At Anime Expo 2004, Harmony Gold USA revealed that Robotech: Shadow Force was in production to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Robotech in 2005. The name of the new story arc was soon changed to Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, and the film was completed on January 27, 2006. This project was initially met with skepticism from the fan community, due to Harmony Gold's spotty track record of completing Robotech sequels and spin-offs in past decades. The first teaser trailer debuted at Anime Expo 2005. An official trailerwas later released on The Shadow Chronicles website during the NATPE conference, a broadcast industry trade show. Harmony Gold held a number of film festival showings in 2006, but FUNimation delayed the theatrical and Region 1 DVD release until January 5 and February 6, 2007, respectively.
Though the involvement of original Japanese studio Tatsunoko Productions appeared to be limited to early development, the actual digital production of animation was handled by the Korean animation company DR Movie, whose credits include subcontracting on the inbetweens, ink and paint of Macross Plus, and the inbetweens of Yukikaze. Co-director Tommy Yune said in a Newtype USA interview (republished on the official Robotech website) that the producers "consulted extensively" with Kenji Terada, a writer on Southern Cross and Mospeada (two of the three series adapted into the 1985 Robotech series).
DC Comics' Wildstorm label released Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles, a comic prequel series bridging the end of the aborted Sentinels storyline with The Shadow Chronicles. Each of the issues features a "behind-the-scenes" article about the new animation production.
The main characters in the film include Vince Grant, Dr. Jean Grant, Marcus Rush, Maia Sterling, Scott Bernard, Ariel, Janice Em, Louie Nicols, Alex Romero and General Reinhardt. Rick Hunter is seen briefly at the beginning of the movie at an advanced age.
General Reinhardt, acting commander of the REF forces, sends Vince Grant, captain of the Icarus, on a rescue mission to look for the SDF-3 and Admiral Rick Hunter, chief military commander of all REF forces. In its last transmission to the REF, it seems that the SDF-3 was involved in an accident of some kind.
Meanwhile, the REF fleet has been assembled near the moon. Despite the disadvantage of not having the SDF-3 and its powerful arsenal,General Reinhardt is forced to begin the attack. The attack begins with a full-scale assault on the Invid forces with new shadow technology obtained from the Haydonites. The force assembled includes the SDF-4 Izumo, four battleships, several dozen carriers, hundreds of frigates, and thousands of veritech fighters. The assault initially goes well as the REF. Captial Ships of the fleet fire their massive syncro-Cannons, which destroy many Invid Carriers before they can launch their fighters while REF fighter squadrons, utilizing shadow technology that makes them invisible to the Invid sensors, easily cripple the first wave of the Invid attack. However, the Invid Regis, determined to hold on to Earth no matter the cost, launches all of her remains forces at once in one final attack wave. All remaining Invid forces capable of space combat are sent against the REF fleet. In addition, she orders all of her remaining ground forces to retreat to Reflex Point for a last stand. The human ground forces on Earth are pushed back by this attack. When Reinhardt tries to get an update from the ground forces, he makes contact with resistance leader Scott Bernard, a survivor of one of the previous failed REF assaults. Scott informs Reinhardt that the attack is going poorly. Ending the communication, Scott meets with Ariel, an Invid that looks like a young human woman, and Scott's love interest. Ariel hopes to convince her mother, the Invid Regess, that the humans and the Invid can live in peace. However, the Regis is skeptical of Ariel's words as she recognizes the Humans' new Shadow technology as something used by an ancient enemy of the Invid — the "Children of the Shadow" and remains determined to fight to the bitter end.
