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Feigning normality since 1973

Transformers, Japanese Style

Filed in: Transformers.

Recently I've been catching up on the Transformers series which were created in Japan after the original 80s cartoon was canceled. Evidently the toys were still selling well enough there for Takara to commission further series.

The first of these is The Headmasters, which follows directly on from season 3 of the US toon (ignoring the three-episode season 4). As such, it brings back many of the characters from season 3 and introducing alternate versions of characters who were introduced in season 4.

While the Headmasters in the US version involve existing Transformers combining with smaller humans (or at least Nebulons, who are humanoid), in the Japanese version the heads are small robots who combine with large non-sentient robot bodies called Transtectors. They're pretty much the focus of the series, with many of the older characters barely appearing.

The second is Super-God Masterforce, which doesn't have any characters returning from the original series (although there are a couple of links to Headmasters). SGM introduces the concepts of Pretenders and Godmasters, the latter being the Japanese version of Powermasters. Like the Headmasters, the concept is switched around so that Godmasters are humans who combine with large non-sentient robot bodies. In fact, most of the characters in SGM are humans rather than robots, including their leader Ginrai (who's currently the featured article on the Transformers Wiki). And it all takes place on Earth, while The Headmasters was more spacey.

The DVDs for both series include a very dodgy English dub done in Malay. One episode in The Headmasters starts out by announcing that Mars is the fourth largest planet in the solar system and over 50% larger than Earth. I stuck to the Japanese soundtrack with subtitles, and I usually hate reading subtitles.

And now that I've watched those, there's still Transformers: Victory!

One amusing thing I noted was that both series had a trio of Decepticons who seemed to exist solely for the purposes of comedy relief. In Headmasters it was the three Decepticon Headmasters: Mindwipe, Weirdwolf and Skullcruncher. In SGM it was the three Decepticon Pretenders: Blood, Dauros and Gilmer. Similarly the Robots in Disguise cartoon (translated from the Japanese series Car Robots) had Slapper, Gas Skunk and Dark Scream. I'll be interested to see if Victory includes any comedy relief..!

Posted September 28, 2008 12:57 PM


Basically they "transformed" Transformers into Voltron?


Posted by: Thad Ritchards | September 28, 2008 10:00 PM

Yes, or perhaps more akin to Robotech. :)

Posted by: Alden | September 28, 2008 10:57 PM

I'm still waiting for a TV series of Machine Men, the toy range Hasbro ripped off wholesale for their little collection of change-o-droids.

Posted by: Jeff Stone | September 30, 2008 11:04 PM

There already is one - Machine Men were called Go-Bots in the US.

Also, Hasbro didn't rip them off - the original lot of Transformers toys were all existing toys from other toylines repurposed as new characters. :)

Posted by: Alden | October 1, 2008 7:49 AM

I stand by my completely incorrect statement. :)

Posted by: Jeff Stone | October 1, 2008 9:19 PM

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