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Blackjack 2011-03-22 02:16 PM

Cartoon Episode Reviews: Robots in Disguise [completed]
Battle Protocol!
Airdate: 8 September 2001
Written By: Junki Takegami
Adapted By: Tom Wyner
Japanese Title: First Deployment! Fire Convoy

Koji wakes up, and falls out of bed in haste to catch his father on TV. Archaeologist and the world's foremost expert on energy, Dr Onishi, is on New York, speaking in the first International Scientific Symposium and is giving a speech. The speech is interrupted when a building explodes, heralding the arrival of a giant hand that transforms into Megatron. The Predacons want energy, and thinks Dr Onishi will be able to help them to reach this goal. On Japan Koji tries to call his father, but is unable to do so. Instead a mysterious robot asks Koji to meet him at Metro Park to rescue his father. Optimus Prime, after helping to put out a fire, drives to Metro Park to pick up Koji. Optimus explains to Koji that he's from the planet Cybertron and takes him through the Global Space Bridge which allows them to span the Earth's distance in minutes. Optimus Prime arrives in New York, and begins to battle with Megatron. Megatron summons the Predacon trio Slapper, Gas Skunk and Dark Scream to handle Optimus while he goes after Dr Onishi.

Optimus activates T-AI, who initiates Batte Protocol to summon the Autobot Brothers. X-Brawn ejects his driver, Kelly, out of him to enter the Space Bridge. Prowl chews Side Burn out for chasing a red sports car again, and the three fly out of the Global Space Bridge. The Autobot trio and the Predacon trio battle, while Megatron and Optimus Prime duke it out. Megatron offers to share Earth's resources with Optimus, but the Autobot predictably refuses. Megatron transforms into jet mode, grabs Dr Onishi with a tractor beam and escapes. The Predacon trio hightail it. Optimus tells a disheartened Koji that they will get his father back.

Featured Transformers: Optimus Prime, Megatron, Slapper, Gas Skunk, Dark Scream, X-Brawn, Side Burn, Prowl
Notable Others: Koji Onishi, Koji's Mom, Professor Onishi, T-AI, Kelly

Banal and boring, even admitted so by the dub team. Robots in Disguise is a mainly silly show, kind of an attempt to be like more slapstick anime shows like Pokemon or Power Rangers or stuff. It's got a bunch of villains who aren't the least bit threatening, a bunch of characters with their own crazy faults, more concern about telling bad jokes than whether stuff like, say, the Global Space Bridge makes sense... also, unlike Pokemon or even later Japanese-dubbed show, RID suffers from a terrible, lifeless dubbing team. The Predacons have identikit whiny-growly voices while all the Autobot troops have rather generic flanged voices. Koji has the personality of a rock, and there's absolutely no justification for Optimus simply dragging him into battle.

The introduction of everybody and dropping all their characters (Brawn loves off roading, Side Burn loves red sports cars, Prowl is a stuck-up by the book cop) is handled terribly. Pacing is rubbish, since the second half of the episode is basically waiting for Megatron to walk towards the doctor. And you get tired of hearing them call out their attacks every single time. The animation is hand-drawn, like G1, and obviously the models are barely more complex, but it won't do much to save the show. There are ways to introduce your cast and the plot, and this is one of the worst. Thankfully it'll improve, but not much.

(One out of Ten)

General Differences with Car Robots:
Robots in Disguise is a dubbed and edited version of the Japanese show Car Robots, which aired when USA got Beast Machines. (Beast Machines was only released in DVD form in Japan) The toyline consisted of only several original toys, while the rest are repainted Beast Wars, Machine Wars and G2 toys that never made it out in Japan. Plus the repainted Combaticons.

Car Robots is supposed to be set in 2000 of the Generation One continuity with all new characters (Fire Convoy of Car Robots isn't the same with Convoy of G1, for instance) according to Takara's 'Official Transformers Timeline', but the show is created with the mind of being standalone. It's like one of those things Hasbro says about Primus and Unicron being universal singularities that you ignore because it doesn't make sense. Robots in Disguise is set in its own continuity, although when it first appeared people assumed it's set still in the farflung future of G1 between Season Three and Beast Wars when 'reboots' aren't the norm like they are now.

Robots in Disguise retcons Tokyo into the fictional Metro City for some reason. Also, when landmarks such as the Tokyo Tower or anything else gets mentioned, they never get called by name.

Robots in Disguise edits out and rearranges some part, cutting jokes specific to a Japanese culture (such as, say, Kappas or sushi jokes) and replacing them with talky sequences made from looped dialogue.

RID adds some 'robot POV' CG at some points to represent Predacons or Autobots locking on something. It clashes very badly with the standard animation.

Since 9/11 happens a short while after RID was released, a lot of destroying building sequences were cut, while some (such as 'Attack from Outer Space', 'Landfill' and 'Sky-Byte Saves the Day') were not aired at all due to ludricious demolitions of buildings. This episode has hand-mode Megatron crashing through a skyscraper, and such shots were edited out when it was re-aired after 9/11. The next episode, which aired a day before 9/11, was also never re-aired again.

Also, during battle protocol procedures, instead of showing their toy IDs (C-002, C-003 etc) the computer only shows the names of the Autobots, but only those that will be selected while Car Robots shows toy IDs of everybody.

Last but not least, RID renames everybody. Fire Convoy becomes Optimus Prime, Mach Alert becomes Prowl, Wildride becomes X-Brawn, Speedbreaker becomes the silly-named Side Burn, Ai-chan becomes T-AI, Gigatron becomes Megatron, Guildo becomes Dark Scream, Gushar becomes Slapper.

Koji's alarm is based on the time-manipulating Maximal Heinrad from Beast Wars Neo. The real Heinrad toy is a clock in its own right.

The Autobots in RID all have little monitors that show their robot mode faces when talking in their alternate mode.

X-Brawn's head is visible on the driver's side of his vehicle mode. Kelly apparently owns him.

Both Optimus and Prowl function as part of Metro City's fire department and police department respectively.

Slapper, Gas Skunk and Dark Scream are repainted versions of Beast Wars toys, specifically TM2 Spittor, Stinkbomb and Night Glider. The BW toys' spark crystals are repurposed to become the Predacons' Right Laser! Left Laser! Centre Laser!

Note that Megatron is a six-changer, although we only see his dragon, jet and giant hand mode here. Yes, giant hand. Don't ask.

Slapper's tongue is 42 feet, 3 inches.

Dark Scream's Centre Laser can freeze you.

First appearances of everybody.

Why the hell would Optimus take Koji anywhere near a battle? Or spend like ten minutes talking to the kid?

Koji claims that to get from Metro City to New York, Optimus would have to drive across the Atlantic Ocean, when it should have been the Pacific.

The whole 'battle protocol' idea is rubbish, surely? Member select and everything to find those closest, when the Global Space Bridge's whole point is to teleport stuff around.

The Global Space Bridge itself is never explained beyond 'magic'. At times it's a shiny tunnel that can teleport you anywhere from a sewer to desert, at times it's a long track in an equivalent to hyperspace that the Autobots drive through, at times it's a physical series of tunnels and racetracks that the Autobots can dig through... and its limitations are well and truly varied via the plot.

A dub-induced error. Kelly is Japanese in Car Robots, so it's night during her scene as it should be. But she says she wants to go to New York by breakfast, even though it's day in New York.

Slapper's head is undersized when he transforms. Since it is stock footage that is often repeated with different backgrounds (a la Beast Machines), this goof is repeated in numerous other episodes.

inflatable dalek 2011-03-23 01:16 AM

Some randome RID/Car Robot thoughts/questions:

The whole idea of CR being set specifically in G1 despite what the American version does to the set up... is that what was originally intended? Because I always thought the Japanese version was supposed to be in its own, new continuity just like RID was (and that it was just as hard to fit in the original, with it being set just before the film the one continuity idea depends on both time jumping and the fact the G1 Autobots and Decepticons all agreed to never mention or get involved in what happened on the planet they were living on at the time at all).

Unless the original Japanese totally changes things about ("Hey look! It's Convoy and Perceptor over there just out of shot doing that thing that totally stops us interacting! Best ignore them though, there's a red sports car for me to molest in a way that will give certain Transformers fans hope they will one day stick their penis in a car") I can't see how ikt can be based in Japan G1.

From what I can gather, Car Robots was created as a standalone show with no links to the past, just like RID. But the OFFICIAL TAKARA TIMELINE (tm) made it OFFICIALLY G1 a few years later. With no involvement from anyone who actually made it, and thus I'm a bit suspicious of it.Same as I am of Hasbro's (well no, that may be a bit unfair, lets say enthusiastic fans and spin off writers who may be reading too much into Hasbro going "Hey, that Primus thing is cool, we'll go with that in the future") claims with a straight face that the Primus origin of the Transformers applies to all continuities, even though there's a whole five part story in the original cartoon showing something different.

In addition to the 9/11 bit in the notes, it might be worth adding that, as this episode of one of the few (the only? I'm no expert on exact RID transmission dates) episodes to go out before that happened it has at least one shot that would have been cut had it aired a week later, hand mode Megatron smashing through the side of a sky scrapper.

