Created by: Hasbro
Starring: Hiroko Emori, Ikuya Sawaki, Hideyuki Hori
In the late ‘80s, with the original The Transformers animated series coming to an end, Japan decided to run with the show with their own original show based off of the American-produced series based off of Japanese toys. Transformers: Headmasters is the first series in this line.
Transformers: Headmasters effectively replaces season four of the original American cartoon, picking up after season three and creating an entirely new introduction and concept for the Headmaster Transformers themselves. Instead of transformers bonding with aliens, the Headmasters are simply a smaller Transformer evolutionary offshoot that transform into simply heads of otherwise lifeless robotic prosthetic bodies. Hence “Head” masters.
In this series, in the far-off future of 2011, the Autobots and the Decepticons continue their galactic battle, with factions of the newly-rediscovered Headmasters taking part on both sides. Soon, the Headmasters and the series newbies replace the old guard and franchise favorites, who are either blown up or simply vanish (very reminiscent of the 1986 movie).
Most of the new Headmasters are young and brash. And annoying. None exemplify this more than the group leader and main Headmaster – Chromedome. How the hot-headed and immature Chromedome leads an elite attack group of Autobots is beyond me, and his ineptitude is all the more apparent in the last third of the series with the ACTUAL elite Autobot attack group that become the Targetmasters.
Luckily for Chromedome though, he’s not the worst of the bunch. The Decepticon Headmasters, aside from their leader Scorponok, lose massive amounts of intelligence throughout the whole series. Probably hard drive corruption or something. As for the most annoying out of the bunch, that goes to returning champions Daniel Witwicky and Wheelie, who are both just as groan-worthy as they were in the 1986 movie. At least Daniel becomes competent in the latter third after forming a relationship with Decepticon six-changing, illusion-master badass Sixshot.
Some moments shine when the Headmasters themselves are in their natural, diminutive forms, which also carry an emotional vulnerability beyond blindly rushing into a fight. These moments are few and far between though. The other highlights tend to include Sixshot, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
There are some pretty big events too when you sit and think about it. Think the Death Star blowing up Alderaan. None of it really has any impact though because the many of the characters have superficial and fleeting emotional reactions. Those who do show an impact are characters that are whiny and inept, so the audience ultimately doesn’t connect with them anyway.
The show finally hits its peak in the last third. Decepticon leader and Headmaster Scorponok finally has an overarching plan that pits characters in actual danger and introduces some real drama into the series. Sixshot also has some character development (he owns the last four episodes), which while doesn’t make much sense given the character’s overall story, at least makes him one of the more fleshed out and interesting of the cast.
The last few episodes and the random of Japanese WTF moments aside, it’s a chore to get through the series. Several episodes are less about Autobots versus Decepticons as they are me versus sleep.
The main problem is a lack of a captivating lead, a courageous character the audience would follow along. The characters in the show aren’t that, and they don’t have nearly enough character depth or story drama to make up for it. Instead they rely on corny gimmicks such as literally being powered by friendship. You can almost choke on the cheese, but there’s no substance to go with it.
The Video and Audio
The series is in 4:3 fullscreen. The subtitles are white and don’t pop out well. They’re also scattered with typos and missing spaces between words. With no English dub, messing up the subtitles is especially bad.
The audio is basic, all in Japanese. The music ranges from forgettable to scene ruining with some of the combat themes. The main theme is surprisingly catchy though.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The four-disc set comes in a single case with cardboard slip cover. The package feels weighty and solid, but a peg to keep the case shut did break off. I do like the clean and sharp cover art, with Sixshot about to lay the smackdown on Chromedome.
The lone extra is an art gallery. There’s not much art though, and it’s all simple line art. Not to mention it’s only of the new Transformers introduced in the series, so mostly ones I couldn’t care about.
I honestly feel bad not liking this series. I’m a mecha fan. Cheesy giant robots are right up my alley. I’m not the biggest Transformers franchise fan, but I liked the original and the 1986 movie well enough, and I love Beast Wars. When it comes down to it, the characters just weren’t there for me. The only one I began to like took until two thirds into the series.
If you’re a Transformers fan that’s been waiting for years for the Japanese-only content, I’m sorry. Hopefully this will be more your thing than mine.
Overall (Not an Average) 3/10
The Series 3/10
The Video and Audio 4/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 3/10
Overall (Not an Average) 3/10