Community TF Cartoon Rewatch Thread - Phase 7: Beast Wars II

Discussion in 'Transformers Cyberverse and Cartoon Discussion' started by Liege Nemesis, Feb 12, 2021.

  1. Rojixus

    Rojixus TELL ME YOU FORGIVE ME!

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    Beast Wars II and Neo came out before Beast Machines.
     
  2. Leolim

    Leolim Well-Known Member

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    I mean the timeline 2 and neo take place 10,000 years after beast machines.
     
  3. Rojixus

    Rojixus TELL ME YOU FORGIVE ME!

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    Yes, and I'm telling you Beast Wars II and Neo came out before Beast Machines was a thing. The writers can't predict the future.
     
  4. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Snarks about old cartoons

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    I imagine they weren't thinking anything of it. By the time Beast Machines debuted in the west Beast Wars II was finished and Neo only had 2 episodes left to air (which means they would've been written months beforehand). All of the writing and production work on the Japanese shows would've been complete well before they would've even heard a thing about what Beast Machines was going to do.

    Plus I also imagine that they probably didn't care. Because the importance of continuity between shows that don't share crews/writers/production staff/intended linkages is way overblown in the minds of fans vs the people making them. And post-hoc attempts to weld disconnected works together is usually pretty clumsy at best.
     
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  5. Leolim

    Leolim Well-Known Member

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    Well that makes the Maximals effort turn Cybertron into Technorganic pointless all because Vector Sigma's Decision to Re Mechanize Cybertron (i'll bet Cheetor and Botanica against the decision) just for major events I rather not further Spoil in Neo.
     
  6. Rojixus

    Rojixus TELL ME YOU FORGIVE ME!

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    Yep, and I am absolutely fine with that!
     
  7. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Snarks about old cartoons

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    And that's fine. Because the stories weren't written for each other.

    I'm cool with wanting to uphold continuity when it entirely fits together because it was made to go together. Like when I (mostly jokingly) complained about the sudden reappearance of Mars in the Japanese G1 trilogy after it blew up in Headmasters. Or when Beast Machines forgets about stuff that Beast Wars did. But the reality is that the Japanese BW filler series were made with probably limited to no interaction with or attention paid to Beast Machines. They would've wrapped production well in advance of Beast Machines coming into the public consciousness. And Beast Machines would've been made with no attention paid to what was going on in Japan given that at the time (and to an extent still to this day) Hasbro doesn't tend to like to acknowledge the canonical status or brand importance of the independently produced Takara material that didn't get a full and proper release on this side of the Pacific (and to an extent, the same is true in reverse for the limited amount of stuff that Takara didn't license from Hasbro for re-distribution in Japan)

    And that's fine. Because like I said, the stories are separate. They can coexist independent of one another and tell different versions of the same basic story concept and I won't lose sleep over it. What happens in II and Neo doesn't have to jibe with Beast Machines, and I don't think it's necessary to be concerned with what Beast Machines does if it doesn't line up with II and Neo.

    And honestly, Japan's weirdly bull-headed attempt to make that massive web of a continuity map probably only made things worse.

    We're rapidly coming up on 40 years of Transformers fiction and fandom existing out there. You'll give yourself an aneurysm if you stress over trying to reconcile every little bit of continuity across multiple shows and creative eras/silos.
     
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  8. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Snarks about old cartoons

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    Wrap-Up Post #1: Series Grades Breakdown

    The series is over and things have been graded out and this was almost as interesting an exercise as the series itself for one big, unexpected reason:

    With a final GPA of 2.26, Beast Wars II actually ends up edging out Headmasters as the worst reviewed show so far (HM finished with a round 2.30).

    I'm going to be honest, that actually shocked me. Because with Headmasters I never felt like there was any part of it that I truly enjoyed to any significant degree. It was a show that was passable at best and a boring, unlikable slog at worst. Meanwhile Beast Wars II had its low moments (and it had a lot of them) but it also had some great elements that I was very fond of.

    so how could a show that had a lot of things I liked end up grading out worse than a show that I pretty much only refer to as a joke?

    It mostly comes down to two major issues: Lio Junior and the Jointrons. Though it's mostly the first one. Lio Junior did his level best to kill this series. For that, let's go to the first graph, the raw episode grades:

    [​IMG]

    Right off the hop, you can see some of the problems. First things first, that trend line. Oof. Beast Wars II is the first graded series (or series segment) to have a downward trend in its grading since seasons 3 and 4 of G1 (and that largely has to do with the gravitational force of suck attached to The Rebirth. If it was just straight-up season 3 the line likely would've been fairly level)

    More than that, this is the series that has the largest decrease in its trend, starting things out at around a B- average and falling so precipitously that it ends up in straight C territory. That's.... yikes.