Blackjack 2011-03-23 01:33 AM

The Japanese tries to churn everything in a continuity soup. To them Car Robots is just like Headmasters, Zone, Victory, Supergodmasterforce, only that it is set between season Two and Three of G1. Although the separate shows more or less ignores each other... IIRC after the Takara's official timeline or whatever you call it, some G1 Manga tried to smooth this over by having a bunch of Season Two Autobots build the Global Space Bridge.

I don't think the show creators meant it to be that, but Word Of God from Takara places Robots in Disguise, and even Machine Wars in the continuity soup of their G1.

Now that you put Hasbro's Primus thing to point... (Animated and even the Movieverse comics are pissing at Primus right now) I'll edit that in a bit.

The next episode, 'An Explosive Situation', aired on 10th September. It's the one with the Autobots and Predacons running around the city after a bomb hidden in a sexy red sports car Side Burn tries to molest.

Checking with TFWiki, yes, apparently the episode was edited when it's re-aired later on.

Blackjack 2011-03-24 07:39 AM

An Explosive Situation
Airdate: 10 September 2001
Written By: Junki Takegami
Adapted By: Tom Wyner
Japanese Title: High Speed Battle! Gelshark

The Predacon Sky-Byte steals a power cell by bursting out of the ground and eating the delivery truck. Koji, meanwhile, receives a summons from Optimus Prime, who takes him to their secret underground headquarters, and introduces him to the holographic computer T-AI. In their spaceship which is stationed underwater, the Predacon goons apparently have been stealing flashlight batteries, and shows them to Megatron, who is mulling over energy concerns. Megatron is displeased, but Sky-Byte, second-in-command, arrives and presents his plan: to recover an energy bomb that some terrorists have hidden in a red sports car in Metro City. At the docks, Kelly (X-Brawn's owner) receives a delivery of the latest red sports car... which naturally contains the bomb. Sky-Byte pursues her. Side Burn also pursues Kelly, but with a wholly different intention — to hit on the red sports car.

Sky-Byte bursts out of the ground, prompting Prowl and Side Burn to engage him. However, Sky-Byte easily flies away in shark mode, and sees the Predacon Trio trying to recover the bomb and take the credit. Sky-Byte takes the car into the air and literally tears the car apart. Side Burn catches Kelly from certain death. Sky-Byte flies towards the Predacon base with the bomb between his jaws, but X-Brawn uses a grapple line to take the bomb out of Sky-Byte's mouth. The impact causes the bomb to be armed, and Sky-Byte berates X-Brawn. Listening to Koji's suggestion to take the bomb to somewhere high up, X-Brawn does so, swinging through the city with his grapple line, then climbing up a radio tower. Optimus Prime enters the fray, and transforms into his super mode. X-Brawn tosses the bomb from the top of the tower, and Optimus uses his Power Stream attack to shoot the bomb (and a luckless Sky-Byte) out of the Earth's atmosphere. The bomb explodes. Later on, Sky-Byte begins a study of human culture to better understand their opponents, but is stumped by literature.

Featured Transformers: Sky-Byte, Optimus Prime, X-Brawn, Side Burn, Prowl, Megatron, Dark Scream, Slapper, Gas Skunk
Notable Others: Koji Onishi, T-AI, Kelly

Ah, it's so nice to see Sky-Byte as a threat, isn't it? Poor, poor Sky-Byte, second in command of the Predacons, yet the guy that everybody pushes around. Here he's portrayed as quite a threat, though. The plot in this episode is fairly basic. Predacons want energy, they cook up some way of getting it (terrorist bomb in this case) and the Autobots foil them. Sky-Byte is still a generic villain here, albeit a little more troublesome than the Predacon trio... for now. The animation is, of course, better than G1. But there are lots of things that I really dislike.

Firstly, every time a Transformer moves their arms there's this squeaky metallic sound effect. Is that supposed to be cool or something? Because it's irritating. Another one is despite the small cast (not much bigger than Beast Wars) the Predacon trio never get any characterisation other than 'pathetic, mean losers'. The Autobots, too, have personalities dictated by their quirks. Prowl thinks he's a cop and speaks in cop slangs, X-Brawn is a rough-and-tumble Southern guy who likes off-roading and Side Burn is Bumblebee, but every time he sees a red car he goes into stalker/molester mode. I never get that bit about Side Burn, and honestly it's very creepy. Most of all is Koji. Why the heck does Optimus need to contact Koji? Doesn't make sense. Average tut-tut and pretty boring.

(Three out of Ten)

First appearance of Sky-Byte (Gelshark in Japan). Like the Predacon trio, he's a repaint of a Beast Wars toy, TM2 Cybershark to be specific. His spark crystal becomes his Tsunami Blaster, while the claw arm becomes his Shark Spike. Sky-Byte quickly became the Ensemble Darkhorse of RID, being the one thing most of the fandom agrees is good from the series.

Sky-Byte is able to 'swim' underground through concrete or whatever.

The Jaws tune plays when Sky-Byte is 'swimming' through concrete.

Also the first appearance of Optimus Prime's Battle Mode. Or Super Mode as the toy names it.

Sky-Byte has absolutely wonderful hearing, and will be one of the running gags throughout the series.

X-Brawn clearly scales the Tokyo Tower, but since RID takes place in Metro City, it is not named as such and T-AI gives its height as 500 feet instead of Tokyo Tower's near-1100 feet.

T-AI introduces herself to Koji as the daughter of the Teletraan program, a reference to the resident computer in the original cartoon. She mispronounces it as 'Teletron', Beast Wars-style.

Megatron requests that the batteries be converted into Energon Cubes, a callback to the G1 cartoon.

The Predacon base is powered by 'Transwarp Cells', the engines that allow time travel from the Beast Era cartoons.

Notice Sky-Byte reading poetry at the end of the episode. It will not be the last. The excerpts are from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, and Hamlet by William Shakespeare.

This episode features a terrorist bomb, aired one day before 9/11, and thus naturally is not aired again.

The damaged part of the highway that Sky-Byte bursts out of heals in the next shots of the highway.

Why would Optimus Prime summon Koji? Are the Autobots so helpless they can't figure something out without a human?

Megatron pronounces Energon as 'Ener-gone' instead of the more traditional 'Ener-john'.

Prowl's Autobot insignias are miscoloured when he catches Kelly, as well as when he thinks about what to do with the bomb.

What book has Dickens and Shakespeare on the same page?

Blackjack 2011-03-25 08:42 AM

Bullet Train to the Rescue
Airdate: 11 September 2001
Written By: Yukiyoshi Ohashi
Adapted By: Steve Kramer
Japanese Title: Unite! Bullet Train Robo

Sky-Byte scolds Gas Skunk and Slapper for randomly attacking freight trains when they should be searching for energy. The Autobots watch a news report of the launch of the Linear RFG, an automated train set to make its first run. Koji is excited to be on the train. A concerned Optimus Prime summons the Autobot brothers in case the Predacons try anything. As the train launches, the Predacons plant a bomb, which sabotages the train tracks before it crosses a bridge. Side Burn and Prowl battle the Predacons, while Optimus tries to radio the trains' command center. However, Dark Scream's meddling disrupts the communication. To save the day, Optimus tells T-AI to summon Team Bullet Train.

Railspike, Rapid Run and Midnight Express all abandon their respective passengers (including Kelly, naturally) and rush across the Space Bridge beside the Linear RFG. Optimus Prime and the Autobot brothers battle the Predacons who are planting a bomb in the track ahead. Railspike radios Koji and asks him to request the driver to slow down the train manually, but the brakes aren't working, and the RFG speeds up instead. Ignoring Midnight's silly suggestion, Team Bullet Train link up to the RFG to slow it down. The Predacons retreat when the bomb explode to watch the anticipated destruction. Despite Team Bullet Train's attempts to slow the train down, it won't stop in time before plummeting into the gap. Optimus Prime transforms into his super mode and stops the train from derailing. Sky-Byte tries to shoot the train down but Side Burn shoots him down first. Megatron arrives and battles the Autobots. After moving the RFG into safety, Team Bullet Train combines into Rail Racer and beats Megatron down. The Predacons retreat, and the trains all return to their work.

Featured Transformers: Gas Skunk, Sky-Byte, Slapper, Optimus Prime, Side Burn, Prowl, X-Brawn, Dark Scream, Railspike, Rapid Run, Midnight Express, Megatron, Rail Racer
Notable Others: Koji Onishi, T-AI, Kelly

Basically this episode is another 'New Toy' episode, promoting Team Bullet Train. Not much happens this episode and it's very boring and repetitive. Team Bullet Train are mostly generic and without personality, even more bland than the rest of the cast other than their relatively distinctive voices. Midnight Express is my favourite because he sounds a bit like a snob, but that's finding something tolerable among a sea of mediocrity. All things considered, though, it's pretty boring. The plot of the super high tech train is unoriginal, and the Autobots' efforts to protect it from the Predacons aren't interesting in the least. Dialogue is boring... there are some jokes lobbed around but the delivery (and the flanged voice of many of the characters) makes it hard to decipher that it's actually, you know, a joke. Koji gets way too much screen time than he deserves as well.

