Friday, 20 June 2014

Transformers Marathon: Transformers: Cybertron. Why? Because "OUR WORLDS ARE IN DANGER" and we must protect them "Till all are one"

Now to a personal favourite of mine, while Armada might have been my first season of Transformers and this my last because they weren’t shown on Free to air TV here, Transformers Cybertron will always have a place in my heart. But does it still hold up when I look at it as a reviewer? This is my review of Transformers Cybertron. 

The premise? Its been *cough *cough years since the finale of Transformers: Energon and the universe is, once again, in danger. Why do I not say a exact time, because its confusing trying to pin a exact time point for this based on the show alone. With Energon, you could easily make a rough estimation based on Kicker, Rad, Carlos and Alexis's age, but they don't show up until the last few minutes of the last episode of the season. On top of that, the references to Energon are so vague, its easy to think that Cybertron is on a different timeline to Armada and Energon and the plot holes don't help. I could harp on the Mini-con issue, or the fact that Jungle Planet and Velocitron return with the Autobots and the Decepticons never bringing up the ordeals from Energon, but there's a bigger issue to me. In Energon, humans lived in Ocean City, Jungle City, Desert City and Blizzard City at least with the possibility of them also being on Lunar, Asteroid and Mars Cities... and yet Coby, Bud and Lori (the new main human characters) have no idea what a Transformer is. Are you telling me that after the events of Armada and Energon that humans STILL don't know what a Transformers is? Especially when you add the GIANT ENERGON TOWERS THAT GO FROM THE PLANET'S SURFACE TO THE STRATOSPHERE! Bulls@#%.

As I was saying before I went into that tangent, a Blackhole has appeared and is threatening the destruction of not only the universe, but time itself. In order to stop it, the Autobots "MUST FIND THE FOUR CYBER PLANET KEYS, BEFORE THE DECEPTICONS CAN USE THEM FOR EVIL" (I'll explain later), put them in the Omega Lock, and use the power of Primus to destroy the Black Hole. Simple enough, and the writers use this well. The four keys are located on Velocitron, Jungle/ Beast planet, Earth and Gigantion with each of the worlds being distinct and new in comparison to the others including Cybertron. Velocitron is covered in roads and race tracks, Jungle Planet looks to be on the verge of destruction most of the time (and its covered in lush but harsh terrain), Earth is Earth so nothing new there, and Gigantion is, well, giant. and full of cities (most of them abandoned because they go through cities like human's go through fads). Each of the Transformers on said planets keep the recurring pattern of Armada and Energon and have distinct personalities (some of which are a "upgrade" (depends on the Transformer and the individual opinions of others) when compared to their earlier incarnations). There are also a lot more Transformers this time, when comparing Cybertron with Armada and Energon and I also want to say every season except for Generation 1 including favourites like Sideways, Soundwave, Red Alert, Thundercracker and Metroplex just to name a few. The three human characters also add a lot to the series, moreso then Rad, Carlos and Alexis did in Armada. Coby, Bud and Lori add their own skills to the team whereas with Rad, Carlos and Alexis, you felt like they were more of a hinderance then actual help as they didn't really contribute much with the exception of Alexis as she had IT skills. Coby's a engineer and has, more then once, repaired the Autobots and even made a battle suit for himself. Lori has... a way with words that can even make Scouge tremble. She, like many before her and hopefully many after, is a great female character and shows that you can make great female characters in these types of shows (you can also put games here too in order to add insult to Ubisoft's injury...). Bud has more of a imagination when compared to the others, but that's because he watches a lot of movies and TV shows. As a result, Bud comes off as the comic relief of the group and he stands out like a sore thumb when compared to the other members of the cast. There are times when his ideas are actually quite good, but other times they come off as a fluke and actually help with another aspect of the story: the destruction of its 4th wall. By the end of the season, there are enough 4th wall jokes to destroy a 4th wall (I will admit, its not as much as Kid Icarus Uprising for example) and, as a result, it dates Cybertron which will eventually work to its hindrance. 

The animation continues to use the style of Energon, and as with Energon, it works well as it help the Transformers stand out. There also weren't any times (that at least come to mind) where the Transformers would randomly go back to 2D animation and as a result, the quality of Cybertron is higher then Armada and Energon, even Generation 1. Even the 2D animation has had a lot of time put into it to ensure that there isn't any animation errors. But there are still instances of lazy animation with the biggest one being the "cockpit" of all the Autobots and the Minicons. There's no background in them at all and its not just a once only, it happens EVERY TIME. While the windows still show changes in the scenery, which is a nice bit of attention to detail, I find it hard to believe that its pitch black in there so that you can't see what's behind the harness, or the floor, or the roof. On the subject of attention to detail, there are a lot of references to older seasons of Transformers, in particular Generation 1. The sound system Sideways has, purely because of a gag, was a bigger version of the cassette player that Soundwave transformed into, whenever the Transformers have a image of their forefathers, its always the designs of the original Transformers, the crown Starscream has resembles the crown he had in the original movie and sometimes, when Scouge uses his Cyber Key (this seasons version of the Minicons from Armada, you can faintly hear the original sound effects for when the transformers were transforming in Generation 1. I love attention to detail like that but I will say, you can reuse footage from Armada and Energon all that you want, it still doesn't fix your plot holes. There are times during the season when the Autobots and Decepticons have a Transformation Animation that "shows" how the toys that were released at the time transformed, which I really like as it's a subtle promotional aspect as its gives children a idea as to how difficult the transformer will be to transform.

A lot of people say that the third of anything is the worst, and while I might agree with some cases, I don't for Cybertron. This isn't because of nostalgia however, Cybertron is genuinely good. The story has a lot more weight to it when comparing it to Armada and Energon and it makes lines like "Our worlds are in danger, to save them and the galaxy we must find the four cyber planet key before the Decepticons can use them for evil" (something that you will hear every episode as its the opening line in the intro theme) and "Till all are one", the other motto for the franchise feel more important then they really are, which is a fair effort considering as its for a kids show. The constant looming threat of the Black Hole, combined with the power of the (smallest group of them) Decepticons make this possible and even makes scenes like the death of characters more important. The thing to keep in mind with it is to not look at it as a sequal to Energon in the same way Energon was to Armada. It wasn't until this marathon that I realised that it was apart of the Unicron Saga and I still enjoyed it then as I do now. As a sequal to Energon's story, its awful as the connections are so vague that it makes no difference. On its own though, its one of the best seasons of Transformers I've seen to date. The Marathon isn't done yet, up next...the bay films...

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