Community TF Cartoon Rewatch Thread - Phase 3: Super-God Masterforce

Discussion in 'Transformers Cyberverse and Cartoon Discussion' started by Liege Nemesis, Mar 20, 2020.

  1. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Cartoon rewatcher

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    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    It's taken me a couple weeks to try and sort out my laptop issues after Headmasters (and they're still not sorted out because I don't want to take my machine in and risk it getting held in the repair shop's possession if they go into pandemic lockdown. But I do have a loaner machine to use for the time being and it's enough to press on)

    So who's ready to forget their coronavirus troubles and watch some more Japanese Transformers?

    As always, for a full explanation of what the hell this whole thing is, you can check out the original G1 thread and its lengthy, complete explanation.

    The short version is that each week we'll be setting 4 episodes as the "active discussion" and in that period everyone is free to watch the episodes and/or comment on them as they see fit. Or just to respond to the discussion and comments that come from other people (a lot of which will probably be me).

    I'll be watching the series in Japanese with English subtitles via the Shout Factory release, but everyone's free to watch whatever version they want (including the Omni Dub). As with Headmasters, there doesn't appear to be any free, legal streaming option or YT videos of the series to watch, so anyone who wants to follow along is advised to pick up one of the DVD releases of the series (they aren't that expensive, as far as I know, and it's always good to support physical releases and the off-beat segments of the franchise).

    But as with Headmasters, if that's not viable option I can potentially provide a workaround. Just let me know if you want to watch and need a way and I'll see what I can do.

    ------------------------------------------
    Masterforce runs for 42 episodes, not counting the series-ending clipshows that no DVD western release has an which I won't be covering, so at 4 episodes a week it would mean 10 full-slate weeks plus a single 2-episode finale week, or 10 total weeks with a pair of 5-episode slates somewhere in the run. Unlike G1 and Headmasters, this series has no explicit multi-part episodes, so there's not an easy structure to lean towards that would inform how to break things up. I'm thinking I'll probably do the "5-a-week" option a couple of times in the run just to avoid dragging things out any more than they already are.

    I also promised at the end of Headmasters that I was going to read the new Viz release of Transformers: The Manga and discuss how it tied to Headmasters given that the story is written by that series (and this one's) supervising writer, but it turns out that volume 1 literally ends on a cliffhanger introduction of the Headmaster characters. Volume 2 releases in 2 months (May 12) so maybe by then I'll be able to look back at the Headmasters stuff then. With that in mind I won't be making a directed post about the manga in this thread in order to stay on topic. But I might pop back to the G1 thread in some free time in order to talk about the G1 chapters of the manga in relation to that series if I feel like it.

    With that out of the way, I'm planning on starting Week 1 for this series on Tuesday the 24th and running until Monday the 30th at 11:59:59 PM Pacific Time. So there'll be a few days before we get cracking for real, I just wanted to lay out where we're going so that the handful of people who might be following this insane project of mine aren't left wondering if I've abandoned it.

    ------------------------------------------


    ACTIVE DISCUSSION
    [​IMG]
    WATCH PERIOD: Tuesday, April 7 through Monday, April 13 @ 11:59:59pm Pacific Standard Time

    Episodes
    1) A Fierce Battle!! The Autobots Are In Trouble
    2) A Hero is Chosen - His Name is Ginrai
    3) Ginrai: God On of Rage!!
    4) A Strange Friendship: Cancer and Minerva

    ------------------------------------------
    Review Index will be set up as I start watching episodes
    ---------Previous Episodes--------

    1) Rise Up!! Pretenders
    2) Terror! The Decepticons' Manhunt
    3) Kidnapping!? The Targeted Jumbo Jet
    4) Birth! Headmaster Jrs
    5) Rage!! Little Devils with No Need for Rules
    6) Go, Goshooter - Showdown in the Wasteland
    7) Panic! Protect the Wild Animals!!
    8) Super Warriors - The Godmaster Brothers
    ---------Current Reviews-----------
    9) A Fierce Battle!! The Autobots are in Trouble
    10) A Hero is Chosen - His Name Is Ginrai
    11) Ginrai: God On of Rage!!
    12) A Strange Friendship: Cancer and Minerva
    ---------Future Reviews-----------
    Week 4: Episodes 13-16
    Week 5: Episodes 17-20
    Week 6: Episodes 21-25 (5-episode week)
    Week 7: Episodes 26-29
    Week 8: Episodes 30-33
    Week 9: Episodes 34-37
    Week 10: Episodes 38-42 (5-episode final week)


    ------------------------------------------

    Previous Rewatch Threads
    Generation 1

    Headmasters
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2020 at 12:41 AM
  2. Swerve

    Swerve Well-Known Member

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    Great to hear you're going on with this one; I'll endeavour to actually join this one from the start. It'll make a rather vital distraction from watching the world struggling with the Scraplet infection.
     
  3. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Cartoon rewatcher

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    Mild spoilers since I started watching episode 1 tonight:

    -The intro sequence suuuuuuuucks and spoils a ton of crap about the series.

    -Shout's habit of using a mixture of western an Japanse character names in their subtitles is really distracting.

    -I briefly expound on what I think is the animated medium's first references to Canada and how I fear my home may be portrayed by 80s Japanese pop culture that doesn't really know any better. Though I do acknowledge that it can't get it any worse than that scene set in "London" (sarcasticquotes intentional to indicate disbelief) in Headmasters which honestly believes the city is (or will be by the then-far-off year of 2011) a shadowy, foggy forest patrolled by people on horseback wearing riding club blazers.

    -I have so far made at least one reference to a sorta-obscure 70s-80s detective media franchise (with tangential relation to a much more famous sci-fi franchise) and one to a 90s western-adapted import action series from Japan.

    -I have not yet made a decision on how annoying I think Shuta could end up being on a scale of 1 to Headmasters Daniel. But I do already know that his choice of transportation offers a nice built-in explanation for any irrational or unbalanced behavior

    -For fans of strident snap reactions, I have already declared that I fear this series will become "the series that's embarrassed by its Transformers roots"

    I have a feeling that my reviews are going to be a little bit.... let's go with quirky. :lol 
     
  4. Chris Bot

    Chris Bot AutoChrisbot

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    Having only just watched the "Japanese G1 Trilogy" within the last year or so, I can confidently say that Masterforce was my favorite. Despite it being so human focused, it's definitely the most interesting of the three. Victory was really kind of generic and repetitive after watching this series.

    And hey, I finally have some affinity to go with the Pretenders, Overlord, the Seacons, and Double Dealer CHUG figures. Hey Hastak, how 'bout a cool new Minerva toy, eh?
     
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  5. TheUltimateBum

    TheUltimateBum Nautica Lover

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    I liked Victory a bit better because of the characters, but Masterforce truly was a hell of an improvement over Headmasters. Minerva in particular is my favorite character in the show (despite one of her best episodes being marred down by an ending that could rival Fight or Flee's ending as the most out of character ending).

    And yeah, I want a Minerva toy too, but none of that exclusive crap. Just plain mass release and I'll be a happy camper.
     
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  6. Swerve

    Swerve Well-Known Member

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    Funny thing is, I actually really like the opening sequence to Masterforce.
     
  7. RKStrikerJK5

    RKStrikerJK5 Well-Known Member

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    Ah, I almost missed this! Good to see you back, Liege. :) 
     
  8. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Cartoon rewatcher

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    Ep 1 will be up tomorrow. The review is entirely written up, but I have to format my images and links and whatnot and that's gonna take me too long to want to do it now. Then maybe I'll try to get through episode 2 tomorrow as well. Early returns after the entire premiere are that it's not as annoying as I remember it being, but that I'm still worried its peak might be "a good show that also happens to be a bad transformers show", but here's hoping my concerns end up unfounded by the end.
     
  9. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Cartoon rewatcher

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    EPISODE 1: Rise Up!! Pretenders

    THE SHORT VERSION
    This might turn out to be the best Power Rangers series that the Transformers ever did.

    REVIEW
    I am probably going to sound rather petty and savage about the show through the thoughts list below. I take issue with lots of things and some of the nonsense that the show does. But in the end after watching this episode for what I believe is the 3rd or 4th time ever, I think I might be softening on the show somewhat. It wasn't terrible. It was decent. Like slightly more decent than an average episode of Headmasters.

    Perhaps it helped that there were no annoying characters beyond Shuta yet. None of the heroic Autobots are jerks. Of course we barely know any of them, so give it time and I'm sure a bunch of them will turn out to be total assholes with no redeeming qualities. But for now it's OK. There was also a decent fight even if we're continuing to lean into shonen action tropes even more now with Metalhawk fighting chiefly with a sword and basically no guns at all.

