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Dezaras Prime's Transformers: Takara Reviews #1

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Dezaras Prime's Transformers: Takara Reviews #1

Post by Dark Saviour on Sat Feb 09, 2013 8:29 am

Greetings one and all, my name is Mike Taylor (aka Dezaras Prime) and I'm here with a Transformers: Takara Cartoon Review!


These are episodic reviews of the Japanese exclusive series' that took place after The Return Of Optimus Prime. I will use the western names, where applicable, but will only use the western series as a reference point (ie: comparisons, and there are quite a few!)

I will provide a synopsis, along with brief background info where I can and touch upon some trivia notes. As a "bonus" I will also watch the Japanese version and the infamous Star TV dub (Headmasters only thank Primus!) and compare the difference in dialogue and names.

I will also attempt to point out any discrepancies between the eastern and western versions of events.

This isn't all me. Where applicable I'll watch episodes with commentary tracks to give you more insight. Commentary tracks are provided by Chris McFeely (Metrodome releases).

I will then give my own personal thoughts on the episode and give it score out of 10.

There is no set time for these reviews, I'll do them when I want :P

If anyone notices something I've missed then feel free to comment.

And finally, above all else, I will be having fun with these! I hope you do too :)


So let us begin with Scramble City!

(Note: This was a Japanese exclusive direct to video release (Original Video Animation or OVA). It takes place between season 2 and The Movie and was released in April 1986. For some reason Japan didn't get the movie until 1989 so they needed something to bridge the gap between seasons 2 and 3.)

So we have a title sequence that runs a whopping 80 seconds!!! It opens with some season 2 title clips, then clips from More Than Meets The Eye (Part 1) and finishes with Optimus and Megatron fighting into that computer whirlpool thing. Theme tune called Transformer. It's a nice little power ballad type song I guess. This opening sequence is unique for the episode.

We begin with the opening of More Than Meets The Eye on Cybertron with Wheeljack, Bumblebee and the seekers. One of the seekers uses word "bastard"! Moving onto the Ark launching. We see footage of the Ark and the Nemesis in the asteroid field. The 'Cons board the Ark, they fight and crash. 4000,000 years later...Teletraan 1 scanning and reformatting. Megs decides to conquer Earth! Surprise. We cut to the Oil rig. Starscream uses B-word! Strangely the 'Cons are referred to as "Army Corps"...Onto The Master Builders...We see clips of Devastator fighting the Autobots. Narrator says "Can Optimus Prime defeat Devastator?!!!" Or something like that.

And then, seven minutes and nine seconds in, we get the title card!!!

