I had originally written this for the RDF Underground podcast, However, Justy elected to hold off on reading it in the hope that I would be able to get some audio recordings of convention panels taped off to MP3 as I had hoped. It looks like I am not going to be able to do that after all, so I might as well provide this as the quick capsule summary for curious Robotech fans. There were three Robotech panels: a Friday “Robotech Retrospective,” a Saturday Shadow Chronicles panel, and a Sunday free-for-all.
The Friday panel was a sort of Robotech teaser: a retrospective where Harmony Gold representative Tom Bateman gave a Powerpoint presentation discussing the history of the Robotech show and toy line. He talked about the failure of Sentinels to get off the ground—a story that Robotech fans know by heart by now, the failure of Matchbox’s lackluster 2nd wave of shoddy American-designed toys coupled with the value of the dollar dropping to less then half its prior value against the Yen.
He also discussed Robotech 3000 and some of the reasons it was so different from Robotech. Tom showed a DVD-quality version of the Robotech 3000 trailer which can be downloaded in low-res from Robotech.com, and discussed some of the fans’ reactions to it—and the TV network exec reactions to it, which were about the same as the fans’. In my own opinion, rather than from anything Tom said, I suspect that the network reactions were as much responsible for killing the project as the fans’.
Tatsunoko was rather blase about the 3000 idea, too—though interestingly enough, they apparently thought 3000 might be salvaged by doing it as a cel-based rather than CGI-based show, and they actually did anime character design renditions of the 3000 characters. And Harmony Gold was reluctant to throw the entire concept out, as much money as they had already spent on it. But about the time Tom Bateman came on board at HG, they decided not to throw good money after bad, and to go back to the drawing board to come up with something that answered some of the questions posed in the last episode of Robotech. Hence, Shadow Chronicles.
There wasn’t much for Robotech fans at the Funimation panel, just that the Shadow Chronicles DVD would be out in November, and there was going to be a digital theatrical run. (There was also a fellow who was a bit confused and asked why Robotech was being redubbed with different voice actors. Fortunately, Tom Bateman, though not a presenter at this panel, was sitting behind me and was able to explain that, no, that wasn’t Funimation but ADV, and wasn’t Robotech but SDF: Macross.) I asked the Funimation rep about what would be on the Shadow Chronicles DVD, and he said that it hadn’t been finalized yet so he wasn’t able to say, but there would be an announcement soon (he might have mentioned some upcoming con, I forget).
The Saturday Shadow Chronicles panel was fun, and well-attended; one of the other attendees later mentioned that he counted at least 50 people before he was called to duty on the AV equipment. Tom opened it out with another new (or at least new-to-me) trailer of Shadow Chronicles footage set to music from the old Robotech score, and then he talked some about the project. A lot of it is stuff that the obsessed fans know already, and I’ll go more into detail about it when I do my full report.
The highlights of the panel were some documentary segments that Tom showed, making-of segments that will be included as extras on the Shadow Chronicles DVD. Informationally there wasn’t a lot of stuff there that the fans don’t know already, nonetheless it was a treat to see some of the fans’ responses when asked about Robotech (the fellow cosplaying a Veritech, the family whose daughter was dressed up as Annie right down to the E.T. cap, the parents who said they named their kids Maximillian and Miriya, the guy who looked right at the camera and proclaimed, “Robotech is GOD,” etc.). It was also interesting to see some of the faces behind familiar characters.
But the other highlight of the panel was a 4-minute 15-second excerpt from Shadow Chronicles, covering from 1:11 to 1:15 of the movie if the on-screen timer was accurate, that served as a sort of sampler of what Shadow Chronicles covered—starting out with a humorous moment, moving on to a serious character moment, and concluding with a massive space battle sequence. Everyone liked it so much, he showed it again at the end of the panel. There were also some trivia questions for goodies like T-shirts—I won one of them by answering who relieved Gloval on the bridge when he went to give his report, and my brother won another by answering who Annie’s boyfriend was in “The Lost City”. (I’d watched that very episode of Mospeada with him the night before; it’s just lucky that was one of the names Robotech didn’t change.)
Most of the questions and answers were stuff that fans already know, like why they chose to do Shadow Chronicles rather than going with Sentinels, or whether we were going to see chanting children pulling the SDF-1’s fold engines through space-time (Tom said no, and in response to someone else’s question, “there won’t be any flying horses, either.”) I asked Tom when we would know whether Shadow Chronicles would be continued or be another one-off like Sentinels; Tom said that there definitely will be more Shadow Chronicles, though what form it would take (movies, OAVs, or TV series) was yet to be decided.
Tom also said it was unlikely that Shadow Chronicles would be dubbed into Japanese for a Japanese audience, given that the story had too many divergences from Mospeada for it to work as a Mospeada sequel, and Tatsunoko was’t interested in doing a Mospeada sequel anyway. However, he did expect the DVD would be imported by Japanese fans of the show just for the sake of seeing the Mospeada mecha and character designs newly-CGI-animated; in an ironic reversal, Japanese fans have been buying a lot of Robotech toys and such, because there’s a lot more Robotech stuff available now than there is stuff for some of the original shows.
There wasn’t really anything new at the Sunday panel, just an amusing competition between eight selected Robotech mecha to see which one came out the winner.