    And you can see where that comes from. There's the swoon from The Lake Trap but then the first big terrible trough when the Jointrons show up. Plummeting the grading down to a D-F-D-D run through their 4-episode focus arc that sucked a lot of momentum the dshow had. Things do pick right back up thanks to the Seacons and their very entertaining story arc, but it was not ot last as we then got the debut of Lio Junior and that set things on the terminal path all the way through the finale. From that point on the series never again climbed above a B grade and managed 7 episodes that were a C- or worse (including 3 of its record 8 D grades in a span of like 17 or 18 episodes (so less than half the non-clip-show run of the series).

    When we smooth things out to the 5-episode rolling average, the pattern becomes more clear:

    [​IMG]

    The inconsistency of the series from episode to episode meant that it never reached that high, but you can see that as soon as we hit "Enter Lio Junior" any real hope for big surges dries up and it just creeps downward almost the entire rest of the way for the back half of the run except for a brief spike during which we stopped paying so much attention to Lio Junior and focused on the potential destruction of Gaia and the plan to assault THE ARTIFICIAL PLANET NEMESIS™.

    Just to hammer things home, consider the GPA of the series this way:

    Total: 2.26
    Pre-Lio Junior (episodes 1-25): 2.41
    With Lio Junior (Episodes 26-43): 2.06

    or just to show how much the Jointrons hurt things as well what if we take out the Jointrons and Lio Junior? Then we're looking at episodes 1-12, 18-25, and 36-41 (because the finale was so Lio Junior heavy). If we just focus on those parts of the show where it didn't spend all its time on those 4 characters, the grad would've been 2.75 which would've placed the series right at the franchise average to date and vaulted it ahead of Headmasters and Masterforce.

    If we look at the grade distribution for the series, it also becomes clear where things went wrong for the series:

    [​IMG]

    Look at that big, giant grey/black segment. That's the series killer right there. For a show that still managed to have half its episodes be B ratings, it ended up also having a full quarter of its episodes in the D or F category. 8 Ds is more than every other series watched so far combined. That's enough to pull things down especially without a significant number of A-grade episodes to offset it.

    This issue with the very divisive nature of the episodes and grading trends also shows up when we plot how Beast Wars II did against other series in that newer 2-factor X/Y plot I did that compares rating and grading consistency:

    [​IMG]

    Beast Wars II (highlighted with the yellow dot) is the swingiest, least consistent series so far with the exception of G2 Season 2. That unfortunately consigns it to the "bad" quadrant of the graph by itself.


    Because I like graphs and because it's perhaps a bit odd seeing some series represented by individual seasons while others are show as the entire series, I re-did the above graph so that there are no seasons, just each entire series. It doesn't change the position of BWII, but it's interesting to see how the other shows (G1, Beast Wars, and Beast Machines) are changed by being consolidated.

    [​IMG]

    Yeah, it's largely pulled things a lot more towards the middle, with G1 being heavily weighted to the size of season 2. But hey, more graphs!

    I also made one that consolidates things further into connected eras (G1, Japanese G1, Hasbro Beast Era, Takara Beast Era, etc) but we don't have enough of those for it to be worth while yet.


    So that's the look at the grading from Beast Wars II. With more graphs than before! At this rate by the time we get to Cyberverse the threads are going to be like 10% episode reviews 85% graphs and 5% sarcasm.
     
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  9. Longitudinalwave

    Longitudinalwave A Big Fan of (Sound/Shock)wave

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    I love the graphs, so I think I'd be okay with that.
    Yeah, this show is weird insofar as it had episodes that were worse than anything Headmasters put out, but also was fun to watch in places (which Headmasters basically never was).


    Also, I just realized that G1 Season 2 alone is as long or longer than the entire run of most of the other shows we've seen. Wow.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2021
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  10. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Snarks about old cartoons

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    It's even crazier when you consider that it did its entire run in barely over 3 months.

    G1 Season 2 ran for 49 episodes from September 23, 1985 until January 6, 1986 airing 5 days a week.

    Masterforce is the closest to that episode count so far in a traditionally animated format (ie not Beast Wars because CGI takes forever to make) and it covered its 43 released-to-air episodes (4 of the last 5 recap clip-show episodes being direct-to-video) from April 12, 1988 until March 7, 1989.