We begin at a secret Autobot factory, hidden away from any human dwelling places. They are working on a top secret project-the Scramble City project! In charge of the project is Ultra Magnus! We learn that the Scramble City has been produced to counter Devastator! Magnus directs Grapple while Spike and Bumblebee work elsewhere. Well until they go for a break a couple of seconds later, leaving Carly, Chip and Sparkplug to carry on! Cheeky! We see drones and Protectobots working on the project and apparently it's going well.
We have a scene change (which, unlike the western scene changes, doesn't flip) and we're with the Decepticons at their underwater base. Megatron seems concerned about a change of the magnetic field at Point 2667 and orders Soundwave to deploy Ravage Laserbeak and Ratbat to investigate.
The 'Cons reach their destination and find massive energy readings but, as they move in closer, they are attacked by Blaster! Laserbeak shoots back so Blaster deploys Steeljaw (who flies! WTH???) and Ramhorn and a big little cassette tag team match ensues!!! Steeljaw chases Laserbeak through the sky while Ramhorn takes on Ravage on the ground. There's a funny moment where Steeljaw chases Laserbeak behind a cliff but he's being chased by Laserbeak when they come by the other side! Whether intentional or not it provided a slight comedy moment for me! Meanwhile Ratbat grounds Blaster with a shot and enters the secret base, chased by Blaster...
Inside the base Ratbat giggles like my old PE teacher, finds the Scramble City project and relays the information back to Megatron. Scene change.
At their base Megatron asks Soundwave for details, who explains what he's been told. Megatron calls the Autobots clever and plans to send out Devastator to destroy the factory! A strangely masculine sounding Starscream offers to take Thundercracker and Skywarp along and they leave, meeting up with the Constructicons en route. Scene change.
The alarm sounds at the Ark and Optimus Prime seems surprised that the 'Cons have found the secret factory! Was Blaster too embarrassed by his ownage at the hands of a tape to report in?! He heads out with Ironhide, Smokescreen, Warpath, Jazz and Tracks! Scene change.
A battle is underway at the secret base! Finally we get some action-nearly twelve minutes in! Starscream shoots at Prime and Ironhide and misses them both!!! Starscream says "Damn!" and transforms. Prime does the same (but without the cussing) and, as his trailer disappears into the dust, the Autobots follow him out of it! at first glance you may be forgiven for thinking that the trailer became the Autobots! Starscream says he'll finish off Prime himself. Yeah. Good luck with that. Prime says only Starscream's mouth is high spirited! Nice! Starscream tells him to "shut up!" Like I said...Good luck with that. He orders the merging of Devastator and the Autobots look terrified-as if they'd never seen him before! Devastator lobs a boulder at Prime and Jazz but misses. Prime responds by shooting Devastator's forearm. It didn't work. Devastator shot at Prime and Jazz and sent them falling to the ground. The seekers stand there laughing. So...Starscream's definition of "I'll finish you off" really means "I'll use a childish remark then get a giant to finish you off!" Okaaaay...They ask Prime what's the matter! Um...he's just been shot?! Maybe that's what's up?! Scene change.
Magnus watches the battle on his monitor. Which Autobot has the camcorder? Answers on a postcard! Ironhide is tending to Jazz, Tracks and Smokescreen are firing their weapons and Prime...is just lying there. Looking like a drunk. Nah! He's hurt! Told you I'd have fun with these! Anyways Magnus sends out the Aerialbots. Apparently they can exceed mach speed! Apparently they're the Autobots' "new" additions! Hmmm...The Areialbots send the seekers falling and floor Devastator as well! The other Autobots jump back on the offensive! In typical Decepticon fashion they retreat! How did taking down Optimus go, Starscream? Scene change.
At the underwater base Megatron is furious! He scolds Starscream, and says he never wants to see his face again! Soon, Megatron, soon... Starscream vows to drive back the Aerialbots next time! By that he means he'll get Devastator to drive back the Aerialbots next time! Megatron summons the "newest forces in the Decepticon army"...the Stunticons??? Starscream acts like he's never met them before! Megatron sends them to destroy the secret base for the Decepticon's honour!!! Fair enough I suppose. The Stunticons live in a cliff by the way. With a secret door. The narrator says they were created to oppose the Aerialbots. No they weren't. More on that later. They head out to the not as secret as it used to be factory (without any directions! How good are they?!) Scene change.
Inside the base Optimus Prime mobilizes the Autobot and Aerialbot forces to head out and face the Stunticons! Scene change. Again. Seriously.
The Aerialbots shoot at the Stunticons from the sky, scattering them, while Optimus and co arrive on the scene! The Stunticons fight back. Apart from Motormaster, he hides behind a rock. But he still shoots. The Aerialbots transform and land. Now we have a classic "hide behind a rock and shoot" scene! Optimus tells the Aerialbots to open up Scramble power all the way! Now this next bit really shows the potential of the Scramble combiners that the western show didn't! As they merge to form Superion the narrator tells us that the four limbs can attach anywhere to form any limb! You'll know this from the toys but it was never mentioned in the western cartoons. The Stunticons pointlessly shoot at Superion but he kinda uses his foot as a shovel and kicks/digs a hole in the ground where the Stunticons are standing, flinging them into the air! Motormaster is buried to his neck in rocks while Megatron orders them to fuse into Menasor! Which 'Con has the camcorder now? Are they built in? Anyway, from within his rock pile, Motormaster gives the order and they form Menasor! Oooooh! Menasor then runs really fast! Like, really really fast and spears Superion into a wall! Edge would be so proud! Another awesome Scramble moment as Menasor goes to stamp on Superion but he seperates and Menasor stomps the empty ground instead! As Superion rejoins Menasor swaps his arms and legs! Prime seems surprised that Menasor can do that! Um...
Superion sends Menasor into a rock face but Menasor grabs his feet as he comes in for a dropkick and gives him an almighty helicopter spin!!! Menasor misses a punch as Superion goes for another Scramble! But...the two legs get confused as to which is the right leg! As you do! Menasor capitalises by releasing his arm into the air and the arm becomes Superion's right leg!!! The real right leg (Fireflight) calls him a bastard, as Menasor shoots with his one arm! Yes you can mix and match with the enemy also! Menasor shoots down Fireflight.
Superion lies on the ground in pain because the Stunticon "leg" is sending a power surge through him! Nice! As Menasor goes in for the kill Optimus contacts Magnus, asking for Scramble City to mobilize! Scene change.
Magnus says the check up hasn't been completed. Optimus says as soon as it's done to mobilize! For some reason Magnus calls Optimus "Roger"...Oh wait...yeah...
Meanwhile Superion is still having trouble with his invading leg! Optimus goes in for a point blank range attack and is able to shoot the Stunticon leg off and Fireflight retakes his rightful place beneath Superion's thigh! And he looked so happy too! Superion then boots Menasor off of him and punches his face into the ground. Ouch. But wait! What's this?! It's the A-Team! Hang on...no it's the Combaticons! My bad. The Combaticons totally own Superion before they even form Bruticus! Bruticus helps Menasor up, Optimus looks worried and Megatron continues to watch the live stream online! Scene change.
Yay it's ready!!! Magnus orders Scramble City to "take off"! Yeah. The roof opens up and Scramble City rises on a giant elevator. At the top Magnus orders mobile fortress mode. Magnus orders the Protectobots to go ahead. The narrator tells us that they're a new military power that are "equipped with special cars". Huh??? Um they are the special cars!!! Well the cars are anyway! At least he was right about new. Finally Scramble City heads off, destroying a few trees on the way! What happened to protecting the Earth?!!! Maybe they'll plant three new trees for every one that they destroy!
Meanwhile Menasor and Bruticus are double teaming poor Superion! Bless him! Hasn't been his day has it?! Meanwhile Optimus is being helped up. I didn't see him fall. Superion gets a break and seperates to escape the evil clutches of his enemies! As Bruticus and Menasor...er...menacingly approach Optimus, Defensor blocks their path! Then there's rumbling as Bruticus wonders what it is! It's Scramble City, who transforms (off screen) into Metroplex!!! He fires his huge gun and lays waste to Menasor and Bruticus with one shot!!! Nice! As the Autobots celebrate something begins to emerge from the sea...All the Autobots looked worried, and quite right too! The waters part in some sort of Moses way and Prime asks what on Earth is that?!!! It's Trypticon!!! Megatron asks if he "boggled" Optimus Prime! Ha! Trypticon roars as the narrator announces the big blockbuster matchup that, alas, we'd never see!!!