(Three out of Ten)

First appearances of Team Bullet Train: Railspike (J-Four in Japan), Rapid Run (J-Seven in Japan) and Midnight Express (J-Five in Japan, as well as their combined mode Rail Racer (JRX in Japan). For those that have trouble telling them apart (I know I do) Railspike is the white and blue with the bubble cockpit and gruff accented voice, Rapid Run is the sharp-nosed one with the yellow face, Midnight Express is the one with yellow and blue markings and a voice like Tracks.

Ever since G1, Rail Racer is the first combiner that had appeared in fiction since the shows during the Beast era are bereft of combiners. Rail Racer refers to himself in the plural form.

Like Prowl and Optimus who act as ordinary vehicles that are part of the police for and the fire department, and X-Brawn who is 'owned' by Kelly, Team Bullet Train also work as proper trains when not in action.

The Bullet Trains can magically generate train tracks in front of them.

Originally this episode was titled 'Bullet Train Rescue', and is referred to as such even by some DVD releases.

Stealing the power from a train is a bit far fetched, to say the least. In the original Car Robots episode, Sky-Byte just wants to prove to the humans that the Predacons are powerful.

When following alongside the train, Optimus Prime says the he needs to get back to HQ, but in the next shot he's still beside the train.

At one point Sky-Byte has details in his mouth instead of the usual all-white.

Blackjack 2011-03-26 03:19 AM

Spychangers to the Rescue
Airdate: 13 September 2001
Written By: Kazuhiko Godo
Adapted By: Richard Epcar
Japanese Title: Ninja Robo! Enter the Spychangers

The Predacon trio tries to steal a Plutonium Energy Generator, but Optimus Prime and the Autobot brothers arrive to drive them off. Optimus scolds Side Burn for his recklessness; the generator can't be damaged or it will leak deadly zirconium gas that will corrode Transformers metal. Meanwhile, Koji leaves with his friend Karl and Karl's father for a biking trip. The generator is loaded onto a truck to be transported, and the Autobot brothers follow as an escort. Side Burn, terrified of the generator leaking, tries to find an excuse to veer off but his older brothers keep him in line. Slapper hacks the systems used to control the highways, causing a massive jam. The Predacons arrive and attacks the truck carrying the generator and make off with it. The Autobots can't fire for fear of hitting everyone else in traffic. T-AI deploys three Spychangers, Hot Shot, Rev and Crosswise, who pop out of their hiding places. The trio reveal themselves to the Predacons, who retreat instead of fighting. With their special ability of being able to drive on any flat surface, the Spychangers give chase.

The Predacons leap off the highway into the beach, and knock the Spychangers down with their lasers, but the rest of the Spychanger team, Wars, Ironhide and Mirage, arrive. The Spychangers dizzy the Predacon trio by running circles around them. Sky-Byte arrives, and engages the Spychangers. He orders Slapper and Gas Skunk to retreat with the generator. Optimus and the Autobot brothers arrive, but Optimus decides to let the Spychangers handle matters on their own. The Spychangers' agile speed allows them to defeat the Predacons. Sky-Byte, deciding that the Autobots can't have the generator if he can't, opens fire with his Tsunami Blaster. The six Spychangers jump in front of the blast and are scattered away. The Predacons grab the generator and bail it. The Spychangers laugh and reveal that in the confusion, they had switched the generator with a decoy. The Predacons return to base, but when Megatron tries to activate the decoy generator it bursts open to show a statue poking its tongue out at them. Koji and Karl enjoy a bike race together while Optimus watches, glad that Koji can still enjoy himself even with his father missing.

Featured Transformers: Slapper, Gas Skunk, Dark Scream, Optimus Prime, Side Burn, X-Brawn, Prowl, Megatron (flashback and present), Sky-Byte, Hot Shot, Rev, Crosswise, Mirage, Ironhide, Wars
Notable Others: Koji Onishi, Karl, Dr Onishi (flashbck), Kelly, T-AI

Another introduction episode, but the Spychangers are so banal and identikit. At least the Brothers and Team Bullet Train have standard personality quirks which make them distinctive. Still, the Spychangers' attacking the Predacons are nicely done, and that little moai gag is pretty funny. The Predacon trio battling the Autobot brothers early on is pretty fun as well, as is Side Burn trying to escape his duties. The problem is, well, as noted, the Spychangers are all identikit 'cool ninja superspy robot squad'. Other than Mirage and Ironhide in the next episode, none of the others will have much of any sort of characterisation, making them pretty unmemorable. I miss the day of G1 where the background Autobots who never get more than two lines at a time like, say, Windcharger or Trailbreaker have funky powers that come to mind when you see their name. As it is, the only memorable thing about, say, R.E.V. is that he has a stupid name with dots.

(Four out of Ten)

Technically, in both the show and the toyline, Rev is named R.E.V. and Wars is named W.A.R.S., standing in for 'Race Exertion Vehicle' and 'Wicked Attack Recon Sportscar' respectively. But since R.E.V. takes longer to type than simple 'Rev', that's what I'm going to use. In the show they are called 'Rev' and 'Wars' instead of 'Arr-Eee-Vee' and 'Double-you-ay-arr-ass', so the point is moot. Also, methinks having names that stand for something is stupid. It's like calling yourself 'Number-Crunching-Human' or something.

First appearances of the Spychangers: Hot Shot (Artfire in Japan), Rev (Eaglekiller in Japan; awesome name), Crosswise (X-Car in Japan), Mirage (Counter Arrow in Japan), Ironhide (Ox in Japan) and Wars. The Spychangers are repaints of the G2 Go-bots subgroup, not to be confused with the Tonka GoBots.

In Japan, the Spychangers are basically an elite ninja group. Their abilities include driving on any flat surface, driving upside-down/sideways, driving on water, phasing through some solid objects, hovering while driving upside down, and puling that Easter Island statue out of nowhere to be disguised as a generator.

The Spychangers' arm can extend and fire their weapons in vehicle mode; their toys can do this as well.

Ironhide being voiced by a guy with a Southern accent is, of course, a reference to the G1 fellow. Mirage's voice is somewhat similar to his G1 counterpart as well.

This episode shows one of the rare times that Slapper does his skill of hacking computer systems.

Following 9/11, this episode was pulled out of rotation to remove all references to the Plutonium generator exploding if hit, replacing it with releasing zirconium gas that will corrode Transformers' circuity. Also several shots (civilians fleeing the scene, as well as Prowl's 'jet claw' slamming onto a truck) are removed, replaced with additional dialogue by Slapper and some stock transformation footage.

The bicycle on the roof of Karl's car is first green, but when Koji pushes his own green bicycle out Karl's bicycle turn yellow. They swap colours again a couple times.

The member select screen for Crosswise misspells his name as 'Crosswire', and Hot Shot as 'Hotshot'.

Not so much a goof as an oddity... when summoned by T-AI, Rev is hiding inside a billboard advertising his vehicle mode. What the hell is he doing there?

At some points the Spychangers hover above the surfaces they're supposed to be driving in, but let's be charitable and say it's their powers.

During the beach Sky-Byte's drawn with an erroneous mouth again.

If Optimus and the brothers don't know about the swap, why didn't they give chase?

Blackjack 2011-03-27 02:23 PM

The Hunt for Black Pyramid
Airdate: 14 September 2001
Written By: Tadashi Hayakawa
Adapted By: Marc Handler
Japanese Title: Resolute Jump! Mach Alert

The Decepticons' base moves nearby the undersea Black Pyramid, a new source of power. Gas Skunk and Slapper wire the pyramid to the ship's energy systems. Coincidentally, the scientist Dr Okasai is on a research vessel above, preparing for a trip to the Black Pyramid. Koji is onboard. Sky-Byte and Dark Scream, squabbling with each other, are sent out to destroy the ship. The ship changes orientation until the ship is vertical. Koji and the Doctor are lowered into the sea, just as the Predacons attack. Sky-Byte attacks the underwater compartments while Dark Scream assaults the crew compartment, knocking them out cold. Koji radios the Autobots for help. Optimus Prime leaves the fire hall he is stored at, and travels out to sea via Global Space Bridge and rendezvouses with the Autobot brothers. However, the Bridge can't extend all the way to the sea. The Autobots goof around as they leap across the end of the road, and make it there by a combination of swimming, jet boosters and jumping.

Dark Scream is taken out quite easily by Optimus, but Sky-Byte leaps out to sea. After Sky-Byte composes some bad poetry, Optimus makes fun of it and the two battle. The battle falls into the sea, where Sky-Byte has the advantage. While Optimus and Sky-Byte battle, X-Brawn repairs the damage done to the ship with T-AI's help. Side Burn heads out to help Optimus, and after a lengthy battle X-Brawn and Prowl pushes the boat back into its horizontal alignment, lifting both Sky-Byte and Optimus out of the water. No longer having the disadvantage, Optimus uses his 'Flying Fist' to knock Sky-Byte away. Megatron destroys the Black Pyramid so the Autobots can't use it. Afterwards the Autobots monologue about the Predacon threat.