    Thinking back to that late 80s/early 90s period of weekday afternoon syndicated cartoons is insane. I can't imagine what it would've been like for the Disney Afternoon block, churning out like 4 or 5 shows at that pace simultaneously.
     
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  11. RKStrikerJK5

    RKStrikerJK5 Well-Known Member

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    Well, I appreciate the hard work and effort you've put into these. It really spells stuff out for us. :) 

    God damn! That's just an insane amount of work.
     
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  12. Rojixus

    Rojixus TELL ME YOU FORGIVE ME!

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    Which explains the Q U A L I T Y animation of the G1 series. They must've chained those poor animators to their desks!
     
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  13. Leolim

    Leolim Well-Known Member

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    Watching the ending of the BW 2 movie where primal return the past of season 1 is really sad because tragic fate awaits him in BM and I’m pretty sure Lio convoy’s crew regret on not telling him to properly secure Megatron after his capture but it would erase the convoy class existence like Lio and Big since they were created in honor of Primal’s heroic sacrifice.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2021
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  14. Longitudinalwave

    Longitudinalwave A Big Fan of (Sound/Shock)wave

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    Not to mention the glaring plot holes! I can't imagine trying to churn out 49 episodes in three months.
     
  15. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Snarks about old cartoons

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    [​IMG]


    It also makes me more sympathetic to the Don Glut saying that a lot of the time he would churn out a script in a day or two and just fire off the first draft to the production heads without taking time to refine or meditate on it. Or David Wise taking plots from other shows he'd written and just changing the characters around to fit the Transformers.

    The only thing that would've given them more time was that there was almost a year's break between the end of season 1 (Heavy Metal War aired December '84) and the start of season 2. So if they got their renewal notice early enough they would've had time to build up a buffer
     
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  16. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Snarks about old cartoons

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    wrap-up Post #2: 5 Things Beast Wars II did Well/Poorly

    THINGS THE SERIES DID WELL

    1) Characters with character

    If you've followed along since the rewatches of the Japanese G1 trilogy, you'll know that I've complained several times about how those shows have tended to have issues with presenting a cast full of interesting characters. In most cases we've been lucky to get a handful of unique personalities with definable and interesting quirks beyond some very stock archetypes like "good soldier", "evil jerk" or "hot-headed avatar of burning justice for whom all crimes are personal affronts and must be dealt with aggressively and with extreme prejudice.". The bulks of most casts were relatively bland, white bread generic bots who were either boring, featureless good guys whose only feature is hating evil or cartoonishly petty bad guys that love doing terrible things purely because they're terrible.

    That's why Beast Wars II is refreshing: Practically the entire cast has something to make them stand out. Kid is the loudmouth wannabe, Bighorn the big, dopey, violent idiot, Scuba the hypercompetent professional, Diver the mopey depressive, Starscream the schemer, Megastorm also the schemer (but with a dash of sycophantic big brother worship). Even if it's just a simplistic personality (like goofy idiot mooks Thrust and Dirge), there's something to identify almost everyone in the cast and that is to the show's benefit because it makes it seem far more lively and interesting than shows past.

    Of course not every personality that's doled out is an entertaining or good one, but the fact that even bad ones exist for everyone is a strong step in the right direction.


    2) The Seacons!

    In amongst all those interesting characters is a quintet of really interesting ones: The Space Pirate Seacons.

    We've had the Seacons before in Masterforce, but there they were little more than mindless drones controlled by a single overseer bot (who himself had little personality besides being a loyal Decepticon). King Poseidon was a cool combiner but that coolness was entirely surface level nad ultimately of no consequence.

    So here we end up with something of a do-over on that disappointing entry that succeeds with a vengeance.

    In the middle of a straight sci-fi series we end up with space pirates (with a literal pirate ship and jolly roger style flag) that swoop in with their own goals and motivations separate from the rest of the characters (something that will be talked about in a bit) and a big and colorful set of personalities to help them stand out.

    Halfshell, the leader who deeply cares about his team and desires to do right by them

    Coelagon, the crochety old veteran who can't stay awake or focused and whose wisdom is often insufficient for the problem at hand

    Scylla, the lovelorn pirate queen who acts a proper lady but often lets slip her rough aggressive nature when prodded

    Sea Phantom, the rough-and-tumble tough guy spoiling for a good fight

    and

    Terrormander, the low bot on the totem pole who channels constantly being put upon by the other Seacons into being unmitigatedly disinterested in doing much of anything if he can get away with it.

