19.png
Home - Anime Bargain Bin Reviews
Anime Reviews by Title
Anime Reviews by Date
Anime Reviews by Genre
Even these tapes cost something

  Codename: Robotech
 
1985 | Harmony Gold Ltd.
Codename: Robotech Parkfield Playtime

God! This one took ages to appear, didn't it? Sorry folks, back to normal now.

A special dedication to Paul Farrugia our latest donator! Thanks P, and to everyone who has kindly donated.

Anime Bargain Bin RSS feed

Robotech, as you all no doubt already know, was created from a combination of three previously unrelated anime TV shows; Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber Mospeada. Plans had already been made to bring Macross to U.S. TV but the company in question, Harmony Gold, found the show's 36 to be way short of the requirements for syndication.

Harmony Gold brought in animation enthusiast Carl Macek who came up with the epic, generation spanning story arch that would bind the three series together. Robotech became an 85 episode sci-fi opera which could then be sold to TV stations across America.

In order to introduce viewers to the unusually complex structure and character relationships, Harmony Gold created a 72 minute edited feature which they gave to any station that agreed to air the show. The movie, Codename: Robotech, could be shown the week prior to the series broadcast scheduled in what would be its regular weekly time slot.

Codename: Robotech shows the SDF-1's momentous return home to Earth after a long and dangerous voyage through space, pursued constantly by their alien adversaries the Zentradi. Covering events from the first 13 episodes in what is basically an extended cut of the episode Gloval's Report, scenes were specifically chosen to showcase key elements of the Robotech saga; the central characters and their relationships, the transformable mecha and the realistic themes that would set it aside from popular animated Saturday morning shows of the time, such as He-man.

The concept of a serialised show, one with an ongoing storyline, was new to kid's cartoons too and it was believed that this feature' brief overview of what was to come would aid the audience's understanding. As was intended Codename: Robotech was only aired once and never re-run. Although it was created as a digest movie containing recycled footage it did contain dialog and narration exclusively used in this production.

 

Codename Robotech was never released on video in America. ADV's Robotech Legacy DVD series would be its first ever home release, available on the extras disc of volume one released 2001.

However, in the UK it made up one of the four Robotech VHS releases from 1985 onwards...

In the UK Robotech never made it to TV screens during the 1980's. Much like other unaired anime shows such as Macron 1 and Saber Rider, it was consigned to a briefly available obscure VHS release. In 1986 Video Gems released the first two episodes, Boobytrap and Countdown, on a single video however while both Macron 1 and Saber Rider at least received a second volume, Robotech had no such luck, leaving these the only part of the saga available.

Including this video, there were a total of four Robotech VHS releases in England: Robotech The Movie, Robotech II: The Sentinels, Countdown & Boobytrap and Codename: Robotech.

Fans of the series would have to make do with this edited movie as their only source of Robotech until 1993 when, if they were lucky enough to have satellite TV and were awake early enough, the entire 85 episodes were broadcast daily on Sci-Fi Channel at around 3 am.

Finally, with the growth of Anime fandom in the UK during the early nineties, the show made a reappearance. In September '94 video label Kiseki announced the addition of two old favourites to their catalogue; the U.S. reworking of Yamato: Star Blazers and Robotech. Initially it would just be the 35 episode Macross saga although the rest would follow if this venture proved popular.

The videos were sold monthly with each volume containing three episodes. After a largely indifferent market response, the series was abandoned after only seven volumes, the last containing just 2 episodes. The final tally was 20 episodes available, 16 short of completing the proposed first segment.

UK fans would have to wait for a further decade, and the arrival of DVD, to finally see the complete Robotech saga become available in the UK in the form of Manga Video's 'Remastered Extended Edition' release itself a repacking of the ADV's Region 1 'Remastered' editions.

 
Codename: Robotech Master Vision Codename: Robotech Kids Cartoon Collection Robotech Video Little Gems Robotech II The Sentinels Video Gems
Master Vision sleeve...
 