Featured Transformers: Gas Skunk, Slapper, Sky-Byte, Dark Scream, Megatron, Optimus Prime, Side Burn, X-Brawn, Prowl
Notable Others: Koji Onishi, T-AI, Kelly

Is the whole sequence about Side Burn and the rest squabbling about jumping off the bridge really necessary? And this the animators clearly ignore the laws of physics. Other than those quibbles, though, this episode is pretty nice. Sky-Byte and Optimus Prime's battle is the highlight, and while a little repetitive, at least it has actual action scenes instead of random shooting and running around in circles like the Spychangers. And, well, Sky-Byte's first poem, too! It's a funny quirk, as it is. Dark Scream also gets some nice character moments with a little resentment against Sky-Byte, making him a wee bit more developed than the common goon, something that we won't see after a while. Other than that, though, this episode is about the average fare for Robots in Disguise. General silliness, Autobots trouncing the Predacons with little effort when it reaches the five-minutes-before-the-end-of-the-episode, and 'tsunami blaster!' 'blaze blaster!' 'shark spike!' all around. It's annoying yet fun to listen at the same time.

(Five out of Ten)

In Japan, the Black Pyramid is just an ordinary ruin which the Predacons use in order to tap into a nearby undersea oil pipeline. In RID it's an energy generating matrix chamber.

It's Sky-Byte's first poem! Not technically a haiku yet, though.

Note that the crew knows what the Predacons are, so despite the episode's title, it seems that the Autobot-Predacon war is now known to public. Except clueless ol' Kelly, of course.

Optimus Prime's 'Flying Fist' is the gauntlet that forms his Super Mode's arm, launching out of nowhere (RID Optimus' trailer disappears like his G1 counterpart until needed) and decks Sky-Byte.

The pyramid is based on actual underwater ruins off the Japan coast.

The episode's title might be a reference to the film The Hunt for Red October.

Why is Koji on board a high-tech ship like that? (Car Robots has a piece of dialogue that says the doctor had promised to take Koji along in the past.)

The Black Pyramid is first described as being west of Zuma point, then it abruptly changes into east of Zuma point.

Prowl disappears after jumping into the sea for the duration of the battle, only reappearing to push the boat after X-Brawn finishes his repairs, then disappears again until the end. Very jarring in Japan, considering his name is on the Japanese title.

Optimus Prime jumping from the Bridge to the ship breaks several laws of Physics.

A boat shouldn't be able to tilt vertically. Buoyancy and pressure stuff.

Blackjack 2011-03-30 06:43 AM

The Secret of the Ruins
Airdate: 10 May 2000
Written By: Junki Takegami
Adapted By: Tom Wyner
Japanese Title: Gigatron's Raid

Megatron and the Predacons attack Metro City in an attempt to draw out the Autobots. T-AI contacts the Autobot brothers, but Prowl and X-Brawn are busy looking for Side Burn who's taking Koji to explore some ruins. Team Bullet Train is deployed instead, and they walk through the city until they encounter the Predacon trio. Gas Skunk uses his acid breath to attack, but Railspike uses his missiles to ignite the acid, sending the Predacon, unable to stop his attack, running around and unintentionally frying his teammates. From the base Optimus Prime suspects that since the Predacons aren't raiding some energy supply, the attack might have an ulterior motive. Elsewhere, Sky-Byte explores a mountain range alone in search for some ruins that the Predacons learned about using the psycho-probe on Dr Onishi's brain. However, he spots Side Burn on the area to, by coincidence, search for ruins that Koji explains were left by native Americans. The duo find said ruins easily and enter inside on foot. Sky-Byte fires his shark missiles at them and tries to bury them inside. Side Burn detects the missiles and transforms, racing through the cave and finally dodging the missiles (scaring the hell out of Kelly in the process). He radios for help.

Team Bullet Train continues to beat the Predacon trio up, but Megatron engages the Autobots. Optimus Prime, meanwhile, goes to aid Side Burn. Sky-Byte enters the ruins, to try to figure out whatever made it so important to Doctor Onishi, and assumes that it must be a source of power. Optimus Prime arrives and knocks Sky-Byte down the stairs. Sky-Byte grabs the chest in the center of the ruins and races outside, radoing Megatron, who calls off the attack. Sky-Byte, exits to find himself surrounded by the Autobot brothers who shoot down Sky-Byte. The chest is recovered, and the Predacon retreat. The Autovots open the chest to discover the prize — a photo of Koji and Dr Onishi that the doctor had hidden in the caves the last time they were there. But more importantly, X-Brawn and Koji notes that there is a mysterious microchip embedded in the frame of the photograph...

Featured Transformers: Megatron, Dark Scream, Slapper, Gas Skunk, Optimus Prime, X-Brawn, Prowl, Railspike, Rapid Run, Midnight Express, Sky-Byte, Side Burn, Rail Racer
Notable Others: T-AI, Doctor Onishi (flashback), Koji Onishi, Kelly

A larger cast compared to last episodes and more action scenes makes this episode a wee bit better. However, again it does feel way too long that you are left wondering why the hell do the characters yap so much when the action already makes it clear what they are doing. "Oh no, the missiles are chasing us!" No shit, Sherlock. Another thing I hate is T-AI taking five minutes to contact the Autobot brothers, exchange some lifeless banality before sending Team Bullet Train to beat the Predacons up. Characters are also very... inexpressive. Even when they are surprised (with the animation implying that it would be somewhat of a loud yelp or cry in the original Japanese version) the delivery of the dialogues are often lacking, as if the voice actors just didn't bother to put in the effort, which is quite a shame as good voice acting could actually make this so much more bearable. And, uh, it always bugs me why Megatron spends so much time trying to get information about energy from Onishi's head when he could simply go to the world wide web or ask somebody else. Even G1 Megatron had the sense to just attack anywhere the humans make their energy. The first real evidence that this isn't just a poor reboot of G1 appears here, where it is revealed that, hey, we actually do have some semblance of a plot. The last half-minute deals with them finding a microchip, but it would be another ten-plus episodes until whatever the hell is in it is going to be explored. Because a fight in the 'ruins' that I'll proceed to forget after finishing this review is somehow more interesting than an overreaching plot.

(Five out of Ten)

This episode had one of the more extensive edits post-9/11, being pulled before reaching air and is re-edited and redubbed, before re-aired. The entire beginning scene, which depicts Megatron crashing through a building as onlookers run away screaming, before the Predacon trio begin attacking buildings. The entire scene is revamped with looped animation from 'Battle Protocol' without destroyed buildings. The effects of Gas Skunk's corroding gas on the buildings is also cut out.

There's a lot of Japanese-specific gags and word puns cut out by the dub.

First appearance of Dark Scream's freeze ray, although it still comes out of his 'Center Laser!'

First appearance of Gas Skunk's gas attack as well.

An oddity often observed in RID. With Predacons threatening human life, why is Optimus sitting around in base? And why do Prowl and Brawn consider locating the eratsz Side Burn more important than saving lives?

On the matter, why can't T-AI track Side Burn down?

After Side Burn transforms after escaping the missiles, the smoke around his feet move very oddly.

Doctor Onishi somehow has his glasses back although they fell off during 'Battle Protocol'.

At one point Sky-Byte's segmented eye is on the wrong one

Blackjack 2011-03-31 11:18 AM

Sideburn's Obsession
Airdate: 15 September 2001
Written By: Yukoyoshi Ohashi
Adapted By: Richard Epcar
Japanese Title: Speedbreaker's Crisis!

Side Burn chases down a weird-looking red car, and Prowl tries to stop the two speeding vehicles. However, Prowl is stopped by a red light and loses them. Side Burn follows the funny red car to a junkyard, but the red car reveals himself as Megatron. The Predacons surround him and capture him. The next day, Optimus, Prowl and X-Brawn go out to search for Side Burn when they realised he hasn't checked in. The Predacon trio attack and leave a message telling them that they have Side Burn, and if they want to see him again Optimus has to go meet them alone. Despite the obviousness that it's a trap, Optimus insists on going. Elsewhere, Koji, Karl and Karl's father visit a car crushing facility. The Predacons arrive and drive them off. Koji stays behind, hidden, and sees Side Burn captive. The Predacon goons monologue about their plan: lure Optimus Prime into a trap and let Megatron finish him off. In the base, Prowl and X-Brawn convince T-AI to send the Spychangers to help Optimus Prime. Prowl and X-Brawn decide to go as well in disguise.

Prowl's ideas of a costume is an unimaginative NO ENTRY sign, which X-Brawn mocks. X-Brawn then dresses both their alternate modes in ugly paint jobs. In the factory, the Predacons ask Side Burn why he loves red cars so much. Side Burn tells a woeful tale about him with a red sports car in the past, but the red car met with an accident, and even younger when he was a young tricycle... Slapper was touched, but Sky-Byte knocks his underling in the head for believing in Side Burn's tall tales. Optimus Prime arrives, and is captured with Energon ropes. Megatron arrives and kicks the helpless Optimus Prime. Prowl and X-Brawn witness this from hiding. They contact Koji with his phone, and tells the boy to switch on the car crusher. The machine lifts Prowl into the conveyor belt (the Predacons remark that it's one ugly car) and when he's in range Prowl transforms and destroys the machine which powers the Energon ropes, freeing Optimus Prime and Side Burn. The Spychangers arrive, and the Autobots trounce the Decepticons in a battle. The Predacons retreat, and Sky-Byte shifts the blame to Gas Skunk and Dark Scream. Side Burn apologises and says he'll never chase a red sports car again. Guess what zooms by and Side Burn chases a second later?

