Robotech, In Brief: The Robotech Masters

“Either the Disciples of Zor have found the abandoned Protoculture Factory and begun a new offensive against our Zentraedi warriors, or the Invid have beaten us to the prize and now control production of Protoculture.”

“I believe that is highly unlikely. All logic circuits suggest that the Invid have no knowledge of the whereabouts of Zor’s battle fortress at this time.”

“Then we must assume that the Zentraedi have indeed found the Protoculture Factory, ensuring a future for our Robotechnology.”

WHAT HAPPENS: In a far-off sector of space, the Robotech Masters are alerted to a large discharge of Protoculture mass; they surmise that either the Disciples of Zor have control of the SDF-1 and have renewed their offensive against the Zentraedi, or the Invid have laid claim to the ship. As there’s no indication that the Invid know of its whereabouts, it is assumed that the Zentraedi have found the ship. However, sensors indicate a disturbance large enough to be the destruction of Dolza’s fleet. A fold is ordered, but they do not have enough Protoculture. On Earth, Zentraedi workers are tiring of a life without war. Meanwhile, Minmei and Kyle argue about her most recent performance; the fight lasts until they’re on the road. Kyle refuses to take her to his parents’ restaurant, so Minmei swings a car door open in the middle of traffic. He agrees to take her at least as far as the city limits. Within the SDF-1, Exedore heads a meeting where he explains that human and Zentraedi seem to have a common origin; he has also found that both races gravitate towards making war. Elsewhere in the city, Minmei visits her aunt and uncle, finds the medal Rick gave her for her sixteenth birthday, and worries that she’s made a mistake. The following morning, a pair of Zentraedi try to stick up Mayor Luan and his wife. Rick is on his morning jog and, after running into both Lisa and a sobbing Minmei, spots the Zentraedi. A squad of Destroids surround them, but Rick says he’ll handle it. One of the Zentraedi tells Rick that all he wants to do is fight; if the government wants to help him, will they give him a job doing that? Rick tells him they can’t, so the Zentraedi flicks him away. The Destroid pilots prepare to attack, but Rick holds them off and accuses the Zentraedi of being ungrateful. While his attacker apologizes, the Zentraedi withdraw from the city. In the frozen north, word of similar events reaches Khyron, who’s been hiding in his downed ship these past two years. He orders his men to lead their frustrated brethren to him. As Minmei nearly turns up late for her latest gig, Captain Gloval and Exedore hold a secret briefing for Rick, Lisa, Max, and Miriya. An automated Zentraedi factory has been discovered building a new fleet of warships. Their mission is to survey the area and bring back additional data.

THOUGHTS: We are introduced to the Robotech Masters that Exedore has been speaking of since day one, and the Robotech cosmology expands to include two other parties seeking the SDF-1: the Disciples of Zor, the unseen foes of the Masters that we never hear of again; and the Invid, the alien invaders we meet in Sentinels and The New Generation. The Masters seem to think that the Disciples are the greater threat, although the Masters’ talk of a “renewed” offensive against the Zentraedi suggests that they haven’t been active for some time. It is both frustrating and intriguing that these Disciples never come up again, although later events through “Catastrophe” seem to suggest that Zor himself stood in opposition to the Masters for quite some time. It’s interesting that only now, two years later, the Masters are learning of Dolza’s defeat at the hands of the SDF-1; the Bioroid Terminator who bursts in with the news tells us that they didn’t even know the whereabouts of the ship! It seems to me that the Zentraedi have been operating quite autonomously, and haven’t felt the need to report back in since the search began.

The first three minutes or so provide a lot of fodder for discussion, which is fine, because the rest of the episode is mostly more of Minmei being depressed, realizing she should’ve paid more attention to Rick, and dealing with angry Kyle in the only way she knows how — by a greater show of belligerence. This stuff is really hard to watch. Meanwhile, Exedore’s talk of common ancestry is an original Japanese Macross thread that I seem to recall Robotech wallpapering over by rewriting the next one of these meetings, but we’ll see when we get there. The only other major event in this episode is the return of Khyron, with his old buddy Grel and his former superior Azonia in tow. I guess she finally realized what an awful leader she was and decided to hook up with someone who could at least control and motivate his men, even if it meant killing them on occasion.

Not really a gem of an episode; definitely interesting from a universe-building perspective, and while the animation is serviceable it still bears the hallmarks of Korean outsourcing. But aside from what the Robotech team added, nothing really happens beyond more of the same from the last episode and a teaser for the next.

FIRSTS OF NOTE: This is the first appearance of the Robotech Masters, in footage spliced in from the later episode “The Trap.” It is also the first and only reference to the Disciples of Zor and the first reference to the Invid, continuing the chain that began in “Boobytrap” when Exedore first mentioned the Masters.

RICK’S STATE OF MIND: A little angry and a little scared. He doesn’t want to be lumped in with the Zentraedi, a race raised without love and bred for war. He’s also frustrated that the Zentraedi, as Gloval feared last episode, are beginning to reject human society en masse after mankind took them in following the war.

DOES MINMEI SING? A battered Minmei doll lets out the first line of “To Be In Love,” while a bratty Minmei who has decided to sing only for herself belts out “It’s You.”

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4 thoughts on “Robotech, In Brief: The Robotech Masters

  1. Soap Opera + Cosmology = Why I Love Robotech

    Throughout the whole of the series, all those little mentions and set-ups and splices add scope, build anticipation, and lead the willing viewer throughout.

    Episodes like this reinforce my utter disappointment that Remastered didn’t maintain the iconic, epic, holistic opening and closing credits. Such a shame.

    Shouldabeens…

  2. Couldn’t agree with Evan more– Robotech’s whole was always more than the sum of its parts. And the opening just isn’t Robotech if it doesn’t have Dana blasting a Zentraedi cruiser!

  3. … and hints (ex. “Disciples of Zor”) at a broad, rich universe and history still to be explored. They all stoke the imagination; so many stories to be told.

    “[T]he opening just isn’t Robotech if it doesn’t have Dana blasting a Zentraedi cruiser!”

    Amen, Fer — what a great edit! Loved it as a kid; love it as an adult.

  4. Ditto to the above comments!

    I have to admit that when I first read Jonathan’s review of the remastered DVDs several years back, I didn’t immediately appreciate his complaint about the altered intro sequence. But he was exactly right. The original Japanese intros would have been fine as a DVD extra, but the removal of the Robotech sequence really does take something away from Robotech. Granted, nothing was changed story wise, but the original Robotech intro provided a sense of continuity right from the start, buttressing the cohesion of a multi-generational epic that (due to the nature of how it was made) had limited opportunities to integrate visuals elsewhere within the narrative. That and the edit really went well with the opening theme.

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