    That's right, it's 5 bots each with a unique and interesting personality and who have a full set of group dynamics and, above all else, are just a lot of fun.

    The biggest shame of the series is that they're only around for a short run They get their brief story arc before being shooed out the door for (blargh) Lio Junior and then are not relevant again until a one-off farewell appearance where they're brainwashed by Galvatron. It's not a great ending and as much as I joked that I just wanted a Seacons' pirate adventures spinoff series, the show would've still been greatly improved by having them around more than it did.



    3) Outside factions that shake up the status quo

    The Seacons are one of 3 groups of bots that were not officially aligned with either the Maximals or Predacons. The others were the Insectrons and Autorollers (The Jointrons are nominally treated as Maximals). For each of them their origins or backgrounds differed slightly:

    -The Insectrons were something of conscientious objectors to the war and bowed out of the Maximal/Predacon conflict for not wanting to be part of a war they didn't believe in.

    -The Autorollers were presented as mercenaries who have been in the employ of the Predacons in the past, including in a conflict that brought them into contact with the Insectrons and establishing something of a sub-group rivalry between them (for as little as it ultimately gets played out)

    -The Seacons are perhaps Predacon-descended, but have seemingly renounced their allegiance in order to head off and plunder the galaxy on their own.

    This is an interesting concept that we don't see often enough in Transformers fiction. Sure we get things like colonies of one faction or another (like the various groups with their own planets from the Cybertron anime or some of the other more recent popular colony worlds like Caminus) or the idea that sub-groups are more independent from their aligned faction than normal rank-and-file Autobots/Decepticons (like the Dinobots in some incarnations). But rare is it that large groups of bots with a vested interest in what's going on exist outside of the standard Autobot/Maximal vs Decepticon/Predacon dynamic. The potential to explore a 3rd party interest in the conflict or how the main goodie/baddie fight impacts groups who are non-aligned or not aligned by default is extremely interesting and opens up a lot of story telling avenues that the franchise hasn't covered before.

    Beast Wars II does do this a little bit, having the two main factions try and appeal to the Seacons to join their side, showing the Insectrons being driven into a corner to where they have to throw their hat in with the Maximals as much as they don't want to, and by having the Autorollers contracted to the Predacons and also have a long-running feud with the Insectrons that informs their standing in the fight. They're each interesting in their own way and really caught my attention when they were the focus of an episode or two.

    The only unfortunate thing is that very little of this actually goes anywhere. The Autorollers get a bit of focus and then are dropped so hard that they become background characters who do nothing of any value. The Insectrons' reluctance is important, but that wavers as the series progresses and we mostly get Drillnuts, Bigmos, Tonbot, and Scissor Boy being willing to help the Maximals to some degree, but also not being important enough to ever get focus again. And the Seacons have their mini-arc and then depart for parts unknown only to get captured and brainwashed (mostly) off-screen.

    In some ways it's emblematic of what Beast Wars II was: a show with some great ideas that could've used more focus instead of paying all that attention to things that mostly sabotaged them.



    4) Scuba: too good for this show

    Scuba is my favorite character in this show. It's not even particularly close

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I mean look at those. How can you not love the guy?

    Honestly, the oddest part of Scuba becoming a favorite is that he probably shouldn't be. He embodies the sort of "serious, no nonsense strong professional soldier" character type that I tended to complain about in the previous Japanese shows as too boring to carry viewer interest through a series. But for Scuba it works because instead of being one identical cog in a machine made of similar characters, here he contrasts against the rest of his Maximal cohorts, who are almost all louder and more colorful personalities with the possible exception of Lio Convoy. This means that instead of just being a sea of bland, Scuba gets to inhabit that personality as his own unique quirk and it helps set him apart as "the guy that gets the job done" when most of the others aren't quite so competent.

    Plus he has the advantage of just being so competent that he stands head and shoulders above everyone else. Ther aren't many times throughout the series where Scuba is made to play the fool, suffer a demoralizing loss, or look overmatched or seem like he's anything less than in control of whatever situation he finds himself in. And that's what makes him unique and fun.



    5) Layers of scheming

    This isn't anything new. Victory already explored this ground a bit with Deathsaurus, Leozack, and Hellbat. But that doesn't mean it isn't fun to see the bad guys undone in part by their own infighting and selfishness. So here we get the layers of manipulation as we have Galvatron being undermined by Megastorm and his thirst to depose his older brother (only to be held by by his relative incompetence) and at the same time he's pitted against Starscream who has similar goals but a different approach (less confrontational, more intent on swelling support among the other Predacons or nudging Megastorm to do the job for him) and it all works as a fun game of cat and mouse between the two and against Galvatron who seems at times vaguely aware of what's happening but either unconcerned or unconvinced of the true depth of either other bot's planning.