Featured Transformers: Megatron, Side Burn, Prowl, Sky-Byte, Gas Skunk, Dark Scream, Slapper, Optimus Prime, X-Brawn, Hot Shot, Rev, Crosswise, Ironhide, Wars, Mirage
Notable Others: T-AI, Kelly, Koji Onishi, Karl

Allright, this is a little disturbing. Kids watching this probably won't get the stalker/molester subtext, but still. And all those flashbacks about him being a tricycle and stuff... this episode gives a prime example about how flat the voice actors can be. Just look at Slapper crying anime-style after Side Burn's fake heartbreak romance story. But the delivery is just about the same with any of Slapper's lines. Still, there are some nice scenes likeMegatron kicking the bound Optimus Prime. Also, one of the rarer times that Sky-Byte and the Predacon trio are actually competent. Prowl and Brawn disguising themselves as gaudy cars is pretty cute, but the whole things falls flat again due to the banal delivery. Another average episode, overlong with many unnecessary dialogue that could be trimmed out easily. The characters are becoming more likeable and tolerable. But we never got an explanation for the titular disturbing obsession of Side Burn's, don't we?

(Four out of Ten)

The traffic light Prowl stops at has been recoloured green from the standard blue that Japanese shows normally use. No, Japanese traffic lights aren't really blue. It's because the kanji for blue and green are really similar (blue is easier to remember apparently) so animes use blue for traffic lights. Yes, it's weird. That's culture for you.

Slapper compares themselves with 'Vehicon drones', the mass produced cannon fodder in Beast Machines.

The rope used to tie Side Burn is called Energon chains after a similar gimmick in the G1 episode 'S.O.S. Dinobots'.

Prowl and X-Brawn fling their disguises away in typical anime fashion.

Side Burn's name is spelt as one word in the episode title, it's not a typo on my part.

Prowl is in pursuit of a bunch of speeding cars, taking over the case from other police cars, has all the sirens and lights on, but stops at a red light. At an empty intersection. What.

T-AI first says that the Spychangers are on an assignment, but when she does contact them they are in their usual hang-outs. Unless you count Rev sitting like an idiot behind an ad for himself as 'assignment', that is.

Blackjack 2011-04-02 09:30 AM

Secret Weapon: D-5
Airdate: 17 September 2001
Written By: Kazuhiko Godo
Adapted By: Marc Handler
Japanese Title: Mysterious Weapon! D5

The Predacon trio attack an absent-minded scientist colleague of Dr Onishi. Slapper uses his tongue to steal a disk that belongs to Dr Onishi, and the three retreat when they see a fire engine, mistaking it for Optimus Prime. Optimus and T-AI wonder why the Predacons would steal a regular disk, but place the Autobot brothers on alert. In their base, the Predacons look at the images in the disk, and sees a steam locomotive with the brand D5. Megatron orders his Predacon troops to capture the locomotive. In the same room the unconscious Dr Onishi mumbles something about Grandpa. Unknown to the Autobots, 'Grandpa' is the same D5 train, which is a reconstruction of the D512 stanwich steamer train. Koji is among the passengers that ride the train, the Autobot brothers and Team Bullet Train are in attendance in anticipation of a Predacon attack. Midnight Express is pretty happy with seeing what he views to be a 'Grandpa' as well. Side Burn pursues Kelly in her red sports car and run her off the road. She gets licked by a cow.

Sky-Byte leads the Predacon trio to attack 'Grandpa', and Sky-Byte's attempt to sneak down the smokestack is foiled by smoke. Dark Scream's attempt to do the same is met with failure when the train knocks him off as it goes into a tunnel, and gets run down at Rapid Run. Midnight Express knock Slapper before he could try anything and the two battle on a beach. Gas Skunk uses a device to disable all fuses, stopping Railspike and Rapid Run, but the antique 'Grandpa' is unaffected. The Predacons are convinced that 'Grandpa' is some kind of powerful super-Autobot of sorts. The humans disembark as 'Grandpa' arrive in the station, but the Predacons commandeer the train. They manage to lose Team Bullet Train with a mixture of railroad switching. The train derails and heads straight into a dead end leading to the ocean, but Midnight Express refuses to let the train be destroyed. Hand-mode Megatron tries to grab it, but Midnight Express rescues the train from his clutches. Afterwards Koji and the Autobots understand that the endurance of the old relic is a symbol of hope.

Featured Transformers: Gas Skunk, Dark Scream, Slapper, Optimus Prime, Side Burn, Prowl, Sky-Byte, Megatron, Midnight Express, X-Brawn, Railspike, Rapid Run, Rail Racer
Notable Others: T-AI, Doctor Onishi, Koji Onishi, Kelly

Feels a re-run of Team Bullet Train to the Rescue, but without the entertaining battle scene at the end of that episode. There's too many banal scenes here. Side Burn chasing Kelly, the final battle, the brothers discussing random shite, the Predacons thinking that the bloody steam locomotive is alive, that twat of a professor... the only redeeming quality is the Predacons' butt-monkeying in this episode, as well as Midnight Express' na´ve view at the Grandpa steam train (even then it gets annoying after a while). That is all.

At this point, though, we must take a look at the target audience. Robots in Disguise is targetted for little kids, with episodic plots that won't harm the status quo. While the cast is smaller and the dialogue decidedly more banal compared to G1, it's still probably a fun show for those kids watching. For fans? Well, sadly, this is not the worst.

(One out of Ten)

Dark Scream suggests that D5 stands for Destron-5. Destron is the Japanese name for Decepticons in G1 and the Unicron Trilogy, and Predacons in Beast Wars and RID. Heck, basically the bad guys everywhere before the live-action movies.

The giant cannon that Gas Skunk uses has effects similar to G1 Starscream's null ray.

The Decepticon base visibly moves around, suggesting that it is mobile. In Car Robots, the whole point of finding energy is to make the base space-worthy again, but not so in Robots in Disguise.

What kind of scientist can't tell nitroglycerine and nitrous oxide apart?

The Predacons attacking the train full of passengers. Does the train stop so the passengers can escape to safety? No, it goes on with the full potential that one of the Predacons' attempts might've worked and killed everyone on board.

Railspike and Rapid Run switch paint schemes for a split second.

If a steam train with its coal engine still running plunges into the ocean, it should have exploded, by rights.

Blackjack 2011-04-06 08:12 AM

Mirage's Betrayal
Airdate: 18 September 2001
Written By: Tadashi Hayakawa
Adapted By: Richard Epcar
Japanese Title: Counterarrow's Betrayal

The Spychangers battle against the Predacon trio in a hologram simulation, but when Mirage sees a second Dark Scream appear he ends the exercise. Rev isn't really happy with Mirage's attitude and gives him a quiz on hand signals. Mirage excels in the test, and goes off on his own. Elsewhere the Predacon goons have created an electronic bug to track and listen to any Autobot they place it on. Koji watches that the world's largest ruby would be used in a giant laser. He tells Optimus Prime, figuring that the Predacons would want it. The Spychangers are deployed to protect the ruby. During the night, the Predacon trio show up and a battle soon flares up between them and the Spychangers. Dark Scream places the tracking bug on Mirage, unnoticed by the others. After stealing the ruby Gas Skunk uses his gas as cover, knocking the other five Spychangers into a screeching halt. Mirage, acting as sniper, is unable to open fire because he's afraid of hitting the chemical plant, and the Predacons get away. The Predacons return to their base and eavesdrops on the Spychangers. Mirage argues with Hot Shot, Rev and Wars, and in an outburst quit the team. T-AI and Optimus tries to contact the waylay Spychanger but he hangs up on them.

After asking permission from Hot Shot, Ironhide, being Mirage's best friend, meets Mirage on top of the building. Ironhide asks Mirage to explain, which he refuses, and Ironhide figures it out on his own. Mirage, however, badmouths the other Spychangers, causing Ironhide to lose his temper and deck Mirage. Knowing that the Predacons are listening Mirage, tries to tell Ironhide this through hand signals while he says that he would rather join the Predacons. Ironhide is too shocked to notice Mirage's hand signals, while Sky-Byte breaks down crying when he heard the break-up. The Predacons report this to Megatron, who gives them the 'go'. Mirage wanders around and meets the Predacon trio. Mirage agrees to join up to get back at the Spychangers, and Sky-Byte shows Mirage the cannon they have built. Mirage invites the other Spychangers (who are still unaware of the Mirage's faux betrayal) to stop the laser. At the location of the laser Mirage dramatically greets his friends that they've been duped, with dramatic hand signals, and this time Ironhide gets it. At the finger countdown, the Spychangers all fire on the Predacons, and Mirage snipes the controller out of Sky-Byte's hand. Mirage shows the others the bug, but the laser is still functional. The Spychangers extend the Global Space Bridge and circle around the laser, the kinetic energy directed back at Megatron's base. The Spychangers, mainly Ironhide, apologize to Mirage.

