Monday, 9 June 2014

Transormers Marathon: Transformers Armada. Lets build up a army of robots that are smaller then our enemy to help take down said enemy when they could be crushed. GENIUS!!!

And now it’s time to look at the series that got me into Transformers, Transformers: Armada. This was a “return to roots” series for Transformers as the last English series was Beast Wars and its sequel. The issue it has however is that it retreads old ground with a new concept. I’ll be comparing Generation 1’s four seasons to Armada a lot in this review but not taking the movie into consideration (it’s unfair to compare a movie to a TV season, regardless of the age).

What is this new concept? The Autobots and the Decepticons are trying to gather the most “Mini-cons” (Transformers the size of human kids), stop the other side and either bring peace to the universe or concur it (guess which side wants to do which). With this as the overarching “plot maguffen” of the season, Transformers Armada feels a lot more controlled then Generation 1 and as a result, the plot flows better then Generation 1 did. On top of this, the Transformer count has been severely cut in comparison which means that each of the Transformers gets more screen time and development along with the five kids, Rad, Carlos, Alexis, Fred and Billy (with Fred and Billy being the weakest of the human casts because, while all five are stereotypes in some way, Rad, Carlos and Alexis do have good personalities whereas Fred and Billy don’t). Because the cast has been cut, more of the individual personalities of the characters can be shown off, adding to the better execution of the plot. Returning Transformers also get a upgrade in this regard (remember how I said Blur was almost unbearable last generation? In Armada, he is amazing because of the changes in his personality (and he no longer has the rushed delivery he had in gen 1)).

The animation has also stepped up compared to Generation 1 (but after almost 20 years, it was to be expected), the battles have a lot more weight to them as the Transformers move more fluently in Armada then they did in Gen 1. On top of that, the times between battles feel livelier then before, but that could just be the cut to the cast. However, Armada does share a problem, like a lot of weekly animations, there are animation errors, but like the latter portions of Generation 1, there are only a few animation errors but unlike Generation 1, the errors are purely missing colours and with the animation style (being a more obvious anime style in comparison to Generation 1) Armada uses, black stands out a lot and as a result, while there are only a few and they might not be major errors, when they are their (like a portion of Megatron’s leg missing colour in episode 27 “Detection”). The soundtrack for Armada is both forgettable and not at the same time. The main theme is a good rendition of the original Transformers theme (at least a good instrumental of it) but the problem it suffers is that it gets used too much, meaning that it can get annoying to some people quite quickly (I personally like it so I’m willing to let it slide). However, when there are other themes used, they don’t stand out as much so I tend to forget them. I loved Armada as a kid and even to this day, after I re watched the season for this review, I you asked me to hum the theme used for general suburbia, I couldn’t do it. 

The other major issue Armada has is that, while it looks self contained, the story isn’t. Armada ends on a “cliff hanger” that ties in with its sequel Transformers Energon. I’m sure we’ve all had times when shows did this and a sequel was never made and while Energon does exist, it’s still an issue I have with shows as a whole. On top of that, there are issues with the ending that I’ll explain in the next review as it makes more sense then, but admittedly aren’t as bad as what’s to come. Transformers Armada will always have a spot in my heart because it introduced me to the franchise. It’s not perfect, but it’s still a great show to watch and I would recommend it as a introduction to the Transformers lore and mythos. However, it’s time for a break in the Transformers Marathon. E3 is coming soon and it’s time to see what games lay in store for us in the coming months (hopefully). The next review will be Transformers Energon, the second series in the Unicron Saga, but it will be next week. Until then...

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