In space, REF fighter squadrons become overwhelmed by sheer Invid numbers and begin taking heavy losses. Invid fighters soon begin punching through the frontlines of the fleet and, to further compensate for the technological disadvantages, resort to making suicide runs against the REF capital ships, further straining the ability of the REF to continue the battle. General Reinhardt is informed that the fleet, in particular the fighter squadrons, are taking heavy losses and further attempts to contact the ground forces' get no response. Reinhardt decides he has no choice but to use the Neutron-S missiles and orders their launch, but is unaware of the missiles true power. However, the Regis' daughter Ariel finally convinces her mother to leave Earth rather than allow both races to be destroyed. This request, combined with the Regis' knowledge of the true power of the Neutron-S missiles which are about to impact Earth, convinces the Regis that her race no longer belongs on Earth. She realizes that the REF has been fooled - if the REF had known how powerful the missiles were, they never would have used them. Realizing that the Earth is no longer a safe haven for the Invid, the Regess transforms the Invid race into pure energy, and leaves. As a parting gift to Ariel, who has chosen to remain behind, the Regess destroys the Neutron-S missiles. The Invid stream of light flies off into space in search for a new planet on which to continue their evolution. Earth, for the first time in 13 years is now free and the Third Robotech War is over.
Meanwhile, in the Omicron sector, the Icarus arrives and locates Admiral Hunter's ship, the SDF-3, near a brand-new black hole. Both the SDF-3 and the science vessel, Deukalion, have been badly damaged by an accident involving the testing of the new Neutron-S missiles. Admiral Hunter orders Vince Grant to warn the REF fleet that there's a problem with the missiles. An unfamiliar alien warship attacks and rams the SDF-3, and the Icarus is forced to race back to Earth with the wrecked science vessel. The SDF-3 is left behind, adrift in space.
With the battle over, the REF begins evacuating wounded personnel and damaged ships to Space Station Liberty for recovery and repairs. The fighter squadrons are ordered to assemble at Moon Base ALUCE. Since Earth will be vulnerable while the REF rebuilds, the fighter squadrons will remain behind to protect the newly liberated planet. However, the Invid took all of the Protoculture with them and the REF only has enough power to last a little less than a year. The only way to generate more power is with the Protoculture Matrix onboard the SDF-3. Due to the heavy losses (including the death of Wolf Squadron commander Daryl Taylor), Wolf Squadron, home of Marcus Rush and Alex Romero, is folded into Maia Sterling's Skull Squadron. Marcus is attracted to Maia, but has only managed to bungle a pass at her so far.
Back on Earth, Scott is surprised to find that Ariel has stayed behind. But Scott can't stay. He has decided to try and convince the REF leadership that humanity can co-exist with the Invid. As he flies to the main REF base at Moon Base ALUCE (Advanced LUnar Chemical Engineering), he stumbles upon the just-arrived Icarus, and the enemy fighters that it accidentally brought with it. He helps the Icarus against the fighters, and then escorts it to ALUCE. Once there, he is reunited with Marcus, who is the younger brother of Scott's late fiancée, Marlene.
The science vessel is examined, and the only surviving crew member is Janice Em, an android that uses a holographic overlay that makes her look like a young woman. Louie Nichols, a scientist and veteran of the Second Robotech War, takes Janice to the science lab, and the two go over the test data to try and figure out what went wrong with the missile test. While there, Louie learns from Janice that the new REF technologies — Shadow technology, Synchro-cannons, and the Neutron-S missiles — were partly the result of aid from an advanced alien race known as the Haydonites. The Haydonites aided the REF because they'd also suffered greatly at the hands of the Invid. Janice herself is a combination of Human and Haydonite technology, built to act as a go-between for the two races. Louie finds himself somewhat distracted by Janice, and decides to take a break. He goes to the Officers' Club with Janice and Maia.
Scott, Alex, and Marcus are already there, and Scott is silently disturbed by Marcus's hatred for the Invid. Ariel suddenly walks up behind Scott, and surprises him. He introduces her as a friend from Earth before hurrying off with her. Questions about his abrupt departure are put on hold, as Janice gets on stage and demonstrates her ability as a singer with the Minmei song, "It's You." The three men watch in fascination, until a visibly-annoyed Maia informs Marcus that Janice isn't his type.
