First appreciation thread for the year, let’s open with a half-buried saga... The ROBOTS IN DISGUISE series is really underrated. Having checked it out earlier this year, I became an immediate fan, and I think that even though it’s the most “anime” of all the Transformer series (having been produced at the 90s-00s, US-anime’s boom era), I think it’s got some great points. THE CAST Even though most of the actors are imported from DIGIMON and other Saban shows, the cast deliver excellently on their roles. I know Neil Kaplan and Daniel Riordan are no Cullen/Welker or Chalk/Kaye, but I find their Optimus/Megatron still great and just as compelling as the other two. Beyond them, it is a great surprise to hear Jason Spisak (the dark brooding Razer from GREEN LANTERN) as the human sidekick Koji Onishi, as well as hearing Daran Norris and Steven Blum from TF PRIME as Heavy Load and Dark Scream. THE CHARACTERS Many of the old characters are given some great revisions: - Optimus Prime is prominently a firetruck for the first time, and it fits him as a hero and rescuer well. And more significantly, Optimus DOESN’T DIE. In a saga where Optimus Primes die and resurrect, the fact that this one manages to survive a battle with Megatron/Galvatron makes him a serious badass. - It was a great move to make Megatron a Six-Changer (car, dragon, bat, jet, hand, griffin, hydrofoil, etc). Even though his plans of stealing Earth’s energy were mostly anime-level ludicrous (from destroying a dam to sabotaging a space bridge), his mode made him a formidable warrior, switching between alternate modes to give him more unpredictability. - Scourge in this continuity was a fantastic fusion of a cloned Optimus and Starscream (a black repaint, who wishes to supplant his leader and rule all by himself). The first ever major Nemesis Prime, he was a great and menacing character (to both sides of the war), and his performance by the late Barry Stigler is fantastically chill and mean. The new characters aren’t too bad either: - Side Burn makes a great substitute Bumblebee as “young human sidekick robot”, with one distinct quirk: he has a fetish for scarlet sportscars. It’s one of those funny anime obsession things: he was once lured into a Predacon trap thanks to Megatron disguised as a red car, and throughout the show he constantly chases and harasses a young woman named Kelly who owns a red sportscar (or not, which sort of makes it even more bizarre and funnier). - Koji isn’t too bad either, he’s the Japanese Spike Witwicky (Spike, NOT SAM – that’s probably Jack Darcy). His father got kidnapped by Megatron, which gives him the motive and right to work with the Autobots, and even after his father is free he still continues to work for the Autobots, proving to be a crucial factor when Fortress Maximus appears. - T-AI is an interestingly diverse character: she’s a Autobot hologram in human form, who’s part human liaison to Koji, part second-in-command and lieutenant to Optimus Prime, and part exasperated matron to the more youthful of the Autobots (particularly Side Burn and Wedge). - There are actually some pretty fancy combiners in this: the Trainbot combiner Rail Racer, the Build Team combiner Landfill and the Decepticon combiner Ruination are some of the best-looking combiners out there. And they’re at least scale-accurate in their combination (Ruination especially sort of fits vehicles around appropriately, doing an even better job than his G1 Combaticon counterparts). - and finally, the series’ show stealer is the Predacon shark Sky-Byte. This dude is the Transformers’ Harley Quinn/Team Rocket: a poetry-loving henchman who wants to prove his worth and badassness, but who always gets tied up in bad luck and his own errors... and niceness. He’d be a great hero if he wasn’t desperate to prove himself as a villain. THE HUMOUR This show has more humor and arguably better humour than the other TF shows. Of course, it was a 90s anime, it was mandatory for the show to have its characters, even its evil ones, act comedic and sometimes even goofy for the children. But still, there are some great gems, a fine example being: Slapper: [disguised as Side Burn] Take that, you evil Decepticons! We're the good guys! Gas Skunk: [disguised as Prowl] Yeah. I'm a police Autobot. You're under arrest for bad behavior. Dark Scream: [disguised as X-Brawn] Yeah, we're gonna put you cowpokes in the corral, or some other junk. Gas Skunk: Hey, where's Sky-Byte? He's supposed to be in on this. [Sky-Byte emerges, disguised very poorly as Rail Racer] Sky-Byte: Heeere I am! Rail Racer, fighter for justice! Slapper: Hello? Rail Racer isn't quite that flamboyant, you know! You're never gonna make it as an actor! Gas Skunk: Well, he could always work in cartoons. The Predacons ride roughshod over plausibility, the fourth wall, and the entire "robots in disguise" concept in one fell swoop. The Fish Test - Transformers Wiki This was actually a funny scene and an example of great dubbing and great humour. It’d be difficult now for there to be a sequel/spin-off to RID. A comic series seems most likely (after all, 1980 G1’s returned in comics with REGENERATION), and would have to continue the saga from where it left. Probably have RID Megatron escape from prison and head back to destroy Earth with Optimus in pursuit once more, or something. But I would welcome an RID revival.