    That said, I'm going to lay out right now at the beginning what I think my major concern about the show is at the moment:

    This series feels like it's embarrassed by having to be a Transformers work. Like it includes the basics of the Transformers insofar as it has to, but wherever there's the opportunity to branch out and do something that doesn't fit with the series' established aesthetic at all, it takes that opportunity and runs with it. Let's recap the things that we see in this episode:

    • The major heroes and villains so far, the Pretenders, are nominally Transformers and are adapting a Transformer gimmick from the toys (the pretender shells, natch) but it's done in a way that makes it seem like their "true" selves are the human/monster bodies the spend most of their time in and that they only emerge from them in Transformer form for significant fights, almost like some sort of Sentai/Kamen Ride/Ultraman style hero putting on their costume for the serious parts of the fight. So the result is you have Transformers that want to be non-transformers
    • We haven't seen them yet, but the other major subset of this show are the Headmaster Jrs and Godmasters (more or less the Powermasters from the west). Those are literal humans that get transformer powers and pilot lifeless transtectors themselves. So now we have Transformers that actually aren't Transformers at all.
    • The major enemies in this episode are Seacon drones, who spend their entire appearances in this and every other episode they are in staying in their beastial mode and never using their robot mode (save the team leader, Turtler). This is something that will carry over to Victory with the Dinoforce who only exist as robots or in their pretender shells, never transforming into their monsterous non-shell beast modes. So again we have bots that are ignore the entire gimmick of the franchise
    • Just in general the tone of the show is far more Shonen-y than even Headmasters is, with more shonen-style attacks, more showdowns and battles in the style of an old samurai or techno-team sentai-style show, and just a feeling that the crew of the series really wanted to write and draw a Sentai-esque anime, but were told "no, we have this Transformers license and we're going to use it."
    • Ostensibly the show is supposed to tie to Headmasters a little bit, but they will seem to put in the barest amount of effort possible and do it in ways that make any actual ties utterly useless and unnecessary. The far-off future of 201X or whatever it's supposed to be now looks even more 80s than the "this is what people in the 80s think the 2010s will look like" fashion of Headmasters and G1 Season 3. Honestly, if not for the couple of references that will exist and the big Transformers branding on the title cards, you could be forgiven for thinking this is a series meant to be entirely it's own thing.
    • As a small technical detail, but one that is shocking in its absence, characters transform all the time without making the iconic transformation sound. I mean... what the hell? That's like... could you imagine Star Wars without the lightsaber noises? Without that cracking woosh of igniting a saber and the hum of swinging the blade? That sound is the sound of Transformers (aside from all the sounds of Transformers that were lovingly stolen from Star Wars) and it's just not here. And it's such a minor and technically inconsequential addition that you'd think it almost would've taken more effort to not include it. But here we are...

    I obviously reserve the right to change my tune as I watch more of the show, and I already said that I think this is a better start than I expected given how Headmasters ended, but there are enough concerning elements present already that it's making me somewhat guarded.

    THOUGHTS AND MUSINGS
    -First things first, yes the title does feature a double exclamation mark. That seems to be a thing in a lot of these Japanese titles, even if it would probably make every English teacher I ever had weep.

    -Moreso than Headmasters, this series also seems intent on following a thematic episode naming convention of "excited 1-2 word hook!! slightly longer explanation of what the episode is about" format. Just look at the first four episodes' names.

    -Alright, so the show itself. First... the theme song.



    Yeeeeeesh. I waffled a bit on whether or not I liked Headmasters' theme, but there's no such waffling here. This does not fit a Transformers series. At all. It's very lounge-singer-y, and its slow, melodic, sweeping tone makes it come off like something that belongs in a slower, more romantic anime series (and I don't mean "romantic" in the sense of the show being about the love life of its characters. I mean a show that is all about long, slow shots of pastoral fields or majestic mountains or even the austere beauty of ancient temples. A sort of "golly gee wiz, isn't all this stuff just super swell and doesn't it make your heart sing about the beauty and wonder of the world all around us and the amazing impact that nature or architecture or whatever can have on us all?" type show. Something with Studio Ghibli visuals, not show about battling space robots that turn into cars.)

    -That said, the lyrics of the song are basically the same schmaltzy crap as Headmasters about how everyone's going to suffer and be hurt by war, but it's OK because we have to fight and how important it is that "boys will change into warriors" in order to build a better future for everyone who's not us, but we should bear that burden with a smile because selfless sacrifice is the highest nobility that we can aspire to. I don't mean to sound so cynical, but it's just such a weird moral to my western ears. I get it if it was "we have to fight to protect the people we care about and stop the bad guys" but this is less about "we'll do what's right because we have a specific reason to fight" and more "this is going to suck for you, but you have to be OK with that because it has a higher purpose and the scales will balance your suffering with the benefits to others. And fighting and maybe dying so someone else can reap the rewards is even more noble than if you were getting said rewards yourself." I'm sorry, it just really makes me roll my eyes.

    -Also wow... the spoilers. A ton of characters we aren't seeing for quite some time in this series pop up in the title sequence. with their names written in English on screen. All the Pretenders, multiple Decepticons, the King Poseidon combiner, Ginrai and other Godmasters, all of them.

    -It's also kind of funny that the sequence leans so heavily on two of our three viewpoint characters, Shuta and Minerva. But not Cab. Perhaps it's for the best though, as both human kids are shown in a fairly cutesy way which sorta serves to undercut the fact that they'll be central combat characters soon enough.

    -Alright, so we're past the title sequence and onto an ocean of bright, luminescent water. Why is the water glowing a crystalline blue? Did someone dump energon into it? Is it just radioactive or something? Is it magic? Is it just supposed to be reflecting moonlight but somehow the moon is gigantic because reasons? Who knows! All I know is it sure does look pretty as the cruise ship floats through the scene while the captain sings a weird and unintelligible song about traveling by camel or something?

    [​IMG]
    If Megatron had noticed the sea was made of energon then there would've been no need for the war at all.

    -Right off the bat Bombburst (or, going by Japanese name, Blood) blows through the window on the bridge of the ship and appears to pretty much kill the ship's captain. We're less than a minute into the episode and there's already been a human death. Fantastic.

    -Then appears our second Decepticon pretender, Submarauder (jp: Gilmer) who totally kills the newlywed girl leaning on the railing by throwing her overboard. But that's not even what's most notable. As he rises into frame behind the woman, her husband (who is filming this with a camcorder) is so shocked that a lens of his glasses just spontaneously explodes for no appreciable reason. The other lens appears to shatter as well, just not burst into a shower of surely-blinding bits of razor sharp glass.

    [​IMG]
    I imagine that his Lenscrafters warranty doesn't cover spontaneous explosion from giant robot shock

    -Still, we're already at two pretty-sure deaths and we're not even 2 whole minutes into the episode. Take that, Headmasters. This thing seems to be going for the jugular like The Movie did.

    -The glasses-less husband guy is now filming the Decepticon attack. Strangely he just hangs onto the railing of the ship and watches the Decepticons instead of checking to see if his wife somehow survived her fall into the water.

    -Not that it matters because the ship sinks soon enough and presumably everyone else is now dead too. This is basically as much tacitly-confirmed death as the entire rest of the Transformers franchise has had before this point combined.

    -One title card later we transition to a sports anime. I'd make a better joke here, but my knowledge of sports anime series is pretty much limited to knowing that Eyeshield 21 or The Prince of Tennis are things that exist. Anyway, this soccer scene is a pretext to show us Shuta, our would-be protagonist being watched by his father (who looks old enough to be his grandfather and not entirely unlike a slightly-less-evil version of Dr. Arkeville without the cybernetic implants) and a man called Hawk (which is a blatant case of false advertising. Now I'm not saying that this show would've been better with Avery Brooks, but it certainly couldn't have hurt.)
    [​IMG]
    Unfortunately I don't remember enough about Spenser for Hire to make any more Avery Brooks/Hawk jokes.

    -Ok, the Shout subs are going to be a bit of an issue as characters are being referred to by their western names rather than their Japanese ones. "Diver" contacts "Hawk", but the subs clearly refer to Diver as "Waverider", which was the western name of the character/toy that Diver is based on. I guess it's a little less confusing than what Omni did, which was render the 3 kid characters from the show (Shuta, Cab, and Minerva) as the inappropriately-applied names of western characters based on the toys they come from (leaving them to be called "Siren", "Hosehead", and "Nightbeat" respectively. Yep.) Strange that they don't do it for Hawk though.

    -Diver tells us that the ship that was sunk was attacked off the coast of Canada. And that's how my home gets its first ever mention that I can recall in any of the cartoons. Given how Headmasters tried to pretend that England (approached very vaguely as one contiguous region without care for the idea that *gasp* countries look wildly different form one end to the other even when they're geographically tiny) looked like a foggy Sherwood Forest, I'm afraid to see what they'll do to Canada when they get here. The smart money would be frozen wasteland, but I'm also not ruling out that it'll be verdant pine forests and small towns, possibly with everyone wearing red flannel lumberjack coats and toques (beanies or knit caps for you non-Canucks out there)

    -flash forward to Hawk examining the video tape from our hapless, wife-less, lifeless groom guy and his exploding glasses. Strangely, for a guy who was in one spot on the ship, he managed to capture the attack with dynamic angles, exciting cuts, and even a wide shot of the ship exploding even though he was apparently still on it at the time. Amazing what technology can do, isn't it?

    -And if you freeze the explosion at the right moment, you can actually see what I would guess are corpses flying from the blast. I always thought this show was somehow even more childish than Headmasters, but damn if this isn't pretty hardcore already.
    [​IMG]
    We interrupt our comedic silliness visual gag references for some mood-whiplash gruesomeness

    -Ok, how the hell old is Shuta supposed to be? The wiki says on his character page that his toy bio lists him as 13. But here he is riding a motorcycle. As far as I knew, the legal driving age in Japan is 15/16 just like in the west, and if it's anything like here I would bet that getting a motorcycle license would take longer since you normally have to have a standard driver's license before you can even take the test and undergo the learning period and road exam for the additional motorcycle permit (and this is definitely not a moped/scooter, which is sometimes exempt from the Motorcycle classification/restrictions)

    -He's also totally riding without a helmet. So I'm left to assume that if he goes totally off the rails like Daniel that it could be the result of motorcycle-crash-induced brain damage.