In an empty room, Ariel informs Scott that the reason she came to see him was because she had a vision. The Children of the Shadow are planning on attacking the REF. The Children destroyed the first Invid homeworld because they fear the power of Protoculture, and they will attack the Humans for the same reason. The discussion is interrupted by Marcus and Alex, and Marcus realizes that Ariel is an Invid. Scott is arrested and interrogated. During the interrogation, he warns of the impending attack, and reveals the Children's connection to the new REF technologies. Reinhardt and Vince watch on a monitor in another room. But the name Scott uses for the alien race is unfamiliar. And Reinhardt suspects that the warning is an attempt by the Invid to drive a wedge between the REF and the Haydonites.
But during the interrogation, contact is lost with Space Station Liberty. Louie analyzes the transmission data, and realizes that the race that attacked the SDF-3 is jamming communications. Vince is ordered to head to Liberty and determine the situation there. Vince takes Scott and Ariel with him. Also attached to the Icarus are Janice and Skull Squadron.
When the Icarus arrives, Liberty is under attack by a large fleet of alien ships which have jammed all communications. The battle is going poorly for the REF; Numerous ships are destroyed with just one hit by a disrupter wave emitted by the enemy fleet which causes the new Synchro-cannons to overload and explode. Instead of charging into the battle, Vince sends Skull Squadron to collect information. While flying through the REF fleet, Skull Squadron records an REF carrier destroyed due to a single hit on its reflex furnace. Scans reveal that the shadow device on the carrier caused its reflex furnance to implode when triggered by the enemy's disrupter wave. Janice sees the footage, and realizes that such an event should be impossible, due to the Shadow technology incorporated in all REF vessels. It then becomes clear to everyone that the Haydonites are the mysterious Children of the Shadow, and that Ariel's warning was true. By now, 89% of the REF forces that engaged the Haydonites at Liberty have been destroyed. Captain Vince Grant, after watching the carrier explode, slams his fist as he realizes that every piece of technology the Haydonites have given to the REF contains some kind of Trojan Horse. Unable to restore communications, Grant is unable to warn the remaining ships of these findings, and they are left to fight a hopless battle.
Maia Sterling initially leads her Skull Squadron into battle, but is called back by Grant since the Haydonite-supplied Syncro-Cannons equipped on the fighters will make any engagement futile. Unable to fight back, the squadron is ordered is ordered to head to Liberty, and accquire fighters that don't incorporate Haydonite technology. As they appproach Liberty, the squadron is pursued by Haydonite fighters. Alex Romero tries to engage them but his syncro-cannon, crippled by the Haydonite attack, malfunctions and his fighter becomes stalled. Despite the pleas of Maia and Marcus for Alex to eject, he flies into the enemy squadron as his fighter explodes, destroying himself and the enemy fighters. Maia is visibly upset by Alex's sacrifice while Marcus, who was Alex's best friend, is completely devastated.
Realizing that the Icarus, which is equipped with Shadow technology, is no longer a viable ship, Vince orders the Icarus to dock with Space Station Liberty. He then tells Louie to scan Liberty's ship registry for capital ships that have no shadow technology. Louie finds only one capital ship on Liberty that has no Haydonite technologies installed — the colony ship Ark Angel. However, its reflex furnance is offline. Vince orders the evacuation of all station personnel to the Ark Angel, and gives Louie one hour to get the ship's inactive reflex furnace online. Ariel uses her teleportation power to assist in the evacuation after transporting Louie and his team immediately to the Ark Angel. In the meantime, Skull Squadron has located brand-new prototype Advanced Shadow Fighters that haven't had the Shadow technology installed yet, and Maia promises to buy time for the evacuation.
