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The Return of Robotech

posted on by Jonathan Mays
Funimation licenses Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, plans theatrical release

By Jonathan Mays
Anime News Network

The "first true sequel" to 1985's Robotech series is finally coming to America. Funimation and Harmony Gold are preparing a theatrical run and DVD release for Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, an 88 minute film that directly follows the original series. Release dates are still pending and placement on TV is "being pursued," Harmony Gold Operations Coordinator Kevin McKeever says.

The Shadow Chronicles is developed by Tatsunoko Productions, which produced the 1985 series as well as Speed Racer and Battle of the Planets, and animated by DR Movie.

"Tatsunoko provided a great deal of consulting," Creative Director Tommy Yune says. "Their staff recommended that we use DR Movie for the talent they showed in animating Macross Plus."

The Shadow Chronicles tapped many original Robotech staff members, including writer Kenji Terada, whom Yune describes a "story consultant" for the new film.

Many of the 1985 Robotech voice actors are also returning to reprise their roles in The Shadow Chronicles, including Greg Snegoff as Scott Bernard, Tony Oliver as Rick Hunter, and Richard Epcar as Vince Grant. They will be joined by Hollywood actors Mark Hamill as Commander Taylor and Chase Masterson as android Janice.

Robotech began as an 85-episode anime series in 1985. Its popularity spawned many novelizations, comics, and games, as well as several failed sequel attempts.

"I've been involved with Robotech since 2001," Yune says. "There were a lot of earnest attempts at continuing the story. In the aftermath of [the ill received] Robotech 3000 [trailer], we realized what was really important was that the original Robotech was not a complete story. Everyone wanted to know what happened to Admiral Hunter.

"What was really important to us was listening to fans. We realized we had a great deal of responsibility, which gave us a great sense of humility."

Yune announced The Shadow Chronicles in 2002 as an unnamed sequel. Harmony Gold discussed the film at Anime Expo 2004 under the title Robotech: Shadow Force. "Originally we wanted to team up with a cable network," McKeever says. "But they said, 'We want something that's going to sell toys.' We wanted to make a film the right way, so we decided to self-finance it."

After a teaser in January 2005 and a trailer at Comic-Con the following July, The Shadow Chronicles premiered to a generous reception at the May 2006 Cannes Film Festival. "If you don't impress these guys in five minutes, they leave," McKeever says. "They stayed for the whole film and applauded at the end."

Is the sequel film a pilot for a full series? "It can function as a pilot," McKeever says. "There are several options. We could do a full television series, a direct to DVD series, a series of movies—everything is on the table."

In addition to high-definition video and 5.1 surround sound, The Shadow Chronicles boasts an original score performed by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. "It was largely because of Scott Glasgow," Yune says. "He had previously worked as an assistant on Spider-Man 2 and on The Grudge, and he was really driven to break out on his own on the soundtrack project."

Funimation and Harmony Gold finalized the licensing deal last night. On choosing Funimation, McKeever says, "We've had distributors interested for a while, and Funimation came in somewhat late in the game, but they really wanted to take Robotech to the next level. We'd been watching them for a couple of years when the movie was being produced. They've managed their properties very well."

As The Shadow Chronicles re-ignites the Robotech franchise, it also returns the spotlight to unreleased films and series from Robotech's origins, such as the 1984 film Macross: Do You Remember Love?

"We were lucky that Tatsunoko had worked out worldwide merchandise rights in 1984, where they had the rest of the world outside of Japan," Yune says, "Which is why we currently have Do You Remember Love merchandise released by Toynami. However, the movie itself still has to be worked out."

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