    -Shuta bursts in on Hawk and Dr. Go talking about the attack and Hawk insists over Dr. Go's objections that Shuta should hear about it because "they'd kill him without remorse, just as they would any infant or child." I guess this just continues Headmasters' fine example of why giant millennia-old robots make terrible parents.... whoops, spoilers. :lol 

    -Hawk's grand plan? He point-blank tells Shuta "I'm not from Earth". And seems flabbergasted when Shuta doens't buy it. Because why shouldn't he see this entirely normal looking human being and think "yep, he's definitely an alien. And what's more, he's obviously a giant shape-changing robot using vaguely defined abilities that might be technological or magic or whatever to somehow both mass-shift and render himself as a squishy organic being becuase sure why not"

    -Hawk tells his tale. He tells SHuta that he's a Transformer and Shuta acts entirely surprised by this concept. Keep in mind that for all intents and purposes, Masterforce is supposed to be a continuation of Headmasters, just taking place at some unspecified point in the future after all the Transformers left Earth at the end of Headmasters. How could this kid not know about Transformers after they had god-knows-how-many fights in major metropolitan areas and threatened the existence of the Earth multiple times. For cripes' sake, THEY BLEW UP MARS!! People would notice!

    -Hawk says that Pretenders can change shape into animals or humans or "anything possessing life." And that's all the hand-waving we're going to get on how any of him or his compatriots make sense. So strap in and keep riding the not-give-a-damn train about the sense of the Pretender gimmick.

    -Hawk further explains that the Pretenders of both factions crashed on Earth in the caveman times. So they were literally here the entire run of G1 and Headmasters. Good to know that Hawk and his buddies thought it wasn't necessary for them to help out during the Battle of Autobot City or any other time, possibly costing dozens of important casualties in both factions. I guess it's not important if they could've saved Optimus from dying (twice!) or not. Especially since we're going to be getting Not-Optimus soon enough (As of this moment I'm non-committal on whether I'll be calling Ginrai "Not-Optimus" for the entire run of the show)

    -Hey, look. Commercial bumpers. Didn't get those in Headmasters. Spoilery commercial bumpers too!

    -Anyway, away from Hawk's story, some Decepticons are attacking a city. Specifically the Decpeticons that are Skullgrin and Tentakill in the west. Except here they're Dauros (Skullgrin) and.... Tentakill. Huh. I guess 1 for 5 isn't bad so far (we've also briefly seen the Seacon known in the show as "Gulf" or "Galph" but known in the west as "Skalor"

    -Fun fact I learned while looking up Skalor's names: None of the Seacons appear in this show in their robot modes. They're only shown in fish/beast mode and as King Poseidon. This will be something that continues to another animal/combiner team in Victory as well. And honestly it doesn't do much to quell the mild belief I have that some the "evolutions" that these three Japanese G1 shows go through come across as if they're shows that are somewhat ashamed to be Transformers series. As if it's more acceptable for the villains to be monsters than it is for them to be sentient robots. Just like it's now more desirable that most of our heroes are either legit humans wearing Autobot parts like powered armor or a Gundam, or are bots who pretend to be humans so we can forget that they're just faker robots.

    -Tentakill makes a horrible screeching noise every time he does anything. It's gonna get annoying super fast. I just know it.

    -Watching the destruction, Dauros and Blood suggest that this should be enough to draw the Autobots out, but Dauros asks if they might've scared "Hawk" off. Even though in their previous attack they referred to him as "Metalhawk". If they already know he goes by just "Hawk" as a civilian identity, how come they haven't found him already? It's not like there's a million Hawks running around Japan. Unless there is? Does Shuta sit through school roll call every morning with:

    Teacher: "Shuta?"
    Shuta: "present"
    Teacher: "Hawk G.?"
    "Present"
    "Hawk K.?"
    "Present"
    "Hawk M.?"
    "Present."
    "Hawk Y.?"
    "He's not here, sir."

    ???

    -Also a ton more humans are surely dead. At least two tanks and a helicopter blew up.

    -Hawk totally steals his transformation sequence from Power Rangers Zeo
    [​IMG]
    ♫ Stronger than before. Goooooooo Zeeeeeeeo.♬♪​

    -Inexplicably after transforming, we cut to Shuta back out on the road on his motorcycle. He drives by Hawk (who is now in his Pretender armor) while dangrously doing a wheelie while a) not looking where he's going and b) still not wearing a helmet and is amazed by the fact that Hawk is all armored up.

    -Hawk says nothing to Shuta, instead striking another dynamic shonen action pose shouting "Pretender!" in English and having his full-sized robot body simply materialize in front of where his pretender body was standing. he then leaps off the cliff that they're standing next to and transforms into a jet to fly off. I'm not going to complain about this as much as I might other stuff becuase I fully acknowledge that given the conceits of the gimmick, there's basically no way to do human-style Pretenders in a way that would be more satisfactory than this.

    -Also Hawk (now "Metalhawk" in his Autobot body) transforms without the iconic transformation noise. If this is just an oversight, fine. But I'm afraid it's actually the start of this show not using that noise even though it's the iconic Transformers sound effect.

    -And Shuta decides to follow Hawk by jumping the guardrail on his bike and riding down the rocky hillside while still doing a wheelie. At this point, I'm almost hoping that the horrors of him and the other kids eventually being directly involved in the fighting will serve as a purposeful counterpoint to just how silly and over-the-top his excitement and actions here are.
    [​IMG]
    Unfortunately, this isn't a "Kids, don't try this at home." Public Service Announcement

    -Hawk summons the other Autobot Pretenders to battle, so we get a lengthy sequence to meet all of them, including:

    Waver (Waverider) standing on a pier and emerging from his shell while a dolphin jumps up in front of him, Free Willy style.

    Lander (Landmine) in a glass elevator while on a date (!). So he just puts on his power armor in the elevator and bursts out the door into whatever building their in, bowling over a bunch of people and leaving the poor woman there, collapsed in the elevator in total disbelief.
    [​IMG]
    In honor of Lander's date's hair: ♬And he raaaan, he ran so far awaaaay. He just raaaaan....♩

    -In the process of heading to the battle, Lander also attracts the attention of a bunch of cop cars as he recklessly speeds down a city street, but then he flies off another pier and drives across the water, leaving the cops to crash into each other like that scene in the Blues Brothers.

    Helix (Cloudburst) doesn't even get a pretender scene, he just appears already in robot mode and flies through a storm as he transforms into his jet mode.

    -Also none of them used the transformation noise. It was all replaced by a weird jingling/beeping noise. That's lame.

    -If I was still tracking it, we get our first "nani!?!" courtesy the Decepticon pretenders.

    -Overall the fight animation is fairly nice even though it also uses some anime cheats and static images.

    -In spite of Hawk (and everyone else, really) flying over water to get to the battle, Shuta managed to follow him all the way there on his motorcycle. And at no point does he clue in that being in the middle of a giant robot smackdown in a city center is a bad idea.

    -I feel like perhaps my dislike of this episdoe is colored by the fact that i've never had a high opinion of what little I've watched of Masterforce before I started this rewatch (historically I've seen the first 2 or 3 episodes and I think the 5th or 6th one and that's it), but Shuta's over-the-top reactions to everything are kind of groan inducing. It's not enough for him to be shocked, he has to loudly shout "GUUUUUWUUUUUAAHHHH!!!!!!" in a way overdone and "comedic" way. It's kind of funny that it makes me think about the reputations of animation in the west and Japan. In the west we get the "cartoons are for kids" line and the belief that it's all schlocky, simple, stupid tripe that plays as broadly as possible while assuming that the audience are idiots. And that in Japan it's the opposite: that animation is a respected medium free to craft an interesting story and treat its audience with reverence and as capable of understanding subtlety and nuanced storytelling. And yet everything about Shuta here is the kind of stuff you think of from a terrible saturday-morning kids pablum type cartoon: over-the-top expressions and reactions and wacky comedy pratfall style takes while also acting impossibly "cool" at all times even though he doesn't really look it.

    -As I noted above, none of the Seacons ever transform, so Tentakil does this entire fight in his squid mode.

    -There's a freeze-frame pastel scene in the middle of the fight. Did someone not tell the animators that they're supposed to leave that for the end of the episode? Or at least an act break?

    -Predictably, Shuta is so close to the action that he gets spotted by the Decepticons and grabbed, necessitating Metalhawk (I can tell already I'm going to have trouble remember to use the right name at the right time in terms of calling him Hawk/Metalhawk) stopping his fight with Tentakil to make the save. Episode 1 and we're already getting dumb humans costing the Autobots victories. The tradition lives on!

    -What's puzzling to me is that while Metalhawk is fighting Tentakil, Shuta is grabbed by.... also Tentakil? Since when are there two of them?

    -Ok, I see it. According to TFWiki, the Seacons are supposed to be mindless drones that act as the Decepticons' rank-and-file mook army in this series. The only exception is Turtler (Snaptrap in the west), who is the faction leader and who controls his underlings and forms the core of their combiner mode, King Poseidon. That's kind of cool actually. If only it wasn't also completely different from everything else we know about how Transformers have worked to this point, thereby making that fact rather unintuitive.

    -attempting to make the save, Hawk gets shot in the back and downed by the Tentakil he was fighting. Good job, Shuta.