    It's a bit of a repeating pattern for me to say "yeah but" about this item, but it too has issues with petering out and being rendered meaningless as by the time the major plot arc of the series (Galvatron's plan to harvest the angolmois) picks up and Megastorm and Starscream have been reformatted into Gigastorm and Hellscream their individual scheming mostly falls by the wayside and they don't really push the envelope against Galvatron as much as they used to (or in Gigastorm's case he becomes more bumbling and ineffectual at it, neutering his threat level) and they somewhat fade into the background so as not to distract from the grander scheme. It's a shame it came to that since it would've been fun to see Galvatron try and enact his plan while fending off the challenges of his underlings.


    BONUS: Navi, a computer that made me care about them as a character

    This is just a little extra thing I wanted to comment on without going as in depth (relatively speaking) as the other points. Computer AIs in the Transformers have never been that big of a deal. In most western shows Teletraan-1/2 or the Maximal/Predacon computers have voices that mimic sentient interactivity (ie their speech is relatively "normal" sounding, with shifts in tone, emphasis, and cadance that suggest emotion behind the voice and not just an audible readout) but the computers themselves are never treated as anything more than a tool that can talk. It's a bit different in Japan as Beast Wars gave us "Navi-ko" the Predacon base computer which had actual conversations with Megatron and a seeming personality of its (her?) own. And that continues here in Beast Wars II as we are introduced to Navi, the computer on board the Maximal ship Yukikaze. It's somewhat debatable how much of a real character Navi actually is, but the way she interacts with her surroundings suggests she has at least a rudimentary level of AI in her systems. And it makes sense that the Transformers as mechanical/computer based life forms might have an understanding of their cybernetic intelligence and the technological know-how to craft at least a decent facsimile of a real personality for their computers. What this means is that Navi gets to actually be a part of the story and the action at some points and has some pretty enjoyable bits. From her panicked freak-out over the Jointrons messing with her systems to getting a cool little drone body to fly around in to getting to save the day when the little Mars-based UFO thing comes to the planet to destroy it, Navi actually became one of my low-key favorite parts of the series, a first for a Transformers show.



    THINGS THE SERIES DID POORLY

    1) Lio Junior: Series killer

    UUUUUUuuuuugggghhhh..... I already went over how Lio Junior's mere presence tended to suck the series grades down and turn Beast Wars II into the worst reviewed series I've watched so far, so I'm not going to belabor that point too much again.

    Point is that Lio Junior is simply an awful character.

    He combines the worst aspects of Headmasters Chromedome and Masterforce Ginrai into one frustrating and incredibly annoying package. From the moment he shows up he oozes entitlement and arrogance, immediately latching onto the idea that Convoy is his "father" and expecting a relationship and special treatment from teh commander, which he throws in everyones' faces every time he doesn't get his way by having a screaming, raving tantrum about how unfair it is that everyone doesn't bend over backwards to give him exactly what he wants.

    And what does he want? He wants to run off and face the Predacons himself to show how tough and capable of a warrior he is. He wants respect handed to him because he thinks he's strong and competent and the equal of any other Maximal on the team. Which is laughable because he tends to get his naive butt handed to him more often than not by Preds who are fully capable of exploiting his headstrong behavior and lack of wisdom or common sense. And does he ever learn anything from these clashes? Not really. Sure, he claims to figure things out every time, and the rest of the Maximals congratulate his growth and his spirit in taking on the stupid overly aggressive challenge he did as if it was a good thing. And then the next episode comes and we repeat the whole process over again. All the way up to the movie, which is pretty much a double-length exercise in pandering to every stupid thing Lio Junior does and having him get off consequence free yet again.

    Then, as suddenly as he appeared and formed this endless loop of suck, he suddenly seems to get over it shortly before the finale and just like Chromedome we're supposed to accept that a switch has been flipped and he has undergone all the growth expected of him in between episodes with no real payoff for the audience. This is frustrating, but at least it's consistent with how the franchise has handled this sort of character.

    Until it isn't. Becuase in the series' penultimate episode and finale that all gets thrown out the window and Junior's back to his old ways and is back to getting rewarded and congratulated for his terrible behavior as he plays a role in saving the day.

