Western Animation / Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles

Poster of Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles

Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles is the 2006 animated sequel to the 1985 Robotech television series. It is an original production that has nothing to do with any of the Macross sequels note  but instead was made exclusively for the American Robotech fandom.

The Shadow Chronicles takes place during and after the events of the final two episodes of the series. The story follows the arrival of the Earth Expeditionary Fleet to retake their home planet from the Invid, the Big Bad of the third cycle. They are armed with special technology provided by a sinister race called the Haydonites that they hope will provide them with the edge they need in battle. Characters from all three cycles of Robotech are united with newly created ones to deal with this new threat.

Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles was intended to be the start of a new movie franchise and series. The live-action Robotech movie (still deep in Development Hell) may or may not impact the development of future products along this story. The movie is controversial with some fans in that it ignored the previously canonical spin-off novels by James Luceno and Brian Daley (under the name Jack McKinney).

A prequel Comic Book miniseries Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles published by Wildstorm went out of print when Wildstorm dissolved.

A sequel entitled Robotech: Shadow Rising was put aside in favor of Robotech: Love Live Alive, a retooled Genesis Climber MOSPEADA OAV that was released alongside a reissue of The Shadow Chronicles in July 2013.

This show provides examples of:

  • Absolute Cleavage: Ariel.
  • Ace Pilot: Maia Sterling is a rare female example. Scott Bernard may also qualify from his role in "New Generation." Marcus is likely to count as one as well, but is currently just a rookie.
  • Advertised Extra: Mark Hamill was in this. Actually, he was the voice of Daryl Taylor who has about three brief lines before being killed early in the movie. He's also the voice of one of the Haydonites, the credits don't say which one. In the documentary extra on the DVD, Mark Hamill even acknowledges that he was just a guest and the real stars were these other guys who "worked on this thing 20 years ago and were coming back".
  • All There in the Manual: A huge amount of backstory for the movie can only be found it its comic book prequel, Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles.
  • Animesque: Given its source material, this is in no way a surprise.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Robotechnology and Protoculture in particular
  • Ascended Extra: General Gunther Reinhardt, who was merely a nameless commander in the original Robotech, gets his role beefed up here.
  • The Captain: Vince Grant.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Everyone from the third chapter of Robotech except Scott and Ariel.
  • Idol Singer: Janice briefly does one of Minmei's old songs.
  • Improbable Age: Maia Sterling, at nineteen, is already a Lieutenant Commander and in charge of Skull Squadron. This improbability becomes even more notable when you consider that her Wolf Squadron counterpart, Lt. Commander Daryl Taylor, is thirty-five. On the other hand, this is Max Sterling's kid we're talking about here and this is pretty much true to Robotech's Macross roots...
  • La Résistance: Scott Bernard's role in the Earth resistance to the Invid plays a minor role
  • Mythology Gag: Although Robotech doesn't officially include any Macross products past the original 1983 series, a few elements of Shadow Chronicles do seem to be callbacks for fans of both franchises who are aware of the connection.
    • The Haydonites' robot-head-and-cloak ensemble, for example, is very similar to the "real" appearance that the Sharon Apple AI unit takes in public appearances, especially at the start of Macross Plus.
    • Shadow Chronicles features a younger daughter of Max and Myria who has purplish-pink hair, is reasonably well-endowed for her age, is fairly self-confident and sees herself as one of the guys, is a highly competent pilot from a family of pilots, and has a distinctly pink transforming mech. Macross 7... features a younger daughter of Max and Myria who has purplish-pink hair, is reasonably etc. etc. etc... even their names sound at least somewhat similar, although they are sufficiently different that the Shadow Chronicles girl is not a direct Expy.
    • The end of the movie, in which the Archangel travels off into space to search for the SDF-3, is oddly reminiscent of the more recent Macross series and how they go out into deep space looking for things as well. Granted there it's a search for colonizable worlds, but the fundamentals remain the same.
