#215c : The Transformers (Season 2)

This could be the quintessential season of The Transformers, the height of it all. The classic that many would put on a pedestal and say this is the definition of what the original G1 series represented. Season two commenced in the fall of 1985 adding the original 16 episodes to the new 49 created to allow The Transformers to be shown in syndicated markets weekdays. That’s 65 if we do the math, a lot of episodes, but those were the rules back then for broadcasting in the States. This was the season and year that I first saw The Transformers and as part of my after school activities, I included this daily ritual like clockwork.

TF_S2_1Season one was a trial run to get The Transformers started which now brings us to the newer, bigger, more action packed, super freakin’ rad season two. … oh the marketing speak… Season two took what worked for the first go round and added many new elements with additional characters being the obvious one with a new line of toys needing promotion. Second was a more expansive presence with more inclusion of sites across Earth’s globe and at times other planets besides Cybertron. …and don’t forget time travel! Plus, the mythology of who The Transformers are and where they came from was greatly amplified. And we find out there are female Autobots as well… so how do robots procreate? Yet much was the same with Optimus Prime and Megatron still leading their respective factions and all our familiar faces from before still from time to time make appearances.

TF_S2_2Interesting note is that this was the first grouping of episodes to be redistributed back to Japan. All 65 episodes were packaged as Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers while renaming characters to their native Takara names and having a Japanese dub. I consider this similar to the 1960s when British bands came over to America to play rock n’ roll to the native audience. America re-conceptualizes Japanese toys having it brought back to Japan. Japan’s version had a nice opening theme too. Speaking of opening themes, season two has the best (my opinion) in terms of the musical arrangement and animation. It’s iconic and definitive! The Transformers may have debuted in 1984, but for 1985 it exploded and for good reason, it had a very strong animated presence with more action and adventure than before.

TF_S2_3Now here is something interesting… season two is the only season without a proper beginning and ending storyline. Every other season in their own way do, which leaves me baffled. Perhaps since these were included with the season one episodes these new 49 are somehow to be shoehorned in-between the original sixteen? The Transformers never had a proper serial story line, like many shows then, and yes some episodes are multi-parters, or lead into others, but there is really no consistency for season two. You could theoretically jump around, but mind when you get to certain places where I mentioned previously when there was some sort of continuum. It’s like the ultimate grab bag season, choose your own adventure so to speak, where you can pick and decide which way to go… of course that could be true for most of The Transformers? I guess having the higher episode count gave room for more random stories ad creativity, which is what makes this season really fun.

TF_S2_4I was lucky as a kid to have a VCR in the family and was able to record many episodes from this season on a blank tape. City of Steel, Dinobot Island, Part 2, Enter the Nightbird and Microbots were the standout episodes mixed with She-Ra and ThunderCats as well as one-offs from M.A.S.K. and Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors becoming one of my golden treasure tapes that I played endlessly over and over again for years. They may not have been the best of the season, or the worst either, but they are a quartet that I have seen so many times that I could watch them blindfolded and on mute. The Transformers were a key element of my childhood, along with many other shows that attracted me to not only science fiction and animation, but also the stylings and talent of the Japanese animation industry. And although a portion of the episodes of this season were also animated in Korea, including a portion of season three and all of season four, The Transformers would eventually lead me down the rabbit hole of Japan’s proper animated work. My fandom and this site owe a major debt to this show. Thank you universe for me being at the right place and the right time to experience season two of The Transformers!

Introduction
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4

#215 : The Transformers (An Introduction)

Let this be heard far and wide… I decree that the original show of The Transformers will be a part of this site. What follows from here on will be my personal reflections on the original four seasons produced here for the west. Not only for historical significance as this was the first Transformers show ever made, but also this is a show I love. I was lucky to be born during a time to watch this show in its original airing date during the mid 1980s. All through my life I have continued to watch and rewatch and don’t consider The Transformers as a nostalgic trip. It is an ongoing mythology that I have been drawn to from the very beginning that still to this day continues to give me joy.

Though The Transformers is not really an anime, it has as many of you know its roots in Japan from the original imported toys as well as many episodes animated at studios linked to the anime industry, Toei as an example. This more than qualifies an entry here at The Classic Anime Museum. I present now a portal of your choosing for which season to browse. Enjoy!

Introduction
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4

#211 : Arei no Kagami: Way to the Virgin Space

Do you believe the universe has an edge where beyond that boundary is untouched, pure… virginal?. If space and the universe are infinite, how can there be an edge? We now are about to enter the realm of imaginative sci-fi space fantasy… rules and reason, yeah let’s leave that at the door. Ever hear of Arei no Kagami: Way to the Virgin Space? Like many obscure titles from the 1980s this was an unknown for me as well, but something about Arei no Kagami invited me in with something very familiar.

AnK_1Upon quick glance of the characters one who is in the know would easily recognize that Arei no Kagami is a part of Leiji Matsumoto’s portfolio of work. His hallmark style surrounds the visual appeal of the likes such as Galaxy Express 999 and Queen Millennia, amongst many others, but Arei no Kagami has many other similarities. A young boy in the company of a beautiful blonde woman on a sci-fi themed journey is a common theme expressed in the other two Matsumoto productions, but for Arei no Kagami we see a variation with an auburn female lead instead, Maya. Along with her is the young Meguru and both of them escape a planet torn apart by war to search for the promised land, the edge of the universe, Arei. Onboard as well is a stowaway android, Zero, who also yearns to find this special zone.

AnK_2Created specifically for Expo ’85, The International Exposition, Tsukuba, Japan, 1985, Arei no Kagami would fit into the future oriented theme of the event. And while progress and the hope of things to come were the main focus, Arei no Kagami would also question much about humanity’s past actions. The dark side of war, hatred and mistreatment towards the environment and other humans would be brought forth to our trio of space explorers who must defend the human race’s more redeeming qualities. Architecture, the arts and advancements in science and philosophies would be presented as a counterpoint. Yet the entry into the virgin space of the universe demands the most noble of hearts… can these three characters pass the test of showing that the human race is far more than our past sins?

AnK_3Matsumoto’s Arei no Kagami was a fellow classmate to his former Yamato partner Yoshinobu Nishizaki’s Odin: Photon Sailer Starlight (Oh! ODEEN!). And as different as both men are (artist vs. businessman literally), both productions are literally… light years apart in many ways. Arei no Kagami is short (20–25 minutes), a concise story and has a feeling of conclusion. You feel in many ways you made it to the final destination intended. Odin is two plus hours long, confusing, over complicated and end ups going nowhere. I am still “Searching for Odin my love” like many of us. Matsumoto was always the stronger storyteller of the two and while Arei no Kagami is very simple and kind of generic, it does what it does well with a limited time span.