... Kids Cartoon Collection sleeve
 
Little Gems single volume
 
U rated inlay for Sentinels
 
 

Prelude

As a kid, this video was my first experience of Parkfield Playtime. Their inspired cover designs really stuck with me and I consider their artist to be at the same level as the mysterious 'Marc' from the Krypton Force tapes.

You may have already seen a sample of their work on the Les Miserables inlay and I think this example warrants a closer look too.

Effectively what the (wisely uncredited) artist gave the video buying public is a combination of two stills from the opening credits with his own unique spin...

... and what they created was this.

A day-glo potato print! Good work!

Robotech Intro
Parkfield Playtime Codename: Robotech VHS

Having dug deep into the archive I was lucky enough to unearth some other works of interpretive video sleeve genius, also based around anime releases. Feast your eyes on these previously unseen works...

Akira Parkfield Playtime Fist of the North Star Parkfield Playtime Future War 198x nen Parkfield Playtime Legend of the Overfiend Parkfield Playtime

The opening scenes depict the SDF-1's escape from pursuing blue-faced alien Khyron and triumphant return to earth after so many months in space. Finally the inhabitants of the giant spacecraft are home. Time for a shower, re-adjust yourself to gravity and have an army of unlucky maintenance guys empty the dangerously over-full Space-Chemical toilets. One thing is for sure, that ship is gonna be significantly lighter when it takes off the second time.

Codename Robotech Robotech Gloval's Report

On March 4th 2011 Captain Gloval sits down in a fairly drab looking room to record all his thoughts into what an artist thought computers would look like 26 years in the future. The largest MP3 player you've ever seen in Camo Green. You'd think the military would have access to better equipment than this.

Codename Robotech Robotech Gloval's Report

The Captain begins his oration at the very start; episode#1 Boobytrap. Somehow he manages to describe these formative events which lead up to the birth of SDF 1 almost word for word identical to the original narrator. Some coincidence.

In the year 2009, mankind has rebuilt a crash landed space fortress the alien owners turn up looking for it. The real future is a bit of a letdown, isn't it? In fictional 2009 we have space ships patrolling Earth's perimeter to keep out (literal) illegal aliens and the technology to rebuild marooned alien starships. All we had In real 2009 was Bird Flu and Transformers 2. Thanks a lot real 2009!

Out cruising the galaxy searching for their lost spaceship (presuming the insurance company refused to pay out), Alien Commander Breetai thinks he's found a lead. The vessel may well have crashed on on obscure little planet called Earth. A recon ship is sent out for a closer look but it triggers our planet's burglar alarm. A brief skirmish follows in which our side comes off by far the worse.

Codename Robotech Robotech Gloval's Report

"Earth defense forces were no match for the advanced alien technology. It was now up to me."

A bit self serving, but who's alive to contradict him? These are turning into typically self aggrandizing military memoirs, soon to be serialised in the tabloids. Gloval gives the order to attack as alien forces invade our space. He now spends a good deal of time explaining to the listening audience, of presumably senior military brass, about how one minor pilot, Rick Hunter, came to be involved in the overall intergalactic conflict. These records sure are detailed!

Codename Robotech Robotech Gloval's Report

Young Rick gets himself forced into combat, flying a military jet with top secret abilities. After a brief tangle with the aliens the inexperienced pilot ends up crash landing through a lot of downtown property, including the show's animator's office building, which may explain the decline in quality later on.

Codename Robotech Robotech Gloval's Report

"I had no idea that our government was counting on an untested ship to be the sole defense of our planet."

That's our government for you! A cigar chomping senator, sporting one of those odd mustaches favored in anime of this era but have never been grown from a real human face, orders the SDF-1's departure to save humanity. "Well girls, we're all depending on you, so don't let us down." He patronizingly remarks upon leaving. The technology might be far fetched but they got the politicians exactly right.

Codename Robotech Robotech Gloval's Report

Elsewhere, in episode 2, Skull Squadron are returning to base and Squad Leader Roy Fokker asks the control tower about his buddy flying VT102. That's funny, I could have sworn the flight deck called it VF102 earlier. But that can't be right since VT102 is written on the cockpit. Never mind, my mistake.