And we come to the end credits! They're 63 seconds long with various clips from More Than Meets The Eye, The Master Builders and the season 2 credits. The song is called Peace Again. Even more power ballady than the opening song!

Other notes: As stated this episode takes place between season 2 and the movie. It doesn't explicitly state when but, judging from the appearances of Spike and Carly (no Daniel, no ageing ala season 3) I think it would be within the first 10 years.

Optimus Prime's Japanese voice actor is Tessha Genda. He's apparently a big star. Like his western counterpart, Peter Cullen, Tessha also voiced Optimus Prime in the live action movie trilogy! How cool is that?!

Along with the singular episode of Zone, this episode hasn't been remastered. Only subbed. As a consequence the colour isn't great.

This episode introduces Ultra Magnus, Ratbat, Steeljaw, Ramhorn, Metroplex and Trypticon before their western debuts.

If Scramble City was created to counter Devastator the Autobots sure took their sweet time in doing so! And they seemed to manage fine before...

The funny moment involving Laserbeak and Steeljaw's chase-switch-chase reminded me of a scene out of Only Fools And Horses. In the scene Rodney chases a mugger and corners him in an alley. Then Rodney realises he's overmatched and the mugger then chases Rodney! Unfortunately for Steeljaw there was no Del Boy with a big suitcase to save him!!!