Featured Transformers: Hot Shot, Rev, Crosswise, Wars, Mirage, Ironhide, Dark Scream, Gas Skunk, Slapper, Megatron, Sky-Byte, Rapid Run, Optimus Prime, Railspike, Midnight Express
Notable Others: Koji Onishi, T-AI, Kelly

Much more like it. Instead of rehashing the Brothers or the bloody Bullet Trains all the time, the otherwise-bland-backup-squad of Spychangers get some characterisation. The fake betrayal is played pretty nicely although the hand signals is pretty silly. Most of the Spychangers get their own personalities as well, although they'll only stick for this episode. Mirage is, of course, Mirage. Bit aloof and arrogant but good deep inside. Ironhide is basically Mirage's na´ve best friend. Hot Shot is the always calm and collected leader. Wars is the battle hungry one. Rev and Crosswise are still flowers. Sky-Byte and the Predacon trio, for once not working under Megs' orders, are entertaining as well. The ending is stupid, though, with the Space Bridge randomly gift-wrapping the ruby laser. The episode is chock-full of narm moments, yes, but at least most of the scenes felt like it mattered. However, if this is the best that they could come up with...

(Five out of Ten)

Mirage being suspected of being a traitor when he isn't is a variant of the plot of the G1 episode 'Traitor'. Mirage being suspected as a traitor would crop up in the Dreamwave War and Peace arc, as well as IDW's Spotlight Blaster, and later All Hail Megatron maxi-series. No, Mirage isn't named as such in Japan so it couldn't be an intentional reference when Car Robots was produced. But RID certainly ran with it, since it was released more than a year after Car Robots aired.

Both Mirage and Ironhide are good buddies for a very long time. Coincidentally those two are the only Spychangers sharing names with G1 characters. While Ironhide and Mirage are fairly major characters in G1, I don't think they ever actually spoke to each other per se.

The 'International Exposition Center' is the Tokyo Big Sight Convention Center, and is identified as such in the original Japanese dub.

At one point during a panning shot in the Predacon base, the Predacon trio are clustered around the monitor, Slapper is replaced with a second Dark Scream.

As Ironhide transforms while jumping, his black undercarriage switches immediately into yellow without the normal transformation effects.

Blackjack 2011-04-06 03:02 PM

Skid-Z's Choice
Airdate: 19 September 2001
Written By: Junki Takegami
Adapted By: Tom Wyner
Japanese Title: Out of Control! Indy Heat!

The Autobots watch a Formula-1 race, and watch as a pink F1 zooms in. Suddenly Prowl enters the racetrack and pursues the pink F1, demanding that he pull over. Prowl crashes onto a wall of tires after a tight turn, and the pink F1 wins and zooms away. Optimus Prime suspects that the race car was in fact the Autobot Skid-Z. Railspike mentions that Skid-Z has just arrived from Cybertron, but hasn't made any contact. Koji comments that the car that Skid-Z scans is similar to the late racer Auggie Cahnay uses and the racer's 'got-to-win' personality was left on the car, and suggests that when Skid-Z scanned the car, said personality also entered into Skid-Z. In a forest Skid-Z ponders to himself why he seems to want to be in a race every time one starts. However, he can't help himself as he runs to race in a go-cart, in a school marathon, and even against a tortoise and a hare. Sky-Byte arrives and tries to recruit Skid-Z to the Predacons. Skid-Z attacks, but hears another race and speeds off. Sky-Byte couldn't catch up.

The Autobots decide to hunt Skid-Z down. Koji suggests participating in the International Grand Prix, the only race that Auggie Cahnay has never won before. Anything with wheels can enter, and all the Autobots, including the Bullet Trains, enter the race. Side Burn hits on Sky-Byte (who is disguised as a red car). Sky-Byte thanks Side Burn for his compliment but asks him to get lost. Side Burn drives away, and the race starts. Apparently Side Burn is smart enough to realize that this was the first red sports car that ever spoke back, and tied Sky-Byte to a wooden post, yanking the Predacon backwards. However, Megatron arrives in his own car mode. The Spychangers try to slow Megatron down but he barrels over them (and a luckless Sky-Byte) easily. As the race heads to a mountanious area, the Predacon trio create rockslide to trap the Autobots, stopping Team Bullet Train from advancing. However, Optimus hops up and blasts them away. As he regroups with the Autobot brothers Skid-Z arrives. They try to stop him (with traffic cones, no less) but Skid-Z is determined to win. Megatron mistakes Sky-Byte for an Autobot and shoots him down, before sending a massive boulder towards Optimus and company. They catch the boulder but is unable to fight Megatron, and they call Skid-Z for help. Skid-Z hears the cry and stops, but Auggie's spirit wills him to go on. After a short dilemma, Skid-Z arrives in the nick of time to shoot Megatron, the boulder, and get rid of the Predacons. Having beaten his own internal struggles, he finishes the race with the other Autobots. Skid-Z wins, naturally, and declares that he won't have any problems... until Koji's watch alarm beeps and he runs off, thinking that another race has started. Optimus says Skid-Z will come back, sooner or later.

It appears to be later, though, because Skid-Z is seen in what seems to be Africa, still looking for a race.

Featured Transformers: Skid-Z, Optimus Prime, Railspike, Rev, Rapid Run, Hot Shot, Crosswise, Midnight Express, Ironhide, Wars, X-Brawn, Side Burn, Prowl, Mirage, Sky-Byte, Megatron (flashback and present), Dark Scream, Slapper, Gas Skunk
Notable Others: T-AI, Koji Onishi, Kelly

On one hand, the whole thing is so chock-full stupid and silly, what with this guest star Autobot Skids being possesed by a ghost of a racer. Fair enough, it's a harmless enough obsession. But the racing montage takes too long, and again people like Koji and T-AI spends too much time just yabbing about random, banal stuff which anyone could infer easily. Also, blatantly stupid things like Prowl trying to catch a speeding F1... in a race track! It's funny though when they make absurd things like having the Bullet Trains join the race, or Sky-Byte disguise as a red car and gets hoodwinked by Side Burn. Action scenes are okay, but that bit where they are trying to stop being crushed by a rock makes me grate. Skids' choice is so obvious, and there isn't even the slightest hint of conflict that he won't come to the Autobots' rescue. While not bad, it's boring and overlong to revolve around a character with a generic personality and a crazy obsession.

(Four out of Ten)

First appearance of Skid-Z, a.k.a. Indy Heat in Japan. Mirage is a repaint of the Machine Wars Prowl/Mirage mold, a mold that never saw usage in Japan before this toy. Before you ask, Skid-Z is pronounced 'Skids', instead of 'Skid-Zee' or 'Skid-Zed'. At least the dubbing crew are sane on this part...

The driver whose spirit possesses Skid-Z is named 'Auggie Cahnay', a reference to a race car driver from the G1 episode 'Trans-Europe Express'. In Car Robots, the driver's name is Goldback, G1 Goldbug's Japanese name. No, it doesn't make sense other than being a neat homage.

Likewise, the Europa 4000 is named after Europa 2000, also from the same G1 episode 'Trans-Europe Express'.

Skid-Z races past a tortoise and a hare (overtaking both, of course), a reference to the classic fable.

While not necessarily a goof, note that Megatron transforms into his bat (well, Megabat) mode to fly away, when one would think the jet mode would be faster. You got to promote all five alternate modes, remember! It's why he turns to his hand mode so often.

What the HELL is a police car doing in a race track?

The original Formula-1 car that Skid-Z scans already has an Autobot symbol on it.

How did Skid-Z enter the Grand Prix anyway? He's a driverless Formula One... For that matter, how did Skid-Z enter the museum to scan the car?

Why didn't Skid-Z contact the Autobots for help?

Where is the logic that if you scan a vehicle, the ghost of the racer inhabits you?

The Europa 2000 takes place at streets where people can get run down. Also, there are no stands for viewers to watch.

A goof lampshaded by Slapper moaning 'that's not fair, he's ignoring the laws of gravity!' Indeed, Optimus Prime's anime use-falling-rocks-as-stepping-stones does ignore the laws of Physics.

Blackjack 2011-04-06 03:09 PM

Dammit, this is a bloody chore.

Watching it isn't quite as painful as reviewing it... it's making my head hurt. But at least the show gets quite better halfway through. Marginally. I'm already up to the second clip show episode. I hate clip show episodes.