    -I haven't noted it yet, but like Daniel, Shuta has a bright, noticeable initial on his shirt, in this case an "S" in a yellow circle. I guess everyone thought having monogrammed shirts and jumpsuits was going to be a thing in the future?

    -Though even though this show should be set some indeterminate number of years after Headmasters, which already happened in 2011, all the fashion we see is strangely normal for the then-modern 1980s.

    -Summoning a sword (with some typical shonen anime flair and a calling-your-attacks moment. And sorry, I'm not doing a trope tracker like I did for Headmasters in this series. I haven't decided if I want to keep score on any sort of recurring events) Metalhawk kills one of the Tentakils in one strike, gruesomely cutting its head open and making it explode. If I hadn't read about the nature of the Seacons already, I'd be super confused.
    [​IMG]
    More like Super-God Murderforce.

    -Skullgrin/Dauros and the other Decepticon Pretenders all emerge from their shells with a kinda cool shadowy effect.

    -And all of them have swords or other melee weapons so we can get into a close-range fight. Because screw guns, those aren't cool enough.

    -Just in time to avert Metalhawk's death, the other Autobot Pretneders show up.

    -I just learned that Cloudburst's name isn't "Helix" it's "Phoenix." It's hard to tell through Metalhawk's accent.

    -I think I'm going to have trouble figuring out which Pretender is which in their robot/vehicle modes over the course of this series. Their color schemes aren't even consistent.

    -Lander tackles Dauros and announces himself as "the great Lander", only to immediately get tossed aside like nothing like a chump. At least he's got confidence

    -And then one of the Decepticons goes down like a punk as he holds Metalhawk at a standoff, but fails to notice Diver coming up from behind and doing the old "tap the guy on the shoulder then knock him out with a swift hook when he turns his head" gag.

    -Finally it's a chance for Metalhawk to get a big Hero Moment. The theme song instrumental verison starts blaring and he charges the remaining Tentakil, slashes the tentacle holding Shuta in order to free the kid, throws his sword into Tentakil's forehead, and then runs off in slow motion as the Seacon drone explodes. It's all very, very flashy.

    -Welp, we can tell this is a Shout production in terms of subtitling, as the Decpeticons spout "scrap!" as an expletive once they realize they're beaten. I know it bugs some people, but I actually kind of like the consistency in using known Cybertronian terms and phraseology even if it's not always 100% accurate to the original wording. Maybe slang and cuss words being substituted bother me less because they're something that is far more contextual than it is literal.

    -The Decepticons retreat and now the Autobot pretenders stand on a cliffside watching a sunset, while Metalhawk waxes philosophical about what they've learned about humans in their time on Earth and how they'll strive to protect the planet. It's a nice sentiment, though some of the phrasing makes it feel like the Earthlings taught the Autobots some of the value of things like sacrifice and standing up for one's beliefs. It's not overblown, but it kind of comes across like laying the groundwork for the whole human-centric message that this series will project as it starts putting the Headmaster Jrs and Godmasters at the forefront of everything that happens.

    -Then everyone shifts back into their human modes as they walk away while backed by the sunset and... HOLY HELL!!!
    [​IMG]
    He's the best he is at what he does. And this time it's fighting giant robots. Bub.

    Phoenix/Cloudburst is totally Wolverine. I mean... there's not even any dressing this up as coincidence or happenstance. You cannot tell me that there's no way someone at Toei wasn't aware of what Wolverine looked like and how iconic that specific hair design was even if Marvel comics weren't necessarily big, broad business in Japan outside of a few small exceptions.

    -The final shots are each Pretender walking alone in frame while the background shows images of their inner robot/vehicle modes, likely so that we'll understand who is who later on. I probably won't catch on that easily though :lol 

    -And the narrator gives us some basic spiel to close things out as well.

    -Wow. There's a next-episode preview to this episode. I was under the impression that NONE of the Shout releases got anything like that.

    -The preview ends with Shuta giving the series' tagline, which sums up the whole idea of how this show focuses on humans so much: "With the Masterforce, you too can transform!"

    -And finally we get the end credits sequence. a goofy set of chibi animations set around shots of the various Headmaster Jr characters while also showing their bot forms. Even though none of these characters have been properly introduced yet except Shuta and the whole Headmaster Jr concept won't be revealed for another 3 episodes.

    -The song is also a guy singing a cheery song, backed by what sounds like a childrens' choir, and being all poetic about kids transforming into heroes through the power of the Masterforce. It's basically the same message as the intro and Headmasters intro all over again.

    -Just as a final few notes that sadly aren't integrated into the above where they would be appropriate based on timing, I went back to an old discussion I had about this episode a few years ago in 2017 to see what I observed then but may have missed this time around. The highlights include:

    I noted that Hawk seems strangely nonplussed about the deaths of all the cruise ship passengers, entirely focused on the fact that the Decepticons are back. Big deal, I get it, but what happened to all of Optimus Prime's talks about the value of all life and everyone's right to freedom. Not much freedom for the hundreds of dead people, is there?

    I noticed the Power Rangers Zeo transformation sequence then too, but then proceeded to start calling the show "Mighty Morphin Transformo Rangers" I can't decide if that was clever in a sarcastically awful way or it was just 3 am and my brain had ceased higher functions.

    I didn't notice this time, perhaps because I was listening to the audio through headphones, but I made a point of remarking that the audio balance of the show was off, with the music cues being a little on the loud side and drowning out the dialogue at times.

    The Decepticons repeatedly call Metalhawk just "Hawk" which is his newer name seemingly for his human disguise. But earlier when Hawk was telling the story of the Pretenders ending up on Earth he said that the Decepticons had, until recently, been trapped underground and prevented from ravaging the Earth. So if they were gone all that time, how did they learn his new name? and if they knew his new name why (like I noted earlier) did they not figure out where he was and kill him before he could find out they returned?


    Final Grade: C+
     
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  10. TheUltimateBum

    TheUltimateBum Nautica Lover

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    Just rewatched this episode, and honestly, it's as good as I remember it being.

    Already it all looks good. The animation is excellent. This particular episode doesn't appear to have animation errors or any of the typical coloring errors that appear for a milisecond like some of Toei's other stuff, so already this shows that with this show, things were looking up.

    The characters... honestly, aside from Diver, all the principal characters leave more of an impression and have more personality than the Japanese 1987 Headmasters put together. Metalhawk is, of course, the leader character. Phoenix is briefly shown to be the hot-blooded one of the group and Lander is established to be somewhat of a charmingly overconfident snob. At least this time around, I can tell the traits of each character, except Diver, 'cause he was just there (although he did get one hell of a badass moment sneaking behind Gilmer).

    The Decepticons are actually menacing and I do think they're really well cast. Again, another improvement over Headmasters, these Decepticon Pretenders have perfectly fitting voices for their respective designs and personalities (especially Dauros, with the deep, growly voice of the late Daisuke Gori).

    Honestly, there will be some flawed episodes on the way, but so far, I think the experience will be much better than Headmasters ever was.
     
  11. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Cartoon rewatcher

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    As a small 'alternate take' from my thoughts above, in order for me to make the Flock of Seagulls joke about Lander's date I had to cut a reference to one of my favorite bits from Futurama



    It's definitely a decent start considering where Headmasters finished. I think my view of the early episodes is going to be a little bit colored by the fact that they're all I watched of the series before now and that they've been part of the "I really dislike this series and everything it stands for relative to other TF series" mindset I've always had. I'm kind of expecting not to trust my views on the series as a whole until at least episode 7 or 8 and beyond just because then I'll be clear of anything that is influenced by my previous interactions with the series.

    The characters are a fair bit better than the blank slates of Headmasters, but they do feel a little bit generic still. I'm hoping that more exposure to them in future episodes will help flesh them out for me enough that I can appreciate some additional depth.

    I already do heavily dislike Shuta though. Through just 1 and a half episodes so far he feels like the worst aspects of Daniel are still being catered to in that he's a whiny, overly precocious, childish little twerp who acts far younger than he's supposed to be and is reinforced because everyone just sort of tolerates and encourages his behavior.
     
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  12. Swerve

    Swerve Well-Known Member

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    My first confession: I really like Masterforce. So, I suspect some of my thoughts will be coloured through slightly rose-coloured spectacles.

    It makes a strong start in story terms. This episode is, of course, a rather low key one, and it's hard to see whether ever a Transformers series has debuted with absolutely none of the "iconic" characters present.

    Your point is well taken that the series doesn't seem to want to focus on transformation in the classic sense, with the always beast-mode Seacons and far more focus on the Pretenders "suit on" and "Pretendaaaaaaaah!!" transformations than their robot-vehicle conversion. On the other hand, given how singularly unimpressive most of those transformations are on the toys, this is perhaps understandable.

    "Transforms from bent over robot with his arms behind his back to robot... and back!"

    Disappointing Pretender toys aside, though, the characters are vividly and energetically played, and the series so far beautifully drawn and animated.

    I actually took the odd shattering spectacle lens on the opening cruise ship sequence to give the rather gruesome implication that the unfortunate bridegroom, after his transformation to widower (see, the series does embrace transformation!! ;)  )had had his camera viewfinder rammed back through his glasses by the shockwave.

    Shuta is an annoying kid, but I do find him a little less irritating than Daniel, since he's annoying more for the reasons that kids are annoying.

    Hawk actually makes for a fairly good "hero" figure at this point, with rather less of the stodge and paralysed despair that characterised Fortress, and so far the heroes are likeable, and the villains memorable.

