//Hear Ye, For I Proclaim That This Show At One Point Did Not Suck; (Forgive Them Lord, They Know Not What They Dub)
You may remember my acidic article about Transformers Armada. You may remember my then fond but later despondent look at the follow-up schlock, Energon. I guess anything stacks up as exciting against the adventures of the Three Plus Two Dorketeers And Their Minicon Pals.
Did You Know: Voltronimus Prime's sub-vehicles were originally going to be driven by the Teen Girl Squad? I imagine the decision was overridden by the guy in charge of making sure that the kids are never in real danger ever.
So, a third Japanese, mainly CG, Transformer-based animation, Galaxy Force debuted.Naturally destined for release here as Transformers: Cybertron, where does it fall on a scale of Scramble City(stop motion defined as toys being thrown at the camera) to Beast Wars(lovingly rendered Canadian graphics infused with an unhealthy dose of obscure TF geekdom)?
Allow me to step aside a moment and say as much as I loved the 80's cartoon- fuck! It was an 80's cartoon. It existed to sell toys, for the most part. Megatron may have been a badass, but when it was all boiled down, his schemes were no more brilliant than those of Cobra Commander. Or Doc Terror. I have one of those old storybooks-on-tape from when I was little where he hijacked a satellite to shoot lasers at a mountain in order to get crude oil from it. Without you know, setting it on fire.
In a lot of ways, Galaxy Force is sort of a go-between uniting the 'concepts' of the different series in an all new setting. There are now multiple worlds with TF life on them, in addition to Cyber/Seibertron. Stuff like the Space Bridges come up again to unite the concepts- in a move that reveals the season gimmick WITHOUT making me want to deck someone, the different races and powers were created when the bridges connections were lost, stranding them apart to 'evolve' into different races.
In a nutshell, the Grand Black Hole is a bigger-than-average black hole, threatening to swallow Cybertron and the rest of the galaxy. At least that's what they say. Considering how close it looks to the planet already without doing more than sucking some loose objects off the surface, I get the feeling said black hole must not be done collapsing on itself yet or something. In any case, it's a bad scenario for the Cybertronians' lawn furniture (as I write this my plastic chairs are being blown back and forth on the patio), so the new Cybetron/Autobot leader, Galaxy Convoy begins leading an exodus to Earth, where they'll disguise themselves as vehicles until... uh. Well, thankfully a portal from the ancient past pops open about then, enter Vector Prime. VP delivers a map, and some exposition. Sign here for boringness. Turns out Primus, the god of the Transformers, has parts of his essence scattered about the galaxy as the Planet Force. So, by gathering them up, they hope to get rid of the black hole and save everything. Easy as pi.
Of course, that's until the Destrons (Decepticons) show up. They must be meta-gaming or something as Starscream and the new, improved MASTER Megatron single-handedly kick the crap out of the Autobot army who have been on a strict Superfriends-esque 'no hitting' rule since Armada. After an attempt to garner his trust, Megatron gets tired of it and bitchslaps Vector Prime for the map to the planet force, and speeds off back to his headquarters in scenic... uh, Hell. Wherever they live now, it appears to be an endless lake of fire, so let's just say it is.
Of course, this show was made in Japan. And much like the finely-tuned orchestrated movements of any opera or kabuki play, it is to be expected that Giant Badass Robots/Monsters are to be accompanied by a gaggle of small children. Thankfully, they sort of take mercy on us this time. The elder and by semi-default by reason of blandness, Coby is a mechanical prodigy. As he has some sort of discernible use to the team with his almost instinctive ability to fix Cybertronian equipment, he usually takes the back seat to the antics of his kid brother Bud and their bitchy friend Lori.
There are naturally a number of supporting characters; a CIA man who seems interested in the TransFormers, who seem to be a myth in this version, the bumbling, trigger-happy Thundercracker, Landbullet, Gasket... The enigmatic (read: Just plain confusing) NoiseMaze. The Autobot team consists of Wolverine-made-jeep Jackshot, the nuerotic missile platform BackPack, and Dreadlock the transport plane. There's also a handful of Minicons, one of whom is notably voiced by Kasumi from the Dead of Alive games.
