Set in a post G1 era (thanks to records shown in the first episode being ripped right out of the G1 cartoon) that isn't Beast Wars, one where almost every single iconic autobot and decepticon lives again like nothing has ever changed (If you don't bring it up, neither will they, besides I can't hold it against it as many transformers shows are set in a post G1 future. Has someone plotted out a Transformers Timeline yet?). Moving on, the Decepticons have been removed from Cybertron, and scattered into the stars with the intention of coming back to take it over. As a result, a lot of Autobots that aren't apart of the elite guard are more service based, repair bots. Including the main stars of the show. Optimus Prime: who was kicked out of the Elite Guard, taking the full punishment for Sentinel Prime after loosing Elita One who would go on to become this show's Black Arachnia. Bumblebee: Who didn't make the cut to be an Elite Guard member (very much abridged for the record). Bulk Head: The bruiser of the team leading to a lot of jokes related to how he breaks things. Prowl: A cybertron ninja and Ratchet: An old war veteran Medibot who's haunted by an injury he had to cause to latecomer Arcee in order to protect information related to the Autobot super weapon, Omega Supreme. All of that's abridged summaries for the record. A conflict with Decepticons Lugnut, Blitzwing and Starscream caused the cybertronian relic, the All Spark, to shatter into pieces and scatter across the planet and that's the reason the show stays mostly on Earth. Do they actively hunt the pieces like Armada's minicons? Nope. Its more "its there if we need it". While it may mean the plots often come off as sparatic, it does lead to a more focused version of the G1 cartoon. We don't have as big of a cast as often as there was in G1 and while many characters don't get backstories, many don't need it. It also leads to something that was original at the time, human threats! Not like Bayformers army fettish, but a roster of human villains that come off as threats from Batman Beyond. They do tend to get left behind as the Decepticon threat gets stronger, especially when Megatron makes his return. But it was a nice change of pace.
The show loves to make call backs to the franchises past while adding new characters along the way, many I'm still learning about to this day. Bulk Head, Lugnut, Sentinel Prime and Lockdown all made their debuts in this series (among others), but on top of this we get Black Arachnia and Waspinator (granted with updated personalities and backstories) from Beast Wars, the Dino bots from G1, all the seakers appear here along with new comer Slipstream, who I think is a refference to Starscream's french voice actor in G1 as in France, Starscream was a girl. I think, I could be wrong, TF Wiki isn't supporting that. Strika from Beast Machines, Blackout from the 07 movie, Hot Shot from RID 2001, and this isn't even including background characters and just limited to the transformers. What I do like about it though is that it rarely ever feels forced in, something a lot of things that attempt to refference others fall into. "Why not have some of the people living in the main city be the Generation 1 Witwickies?" "If Starscream is going to clone himself, why not make his clones refference the other G1 Seakers?" It also makes the world feel more alive, as one thing I personally would love to see for an anniversary show (which Animated was), is a show that gets as many Transformers in it as possible, maybe even leading to a giant battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons. While that in itself is still a dream to happen, this does come close to it.
In terms of the humans, I think this is one of the best human casts we've gotten. To me, the kids in Cybertron and the humans in Prime do beet it, but its still top 3. Sari is one of the best kid characters the series has had because unlike many, there is an air of independence around her, especially when she gets an upgrade for Season 3. Her father is another great character in it, and surprisingly enough, the third time a father figure (not counting pre movie Spike) was in the series at all, and the second one to be a main character for the majority of the show's life (but that one I could be wrong as as the one I can't confirm is RiD 2001). I made the comparison to Batman Beyond before, and the reason I spesifically say Beyond rather then the normal Batman rogues is because of the originality there is (also evil business person being evil because kids show). Some are really one note tropes like the "Robin Hood" bad guy, and the speedster villain. But one I have to give props for is The Headmaster, I think that's one of the best uses for a Headmaster I have ever seen in this franchise. "Super villain power": cuts off robot heads (for some reason they don't die but eh, kids show. Makes more sense then Last Knight completely negating the point of death because Bumblebee) puts headmaster unit on, now we have an emo scientist in control of transformer bodies. Can that please be in Titans Return?
The art style is very bright, very stylized, with a hint of anime. To me, this is the kind of style that would be for G1 if it was animated today. With the one main exception coming to mind being Prowl, due to the fact that he's now a police motorcycle rather then a police car, all the characters in this look like they could have come from G1. I think the only other exception that was in the show was Red Alert now being a fembot, and Drag Strip in the animated universe (show, toys, game, comics ect) was also given a sex change. Though before complaints can come from that, Red Alert's not that sacred. Remember, back in the unicron trillogy he was an ambulance and not a sports car made to be a rescue car. As for Drag Strip. I'll let this from TF Wiki speak for itself. "Drag Strip has plenty to be angry about. Not only did Scalpel protoform her into a weak Autobot body, but she has to take orders from those privileged idiots Wildrider and The Motor Master, and why? Because Cybertron is ruled by Autobots, not rightfully by Decepticons. Never mind that she plays the stupid damsel-in-distress role in Team Stunticons' fake stunt show. That's just adding insult to injury. So don't be surprised if she takes out that anger on everyone with her laser swords." I left some links her for you to read if you're curious. I really should look into the animated comics though. The biggest difference and stand out feature of this art style though is the heads. For almost all of the Transformers faces, from Optimus Prime to Ultra Magnus (who I should say is now the president of Cybertron who is worthy of the power of Thor now. Congrats to him for the promotion), their faces can be described as 50% normal face build and then 50% chin. The only exceptions to this rule are the fembots who just have normal face builds in the stylized art style. Its silly, but it would be sillier if it was just one Transformer, so at least the theme is strong. Music also goes into the "I could see this in G1 if it was reanimated", even the main theme is a remix of the old intro, that yes has been reused a lot to the point that its rarer to see a show not use the theme, its at least still a great remix of the song (compared to what's coming up next).
Encase you can't tell. I really enjoy Animated. It's a perfect love letter for the series, while also being something new, something original, something that can stand on its own. It's silly without being pandering, none of the comedy feels forced in, its a joy to watch if you're open to a show that returns to a sillier form of Transformers, one that embraces that its a cartoon. Worth a look if you're ever curious. Up next, Marissa's been up to something in a new review on Saturday, as for the next Transformers show, Robots in Disguise 2015.