    I think we should face it though; this is a superhero cartoon. Even our current heroes have far more in common with Superman (superpowered aliens, living on Earth as humans, forced to temporarily shed their secret identities to fight monsters and save the City) than with your average Transformers show. If this is a deal breaker for people, then I'm afraid that aspect will get "worse".

    Personally, I don't find it too much of a problem. We just saw Toei-Takara trying to give us another series of G1. It went by the name "Headmasters", and also occasionally by some other names which should not be repeated in front of children unless their name is Wheelie. Rather than that, I'd much prefer to see them try to enact their own take on the concept, for better or worse, and based on what we see here, the thematic freedom gives the show far more fire and energy.

    It's really difficult, I think, to review this episode in isolation when familiar with the series as a whole, given what's coming. However, I do feel it makes a strong and vigorous start.

    Also, the Seacons are amazingly cool. While I wish they transformed, countless Decepticon hordes, and the concomitant ability they grant to the heroes to comprehensively kill bad guys without having to pause and ask a HasTak executive if the bad guy's toy is off the shelf before killing them is very welcome.

    The music, I suspect, is much an acquired taste. I personally rather enjoy it, though I can see what you mean about the issues with the lyrics.

    At the risk of a minor, implied spoiler, the closing credits become a little more meaningful as time goes on, in that mostly the wording is significant to the particular Headmaster Junior on screen.
     
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  13. RKStrikerJK5

    RKStrikerJK5 Well-Known Member

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    Well, always good to start out better than the last effort. And honestly, Shuta reads as a hell of a lot better than Daniel.

    To be fair, Beast Wars didn't have it either. Well, except the season-two finale with Ravage.

    Great, so we don't have to watch the rest of the series. :p 

    I've seen water like this in other anime. I... don't know why they do it like this, to be honest. Is it supposed to be a visual cue for 'really clear water' or something like that?

    It's radioactive? That can't be good!

    Oh, don't worry. i can see their parachutes. ;) 

    My headcanon is now this guy is Arkeville's long-lost cousin.

    You could always lean into Deep Space Nine...

    There could also be Mounties. Everyone loves hockey and goes 'aboot!' all the time.

    So like every other implausible camera angle in G1 so far. :D 

    Okay, now we can see their parachutes. :D 

    One has brain damage. the other was raised by two people with very little in the way of human interaction.



    This genuinely pisses me off. I mean by now youve got guys like Dirk Manus who are low-level Han Solos flying about, Autobot City, shit like how many Extinction-Level Events, and Shuta doesn't know about this? This honestly snaps my Suspension of Disbelief.

    Honestly, more explanation than a lot of stuff in G1 Animated. Or Transformers overall.

    ugh, I hate retcons like this. It just raises way too many questions, like the ones you just asked. If they had been sealed into stasis lock and had just woken up, then all right. But being here and awake all this time? Yeah. Where the hell HAVE you guys been?

    With that bit about Shuta not knowing about the previous several decade's worth of Transformers activity, I fear you're right here.

    Which scene? There were a lot of them. :p 

    Continuing the fine tradition of block-headedness. :D 

    Honestly, don't worry about it.


    I really don't have much of a problem with that. Trying to make future-fashion look cool or even good fails probably 90% of the time. At least.

    And at least their toys are all very similar. Long, lanky guys who transform by primarily folding in half and attaching chunks to them.
     
  14. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Cartoon rewatcher

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    I will agree that so far the animation has looked quite good. There are some definite sights of stock anime budget-saving tactics (tight close ups during dialogue so that nothing has to be animated but a mouth, the "Action background" that's just a sliding, static actor on a brightly colored background that "wooshes" in a single direction to indicate dynamic motion, dramatic cuts that eliminate the need for continuously animated action, etc) but no show is going to get away from those, I suspect, given that they're as much an institution for the style they impart as the money they save

    I think it ended up bugging me because one lens entirely shattered while the other cracks and stays in place. It seems a tad melodramatic to have it be spontaneous and caused by essentially nothing. They could've accomplished the same thing if the force of Blood emerging from the water and swatting his wife away had also knocked him back, shattering his glasses as he struck the bulkhead of the ship behind him. I think I'm probably going to have to get used to it, because it seems like this sort of melodrama is just a staple of Japanese storytelling, or at least this Toei crew's storytelling. Because it carries over to the heightened way that everyone reacts to practically everything.

    *Daniel opens the pantry and starts rummaging around. Suddenly something grabs his attention and his mouth hangs agape in shock as he loudly exclaims a sort of "UUUUUWWWAHHHHH!!!!!" noise*
    Spike (sitting on the couch in the next room: "If you're looking for the pack of cookies that was in there, your mother ate it."
    *smash cut back to a close up on Daniel's face, with a bright flash in the background that's punctuated by a "dun DUN!" sound effect.*
    Daniel: "NANIIIIIIIIII?!?!?!?!?!" *vertical 'wooshing' background in red as Daniel grips the sides of his head and writhes while shouting his line*
    *Spike stands up from the couch, sharply pivots on his heels to face Daniel through the doorway. He tugs at the hem of his jacket as he suddenly makes a serious face with narrowed eyes and a low, bassy note emanates from the music cue going on to heighten the tension*
    Spike: "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm late for my date with Arcee. If Chromedome calls tell him I said he's a knob and that I found his secret bottle of scotch behind the Maximus' radar station."
    *Spike confidently strides out of the room, leaving Daniel standing there white with shock to look out the front door of the house as his father climbs into the car-mode Arcee (with Carly already waiting in the passenger seat) and the trio drives off*
    Wheelie (who appears out of nowhere): "You're so easily rattled, Daniel."

    *everybody laughs*

    I think I find him annoying because I know that he's apparently supposed to be 13.

    True. that does seem to be a plus for the series so far. That and Phoenix's amazing Wolverine hair.

    I think my problem is that we know Japan can deliver a more "transformers-y" show. They'll do it with (what little I've seen of) Victory and they'll do it again with Car Robots/RID-2001 and the Unicron Trilogy. They're not slavishly adherent to G1 dogma, but they at least get back to the spirit of what the show is about, which is the war of alien shape-changing robots. With this show you have a cast of characters who are humanized Transformers and you have a cast of characters who are Transformers'd-up Humans, and (again just going on the 4-5 episodes I've seen and can remember) everything meets in this mushy middle where it seems like they had to tell a Transformers story and did so with the protest of making it the most non-Transformers type story that they could do. Especially when my recollection is that the human bunch like the Godmasters and Headmaster Jrs end up largely taking center stage over at least the Autobot pretenders by the later stages of the show.



    The flip side might be that it's to my disadvantage that I'm stuck casting assumptions onto the entire rest of the series based only on the limited exposure I've had to it so far. We'll really see how things shake out when I get to like episode 6+, after the intro of the HM Jrs and towards the debut of Ginrai and Overlord and the plot proper.

    True. It's kind of why I like the later introduction of concepts like TF Prime's faceless mook Vehicon army. While there are questions to be asked about sentient robots having non-sentient robot underling troops and the potentially unsettling side issues it creates, there is always value in shows having generic armies of disposable cannon fodder just to give the action scenes more bite.

    I think it just surprised me because it wasn't something I was aware of before I watched the episode this time, so the fact that the Seacons were meant to be blank, personality-free drones took me by surprise a little bit.

    In total fairness, I don't hate the song on its own musical merits, I just don't think it really fits an action show like Transformers. I feel like Transformers works with either energetic, upbeat music (like the G1 theme, or even Beast Wars) or grand, sweeping, "serious" orchestral stuff (like the Bayverse movies or Prime). This cheery, melodic ballad type piece feels like it belongs to a different genre of show to my ear.

    Interesting. I hadn't considered that.
     
  15. Swerve

    Swerve Well-Known Member

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    A fair point there, although I do speculate here that perhaps what we're seeing here is a vital step on the road to them being able to achieve that.

    Headmasters, I think, might be said to too slavishly try to follow the tropes of G1, and, combined with its many other problems that we've all discussed earlier, stumbles badly because of it, and we get the show which is a synopsis of a fantastic show but which fails to really catch light.

    Masterforce cuts loose. It's fair to say that it's tied to G1 only really in name, I agree- which is of course, outside of the metafiction, the reason why details like the Decepticons blowing up Mars, and having been brawling over the Earth with the Autobots for much of the past twenty years or so, not to mention the now forgotten 'future' setting, don't impact upon the storyline- because this series isn't even remotely interested in the idea that there have been previous Cybertronian wars on Earth. It contradicts itself, in that in the detail, they're clearly in the same continuity- there are many small references to the events of Headmasters, a couple of cameos, and a ton of behind the scenes stuff that doesn't actually make it into the episodes- but, thematically, they're not.

    I think maybe this is a necessary stop on the road to Victory- here, we're seeing Toei and its team throwing themselves wholeheartedly into creating a Transformers series as they envisage it- radically different, but the story they want to tell- leading then on to Victory, where they take that canvas and tell a G1 style story with it.

