new version you see a deleted shot of the bullet hitting the Zentrati straight in the head.  There are quite a few "violent" shots like this that you might see for the first time in this version. 

There is also the scene of Minmay taking a shower when Rick and her are lost inside the SDF1 that now contains a not-before-seen shot starting on Minmay's legs and panning up to her back and head as the water showers her.  I suppose in the TV version this was cut because you see Minmay's naked butt for a moment as the shot pans up.  Rick also tries to take a quick peek at her, which I don't believe was accented in the TV version. 

Another scene you may not have been aware of the existence thereof is when Rick and Minmay are in her room and Rick has just read the letter that Minmay has been selected for the Miss Macross competition.  After this scene, there is another continuing scene wherein Minmay asks Rick if he dreams and they talk a bit.  I suppose they felt back then that this scene doesn't move the story along so they cut it, but it's available for viewing in this version.

They also redid the sound mix for this edition.  Now this I have mixed feelings about, but am still resetting up my surround sound setup at this time and may update this section when I've heard the sound on it. 

Through stereo speakers, it doesn't sound too good because the many new added sounds sound slapped on over the soundtrack, instead of being mixed in well with it.  It completely overshadows everything like the dialogue and music. 

The music also doesn't come through to make certain scenes intense like they did in the old version.  It's like they turned the music track's volume down quite some, which is really a shame. 

But the biggest problem I have is their replacement of certain sounds.  It sounds like a novel idea, but I'm afraid they didn't always use a better sound.

If you, like me, have gotten to associate certain sounds with Robotech, like the way it sounded when one of the planes in robot form walked and they added that particular sound to their footstep, or a Zentraeti pod moved and had that sound that went with it, or a biggie for me is when the SDF1 is undergoing transformation and always had that very particular sound, then you may have a problem getting used to the new sounds.  The SDF1's transformation now sounds more like they added some small techno-gadget sound sample.  Can't say it really goes with the magnitude or the size of the ship. 

I remember back when I watched the TV version, I also thought the sounds were kind of funny, but I soon got used to them and then associated them with specific actions in Robotech.  Whoever did this new remastered version probably also thought they sounded funny and replaced them just to replace them, instead of really spending time trying to find a sound that would be much better.  This for me is a big issue, even if it's probably not a life and death issue :)

But in general, if you liked Robotech, then currently this is the version to watch.  Aside from my complaints about the new soundtrack version, which I should really first watch on my coming surround setup and will then add my comments here about it, this DVD edition won't take long to make you happy. 

By the way, another treat for Robotech fanatics is this site.

The writer of that blog points out differences between the Japanese and the English versions of what is called in English Robotech.  Quick fun facts is that Rick is called Hikaru, Roy is called Sempai, Lisa is called Misa, and there are more intense feelings of suicide in Minmay when Rick and her are trapped aboard the SDF1, suggesting that they throw themselves into space rather than become a meal for the rats!