  • One Degree of Separation: Several of the new characters are family members of characters from the original Robotech.
  • One-Woman Wail: During Marcus' subverted Heroic Sacrifice
  • P.O.V. Sequel: The first act of the movie covers the events of the final two episodes of the Robotech series from the perspective of the Robotech Expeditionary Force.
  • Retcon: Much of the Sentinels and Robotech movie & book canon was retconned out of existence by this movie, although several of its elements were incorporated into it. To be clear, the Haydonites and getting a huge fleet are evidence that something happened to the SDF-3, after they left for Tirol. It's just that the movie never stops to let us know what all that entailed. And, of course, the nature of the Haydonites lets us know that it's not what the Sentinels novels say. It could easily have happened close to the Sentinels novels way (Prelude does in fact show some of the major Sentinels leaders, and while the details of the end of the Sentinels mission are changed form their novel/comic versions, many of the important things (like T.R. Edwards working with the Invid and Breetai and the Regent dying together in battle over Optera) do happen). After all, until the betrayal, they were playing 'nice', to make sure the Expedition fleet swallowed their booby-trapped technology. Xanatos Gambit really: they don't care who destroys who, they just intend to move in and wipe out whatever and whoever is left.
  • Robot Girl: Janice.
  • Robot Names: Janice, or rather JANICE, stands for "Junctioned Artificial Neuro-Integrated Cybernetic Entity".
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: The Haydonites are much more evil than the Invid, who were worse than the Robotech Masters and the Zentraedi. The Haydonites, however, are the only Robotech aliens so far who have been clearly and unquestionably evil. The previous three had heavy shades of gray. And to be fair to them, we haven't really seen enough of them or their ultimate goals to know that they're absolutely evil.
  • Spiritual Successor: Although Shadow Chronicles retcons all versions of Robotech II: The Sentinels out of existence, the Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles miniseries also functions as a continuation of the Eternity/Academy comic version; it even begins at the last panel of the last published Sentinels comic.
  • The Nth Doctor: Ariel, during the original Robotech New Generation series had the same voice actor as Scott's late fiancé Marlene. The voice change for Shadow Chronicles wasn't due to the unavailability of the original actor. In fact, she made a cameo appearance as a ghostly image of Marlene. According to Word of God, her change of voice was voluntary on Ariel's part as acceptance of her true identity as Invid Princess Ariel. The casting change was brought about due to a misinterpretation of the original Japanese scene where Scott initially sees an imaginary image of Marlene in Ariel's place when he first encounters her in danger. This was interpreted to indicate that he took her as a dead ringer for Marlene, and that she somehow had the same voice, thus the attraction. Recently, that scene has been reinterpreted as a form of post traumatic stress disorder on Scott's part. He simply saw a young woman about the same age as Marlene being victimized, thus his move to protect her. She was not originally given the name of Stick Bernard's dead girlfriend. Her name was Aisha both before and after her reveal as an Invid. The actual meaning of the scene was made clear by the original Japanese Mospeada writers who also commented that the Robotech translation turned Stick Bernard's attraction to Aisha into something creepy.
  • The Squad: Skull Squadron
  • Stealth Pun: The cocky, wisecracking Sacrificial Lion wingman? His name is Romero.
  • Wagon Train to the Stars: The ending, which as noted above makes the future of the series look a good bit more like what recent Macross shows have been doing...
  • You Don't Look Like You: Vince and Jean get very radical character design changes from their brief appearance in The Sentinels.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: In addition to the characters from previous series, several of the films original characters have unnatural hair, including Daryl Taylor and Jean Grant (navy); Janice (pink, although as a holographic simulator it can theoretically be any color she wants; and Maia Sterling (lavender).
  • Zerg Rush: The Invid. We already knew this was their main tactic, but with the movie showing us the space part of the Battle of Refles Point we finally see the Invid going all-out, and they're pretty much throwing at the REF more mechas than the REF has missiles. It also finally drives home why the REF was so terrified by the idea the Invid could expand beyond Earth: their mechas may be cannon folder, but there are just too many of them.

Alternative Title(s): Robotech The Shadow Chronicles