    I've worked out why the business with the humans not being 'transformer-aware' doesn't bother me. It's the same issue as with Doctor Who, of which I've been a fan for a long time, which walks an eternally precarious tightrope between being an ongoing story and an anthology of unconnected stories loosely linked by a travelling viewpoint character. Now, Doctor Who, from time to time, likes to revisit the old "Aliens invade modern day Earth!" storyline, and for the sake of its impact, that 'modern day Earth' is usually treated as being 'our' world as much as possible. Since 'our world' has not been invaded by aliens multiple times, mostly, these invasions are all largely treated as each being the first, shocking occasion that humanity has encountered aliens, whereas, by all coherent logic, most modern-day humans in the Doctor Who universe would look upon alien invasion in much the same way that we look upon trains being cancelled due to engineering work, or another recession, and so on. There are exceptions- occasionally, chiefly for comic effect, a character will remark "What is it? An invasion from outer space again" or "bloody aliens..." or some such- but they're treated as exceptions- indeed, there's a definite sense that a character who alludes to the fact that the Earth has been invaded by alien armies more often than there's something decent on TV is in some way breaking the fourth wall, alluding to something outside of the conceit of the particular story being told at this time. So, I suppose, I'm somewhat used to this; that the backstory of twenty years of the Transformers being a pain in the arse across the Earth is no longer convenient, and thus quietly brushed under the carpet.

    Perhaps the same fictional 'get out clause' applies? Perhaps there's been an effort, on Earth, to 'cover up' the Transformers' prior involvement, to dismiss previous sightings as hoaxes, mass hysteria, hallucinations, etc, if the threat of near total destruction repeatedly visited on Earth during "Headmasters" led Earth's governments to think "Enough is enough?"

    As to the end credits- well, the business with the wording isn't *that* important. It's more significant to the Decepticons than to the Autobots, although it does apply in both cases. It's more in the nature of an easter egg, that, retroactively, as certain character beats occur in the story, you may look at the credits and think "Ohh... yes, that's kind of appropriate, actually." So, not vital, but, to me anyway, slightly preferable to Daniel and Spike playing Headmasters during the closing credits to the last series, and vastly less grating than having "Cybertron... banzai, banzai, banzai, Transformer!" blaring out and ruining the mood with random speculation about Star Saber's toilet training, right after some atmospheric and fairly somber episode of Victory, when we get to that point.

    I don't really know why the traditional transformation sound was abandoned in favour of what seem to be just a few glitzy clicks and prangs this time around, but I'll concur that it's a mistake.

    I'm curious, I must admit, to see how this rewatch will hit future episodes. I know that you're aware of the looming influx of human characters, but I shall be curious to see how you respond to what is, essentially, a change in the entire type of logic upon which the show operates, which occurs as time goes on.

    To me, this thematic shift is- well, not personally a turn off, since I actually enjoy it, although I wouldn't want it spreading beyond Masterforce, but I can objectively see far more how it would be a deal breaker, than the human cast issue. However, time will tell :) 
     
  16. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Cartoon rewatcher

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    I think my ability to embrace the show later on will have to come from how attached I can get to the characters and story. I don't dislike the sort of show it's aiming to be. If it's a blend of common shonen action series type tropes and story concepts then that's right up my alley as I've enjoyed everything from the first few runs of Power Rangers shows based off of Super Sentai works through many of the 'big' shonen anime like Dragonball Z, Naruto, Bleach, several Gundam series, etc.

    The hang-up for me isn't so much "this is turning into a type of show I don't like" as much as it is that I sometimes have a certain level of distaste for shows that wrap themselves in a license or fictional universe without staying true to the "soul" of said universe. Just as a current example, I have similar misgivings about the current Star Trek series (Picard) for the similar reasons that I won't get into because I don't want to turn this post into 3,000 words about Star Trek. :lol  The point being that sometimes I feel that if works go this route, it's like they want the best of both worlds: they want to tell a totally unique and original story that's entirely of their own design, but they want the value and the built in audience that comes with having a recognizable brand stamped on the boxes of every toy they sell and on the title card of every airing on TV.

    I suspect I would've reacted less viscerally to the first episode and a bit of Masterforce if it was just a generic sentai/mecha anime called simply "Masterforce" and not explicitly a Transformers series using Transformers names and, in the rarest of cases, pre-existing Transformers characters.
     
  17. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Cartoon rewatcher

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    EPISODE 2: Terror! The Decepticons' Manhunt

    THE SHORT VERSION
    The Autobots' attempt to stop a horde of the grave-robbing Decepticons' zombie human soldiers leads them to a tropical island principality where birds do reconnaissance and trees are viable weapons against giant robots.

    None of that is exaggerated.

    Also someone dies.

    REVIEW
    I think I'm starting to find my groove with the show in the second episode. This one has some solid action and continues the plot nicely. There's a bit of "for some reason" weirdness that never really gets explained (the nature of the Decepticon leadership, the sensibility of making human zombies for their army when they have giant Seacon drones) but I trust that some of that may eventually be cleared up.

    The big point of this episode is the introduction of Cab, the newest human character. Prince of a tiny island nation, Cab ends up joining the Autobots as part of his need to be schooled in Japan to learn everything he'll need to become ruler of his people one day, as well as to learn more about the Decepticons after they attacked his island and kidnapped some of his people. I worry a bit that there was some level of Wheelie/Daniel vibes from the burgeoning "friendship" interactions between Shuta and Cab, but hopefully that can evolve past the way the two Headmasters characters were constant dicks to one another so that they won't be annoying the whole way through.

    The other major plot advancement is that Shuta's dad is killed in a Decepticon attack, giving him a newfound stake in the battles and motivating what's to come as he now has to do the obligatory "grow up and cast of childish things to get proper vengeance and justice" bit that the theme song sort-of-references. The end events start out as a powerful moment that handles a character death with a bit more intense anguish than we got out of any of the deaths in Headmasters, but I feel like it's unfortunately balanced out by the mood whiplash of how the scenes after Professor Go's death almost immediately take on a much more hopeful and optimistic vibe without any real sense of lingering grief. We cut to the next scene and it's cheery music and Shuta smiling and the announcer talking as if a kid losing a parent is of a similar impact to moving to a new city or starting at a new school, explicitly evoking the idea of this being "a new journey" for him. It doesn't unravel the whole episode, but it does prevent the plot from sticking its landing. And that's a shame.

    This is a short review, but this episode is very much a set-up one. It's moving the pieces into their starting positions so that a few episodes from now when most characters are finally in play we can begin the real story and actually make some progress.

    But for now, it's an improvement on Episode 1 and enough to convince me that my initial harsh judgements may be able to soften a bit. Even if I still don't particularly like either of the human characters.

    THOUGHTS AND MUSINGS
    -Someone in the animation and art direction department wanted to make a flash to start this episode, as one of the shots begins with a spiraling, twisting shot of a hallway for no good reason.

    -In that hallway is a security guard, who stumbles on Dauros breaking into the morgue for some reason. In shock he drops his flashlight and the lens shatters dramatically, making it the second episode in a row where a dramatic glass-shatter punctuates the Decepticons arriving on scene. Will this streak continue? Only time will tell.

    -In the wake of a news report on how the Decepticons stole a bunch of cadavers from the morgue, we get our first look at the Decepticon base. And it's... something.

    [​IMG]
    The Decepticons' new secret base architect is definitely of the post-modern school of expression.

    -Inside Decepticon HQ we see a weird glowing, pulsing energy nucleus looking thing and then Blood praying to reanimate the corpses that the Pretenders stole? Man, Megatron never went so far as to use necromancy.

    -What is fun is that the subtitles show the gibberish that Blood is chanting as a string of all-caps nonsense. I imagine that was fun to try and write down.

    -Hey, at least the Decepticons give their corpse army some spiffy matching uniforms with the Decepticon logo on them.
    [​IMG]
    Just because you're an army of stolen undead science experiments, it's no excuse not to be fashionably coordinated.

    -The zombie army is then set loose on a city to loot and ransack everything and torment the people. They even manage to strangle a police officer as the cops (who all have assault rifles for whatever reason. Is this an American city? :lol ) attempt to shoot them to no avail. I'm still rather shocked by how violent the show is willing to be compared to even Headmasters. Especially when you consider that the majority of its characters are humans or human-adjacent.

    -Lander is the Pretender to arrive on scene, giving us a good look at the fact that even after Zeo-Morphing into his pretender armor, he's still wearing his glasses. Did Clark Kent teach you nothing, man? You're supposed to take those off. Unless he's secretly the super-hero from the comic in that one Simpsons episode:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    I'm going to start assuming that the Simpsons' "Biclops" joke is based on Lander. His brash, cocky nature seems like the kind of defence mechanism you'd get out of an ex-nerd who now has the power to torment his former tormentors.

    -Oh my god, this really is a Power Rangers show. It's even got the Command Center! And wristwatch communicators. All that's missing is Zordon.
    [​IMG]
    "Alpha, Rita's escaped. Recruit a team of teenagers with attitude!"
    (I am 100% aware of how prescient this will end up being :lol )

    -Wet get a bit of background on where the Decepticons were for all these years on Earth, as Hawk explains that they were imprisoned in the pyramids in Egypt, the Nazca Lines in Peru, and... Atlantis. I guess this means Atlantis is for sure a real thing in the Transformers universe?

    Nazca Lines - Wikipedia

    -Professor Go cryptically suggests that if the Decepticons are returning to conquer the world that they'll have to use "that". Ominous.

    -One thing I've noticed so far is that in spite of the animation mostly being pretty good, they have some lip sync problems, as some of the characters tend to move their mouths before and after their spoken line ends.