The Aerialbots and Stunticons are treated like debuting characters. Obviously they're not (they first appeared in The Key To Vector Sigma.) Especially the Stunticons whom Starscream should know about here!

Also the Aerialbots were created as a counter to the Stunticons-not the other way around, as stated in this episode.

There's a colouring error when Menasor disengages and reconfigures. Dragstrip (yellow racecar) and Dead End (maroon Porsche) are his arms with Wildrider (grey car) and Breakdown (Lamborghini) forming the legs. The sequence shows them swapping positions so Wilrider and Breakdown are the arms, with Dragstrip and Dead End forming the legs. However, once this sequence ends, the colours revert to the original schemes so he doesn't really look any different!

Defensor just pops up! He doesn't do anything. Chris McFeely theorised that maybe he was protecting the Autobots with his forcefield but it doesn't come across that way. I agree. If you ever watch this you will too.

Metroplex wasn't seen transforming. That's a shame, given how elaborate Superion's transformation sequence was.

During Trypticon's grand entrance Megatron states that the Decepticons built him with all their might. My initial reaction was "When?! That was rather quick!!!" However, as Chris explained in the commentary, there were 8 manga strips done for TV Magazine (each series had an accompanying manga in TV magazine). These 8 strips were a precursor to the Scramble City episode and showed how the 'Cons had been stealing the Scramble info for ages and built Trypticon in that time. A bit creaky, compared to the episode but it beats a 5 minute makeover! It also contradicts season 3 where Trypticon wouldn't be built until 2005.

This was the only Scramble City episode made. Maybe they were planning more but, sadly, this is it. The issue remains unresolved, in an official capacity.

Final Thoughts: I found this episode to be quite enjoyable. The cultural differences between east and west are very apparent but that's not a bad thing for me. This episode introduced me to the Japanese version of a cartoon I love and I have to say I enjoy both versions. There were still some errors and contradictions (see above) but our version had plenty as well! It seemed a bit slow in places but I loved the emphasis on the Scramble City combiners and it really put over how cool they are! I'm lucky in that I can watch the action and read subtitles at the same time so that's not gonna drop the episode down in my scoring. If it were otherwise there'd be no point in these reviews! Overall an enjoyable, if culturally surprising, episode that explains and confuses.

Final Score: Does a lot right but still does a couple of things wrong. The novelty of it also bumps up the score to 8/10

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Re: Dezaras Prime's Transformers: Takara Reviews #1

Post by Sixshot on Fri Feb 15, 2013 12:38 am

I seen this thread back when you first posted it, but refused to reply to it until I actually had time to sit aside and read it. All I can say is THANK YOU! Coming from someone who's never seen any of the Japanese continuities this was a VERY entertaining read!

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Re: Dezaras Prime's Transformers: Takara Reviews #1

Post by Dark Saviour on Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:10 am

Thank you. I'll post each review, as a separate thread, to save the reviews getting lost amongst comments (if I'm lucky.)

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Re: Dezaras Prime's Transformers: Takara Reviews #1

Post by Galvatron on Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:19 am

it makes me want to watch Scramble City

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Re: Dezaras Prime's Transformers: Takara Reviews #1

Post by Dark Saviour on Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:54 am

I have the VD.

I also have the episode on DVD.

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Re: Dezaras Prime's Transformers: Takara Reviews #1

Post by Galvatron on Fri Feb 15, 2013 4:39 am

i got it as a bonus feature on the 20th anniversary movie dvd.

btw.. you said VD

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Gathering wood is also a great bonding experience - SIXSHOT
I'm getting more ass than a donkey farm - SIXSHOT (again)
You twist around in the air and assault the room with your unmentionable! - SOP
It's so weird around here Dora wont even explore it-RAVAGE
has anyone realized yet that SOP sounds an awful lot like SOB? - DETECTIVE BARRICADE
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Re: Dezaras Prime's Transformers: Takara Reviews #1

Post by Dark Saviour on Fri Feb 15, 2013 4:31 pm

It was intentional.

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