Friday, September 27, 2013

Robotech: Love Live Alive

The international cover, because I like it better.
Spoiler Level: Atomic  NEUTRON-S!

Okay, time for me to dust off the old blog. I finally found something that made me want to spout off an opinion. And that thing is-- what else? -- ROBOTECH! Specifically, the new release Robotech: Love Live Alive.

The Good:

* First off, let's give kudos to Harmony Gold for successfully completing and releasing a new Robotech project. And no, I don't mean that in a snarky, ironic way; I am genuinely grateful when new Robotech material is completed and released, and the canonical Robotech universe is made a little bit bigger.

* The new animation. The majority of it is absolutely beautiful. We get to see so many of those classic still frames from the beginning of "The Invid Invasion" brought to life! We get to see the Invid destroying the three mountains that contained the remains of the SDF-1!!! Talk about beautifully tying Southern Cross and Mospeada together... wow, just wow. And we get to see Dana, watching the Invid invasion happen, and climbing aboard a ship and leaving Earth. (That few seconds of animation is very crucial, my fellow Robotech fans... it establishes officially that Dana did not leave Earth before the Invid arrived as was commonly cited in other media, but that she was there for it. And the implication is that she may have been part off the Southern Cross that "weary from the constant battles with the Robotech Masters, was no match for the battle hungry Invid." The implication we're left with is that Dana was in fact killed in those opening still frames from "The Invid Invasion," and we just never knew it. Of course, we're still not shown that, so the possibility that she survived the battle and headed for Tirol is still there. But I digress.) And we get to see Lancer, now officially identifying himself as Lt. Lance Belmont of Yellow Squadron, trying to join up with Jonathan Wolff and Point K in an earlier attempt at reclaiming Earth and meeting with the same fate as Scott Bernard. Great stuff.

The new animation of Sera and Lancer at the end is, admittedly, pretty weak. I honestly do appreciate the effort to mimic the original 80's style so it would look consistent when intercut with the original Japanese Mospeada: Love Love Alive animation, but the result is more reminiscent of the times when Sandy Frank Productions tried to have Mark and Princess interact with 7-Zark-7 on Battle of the Planets. But you know what? I DON'T CARE!! Because it gives Lancer and Sera the absolutely best post-finale ending they've gotten in any media since 1985. It's wonderful, it made me smile, and it made me forgive that the animation didn't really work.

* The return of the classic voice actors! And everyone is there, even the classic announcer! The homages in the dialogue to "Booby Trap" also seriously warmed my heart. Oh sure, everyone sounds older, but that's okay.

* The new musical score.  Now I mean absolutely no disrespect to Scott Glasgow when I say this, but this was more like it. The score he wrote for The Shadow Chronicles is very beautiful music, but the themes he created reminded me more of Stargate than Robotech. This time he stuck to the original Robotech compositions, but rearranged and reorchestrated them into an absolutely beautiful opening medley of the Robotech theme and the Flower of Life theme. It evoked the classic Robotech feelings while exciting me for something new. I hope it gets released on a soundtrack someday.

* The "next episode" promos for both Robotech: Love, Live Alive and Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles using the original announcer. Priceless.

Dana watches the Invid destroy the SDF-1 burial mounds.

The Bad:

* It's a 90-minute clip show.  Okay, I was always a staunch defender that Robotech is something new and not beholden to its original Japanese source materials. But good gods, what a horribly wasted opportunity. Mospeada: Love Live Alive was a farewell love letter for the Mospeada fans, a Yellow Belmont concert featuring new songs, classic songs, and new renditions of classic songs, all done up as music videos using footage from the original Mospeada TV series, with about 6 minutes of new animation used as a framework.

Now of course you can't just drop the Robotech Yellow Dancer songs on top of the Mospeada Yellow Belmont music videos, but this would have been a great opportunity to create new music videos to the Robotech songs that tied all three generations together.

But no, instead Robotech: Love Live Alive is a freakin' meatloaf episode.

And it's not even that they wrote dialogue to go with the original Mospeada clips used in the music videos; no, those original clips are completely excised in favor of simply showing us truncated versions of the episodes "Lonely Soldier Boy," "Eulogy," "Enter Marlene," "Ghost Town," "Frost Bite," "Reflex Point," "Dark Finale," and "Symphony of Light," with a few origin sequences from "The Secret Route" and "Metamorphosis" thrown in.  And there isn't even any connecting dialogue for most of it, it just fades out from one episode clip and into another episode clip.

Robotech: Love Live Alive restructures Mospeada: Love Live Alive so that the opening Yellow Belmont concert is now instead a climactic Yellow Dancer concert at the end of the show. The interview sequence in the middle of M:LLA now forms the frame work for R:LLA, with Lancer telling his life story (and thus explaining the clips) to the interviewer. And that's fine; in fact, in many ways I feel they were very creative with the way they mixed everything around and integrated some new animation for the interviewer.

But the end result is we get a wonderful new 9-minute opening sequence and an enjoyable new 8-minute closing sequence sandwiching 70 minutes of boredom. And that's a lot of time to be bored. Oh, sure, I suppose if you haven't watched Robotech since 1985 it's a nice nostalgia trip, but for those of us who have... a lot... it's dull. ("Definitely cute, but dull.")