Roy comes in to land, passing the same crowded shop window repeatedly, finally coming to a stop not far from the local branch of 'Fancy Shop' (where their #1 selling item appears to be water). After a little tutelage the pair resolve to make their exit in Guardian mode, which seems to have been invented when the mechanism froze up part way between 'Plane' and 'Robot'. A jet with legs must have been deemed useful as the configuration now has its own name and button.

Codename Robotech Robotech Gloval's Report

In his next statement Gloval once more interjects his own feelings into the supposedly subjective explanation of events, citing his decision to take off in the SDF-1 being due to sparing public property from alien attack and not because of "... the idle threats of a pompous political bigwig". How civic minded of him.

After lengthy footage of anonymous alien carnage we get to the sequence where Rick Hunter rescues, loses and then rescues Minmei. It stops short before he violently encounters his first Zentradi though. Finally the SDF-1 leaves the ground and Gloval's reminiscence rolls into episode three.

"Personal acts of heroism were registered by many Veritech pilots throughout this initial campaign with our alien enemies" is how the narrator segues into Rick and Minmei's rescue by Roy Fokker, an event he would likely know nothing about and would have little relevance in his report. Luckily for our stranded hero and his damsel in distress, Roy has read the Veritech owners manual cover-to-cover so he's learnt the little known feature that allows a detached cockpit to be somehow attached to the underside of a battaloid's arm. Thought the Guardian looked cumbersome? Imagine being swung around in a glass tube slotted into a robot's forearm only then to be tucked between its legs like a manned robo-martial aid.

Codename Robotech Robotech Gloval's Report

Without having read the manual first, the bridge crew perform a Space Fold maneuver and bring Macross island (aka part of Japan) with them into space. Stuck on the moon with a whole island full of unwitting refugees, Gloval calms the staff by telling them they can simply re-fold to return to their previous position. With comic timing the purple bat-phone (with only five buttons) rings and the engineer on the other end tells him the fold system has actually gone missing.

For some reason the Captain sees fit to include a sub story about Minmei's family restaurant re-opening in his military records. These are turning into truly rambling recollections but I suppose he has just got off the plane from a round the galaxy tour.

Codename Robotech Robotech Gloval's Report

After a brief meeting with Engineer Lang, a man born with snake eyes, Captain Gloval learns an exciting secret - their new spaceship can transform. And it'll need to if they want to fire the main gun. Even when under heavy attack from the aliens Gloval is hesitant to do it since it will likely destroy the city that had only recently been constructed within. But faced with raising damage and casualties he can't only respond with terrible one liners; "Thundering Asteroids!!" and "Just pray!!" (when asked how to respond to the damage taken by the hull).

Codename Robotech Robotech Gloval's Report

The transformation takes place as a number of innocent civilians are depicted meeting with, at best, crippling injuries. Girders fall on pedestrians, cars crash and a building labeled 'Art' crumbles. Somebody's gonna get sued! There is gonna be a long line of injury lawyers queuing outside the door to the bridge when this is all over. But it was for the best. SDF-1 Dragon Punches the enemy flagship and the destruction is so immense that is is described by Gloval himself as "Awesome!" The bridge crew celebrate their first act of mass slaughter while alien commander Breetai plans his next move.

Now we come to our segment of least relevance: The Miss Macross Beauty Pageant. Its hard to see why Gloval's Military chiefs and the Earth government need to be kept up to date with the results of a captive audience vote for most attractive female in the spaceship, but he retells it never the less.

Codename Robotech Robotech Gloval's Report

Hoping to learn something about our culture the aliens send a reconnaissance team to spy on the ship's population. How nice it is that the aliens choose to study us during the production of a beauty contest! The Bergman retrospective was last week and the creative poetry contest isn't until next month yet now is the time they decide to take a look at the enemy's heritage. In fact, if you think about it, the construction of a SDF-1-wide TV network built in space from what was to hand is, in itself, a remarkable achievement. And yet what is the first thing the newly fashioned network select to broadcast? A beauty pageant! Mankind has only come so far...

"Even though our reconnaissance was vigilant, the lure of the first beauty pageant in space kept even our best pilots, shall we say... distracted."