    Ultimately, that's what bugs me the most about Lio Junior: Chromedome acted like an asshole and got away with it, but Lio Junior acts like an asshole and gets praised for it. He gets rewarded for it. he gets it normalized and justified and encouraged. And for a series that is aimed at a fairly young audience (I believe the expected target group is like 5-7) that seems like a terrible moral to present to your audience: If you don't get your way just scream and throw a tantrum and ignore everyone to do what you want until they're forced to say "you were right and you're awesome'. Don't be respectful. Don't listen to your parents or teachers or others who have a rightful position over you. Don't be patient or acknowledging of your limits. Be an asshole to get what you want and be uncompromising about it.

    The grade breakdown posted the other day makes it about as clear as I can present it: The moment he debuted started a downward slide until the end of the series punctuated with a lackluster finale that disappoints heavily based on the fact that it focuses so heavily on him.

    He's the anti-Scuba and made me hate large portions of a series that I so wanted to enjoy.


    2) New forms, new powers, new blandness

    Like its predecessor series, Beast Wars II takes opportunities mid-flow to reformat and revitalize characters with new powers and transformations. Unlike Beast Wars' quantum surge or mysterious alien tech upgrades or spark-mingling, Beast Wars II restricts its changes to just the one faction as only the Predacons get juiced up on Angolmois to reinvent themselves (Lio Junior's creation aside). In doing so we go from Megastorm, Starscream, BB, Thrust, and Dirge to Gigastorm, Hellscream, Max-B, Thrustor, and Dirgegun. This should be an opportunity to take the characters in exciting new directions or give added energy to their plans and goals.

    And then it mostly went nowhere. Hellscream's plans to usurp Galvatron mostly went away or became more ineffectual. Thrustor and Dirgegun were just incompetent as ever. And Gigastorm went full comedy character as he could seemingly no longer even pretend to be stealthy or smart about his attempst to oust his brother. It all just sort of falls apart and what was a richly interesting set of Predacons are reduced to being cogs in Galvatron's angolmois gathering machine. It might've been kind of necessary to focus on the plan since it was the crux of the series' major story arc in the back half but it does take the wind out of the sails of many of the Predacons at a time where their new forms and powers should've been the catalyst to more interesting iterations of the treachery and intrigue.


    3) Santon and Skywarp: Living props

    At the same time that Lio Junior arrives we get our first (and only) explicitly Maximal reinforcements in the series (in terms of being regular Maximals, not a subfaction, and coming from Maximal command as opposed to being born like a messiah-like plot device like Lio Junior) in Skywarp and Santon. They're important when they debut, bringing with them important intel about Galvatron's plot and bonding with Lio Junior in a seeming mentor role. And that's great, right?

    Well... It would be. If it went anywhere. Because no sooner do they debut and provide their real bit of importance to the series (combining with Lio Junior to form Magnaboss) then they find themselves relegated to simply existing in the background of most scenes, emerging only to yell "youngster!" (I believe they're just saying "waka!" which if google translate is to be belived is 若 or "youth". "Youngster" would actually be "wakamoto" meaning that either this is a quirky translation convention I'm not 100% able to sort out with my limited Japanese skills or is more of a slangy short-form of the term. But that's neither here nor there) and turn into a literal hat and jumpsuit for Lio Junior to get his very own super mode that behaves more like an extension of him than a real combiner.

    Honestly, I get the sense that they probably have more lines that are simply one or both of them screaming "waka!" as Lio Junior goes off to do something stupid than they do actual lines of plot relevant dialogue that aren't focused around Lio Junior in some way.

    What makes this worse is that they seemingly could've had an avenue to be more interesting. According to TFWiki, supplementary material suggests Santon was a medic and Skywarp is shown briefly in the series to have a mechanical aptitude as he builds Navi's drone body for her. Plus they are, according to Lio Convoy, respected Maximal generals whose names and reputations are known to himself and other Maximals. They would've and should've been valuable assets to the Maximal team as strategists, secondary commanders, specialists, and competent soldiers (along with Scuba and in contrast to the more quirky work of the rest of the Maximals). Having a medic or a second tech nerd to pair with Diver would've been useful. But alas their only role was to make sure that Lio Junior could look heroically reckless and to be the way he gets to achieve the power of Magnaboss (which is honestly less a combiner and more just a super-mode for Lio Junior since most of the time Skywarp and Santon are reduced to simply providing advice or instruction on how to use Magnaboss' powers rather than acutally guiding the young twerp in combat.

