#215b : The Transformers (Season 1)

Nothing screams a genesis point for The Transformers like the first season of the original G1 TV series. Before the live action movies, the AllSpark, all the reinvented, or updated animated series and even before the Matrix of Leadership, the Quentessons, Vector Sigma and Alpha Trion was a blank slate of a mythology for the population of the planet Cybertron. Transforming sentient robots divided into two factions in a never ending war, that’s all we knew in the mid 1980s when we first exposed ourselves to this 16 episode beginning of what was named The Transformers. Hasbro, Sunbow Production and Marvel Comic’s reimagining of imported toys from Japan would turn into one of the most popular icons of animation for the 1980s… and as for me, perhaps my favorite, or most influential show as a kid.

TF_S1_11984 would be the year of this first season for The Transformers, though in all honesty I was not exposed to our robot heroes and villains until the next year when season one was combined with season two to fill the 65 episodes count for syndicated release. The first season is like a nice tidy package… basic and compact. Autobots versus Decepticons… Optimus Prime versus Megatron… Cybertron and Earth… all the basic elements for a show about an eternal war that now has come to a stalemate. Energy is needed on both sides to strengthen their reserves as Cybertron is now depleted. A search mission is initiated which leads to The Transformers crashing onto Earth. Four million years later our robotic friends awaken to the then modern world of the mid-1980s, which means that giant transforming robots now exist among us. Exciting!

TF_S1_2What I love most about season one is the simplicity. We get a basic grouping of Autobots and Decepticons at the beginning adding in a few more as the season progresses. Everyone has a moment to shine in some fashion and for the most part reveal their character. That is a strength which was lacking somewhat in later seasons. While yes, many new faces down the line got to be seen and enjoyed as the show progressed, some others just got brief cameos. We get to know everyone here like a family, despite faction, which makes you ending up having certain preferences to favorite characters, including those of the human faction as well. Now what makes our characters so great as well? They are drawn mostly well in this first season, everything was sent to Toei for animation purposes. No I see, or perhaps hear, another factor. I proclaim this honor belongs to the voice acting talent. We got to know many of Los Angeles’ talent pool at the time who voiced a lot of other shows as well, but came together like a fine recipe with The Transformers.

TF_S1_3Imagine if this would have been the only episodes of The Transformers. Does the original 16 still stand up on their own as a stand alone? Absolutely. Fortunately, The Transformers would continue on for a long time… four seasons and 98 episodes, plus an animated feature film. Very impressive for what some might see as basic half hour toy presentation material for marketing purposes. In terms of mythologies, The Transformers was one of the creations during the 1980s that left an impact for many of us and showcased another storyline to enjoy. After all how many times has The Transformers been reinvented? Too many? Yet the fact it has shows the longevity of the basic mythology… but from this and stalwart, nothing and I am mean NOTHING(!) ever replaces this original series. …and it all started way back in 1984… who knew?

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

#206 : The Transformers: Super-God Masterforce

More classic tales of the original 1980s G1 The Transformers from the vaults of Japan!; hip hip hooray! I first want to give the utmost thanks to Japan for not giving up on The Transformers in the late 1980s. In America the tastes were changing, how fickle, and I am sure many marketing adults wanted to pump different toylines into the market, but hey… don’t mess with The Transformers, or fans of the original storyline. Japan began a second original G1 series in 1988 after the previous year’s The Headmasters and while it has The Transformers name, in terms of plot, it really jumped the shark at times. Yet The Transformers: Super-God Masterforce proved to be a strong successor.

TF_SGM_1Often when we think of The Transformers, we expect a mecha show about sentient robots. For Super-God Masterforce we insert a major twist. Humans have played a major role in The Transformers from the beginning. Spike and Sparkplug and then Carly and Daniel were key side characters from the original American version. The concept of combining the human with the machine was also explored in episodes like Autobot Spike and Almost Human. For the American fourth season, The Rebirth trilogy, the Headmasters and Targetmasters were humans and humanoids in robotic suits that allowed them to become the heads, or weapons for their corresponding Autobot and Deception machines. Japan meanwhile went with a differing mythology for The Headmasters as human sized Cybertrons (Autobots) and Destrons (Decepticons) would use larger bodies (transtectors) in an attempt to survive in their particular surrounding.

TF_SGM_2Now we move onto Super-God Masterforce where the human element of being part of the machine would take full fruit in Japan. We begin with the Pretenders who were life sized real honest to goodness Transformers, that have an alternate form of either a human (Cybertron), or demon (Destron). Maybe they used the same shrinking technology that Soundwave and Blaster had, or maybe they are cousins of Ultraman? Talk about ‘Robots in Disguise’… literally. Then we have the Headmaster Juniors which take two sets of three kids and give them fancy suits which become the heads of transactors via magic bracelets. Sounds a little like henshin meets the American Rebirth version of the Headmasters characters. And then you have Godmasters, or Powermasters in the west, who via magic bracelets gain fancy suits to turn into the engine’s of transtectors. Humans piloting robots… you know if this show was not licensed as The Transformers, this could have been like many other run of the mill mecha shows?

TF_SGM_3While Super-God Masterforce is a direct followup to the previous shows, there are some odd plot holes. First, there hardly is a mention of the back history of The Transformers including: the exodus from the planet Cybertron, or the wars from the American G1 shows. The Headmasters is occasionally referenced with the concept of Cybertrons fighting in space and a short communication from Chromodome. Then we get introduced to the new leader of the Cybertrons, Ginrai, who looks an awful lot like Optimus Prime. Didn’t he die again in The Headmasters? So… how did a red semi truck that transforms into the most iconic robot of the entire franchise end up again on Earth to be found by a young truck driver? I have no idea, but we have to roll with it I suppose. While Super-God Masterforce may make you wonder what happened to all the back story I may conclude that maybe this is an alternative universe? One truth to Super-God Masterforce is that it never takes itself seriously, so maybe I shouldn’t with my expectations for this show.

TF_SGM_4Feeling my inner child/longtime fan resonate with this show could not be denied. I too could finally become one of The Transformers, even though I am like you, a human being. While Super-God Masterforce really goes out on a limb in certain categories to what we consider the usual framework of The Transformers universe it certainly worked. And in the end all of the Transformers would revert to sentient robots. My only wish is that I would like to have a pair of those magical bracelets for myself. Then I could yell out, “MASTA-FORCE!” and become like many of my heroes. But as a substitute I and you have this show, which will suffice for now… until I move onto the third series… The Transformers: Victory.