It's hard to keep your mind on the job when you know boobs are only a click away! Rick switches the radar over to AV1 just in time for the announcement of the swim wear section! In space, no one can hear you perv! That pesky Lisa in the control tower keeps butting in like an intergalactic Netnanny so Rick pulls the plug on their communications to keep on watching. As the pageant appears on screen a girl is seen with her bust measurements overlayed! The censors where far less vigilant in the eighties! I can't imagine any of this getting past them now.

Codename Robotech Robotech Gloval's Report

Max and Ben are watching the event live in the audience:

"Man, I had no idea that Minmei was beauty contest material!"
"Yeah, she sure doesn't look 16 to me!"

... and that's all that counts. Back out in space, those obnoxious aliens show up to put a permanent block on Rick's alone time fun. He is so caught up in fighting for his life against an unsuspected missile barrage he completely misses that Minmei's stats are; B80, W58, H87 and her favourite colour is blue! Damn this senseless war!

Codename Robotech Robotech Gloval's Report

Next up is the Cat's Eye escort, a slightly more significant event in the crew's recent history. Although the editing is odd; opening with Lisa's craft crashing into a meteor before leaping back to the initial Zentradi attack which creates the need for this escorted mission. It then loops around again to this point several minutes later. Weird.

Codename Robotech Robotech Gloval's Report

The disabled vessel containing Commander Hayes is snatched by the enemy and taken aboard one of their ships. Max, Ben and Rick break in to put a premature end to this abduction but, after a prolonged battle with their giant adversaries, including a Robot v Alien smackdown, three of the four humans become cosmic POWs.

Codename Robotech Robotech Gloval's Report

Max slips back into the Zentradi ship to rescue his friends but not before they had been forced to kiss each other in front of the Alien high command. Like so many late night google image searches - it seemed like an interesting idea to the aliens at the time, but the reality of it was stomach churning! Dressing his Veritech up in alien clothes works for a while but even extraterrestrials won't be fooled by that for too long and they are forced to continue the escape in an enemy Battle pod. Eventually they're rescued and rejoin the SDF-1 population.

Codename Robotech Robotech Gloval's Report

And so concludes Gloval's Report. He doesn't bother to recall the events of an hour ago where the ship forced its way back to Earth though massively outnumbered by enemy ships but that's good for us since we already saw it. Still, it seems a little remiss to go into such length about a civilian Beauty Contest and yet completely omit the part which may actually yield some clues to the enemy military strategy, but, hey whatever. It's his report after all.

Codename Robotech Robotech Gloval's Report
 
No Youtube Videos No YouTube Video

©Starz Entertainment
We don't fancy another YouTube ban this soon after the first one...

©Starz Entertainment
... so sadly no clips of the SDF-1 Miss Macross Beauty Pageant for you!

 
Compelling plot
  It's Robotech!
  Great score
  Good quality dubbing
  Nothing.
  Heavily biased review...

I can't be objective with this video. I'm sorry, I've tried. Maybe it's not me, maybe Codename: Robotech really is faultless - although I doubt it very much. But for me, as a little kid wondering what happened to the brave cast after episode two, this cassette was a triumphant find! At last I would learn the fate of Rick Hunter, collapsed in shock at the horror he had witnessed. He'd only gone to watch an air display and then aliens from another planet invaded and he ended up witnessing the street-murder of a 30 foot man.

As a child I watched a lot of anime without even knowing it. Pole Position, Inspector Gadget, Mysterious Cities of Gold, Dogtanian, Ulysses 31, Voltron... but it was the Robotech VHS tapes that cemented my love for the curious niche art form and, in some small way, led to the eventual birth of this website.

I know I'm far from the only person in the world who was turned to anime by this series. Robotech's detractors claim Carl Macek desecrated a classic with this Frankenstein of a serial. But surely if it wasn't for his americanised creation those neigh sayers wouldn't even know what Macross was.

So, anyway, as you can tell this video, dated as it is, holds a special meaning for me, crappy cover included. Sorry it took so long to arrive and I promised more objectivity next time.

Name:
Location:
Comments:
 
 
 
Unable to select database