    They end up feeling like a return to the Autobots of the previous anime series, where their characterization is unimportant becuase they aren't the stars and that any quirky or interesting bits on their part would be bad because they would detract from the attention that other "important" bots (like Lio Junior) would receive.

    4) Lio Convoy the ineffectual leader

    In many cases a faction is as interesting or effective as the leader that commands it. Optimus Prime, Rodimus Prime, and Optimus Primal showed themselves to be engaging and capable leaders of their troops, as were their respective counterparts. And as a result the shows flourished. Star Saber was perhaps a little bland, but Deathsaurus was great and Victory worked well enough. But you could see the negative results that sprang from poor leader characters, whether it was the dithering, indecisive Fortress in Headmsters, the grating do-it-all Ginrai, or the vague nonsense of Devil Z, a poor leader handicaps their faction from being able to be as interesting as they might need to be simply because no character is going to be as integral to the faction's operation as their commander.

    And so we arrive at Lio Convoy, the head of the Beast Wars II Maximals. And he's.... not good.

    at first it seems like he's going to embody that sort of generic "strong leader who stands up for justice and is stoic and unyielding in the face of evil" leader archetype that we've seen before. It's not the best leader character to have, but at least it's a workable one. Then things end up going off the rails for him. By series end Lio Convoy's tenure as commander is highlighted by his continuing inability to stand up to his own troops and keep everyone in line. Whether it's happily excusing the Jointrons' nonsense with "they just do things differently" even as their antics sabotage the Maximal war effort, seemingly being unconcerned with Tasmanian Kid going off and doing something dumb, or utterly failing to take a firm hand with Lio Junior and ultimately driving a lot of the little twerp's worst behavior because he both largely fails to satisfactorily address Junior's insistence that Convoy is his father (he makes all of one comment acknowledging their apparent relationship, which only serves to embolden Junior's sense of entitlement) and routinely refuses to chastize or rebuke Junior any time he endangers himself or the rest of the Maximals out of his selfish need for validation and kudos.

    And that's terrible. Because it makes him look like he has absolutely no control over his troops. And that he's fine with them making their work harder rather than step in and tell Lio Junior to stop being an idiot, or tell the Jointrons to stop "helping" or basically at any point stand up and be a leader and make the others follow orders.

    You'd think that would be the worst of it, but then we get big showdowns with Galvatron where the Predacon leader gloats and taunts Convoy over how he plans to use the Angolmois energy to force the universe to order under his rule in the name of peace and justice. And then when Convoy objects Galvatron asks him to define justice if he believes the Predacon commander's version is invalid. And what is Convoy's response?

    He doesn't know if he can. That's right. Faced with the biggest moral soapbox moment of the series, he chokes and blows it and eventually only recovers enough to rattle off some meaningless nonsense that makes it seem like he lacks the conviction to truly stand up against evil. Galvatron is bad because he is and Convoy is good because he is and that's all we need to know to want to root for the Maximal hero apparently. When in reality it just makes me question harder why we should care about this schmuck and his spineless, inactive, passive non-leadership. Heck, even in the feature length movie, where it's all about him being in "imminent danger" he doesn't even really save the day. It's mostly down to Optimus Primal showing up from the past and doing it for him.

    If the show can't even be bothered to make its heroic leader an interesting character that makes us want to root for him, what purpose does he serve?

    5) Filler in a filler series

    This show is kind of behind the eight-ball for being a filler series. It's a show the exists only to stall for time while the last two seasons of Beast Wars get finished up so they can be dubbed for Japan as a single unit. So even though there's ultmiately the reveal that it's taking place way in the distant future of the Beast Wars timeline to free it from the constraints of having to not contradict anything that's happening in Beast Wars by removing any of those characters and events from the equation pretty much entirely (the movie notwithstanding), there's also kind of a sense that the show is only here to kill some time before they get back to Beast Wars. And boy do they make almost no real use of the time and story space they're afforded. Much of the first half of the show is setup and waiting and waiting and waiting until Lio Junior arrives and Galvatron reveals his ultimate plan to steal Gaia's Angolmois. From there we creep towards the finish line and the final showdown and then it all wraps up with a major climax, right?

    Nope! Turns out that it ends on something a little bit open-ended that was meant to greate the inciting incident for Beast Wars Neo.

    That means that if you're keeping score at home this is a filler series that's full of filler and that ends in a way that shows it was just filler for the launch of its sequel series.

    So what was the point?