Did You Need To Know? Loli/Rori-kon is Japanese for pedophelia. And that's just super by them!
This batch of kids isn't actually too bad. Then again, look who we have to compare them to:
Kicker: Self-absorbed dick. His nondescript 'danger/energon senses' and having two teams of Mini-cons and Ironhide as his personal bitches undoubtedly set precedents for a lot of obnoxious fanfic writers down the line. The fate of the galaxy is in his hands if you ignore the fact everyone else does the work!
Rad, Carlos& Alexis: Two ethnically-diverse 'wicked awesome' chums and their female friend. Aside from being more annoying than Captain Planet's junior-high harem, they also were directly responsible for re-starting an interstellar war by reactivating the Mini-cons.
And were Megatron and Optimus really that bored at the beginning of Armada that they were just sitting around waiting for a mini-con signal? They both showed up on Earth like thirty seconds later.
Fred& The Fat Kid: Fred may have actually been the fat one. I don't fucking care. When the Annoying Kids have their own set of even more annoying kids sneaking about trying to be their friends- or whatever.... Jesus. The Fat Kid shared the amazingly bad voice of Eddy from Ed, Edd n' Eddy.
So yeah. Having an introverted mechanic, a b-movie buff, and a bitchy city girl is a step up. They could have just brought back Kicker and Carlos and put the fat kid in a wheelchair.
The thing that makes Galaxy Force good, is that it seems to finally make the most of its Japanosity. Whereas the old show had all sorts of continuity issues since they pretty much made stuff up as they went along, with this series it's all planned in advance where it's going to go, and I think I like where it's going.
Unfortunately, this gush was merely a foreword. For while Galaxy Force is an interesting take on the long-standing and often contradictory mythos, the English adaptation, Cybertron, will fook things roight up. Now, in general few things tee me like 'Sub-Nazis' in anime fandom. Types who quibble over how the name a company picks isn't their ideal romanizationan and thusly completely wrong. I have friends who get worked up at the dubbed version of Yu-Gi-Oh's edits, and that used to make me just laugh and laugh.
Then I started reading the name changes for Cybertron. I thought I could take it, really- what's in a name? Well, turns out a name change can completely kill an underrunning theme. Each planet had a Convoy as a leader- Convoy being the usual moniker the Japanese use instead of Optimus Prime. Well, right off the bat I assumed they would at least preserve the '-imus Prime' thing for all the leaders. Maybe make Nitro Convoy into Rodimus Prime. He's red, after all. Instead, NC became Override. OVERRIDE. Oh yeah, and he's a she now. I guess the curves and translucent red must have made them think 'pink and curvy= chick.' Demolishor is a powerful sounding if not slightly stupid sounding name. It's been good enough for the past two series, after all. Demolishor becomes MUDFLAP. Just screams power, doesn't it.
MEGA MUDFLAP BLADE- SCHWINGGG!
I proposed calling the guy Compensator, but they didn't respond to my e-mail.
How about this?? Let's take Landbullet and Gasket, the thugs inspired by Japanese bikers, and put a totally new spin on their friendship. We'll rename them Sigfried and Roygar. Their origin is revealed in the DVD-only special "Skidz has two Daddies."
The above is from the hi-larious fifteenth episode. Things start to take a turn for Wacky Races. That's one of the things I hope they manage to preserve. They're pretty good about tossing some comic relief in without bringing total retardation into the picture. I'm tempted again to compare it to Beast Wars, just a little below Mainframe in terms of technical aptitude and with a more Japanesey feeling.
All said and done, though, I think this is as close to a 'classic' show as we're going to be getting in this ANIME IS ANIMAWESOME era. Yeah, the constantly-looped "FORCE CHIP! IGNITION!" footage gets old fast. That's really about the biggest downer. Give it a chance when it shows up on cable if you can't be bothered to download the subtitled ones off the client of your choosing. Just be sure you have a cheat sheet for the names.
And yes. I am dorkily awaiting the figures, as a sucker for good mecha designs.
3/2 site contents ©2004 mark evans