* No new Michael Bradley music. Again, such a wasted opportunity. Michael Bradley's already recorded new versions of his Yellow Dancer songs on his wonderful albums Lonely Soldier Boy and Lonely Soldier Boy II (available at, and using some of those instead of the standard Harmony Gold Music versions would have mirrored the Mospeada version nicely. But they didn't do that.

I have no idea why, I haven't heard anyone comment on it one way or another. I assume because if they wanted to use Michael Bradley's new versions, they would have had to pay him, while they can use the versions already owned for free. I doubt there's anything malicious about it; it's just less expensive to do it that way.

But it's also a lost opportunity that creates more lost opportunities. Remember how I mentioned the new renditions Scott Glasgow did of the background music? Well, that's less than 9 minutes worth of new music, but if you had some new Yellow Dancer songs too... well, they could have put out a whole Robotech: Love Live Alive soundtrack album.

(And I have to mention this-- Michael Bradley is also lead singer for a Police/Sting cover band called Ghost in the Machine, and they've done a version of "Synchronicity II." Now, as any self-respecting Southern Cross fan knows, there was a piece of frequently used background music in the original Japanese Southern Cross that was a direct rip-off of "Synchronicity II." So they had a chance to do a Robotech Masters music video to Synchronicity II as sung by Yellow Dancer! Yeah, yeah, it now means paying Michael Bradley AND Sting instead of using all your own music for free, but... man, that would have been cool.)

* No Macross clips. Part of what makes projects like this special is the opportunity to tie all three generations of Robotech together. But just like how the new version of The Sentinels removed every frame of Macross, there's not a frame of it here either. Granted, they wouldn't fit in as smoothly as the Southern Cross clips due to the time frame, but an image of Admiral Hunter from either Sentinels or Shadow Chronicles during one of the times Lancer referred to him in the interview would have been nice, and would have represented the Macross Saga generation without getting into any sticky legal issues of likeness rights.

In the interest of full disclosure, for the last two complaints I'm being the kind of fanboy I find annoying. Because around 1997 when the first full length Robotech soundtrack came out, I started making my own version of Love Live Alive. (But I think I called it Robotech: We Will Win 2045, or something like that.) And with the release of Michael Bradley's new albums, my vision for it only got more grand. (The only thing that I felt I still needed was Michael Bradley making a cover of "Land of Confusion" by Genesis!) So I am totally suffering from a case of "That's not how I would have done it!"

But that still doesn't forgive 70 minutes of clip show.

The Ugly:

* The 2-Movie Collection. I wanted to have Robotech: Love Live Alive on my DVD shelf. Instead to even get a copy of Love Live Alive, I had to rebuy The Shadow Chronicles. Again. Which means I don't even get the nice Lancer cover art that was made for it. Or have a Love Live Alive logo all nice and prominent on my Robotech shelf. I was willing to let it slide that I had to rebuy something I already owned just to get something new because the price point was the same as I would have willingly paid for Love Live Alive by itself, but I wasn't pleased about it. Especially since...

* The Love Live Alive disc is a bare-bones DVD. It has a small art gallery (which granted, is nice because the M:LLA art book is impossible to find) and the previously mentioned "next-episode" promo, but that's it. Which could also be forgivable if it wasn't for the fact that...

* Mospeada: Love Live Alive subtitled and all the bonus features for Robotech: Love Live Alive will only be available in the new Robotech: The Complete Set DVD Box set. For $89.98. So, instead of giving me a full DVD with both the Robotech version and the subtitled Mospeada version-- something I've been wanting since the 80's-- they make me rebuy The Shadow Chronicles and then tell me I'll have to rebuy everything, again, if I want the stuff that should have been on this release in the first place.

Um.... no.

You know, I'm not a Harmony Gold hater. But you know what? I don't like being treated this way either. Harmony Gold-- fuck you. I'm breaking up with you.

The Final Verdict:

While containing some wonderful moments, it runs too long, rehashes too much, and is the victim of some horrendous business practices. It's worth getting if you can get it cheap, but only if you're a big fan who will get the same big thrill out of those first 9 minutes that I did.

Maybe I'll go back to making my own adaptation again.


Evan said...

Welcome back, Fer! Enjoyable write-up.
Re: Dana: Per current cannon (official website timeline, comix, animation date stamps)... Second RT War ends in mid-2030. Invid arrive in 2031; Dana and remnants of ASC flee later that same year. In 2044, Dana appears as part of the Expeditionary Force.
The implications: Wolfe arrived during gap between wars; Dana et al fought short, failed guerilla war against Invid before fleeing Earth; for the last 13 years, Dana has been part of Expedition. Which is awesome! Nice to see Tommy tapping Eternity's Invid War for inspiration. =)

Fer said...

Thanks, Evan!! Thanks for the kind words, thanks for tweeting about my review, and thanks for the bringing me up to speed on Dana! I didn't think something as simple as a planet-wide invasion could take her out. ;)