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 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 established the events between the end of Robotech and prior to the events of the movie. It 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.note
This show provides examples of:
- 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.
- 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, the latter serving as the fuel source for the REF.
- Ascended Extra: General Gunther Reinhardt, who was merely a nameless commander in the original Robotech, gets his role beefed up here.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Everyone from the second and third chapter of Robotech except Scott, Ariel and Louie Nichols.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The Haydonites annihilated the REF fleet stationed at Liberty Station, thanks to the various back-doors the Haydonites secretly inserted inside the REF's Shadow Technology.
- Curtains Match the Window: Maia Sterling (lavender); Commander Reinhardt (ditto), and Scott Bernard (blue).
- Evil Chancellor: The Haydonites are Earth's allies at the start.
- Expy: Haydonites are machine lifeforms who wear red cloaks and have a single circular glowing red eye. They bear a suspicious resemblance to Sharon Apple's true appearance, which may be an indication that Harmony Gold wishes they could eventually incorporate Macross Plus into Robotech.
- Form-Fitting Wardrobe: The UEEF uniforms, to the point that their navels are visible, male and female. But not their nipples.
- Good-Looking Privates: Conversed. Alex suggests to Marcus that they became pilots to impress girls, and Marcus replies that the only girls they know are also pilots.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Maia is half-Zentradi; Ariel is a humanized Invid.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Vince and Jean Grant.
- Idol Singer: Janice briefly does one of Minmei's old songs.
- La Résistance: Scott Bernard's year-long role in the Earth resistance against the Invid is referenced in the movie.
- Macross Missile Massacre: A tactic used by the REF to take out Invid forces when they try to take out their vanguard to invade the Earth.
- Male Gaze: Maia Sterling is shown through this at the beginning of the movie while she's giving maintenance to her veritech.
- The movie doesn't shy away from showing Janice's cleavage and backside.
- 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.
- Daryl Taylor's death scene is very reminiscent of the unnamed Zentraedi who fought Roy Focker to the death in Do You Remember Love?. When impaled by Invid pincers, Taylor's face blanches for a few seconds and then his helmet visor is stained with blood from his mouth.
- 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 mythology gag which relates more to Robotech fandom than Macross is the Haydonite's referral to humans as Protoculture Addicts.note This is the name of the first Robotech fanzine.
- Maia's replaces Aurora Sterling from Robotech II: The Sentinels.
- 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.
- Pet the Dog: While the Regess with her swarm is leaving Earth, she vaporizes big chunk of the RDF fleet... and the Fantastic Nukes they'd just launched, and she repairs the damage the Zentradi's barrage did to Earth's biosphere.
- Possession Implies Mastery: Averted with the Shadow Technology (the Shadow Device, the synchro cannon and the Neutron-S missiles) provided by the Haydonites: the REF thinks they've mastered it, as they developed it themselves with the help of the Haydonites, but in The Shadow Chronicles it turns out they don't, as the Haydonites manipulated the REF in the development: the Neutron-S missiles are not gigantic nukes as the REF thinks but black hole generators, while the Shadow Device and synchro cannon will overload and explode if exposed to the Haydonite disruptor wave.
- 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 Explanation . 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.
- Sequel Hook: It ends with indication that the REF is going to search for Admiral Hunter, the tale that should be told in Shadow Rising.
- 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.
- Shout-Out Theme Naming: In the Shadow Chronicles comic prequel and animated film, there are two ships Icarus and Deukalion. In mythology, Icarus and Deukalion are the respective sons of Daedelus and Prometheus who are known in Robotech/Macross lore as lending their names to the two supercarriers that form the arms of Macross SDF-1.
- 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 with a flashback to a major event of the last published Sentinels issue.
- 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.
- 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...
- Wave-Motion Gun: The Synchro Cannons. Notably, the aliens who gave them the designs made them purposefully detective as part of an elaborate betrayal later.
- Writing Around Trademarks: At no time does the famous Robotech Defence Force roundel appear, and characters from the Macross Saga are shown with original designs during the Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles prequel comicbook series with Rick Hunter being the only character from the Macross Saga that appears in the movie. Also, there's no mention of the Zentraedi (which according to the canon lore, were a huge part of the Expeditionary Force). This is because Harmony Gold has ZERO rights to create any new animation using the original designs or lore from Super Dimension Fortress Macross.note
- You Don't Look Like You: Vince and Jean get very radical character design changes from their brief appearance in The Sentinels.
- Louie Nichols from the Masters Saga looks nothing like did in the original show.
- Rick Hunter having aged, has white hair, a scar on his lower jaw and a hairstyle that makes him resemble Mike Blueberry.
- 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 Reflex 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 mecha may be cannon folder, but there are just too many of them.