Sacred Cows: “Robotech” (Part 2) (Spoilers)

agosto 16, 2012 at 10:49 pm (Animation, Anime, Sacred Cows) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The second cycle of Robotech, known as The Robotech Masters, The Masters Saga or simply The Masters, is often considered the black sheep of the series, and it’s not hard to see why: it takes longer to find its footing; its character and mecha designs don’t have the immediate appeal of Macross or MOSPEADA‘s; and the conflicts between the script and the footage are far more pronounced, since Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross‘ overall scenario–about the two-mooned planet Glorie, which was immigrated to and terraformed after Earth became uninhabitable,  and which is now being attacked by its previous inhabitants–had to be changed completely for it to fit Robotech.   Things like the nature of the antagonists and what the characters are supposed to know change from episode to episode; footage is rearranged in ways that contradict the established continuity (particularly in the first episode, a clip show made from scratch to tie the cycle with the one that preceded it), and in short, it just doesn’t make that sense a lot of the time.

Still, it’s not hard to see why it was chosen as a follow-up for Macross, despite everything.  It turns Robotech into a story that is not only multi-generational—The Masters stars the children of the first Robotech warriors–but cyclical, as events repeat themselves and allow for a deeper thematic exploration than was available in the original Japanese material.  Here we once again have romance between earthlings and aliens, unity through music, bellicose leaders whose belief that hard power is the only worthwhile power ends badly for them, and the near destruction human civilization, in ways that are interesting in their own right.  They suggest that even with The Macross Saga’s hopeful ending, humanity is still humanity, and happy endings are something you can only find after spending time digging in the rubble after the smoke clears.

Fifteen years after the SDF-1’s destruction at the end of The Macross Saga, Earth is still under the rule of a military government– specifically, the Army of the Southern Cross (ASC), under control of Supreme Commander Anatole Eli Leonard.  The heroes of the First Robotech War have long since left Earth as part of a diplomatic mission in an attempt to forestall future conflict, which means that they aren’t available when the Robotech Masters arrive, ready to retrieve the Protoculture Matrix which they need in order to replenish their own dwindling supplies of the power source and keep their civilization going.

While The Macross Saga was as much about the civilians as it was about the soldiers, this one is all about the latter.  Our three protagonists all occupy positions in the armed forces, and in fact, the only civilians we properly meet are all part of the attacking alien fleet—a reversal of the previous arc’s dynamic.  First and foremost is Dana Sterling, half-human/half-Zentraedi daughter of The Macross Saga‘s Max and Miriya Sterling, who leads the 15th Squadron of the ASC’s Alpha Tactical Armored Corps.  Cheerful, optimistic, and only vaguely acquainted with any concept of military discipline, she is a pain in her superior’s asses, a fact which she makes up for by being a crack hovertank pilot and a capable leader.  Attempting to keep Dana in line is GMP (“Global Military Police”–The Masters is awash in initialism) officer Nova Satori, whose basic competence would perhaps be more evident in a story in which she wasn’t set out as a foil, but whom I really like anyway.  Rounding up the triumvirate is ace pilot Marie Crystal, unit leader at the ASC’s Tactics Armored Space Corps, whose role is to give a face to the numerous space battles and to provide Dana with a friendly rival.

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