    -Again, I have to ask what is with this series and Headmasters and the writers' inability to understand what a kid should act like at a given age? When Shuta finds out that Hawk is headed off to fight Decepticons and Hawk refuses to let him come along, he throws the same kind of childish tantrum that Daniel did in the last series. But, as I said in Episode 1, Shuta is supposed to be 13 according to his character bio. What 13 year old would pound his fists and scream "I wanna go! I don't care if it's dangerous, I wanna!" with a tone like he was just told he's not allowed to snack before dinner?

    -But that aside, after Prof. Go forbade Shuta from coming along and Hawk did too, out of nowhere after Shuta's tantrum, Hawk relents and opens the cockpit of his jet mode so he can go. So not only does Hawk display some fantastically bad leadership by changing his mind so easily and needlessly, but he also disregards the wishes of Shuta's father again to do with the kid as he pleases.

    -I sure hope there's more than two commercial bumpers for the show, or these are going to get old fast.

    -Back from the break, we're now on the mysterious "Karin Islands" where the Decepticons are intent on raiding to steal some live humans to further their plans. There we meet a mysterious kid swinging through the trees like Tarzan until he comes across some animals gathered around an injured monkey. But all I can think about is that there doesn't appear to be a Japanese Frank Welker equivalent because all these animals are just obvious humans making blatant squawking and squeaking sounds. Too bad.

    -How the heck did Dauros sneak up on Cab? He's gigantic and has been portrayed as something of a 'dumb muscle'. Moments after he makes his presence known he's even thundering and shaking the ground with every step. And yet he managed to get into position to attack Cab without making a sound? Amazing!

    -Oh, by the way, the new kid's name is Cab. He's the prince of this Island kingdom of Karin.

    -Now on the scene, Metalhawk defeats a Nautilator drone with a palm tree. He literally smacks it across the head and it goes flying and explodes. The Seacons are basically every car in every 80s action movie ever. I'm surprised they don't explode if you simply look at them funny.
    [​IMG]
    This might be more embarrassing than the time Wheelie single-handedly beat Trypticon. Because at least Trypticon being dumb and slow-witted was already canon.

    -and no, the palm tree doesn't break.

    -Also by "Nautilator" I mean "Lobclaw". The Shout subs show western names and at no point here was this drone type's name spoken aloud.

    -Miscellaneous silly aside: but "Lobclaw" ends up sounding very similar to "Loblaw's" a Canadian grocery chain owner that operates and franchises stores across the country under a variety of different banners. It has no impact on anything, it's just something I noticed.

    -Geez, he defeats two Lobclaw drones with that palm tree. It's like the Master Sword of palm trees.

    -Strangely we see a different drone (Overbite. One of the ones that retained its name in the west) kidnap several islanders as part of the Decepticon plans. What's odd about this shot is that the camera choses to focus on a hawk (actual bird, not Hawk the Autobot) watching the kidnapping from a tree, complete with dramatic zoom in. I have no idea why they chose to do this, but it did make me laugh.
    [​IMG]
    dun Dun DUNNNN!!!!! (you'll have to imagine the dramatic zoom. I can't capture gifs easily)

    -Shuta and Hawk (who's now wearing a different suit for some reason. I guess he just wants to flaunt his wardrobe choices given that they're part of his Pretender powers?) meet up with Diver and when Diver is surprised that Shuta came along, Hawk notes that he wanted to come 'no matter what.' If this is how the Autobots play parent to young kids, it's no wonder Spike and Daniel were so screwed up. And Diver just takes this as a matter of course.

    -Cab accuses the Pretenders of being giant robots, but as far as I know only Hawk was in his proper Autobot form. He never would've seen Diver change, or even Shuta for that matter. But he accuses all of them just the same.

    -And now Phoenix shows up, certainly not helping matters since he's in his Pretender armor and looks a lot more suspicious than Diver in his polo shirt and hoodie, or Hawk's slick white business suit.

    -After the Autobots split up to check the island for more Decepticons, Cab ambushes Shuta and accuses him of being a "machine soldier" as well. I'm hoping their mistrust and animosity doesn't set up an eventual Daniel/Wheelie friendship dynamic where they spend the rest of the series being dicks to each other.

    -Shuta manages to convince Cab he's not a robot because, and I swear I'm not making any of this up, Cab's armadillo friend rolls at Shuta and Shuta juggles it like a soccer ball. Even though Cab has no idea what soccer is (by his own indirect admission), he immediately relents.

    -Ok, the dramatic spy hawk scene pays off as said hawk lands on Cab's arm and "tells" him exactly what he saw. Because shut up, of course Cab can talk to animals.

    -Shuta's amazement at Cab being able to understand the hawk is met with a rather flippant "I guess so."

    -Cab resolves to head off and fight the Decepticons himself. When Shuta tells him he can't possibly beat them all, Cab's response is "shut up! I'm not a coward like you." My god, they are going to be the Wheelie/Daniel of this series, aren't they? :lol 

    -Shuta decides he has to tell the Autobots what happened. Smash cut to Hawk and Phoenix standing there, listening to Shuta while in their pretender armor. Never mind that last we saw of both of them they had flown off to scout for Decepticons and there was no indication that Shuta had any sort of communication device to signal them with. I'm not really annoyed, but it's fun to see them play fast and loose with things.

    -Hey, a new commercial bumper. I don't know who it is, but it's new. On one side, at least. The return bumper is still Headmaster Jr Shuta.

    -Back from commercial, and look at that, Cab doesn't even get to the island he's headed for before he's attacked by Gilmer and a Seacon.

    -And back on the mainland, Prof. Go's research lab is attacked by Blood and other Seacons. I sure hope this doesn't cause any serious, plot relevant deaths.

    -Wow the Decepticon pretenders actually pull guns on the Autobots so that it's not entirely a melee fight.

    -We also get a better look at the Autobots' pretender release sequences, ejecting from their pretender shells with a sort of square panel/polygon type of effect. It's kind of like... if you ever played the original Starfox on the SNES, it kind of looks like it's constructing the bots as an effect from that game.

    -Back to the fight, showing the superior nobility and honor of melee fighting, the gunless Autobots easily defeat the armed Decepticons, forcing them to flee and leave the captured humans behind.

    -And now, at Cab's village, the Autobots agree to take Cab to Japan with them (he was supposed to go there for schooling, as discussed earlier in the episode, but he balked at the idea of leaving his home)

    -The contemplative scene on the beach is interrupted by an emergency call from Lander, who tells the Autobots that Prof. Go's lab is being attacked. But no sooner does the transmission get out that the console he's at explodes, cutting them off. Lander then heads through the facility and finds Go, right as Blood comes down the corridor and attacks. He hurls his axe/pick thing at a column, which collapses and crushes the professor, presumably killing him. Lander is immediately struck down as well, and then we see in the distance as the entire facility explodes.

    -The next morning the other Autobots arrive and dig Lander out from the rubble, then begin the search for Prof. Go. Strangely they don't think to use their larger robot modes, instead moving rubble in their normal clothes.

    -They then find Prof. Go, apparently not dead, but only alive long enough to implore Shuta to be strong and give him the key to something before finally passing.

    -This leads the Autobots to establishing a new base under a giant hill. Ok.

    -Also the narrator sounds oddly cheerful as he tells us this. The triumphant fanfare the show uses swells in the background as he says that "Shuta and the Autobots mark the beginning of a new journey towards the future." That's a rather positive spin to put on a kid now being an orphan in the care of giant space robots whose species has a terrible track record of parental ability.

    -And so we close on a shot of the group standing at the top of their hill/base thing, with Cab giving Shuta a soccer ball, and then putting his arm around Shuta, both of them smiling. Look at this, already his dad's death means nothing to him. He's a little sociopath just like Daniel. :lol 




    Final Grade: B-
     
  18. TheUltimateBum

    TheUltimateBum Nautica Lover

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    Checked episode two.

    Again, just as good as I remember, but I could have done without the end narration in order to make the ending better and more impactful.

    The Decepticons prove to be a lot more nefarious than the Headmaster 'cons, and really are incredibly unsettling. I also feel the animation once again is brilliant, and I also loved to see Metalhawk give Gilmer one heck of a headbash.

    Again, I like Shuta a lot, and in this episode, he contrasts really well with the more impetuous and hot-blooded Cab. Honestly, I do think they're a vast improvement over Daniel and Wheelie, because Daniel and Wheelie were, at least for me, likeable in the American cartoon and became annoying in Headmasters, but Shuta and Cab have just met and their barbs feel a lot more friendly than the somewhat dickish attitude of Headmasters Daniel and Wheelie.

    Another thing I liked, and something I forgot to mention about the previous episode is the background music. Although not on the level of the synth music we got in season three of the American cartoon for me, or the even better score we got for Victory, the music certainly is an improvement over the rather generic music we got in Headmasters and can be quirky, emotional and menacing at the right times.

    So yeah, I enjoyed this episode, really liked seeing Lander take more part in the action, since I felt he was the most interesting character in the first episode, and the death of Dr. Go was a truly emotional scene, unlike the deaths we got in Headmasters, which were all underwhelming.

    Also, can't wait for the next episode, 'cause that one introduces my absolute favorite character to come out of the show.
     
  19. RKStrikerJK5

    RKStrikerJK5 Well-Known Member

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    Maybe you should've kept a tally of this. It's an odd thing to have keep happening.

    It looks really weird. Have the Decepticons ever had anything this freaky-looking before?

    Not even crazy Galvatron went there.

    Only if they have tanks. :p 

    It is pretty hardcore in comparison to past series.