    I know that G1 ran for almost 100 episodes and was entirely episodic, but that's the point: it was entirely episodic outside of a tiny minority of episodes. All the series afterwards were serialized to some degree and while Beast Wars and Beast Machines set up seasonal story arcs that ran for rarely more than a dozen episodes at a time (BW season 1 used a handful of mini-arcs contributing to the whole in order to break up its 26 episode run), the Japanese series have all been marked by stretches of like 35+ episodes where a lot of nothing happens and then in a short span of time they cram all the important story in. And yet while it worked out sometimes (Victory wasn't good. Masterforce did OK in this respect even if I didn't love the story) it also occasionally didn't. And Beast Wars II feels more like Headmasters in that regard than it does the other show. This could've and maybe should've been a show that ran for half its runtime and streamlined itself while also figuring out a way to make its ending a bit more contained and impactful even if it was meant to lead into the sequel (a sequel which, spoilers, has almost nothing to do with the characters of this series. So what happened to them didn't need to matter at all and could've wrapped up more concretely). Instead by the time the series ended I felt like we watched 40+ episodes where maybe 16-18 of them mattered and there were long stretches of emptiness.


    BONUS: The "wacky" Jointrons

    I knew what the Jointrons were heading into this series. I knew about the basics of their characters and the accusations of them being shallow, racist charicitures of Mexican culture.

    But honestly, as troublesome as the Jointrons' terrible theme-park-version of Mexican culture might be, the biggest problem with them is that they are simply awful. I know that's kind of the point. Their whole "character arc", if you want to call it that, is mostly them butting into the Maximals' business, doing something that causes more grief than it prevents, stumbling into a solution, and then dancing off like merry idiots unaware (or unwilling to accept) that 90% of the trouble that happened could've been avoided if they weren't at the center of it. They exist to be agents of chaos that cause the Maximals as much trouble as they solve and mine story potential from that. And there's nothing wrong with that sort of approach in theory

    But the biggest issue is that nothing ever comes of their insertion into the plot. The Maximals sort of get annoyed at them, but Convoy enables their jackass behavior with dumb platitudes like "they just have a different way of doing things" as if it excuses all the grief they've caused (hint: It doesn't.) Or they get a small win and it's used to allow them to step waaaaay over the bounds of what that level of goodwill should permit them to do unopposed.

    and then in the end they don't really do much that necessitates their presence. They're not the only bots capable of taking on Galvatron at his most powerful. The Seacons don't stick around long enough for God Neptune to become a major threat necessitating their intervention. They don't have a backstory like the Insectrons do with the Autorollers to give them a specific enemy to hunt down. And then Lio Junior shows up and we get Magnaboss and the value of them as a combiner is rendered moot anyway. And yet they get pushed like "aren't they fun and great and lovable?". I know that some people did find them funny and that humor is subjective, but given that fact there should be something else to make sure that they feel involved in the series in some way other than ancillary comic relief. But there isn't and we just get annoying characters being either funny or annoying and doing very little to justify why anyone who dislikes them should put up with them far longer than most of the supporting cast bots that get added to the story late.
     
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  17. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Snarks about old cartoons

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    I don't know why that took me the better part of the week to write. It was just weirdly like pulling teeth to get any momentum. Normally I could knock that piece out in a couple of evenings but I almost ended up spending 30-50 minutes writing each segment and did it over a week's worth of evenings.

    As much as I want to jump right into BW Neo, I still think I'm going to take a few days this week to clean up some stuff I've neglected in the last couple threads (linking an index of reviews at the start, setting the first posts to their archival format since the watches are done) and to get my files and whatnot primed for Neo while getting the thread up ahead of starting it next Sunday/Monday.

    Also because I've been super busy the last couple of weeks and it'd be nice just to have a little time to relax especially now that my sports-watching habits are cut down to just baseball and I'll be getting most of my evenings freed up again so I can better allocate time to this project.

    anyway I'll probably have the Neo thread up by Wednesday or Thursday, I hope.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2021
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  18. RKStrikerJK5

    RKStrikerJK5 Well-Known Member

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    Well, going over BW II would definitely seem like something I'd wanna put off. I don't think anyone can blame you there, dude. :) 

    Anyway... yeah. Overall i agree with all your points.
     
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  19. Leolim

    Leolim Well-Known Member

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    I kinda preferred Neo over 2.
     
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  20. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Snarks about old cartoons

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    I'm hoping I will too. Given that II was the worst reviewed show I've watched so far, it'd be a low bar to clear for Neo to be better than it.