Scott and Vince board Cyclones, and prepare to head into the space station. Liberty has the remaining stockpile of Neutron-S missiles, and Vince sets one to self-destruct. The Ark Angel is able to depart as planned, with the Icarus following closely. The Haydonites, unaware of the Grant's plan, move their fleet towards Liberty to destroy the Ark Angel as Skull Squadron continues to engage the Haydonite fighters. During the battle, Maia's fighter takes damage and she is forced to eject. Marcus uses his fighters' robotic hands to grab Maia's ejection pod and throw it towards the Ark Angel as it prepares to enter a spacefold. Marcus, deciding he has nothing left to live for, holds down his weapon triggers and launches a suicide run against the Haydonites to hold them off long enough for Ark Angel to escape. However, just before the Neutron-S missiles denotate, Ariel uses her teleportation power to save him. The Ark Angel then initiates a spacefold. The Neutron-S warheads detonate and the massive explosion destroys Liberty and the entire Haydonite fleet.
Marcus has a vision of his sister, who tells him it is not his time to die, before he wakes up onboard the Ark Angel, with Ariel by his side. Marcus, almost angrily, asks Ariel why she saved his life, since he has only hatred for the Invid. Ariel simply tells him "hatred can only breed more hatred. It is not what we seek... any of us" and Marcus is left at a loss for words. As the Arh Angel approaches Earth, Maia and Marcus console each other over the recent events. Marcus is despondent as he states that everyone he has been close to; his sister Marlene, his commanding officer (Daryl Taylor) and his best friend (Alex Romero) have been taken by war. Maia is also despondent as she states that most of her family was aboard the SDF-3, which is lost in space and may have been destroyed. Maia puts her head on Marcus' shoulder and the two look out a viewport as the Ark Angel flies toward Earth, a planet which neither of them has seen until now.
Back on Moon Base ALUCE, General Reinhardt gives Vince his new orders. Vince and his crew, including the new personnel from on the last mission, are to take the Ark Angel and attempt to locate the SDF-3, which may not have been destroyed as initially thought. As the Ark Angel prepares to leave on its new mission, Scott and Ariel share their first kiss and Louie reassures a confused and uncertain Janice that, "We will win."
Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles was shown for the first time in its entirety outside of Harmony Gold at the Cannes Film Market on May 22, 2006 in the Grey One Theatre to an audience of distribution representatives. According to Robotech.com, the audience reportedly cheered at the end of the screening. A number of independent film festivals screened the film during the summer and fall. It was awarded Best Animated Sci-Fi Feature at the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival, although it was the first and only animated film ever shown in this Arizonan festival's three-year history.
On December 21, Kevin McKeever announced the first round of theatrical viewings of Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles in January 2007.
The Region 1 DVD has the following features:
The Region 4 DVD has the following features:
This special 2-disc set features the award winning film with digital audio in both Chinese (2.0) and English (5.1) with over 140 minutes of bonus content, including new Chinese material exclusive to region 6!
- The 88 minute film with both Chinese and English audio tracks with optional subtitles in each language.
- Never-before-seen video of the historic meeting of Robotech fans at the 3rd China International Cartoon and Animation Festvial hosted by Kiki (Liz Kao-Chyi) and HeroBot from the Robotech Union @ China!
- History of Robotech documentary made by the Robotech Union @ China.
- Deleted scenes, outtakes, split-screen animatics with director commentary by Tommy Yune with Chinese subtitles.
- Behind-the-scenes featurettes including Robotech: Birth of a Sequel documentary with cast and crew interviews, Robotech media coverage with Chinese subtitles.
- Score music video by composer Scott Glasgow.
- Additional trailers with Chinese Subtitles.
- DVD Image gallery with mecha designs, character model sheets, pre-production materials, and comic book covers in both Chinese and English.
- The first-ever debut of the Robotech 3000 demo reel with Chinese subtitles.
- Each DVD set comes with The Secret Files of Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, a mini art book containing vessel and character designs along with never seen before photos of the Robotech franchise in China.
STAR TV began broadcasting the film via satellite to Asia on satellite in February 2008.
He is later seen piloting his Beta fighter inside Reflex Point assisting Sera and Lancer to destroying the attacking robotic Shadow Fighters. He also seen in his Beta fighter's cockpit when Regis begins to call her children back to Reflex Point to launch into space and leave.