    So did Atlantis inspire Sub-Atlantica, or did they both exist at the same time...

    Good lord. Like you said, no wonder the human kids in TF series are so messed up!

    Nah, This is a literally-mindless drone. Trypticon has some intelligence.

    Is this the Chewbacca Defense a decade or so early?
     
  20. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Cartoon rewatcher

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    EPISODE 3: Kidnapping!? The Targeted Jumbo Jet

    THE SHORT VERSION
    Hello, Mr. Hawk, is it? I'm Chris Hansen from NBC's "To Catch A Predator." Why don't you have a seat over there?

    REVIEW
    We round out some of the early setup work for the series by introducing the 3rd and final kid in the primary cast for the Autobots, setting up for the next important step in episode 4. Minerva, daughter of a diplomat and tangentially connected to the plot of the day ends up falling in with the Autobots and on her way to becoming a major player for the rest of the series

    And you know what? After the horror show that was how Headmasters treated Arcee like a glorified secretary who was there to be leered at by Chromedome in a creepy way and Carly like a frivolous, wilting housewife with none of the spunk and charm she had during G1, dare I say that Minerva is actually handled reasonably well. The Autobots are kind of jerks to her, but we know that they're kind of inept at dealing with all human children at this point, not just girls. And when push comes to shove, Minerva shows that she's having none of Cab and Shuta's crap and calls them out for being accessories to the crap way the Autobots had treated her to that point. Time will tell if it lasts (and I already know from having watched the next episode before that there's some slightly cringey bits coming up), but it's a better start than I could've hoped for.

    Beyond that this is an enjoyable episode. The plot continues and not in the patronizing, spelled-out-at-every-step way that Headmasters presented theirs. I'm still not 100% on board with the Decepticon zombie plan, but at least it's not a total gong show (yet). I also still find Shuta and Cab's bickering, rivalry-laden relationship a bit annoying because it brings out their more childish side, but I have hope that things will get smoothed out as we progress, hopefully with characters that get actual development rather than the Headmasters way of leaving them one way until the 2nd or 3rd to last episode and then cramming in a bunch of unearned change to try and pretend that they developed.

    So far, it's 3 episodes in and I'm not tearing my hair out like I was with most of Headmasters and am coming to a point where I can thoughtfully reassess my previous views on this series and question if I will really dislike it as much as I did initially.

    THOUGHTS AND MUSINGS
    -Take 2 for this episode on me. It turned out I mislabeled the episode #s on the files I ripped from my DVDs, so I got like 5 minutes into the episode before the title card came up and said it was episode 4 instead. So there went a bunch of notes and comments that now won't be relevant for another episode.

    -The episode opens with a jet flying into London. The pilots note that as soon as they get close to the city, it gets particularly foggy. I guess at least it's just the fog and not the dense forest and people on horseback. So... progress?

    -Interestingly, the title card for this episode comes right from the scene that's occurring on screen (as in the action happens, then freezes at a point and the title text pops up over it), instead of cutting to a different image. That's kind of a cool change.

    -After the title, things switch to Cab racing through a forest like a ninja. Shuta searches for him and comes across a big treehouse. He then somewhat hypocritically both marvels over the construction of the house, but still calls Cab a neanderthal.

    -While Shuta's marveling at the home, Cab drops out of a tree and "wins" whatever sort of contest this is by pulling a knife on Shuta and putting it to the kid's throat.
    [​IMG]
    Damn, that's one bloodthirsty parrot.

    -Meanwhile, in the Autobots' new hill base (I notice now that this show has had both a conspicous lack of a constantly-present narrator and any sort of "meanwhile, at X" scene transitions), Hawk contacts Lander, who is now in England searching for the missing jet.

    -Diver also chimes in on the transmission to say that another jet from the same airline disappeared near Italy. Sensing the Decepticons are involved, Hawk zeo morphs and takes off to investigate.

    -Cab and Shuta both demand that Hawk take them along, promising they can help and won't get in the way. Of course they do this by bickering and acting like spoiled children, so it really shouldn't inspire much confidence in him. But of course, he uses his superior Autobot parenting skills to totally cave and book them a flight on a passenger jet to join him. With no explanation of why he doesn't transport them himself in his own jet mode.

    -Hawk and Diver meet up and then engage in pointless small talk in the forest before shifting down to their human forms. Really taking this thread seriously, aren't you guys?

    -Now it's time to meet our 3rd prominent human kid: Minerva. Her and her parents are passengers on the crashed jet that Hawk and Diver are investigating. She sits with her unconscious parents, who are both on stretchers outside the downed plane.

    -Back from the commercial break, Hawk and Diver decide the best course of action is to find the mysterious girl who is uninjured and talk to her. To this end they simply walk into the hospital with no resistance whatsoever. Because nobody thinks anything odd of a pair of random adults with a vague and sketchy story about being "government investigators" talking to a young girl.

    -AFter confirming their suspicions that the Decepticons are involved, the scene cuts to elsewhere in Italy, where the Treivii Fountain bursts open and a bunch of Decepticon zombies emerge from it to attack the surrounding people. Meanwhile the Decepticon Pretenders stand on a rooftop (with nobody noticing the 3 giant monsters) and bicker and posture about their plan and how capable each of them are.

    -Meanwhile, elsewhere in the plot, Phoenix and Lander arrive... I guess still in Italy? and are met by a taxi that has Shuta and Cab emerge from it. Both Autobots are surprised to see their human friends. So not only did Hawk leave a pair of kids (I'm now ignoring the fact that they're supposed to allegedly be 13 since they really look and act like they're maybe 10 or 11) to get from Japan to Italy by themselves, he didn't even tell the other Autobots to expect and watch out for them. Leadership!

    -The other Autobots and the two brats meet up with the rest of the team in the hospital waiting room to watch a news report on the latest Decepticon attacks. All the while everyone totally ingores Minerva and crowds her out of what's happening, to the point that she can't even see the TV. Good of Hawk to introduce her so none of this is awkward.
    [​IMG]
    At least they eventually remember she's in the room (sorry, Carly)

    -Thank god, when the Autobots intend to depart for the battle scene and Shuta/Cab beg to be brought along, Hawk finally says no and cites the danger. So I guess he's not going to be totally irresponsible.

    -The Autobots end up easily dispatching the zombies by knocking them out (it turns out these ones aren't corpses, but airline passengers who have simply been converted into zombie-like troops). Obviously the point of the zombies was never to have them fight full-sized Autobots, but this certainly shows that they have limited combat use given that the Autobots also have a non-lethal way to deal with them.

    -Meanwhile, at the hospital (Thanks, Headmasters. Now I can't stop doing this) Minerva and the two twerps awkwardly introduce themselves, with the idiots sewing the seeds of some sort of competitive love triangle as they try to talk over each other to be the first to get Minerva's attention.

    -We get some backstory for Minerva in that she's from a fictional country called Monte Port and her father is the nation's ambassador to Japan. She also has a French mother, which seems like an unnecessary detail given that she's already a foreigner to Japan and wouldn't necessarily need anything to explain her non-Japanese appearance

    -Minerva's father offhandedly mention that their country's foremost biologist is traveling to Japan for a conference, which ties in with the fact that the Decepticons had previously been talking about trying to find a biologist when they were capturing other planes. Good on this show for not laying out that connection outright through the narrator. If this was Headmasters by now the Narrator would've butted in and gone through the Decepticons' entire plan in painstaking detail.

    -Of coure, the Decepticons attack. So Hawk and Phoenix zeo morph and head out through a cabin door onto the jet's wing. Why there's a cabin door over the wing of the jet and how Hawk managed to open said door when the jet is flying at cruising speed and the air pressure should keep it sealed shut is not addressed. I guess it's still a show about giant transforming robots, so I shouldn't expect it to make total sense even if it already shows itself to be smarter than Headmasters.

    -Earlier on Minerva had asked Shuta and Cab to explain everything that was going on. I guess they were too busy stumbling over each other to try and hit on her because they explained nothing. Instead she's shocked to find two men in armor on the wing of the plane, and then realizes that they lied to her about being government investigators. Still, she should probably count herself lucky that they didn't invite her into an unmarked white panel van with promises of free candy.

    -Shuta tries to play off the Autobots' lies, but Minerva lays into him, saying there's no good reason for them to have been deceptive, and that he and Cab are not blameless either since they didn't tell her the truth when they had the chance.

    -Shuta tries badly to weasel his way out of things, but the fight is interrupted when one of the flight attendants suddenly turns into a zombie (I had no idea they could simply "activate" like this) and announces her intention to kidnap the professor on the plane with them.

    -Shuta and Cab are both easily dispatched by the zombie stewardess, who bursts into the cockpit of the plane before the action shifts back outside to the pretenders.

    -Oh my god, Blood made the transformation noise when he transformed! Someone actually does it. I wonder if it's just going to be bots besides the Autobot Pretenders.

    -The zombie stewardess tries to incapacitate the pilots while Shuta and Cab desperately hold onto her without doing much of anything. Cab especially just has himself wrapped around her torso, not even trying to restrain her arm.

    -With the plane safely on the ground and the zombie flight attendant dealt with, everyone gets a cheerful sitcom laughing ending. Complete with Wolver-Phoenix burning Shuta and Cab for not being very smooth with the ladies.

    -And that transitions right into the narrator telling us that the Decepticons will attack again, complete with dramatic music. So it's the second episode in a row that ends on dramatic mood whiplash (just in the opposite direction).




    Final Grade: B