Monday, 16 June 2014

Transformers Maraton: Transformers Energon. Let's mine with Transformers

After the Unicron saga of Transformers Armada, the people at Hasbro, combined with the writers of the show believed that there was more that could be done in this continuity. It’s because of this reason, Transformers Energon is this review. Do note that it’s recommended that you see the finale of Transformers: Armada as this review will contain spoilers.

Its been 20 years since the destruction of Unicron at the end of Transformers Armada. The Autobots and the Decepticons have a uneasy truce and are working together with a new race of Transformers, the Omnicons, to mine Energon, a fuel source that can (apparently) do almost anything. Several cities have been made in several areas on earth, including Ocean City, Jungle City, Desert City, Blizzard City, and Lunar City on the Moon among other settlements. The naming isn’t so bad early on in the series, but when it gets to the second half and they’re just replacing the word city planet... The main transformers from Armada (for the most part) make a return (Optimus, Hotshot and Jetfire for the Autobots, Megatron (yes, he’s back), Starscream, Demolisher, Cyclonus and Tidal Wave for the Decepticons) each of them sporting a redesign (even to their names for Cyclonus, becoming Snowcat and Tidal Wave, becoming Mirage). Favorites from previous generations return including Rodimus Prime (renamed to just Rodimus and gaining a massive upgrade in the personality department at the same time), Shockwave (who’s named Shockblast) and Wheeljack (I mean Downshift). The characters are all interesting in some form with none of them really hitting that “why is this character her, they suck” category for me. Even Kicker, the new human character is still interesting and a huge contrast from other human characters of the past. He’s one of the rare, “there’s only one of them” type of characters and while he is annoying at the start of the series, he gets better as the season progresses. Snowcat probably comes the closest to the “they suck” category for me and I do regard him as the weakest of the characters (not to mention, by the end of the first arc he’s in you will get sick of yodelling. Alpha Q also comes close but I like Alpha Q more then I like the Quintasons from Gen 1 as each of the face has a separate, distinguishable voice and personality (and he looks great in comparison).

As a sequel to Armada, it is obvious that this continues the story. Rad, Carlos and Alexis make several appearances as minor characters and the story loves to remind you of the events of the Unicron arc in Armada. That being said, Energon doesn’t retread old ground from Armada. All the areas appear to be brand new from what I can tell, only six Mini cons return in the form of Highwire, Sureshock, Grindor, and the Air Defence Minicon Team Jetstorm, Runway and Sonar (now called Wreckage, Scattor and Skyboom respectively), which now form the Energon Sabre instead of the Star Sabre. The music has also had a boost in comparison to Armada as more of the tracks stand out while also working alongside the video. It’s much more of an action based soundtrack in comparison to Armada as a large portion of the songs are for the battles. The art style is also reminiscent of Armada but the Transformers appear to be 3D renders (most of the time) whereas the other characters are still in the 2D Anime style. However, there are times when the Transformers go back to the 2D anime style for no rhyme or reason and as such, it’s one of the only times when there are animation errors that I saw that were jarring. There are some errors on the insignia’s for the Autobots and the Decepticons, but it’s not so bad that it gets confusing (unlike an incident in Gen 1 *cough Skyfire *cough). Like with Armada though, most of the technical issues comes from audio and video syncing. There was a time when Megatron had a completely different voice actor for no reason, and another time when Snowcat tells Megatron to go on while they dealt with the Autobots... but in the video, he’s talking to Skorpanok with Megatron’s voice... A pattern you’ll see with Energon is the use of Powerlink, when two or more transformers combine into a stronger form. EVERY EPISODE HAS A POWERLINK and while they look cool, they start to drag especially early on in the series when the Powerlink combinations are limited. It gets better when the other characters are introduced, giving more character options but they can still drag, especially when it comes to Optimus and either his Prime Force, Wing Sabre or Omega Supreme.

Energon concludes the Unicron saga well, better then Armada did... Is what I would say if it did end. There was a third series in the Unicron Arc, which will be the next review in this marathon. A lot of people hate Transformers: Energon and to me, it’s not that bad. It has its issues, I’ve yet to see a cartoon I completely like and have no issues, or a TV show for that matter, but even then I still find it good. Call it nostalgia goggles if you want but I went into this with a clear head (in terms of prior thoughts), not seeing the show in years and I still enjoyed it. Up next, the official conclusion to the Unicron arc (kinda): Transformers: Cybertron.

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