Blackjack 2011-04-08 03:31 PM

Tow-Line Goes Haywire
Airdate: 20 September 2001
Written By: Yukiyoshi Ohashi
Adapted By: Matthew V. Lewis
Japanese Title: Parking Violation! Wrecker Hook

As Side Burn hits on a red sports car, a tow truck revealing himself to be the Autobot Tow-Line arrests Side Burn and impounds him for parking in a no parking zone. Prowl is pleased by this, and intends on combating all unlawful parkers with Tow-Line. Tow-Line undertakes his job with extreme dedication, but it soon spirals out of control, pulling anything that even resembles illegal parking, including tricycles and wedding vehicles. Prowl tries his best to tell Tow-Line what counts as illegal parking. Sky-Byte and Gas Skunk see this and begin to hatch a plot. The Predacon trio hide inside a trailer truck, and when Tow-Line tries to tow it away the trio ambush the rookie. They capture Tow-Line and take him to Sky-Byte. After Slapper and Gas Skunk tries their hand at hypnotism (which only succeeds in putting Slapper to sleep). Dark Scream arrives with a disc containing a brainwashing device. It alters Tow-Line into thinking that the Autobots have been doing the evil deeds that the Predacons did.

The confused Tow-Line begin to hunt down Autobots. He tows X-Brawn away, and in the struggle that ensued X-Brawn knocks Tow-Line's memory banks with his own grapple. Even more confused than before, Tow-Line drops X-Brawn into a deep hole in a power plant. Tow-Line then attacks Side Burn and Rapid Run in quick succession, dropping both into the same hole X-Brawn was. As Tow-Line carries the larger Rapid Run, he causes collateral damage that doesn't go unnoticed by Prowl and Koji. Optimus and Prowl, thinking that it's a towing addiction, tries to talk Tow-Line down, but the poor Autobot has been clearly brainwashed. The Predacon troops arrive to help their 'friend', but Optimus blasts them away. They manage to tear out the control disc, restoring Tow-Line to his normal self. Tow-Line rescues the three Autobots he impounded, and apologizes to them. Megatron arrives with the Predacons, but the Autobots make quick work of them. Later on, Tow-Line tows Prowl away for parking illegally... even if it's only to get a wash.

Featured Transformers: Side Burn, Tow-Line, Prowl, Optimus Prime, X-Brawn, Sky-Byte, Gas Skunk, Slapper, Dark Scream, Rapid Run, Megatron
Notable Others: Koji Onishi, T-AI, Kelly

I really think this episode is funny, with Tow-Line's voice being the first voice that's distinctive enough to stick in my head. I can't stress how important voices are. Despite his scant appearances and rather silly misunderstood misconception, he's basically a dimwitted, over-enthusiastic rookie guy with this cute 'duhhh' accent. I have no idea why but I really like Tow-Line. Maybe it's his voice, maybe it's because he's such a ditz... 'No parking meens no parking, leettle man.' The plot is the one of the stock 'one of the good guys is brainwashed!' plot in cartoons. Prowl, Rapid Run, Slapper and Side Burn all get nice moments as well. Especially Prowl, crazy traffic cop of justice. I'm starting to warm up to the RID guys after a bit, and am beginning to enjoy this rise in quality and dubbing. Slapper is great fun as well during the hypnosis scene. Rapid Run gets some nice solo act with his 'Deflector-Shield!'. It's not the best episode out there, but it's fun to watch. A nice little gem around the repetitive banality of RID.

(Seven out of Ten)

The first appearance of Tow-Line, a.k.a. Wrecker Hook in Japan. Like Skid-Z, Tow-Line is a repaint of a Machine Wars toy that never saw release in Japan previously, in this case the Hoist/Hubcap mold.

The most frequent of Tow-Line's call-out attacks is called 'Wrecker Hook', a shout-out to his Japanese name.

The dialogue of the Predacons and Autobots at several points suggests that the Predacons have caused lots of small-time trouble off-screen, as well as actually succeeding in stealing energy.

Tow-Line's window that X-Brawn breaks reappears intact in all subsequent shots.

Rapid Run's black parts are not coloured during a panning shot.

Blackjack 2011-04-09 12:41 PM

The Ultimate Robot Warrior
Airdate: 21 September 2001
Written By: Kazuhiko Godo
Adapted By: Richard Epcar
Japanese Title: The Ultimate Extreme! The Large Buddha Statue Transformer

As Megatron probes Doctor Onishi's mind with the psycho-probe, he finds mention of a 'Cave of the Dragon'. Believing it to be something important, Sky-Byte orders the Predacon trio to look into it. Gas Skunk, trying to watch TV, stumbles upon a news broadcast showing a giant statue that changes into a fire-breathing dragon. He races off to inform Megatron and Sky-Byte, missing the end part of the broadcast that says it's a Hollywood effect for a movie. Thinking that this is a powerful Transformer, Megatron sends his troops to recruit him. However, the bumbling Predacons are unsure where the Cave is and begin to attack random statues and trying to get them to transform. Slapper is accosted while assaulting a statue, and the Autobots' denials about knowing about a massive robot only serves to confuse Slapper further. Koji mentions to the Autobots in their base that there are statues in the Cave of the Dragon, which has also been mentioned in Doctor Onishi's microchip. The Brothers are sent to investigate.

Side Burn chases Kelly in her red sports car as usual, and in doing so runs into a thick fog bank, as well as Sky-Byte, who has located the cave. However, they see a massive figure obscured by the fog... and vanishes. Sky-Byte reports to Megatron, who isn't impressed when Sky-Byte shows him an empty space. T-AI explains to Side Burn that it is more special effects courtesy of the Hollywood crew's set. This gives Optimus Prime an idea. As Sky-Byte explores the cave, he sees a giant, slumbering dragon... who is actually Railspike and Rapid Run in disguise. He runs away screaming then the dragon begins to chase him. The Autobot Brothers attack the Predacons, claiming to be defending a sacred place. When the fake dragon comes out, the Autobot Brothers pretend (badly) to be afraid of it. The Brothers 'retreat', and the Predacons try to attack the dragon... who then 'transform', with the aid of smoke effects, into a giant statue made up of Midnight Express and Optimus Prime under what amounts to a cloak and a mask. The statue fires missile storms at the Predacons, but falls down and can't get up. Tow-Line and a smokescreen helps Midnight Express to stand up, and Optimus Prime jumps out from 'behind' the robot and drive off the Predacons. Back in the cave, the Autobtos discover that one of the real statues has a Cybertronian artifact in its forehead, with Optimus identifies as an 'O-Part'.

Featured Transformers: Megatron, Sky-Byte, Gas Skunk, Slapper, Rapid Run, Prowl, Side Burn, X-Brawn, Optimus Prime, Dark Scream, Railspike, Tow-Line, Midnight Express
Notable Others: Doctor Onishi, T-AI, Koji Onishi, Kelly

Waaaargh. Horrible. Sure, there are some funny moments like the Autobot Brothers failing to act properly, or Midnight and Optimus falling down and couldn't get up, or Slapper's solo act against the Autobots, pr Gas Skunk's attempts to get proper TV reception. But that's about it. The rest of episode's concept is silly, overblown, and a way to revolve around a joke that's lost its punchline when the broadcast reveals that it's only a Hollywood effect. It's boring. It doesn't help to rescue the inherent stupidity of having robots dress up with magic 'anime cloaks that happen to look realistic'. And using Buddha statues? I'm not Buddhist, but I'm sure there's a lot that would think that it isn't much of a gag episode and feel offended by Buddha spitting out missile barrages. All you get this episode is to see how big of jerks the Autobots are and how incompetent the Preds are. Poor Predacons. Basically it's a gag episode that takes up three times as long as it has any right to be.

(One out of Ten)

First appearance of the O-Parts (mighty silly name), which would be the main plot device for the next ten episodes or so.

The psycho-probe is based on a similarly-named device in the G1 episode 'The Girl Who Loved Powerglide'. Unlike Astoria Carlton-Ritz, though, Doctor Onishi doesn't jinx machines and it successfully reads his mind.

While the Japanese dub have no qualms about doing so, Robots in Disguise declines to mention that the events take place in China, or that the statues involved are Buddhist in nature.

Side Burn chases Kelly across the Great Wall of China, but like Tokyo Tower and the rest it is never identified by name in RID.

Optimus Prime mentions a 'Golden Age', a reference to a period in the original cartoon that is also referred to as such.

When posing as a statue, Midnight Express uses his Rail Racer arms to look bigger.

The microchip was obtained by the Autobots in 'The Secret of the Ruins'.

How can the Predacons, who had displayed rather acute senses of location (able to locate locomotive D-5 as the plot demands, able to hack traffic computers, et cetera) not figure out where the 'Cave of the Dragon' is?

Hollywood or no Hollywood, you can't just make a gigantic Buddha statue bigger than a bullet train disappear just with a bunch of pulleys and strings.

Do the Predcaons take that long just to enter the cave? Surely the Autobots can't set up that elaborate set-up in five seconds, can they?

How does Optimus' crazy missile barrage go out of the statue's mouth?

At one point both of Sky-Byte's optics are segmented instead of just one.

Blackjack 2011-04-09 01:09 PM

Hope for the Future
Airdate: 26 October 2001
Written By: Tom Wyner

T-AI and Optimus Prime summons the Autobots. The Autobot Brothers return. The Spychangers take out the Predacons in the beach and return. Team Bullet Train respond, doing their link-up maneuver on the way. They discuss past events and replays almost every single event so far on the monitor. Finally they reaffirm their mission to protect Earth and stop Megatron from stealing the O-Parts.

Featured Transformers: Side Burn, Prowl, X-Brawn, Hot Shot, Rev, Crosswise, Wars, Ironhide, Mirage, Slapper, Dark Scream, Gas Skunk, Sky-Byte, Rapid Run, Railspike, Midnight Express, Optimus Prime, Megatron
Notable Others: T-AI, Koji Onishi, Doctor Onishi, Kelly

In respect to Transformer shows broadcasted worldwide, clip shows are unique to Robots in Disguise (the Japanese post-G1 shows maybe had their share, but I'm not sure), and is never reused anymore. Pretty common in other Japanese shows, though. For damn good reason, too. Who wants to bloody watch repeated footage? This kind of flashback episodes only works if the show has been going on for some time, not twelve episodes that aren't important to any 'plot'! It would've been justified if the episodes were fast-paced and interconnected like in Beast Machines, but no. It's terrible, and utterly useless for people who have already watched previous episodes. Dialogue and scripting is abysmal, and stuff like stock Global Space Bridge scenes, or the Bullet Trains' funky maneuver, and constant panning shots of the Autobot groups are padding to a padding episode. Disastrous. Added to the fact that Optimus continues to assure Koji that they will find his father when the Autobots have apparently been spending their time acting as fire trucks, towing away illegal parkers, molesting red sports cars, hiding behind advertisement posts, watching past stock footage and everything shows how incompetent they are, aren't they? I urge you, skip this episode for the sake of your sanity. RID's slow but nice silly kiddy fun, don't make your already tedious experience grate by watching the bloody clip shows.

(Zero out of Ten)

In Japan, an entirely different clip show 'Gigatron's Ambitions Revealed!' is aired instead, which focuses on different footage. Haven't watched it, and am not planning to, but presumably it's the exact same thing but from the Predacons' viewpoint.

Every single bit of animation, even the framing story, is recycled from all previous episodes. The events of 'Battle Protocol', 'An Explosive Situation', 'The Hunt For Black Pyramid', 'Sideburn's Obsession', 'Mirage's Betrayal', 'Skid-Z's Choice', 'The Ultimate Robot Warrior', leaving out the episodes which debuts the Bullet Trains, the Spychangers and Tow-Line, as well as 'Secret Weapon D-5'. That doesn't mean you're not free of them, though... a good three minutes is devoted to replaying the Spychangers beating up the Predacons in an exact shot-for-shot from 'Spychangers to the Rescue'.

The flashback to 'An Explosive Situation' retcons the bomb into a 'device', presumably due to 9/11.

Midnight Express mentions 'Sky Spies', a reference to the similarly-named drones from the G1 cartoon. If they are searching for Doctor Onishi 24/7, they apparently aren't as effective as their G1 counterparts.

The Autobots work out that the Predacon base is located underwater based on 'the Hunt for Black Pyramid'. Since the base is mobile it won't do them much good.

Since this uses recycled footage, at one point at the battle between the Predacons and Spychangers, Gas Skunk falls towards the Plutonium device that pops out of nowhere and disappears in the next shot.

The dialogue when finding the O-Part is different from the previous episode.

Blackjack 2011-04-09 01:12 PM

I'm already at the first clip show, yippee-ki-yay. This means that subsequent episodes will see the leap in quality that would make reviewing them less of a chore.

inflatable dalek 2011-04-09 02:17 PM


Originally Posted by Blackjack (Post 702558)
Clip shows are unique to Robots in Disguise, and is never reused anymore.

You probably mean unique to the American TF shows, the Japanese have always had their fair share and of course, US TV in general loves 'em (or used to anyway, in these DVD days they seem to be more of a dying breed).

Blackjack 2011-04-12 05:07 AM

That should be Transformer-wise, I think, because other TF cartoons never had flashback episodes. Armada and Cybertron certainly didn't have clip shows although IIRC Cybertron had a flashback one. Not sure about Energon.

Although clip shows do become useful to elaborate on episodes cut out of air, eh?

Blackjack 2011-04-13 10:18 AM

The Decepticons
Airdate: 22 September 2001
Written By: Junki Takegami
Adapted By: Tom Wyner
Japanese Title: Foe? Friend!? Black Convoy

Koji and Optimus Prime discuss about UFO sightings (Optimus laughs at people who doesn't believe in UFOs). T-AI tells the Autobots that she had managed to decode Dr Onishi's microchip, showing a location. Koji remarks that it's Castle Peak, where UFOs had been seen before. Optimus and the Brothers roll out. On site, they encounter the Predacon goons, who are excavating for something. Sky-Byte causes a rockslide which unearths an Autobot ship. Apparently the ship had been a lost expedition sent sixty years ago. Optimus Prime scans the ship to discover the six members of the crew intact, albeit in Protoform state. The Predacons argue that the ship belongs to them because they got there first. Their debate is cut short when Megatron arrives, crashes through the ship and flies away with the Protoforms in his grasp, while the Predacons stall the Autobots. Megatron flies to a nearby military base, where Kelly (who had earlier been nearly run down by the Autobots and caught by Sky-Byte's rockslide) had been rescued by the soldiers and is moping.

Megatron orders the Predacon goons to have the Protoforms scan the most powerful vehicles in the army, and later infuse the Protoforms with his Spark energy to turn them under his command. Dark Scream and Slapper scurry past the human fire and scans a missile truck. The Autobots arrive to witness the newly-birthed Transformer, Mega-Octane. Optimus Prime welcomes him to Earth as an Autobot, but Megatron's Spark energy has corrupted Mega-Octane, and he fires at the Autobots. In quick succession as Mega-Octane harries the Autobots, the four Predacon troops scan vehicle modes for four of the Protoforms (including an ersatz space shuttle in orbit when Sky-Byte falls backwards with the Protoform). A panicked Kelly hops into a tanker truck filled with gallons of rocket fuel, and very nearly overturns it. Optimus Prime saves her, but Megatron, with the logic that the tanker truck, if blown up, could kill them all, decides that it's the most powerful vehicle and uses the final Protoform to scan it... but it scans Optimus Prime as well as the tanker. Scourge is born. After a pause as Megatron demands the newcomer's allegiance, Scourge declares himself a Decepticon, and overtakes the position of leader of the squad from Mega-Octane. The Decepticons all open fire. Optimus tries to convince Scourge to reject evil, but both his words and attacks prove ineffective. Megatron tells the Decepticons that they are not at full strength and they retreat. Optimus hopes that the Decepticons will reject the evil and find their true selves. Sky-Byte and the Predacons, meanwhile, are concerned that they may be out of a job.

Featured Transformers: Optimus Prime, X-Brawn, Prowl, Side Burn, Slapper, Gas Skunk, Dark Scream, Sky-Byte, Megatron, Mega-Octane, Movor, Rollbar, Rotor, Armorhide, Scourge
Notable Others: Koji Onishi, T-AI, Kelly

There's a sense of a proper conflict instead of just random anime bullying. A larger cast, and something that has a vibe of Beast Wars, even if it's a ripoff... well, the Commandos are by-and-by generic yes-man soldiers, but Scourge would develop to one of the main characters of the series. There are some things that I dislike, though. The Decepticons firing at the Autobots uses looped footage over and over, which is irritating. And Kelly... she was tolerable in small, one-shot scenes, but give her any longer than the usual half to one minute of screentime and I want to shoot her in the head. I particularly like the scenes in the military base, with excellent action sequences for the Predacons. The horror as the Autobots see the Protoforms reprogrammed one by one... not always a happy ending for the good guys. Voice acting is still not quite up to notch. And the Commandos are the only characters so far that has actually got a background/origin story, yes? Pretty interesting, though names like 'Mega Octane' or 'Movor' always make me roll my eyes. As long as intro episodes go, this is pretty nice.

(Six out of Ten)

The first appearance of the Decepticons. In a nice twist from G1, this time the Predacons are the faction and the Decepticons are the combiner subgroup. In Japan, the faction name Predacon is referred to as 'Destrons', the same name they gave G1 Decepticons and BW Predacons, while the Decepticon six are referred to as 'Destrongens'.

The Decepticons are redecoes from old G1/2 toys. Scourge (Black Convoy in Japan) is redecoed from the G2 Laser Optimus Prime toy. The Commandos are redecoes from the G1 Combaticons, but use show models inspired by the toys, making them look quite different from their original G1 cartoon/comic models. For example, G1 Swindle's character model has him have the windshield as his chest, versus the toy which has his chest composed of the underside of his vehicle. His RID redeco Rollbar (Greenjeeper in Japan) follows the latter model. The Onslaught redeco is called Mega-Octane (Dolrailer in Japan), Vortex becomes Ro-Tor (Hepter in Japan), Blast Off becomes Movor (Shuttler in Japan) and Brawl becomes Armorhide (Dangar in Japan).

In addition to the normal Decepticon insignia, the Decepticons feature a 'Commando' insignia as well, which is the G2 Autobot insignia turned upside-down. The reason being that the G2 insignia is part of Laser Optimus/Scourge's mold, and they can't be bothered to modify it, so bam a new insignia is born.

The idea that Transformers can exist as protoforms in stasis pods, with said stasis pods being able to be reprogrammed, originates from Beast Wars. The stasis pods look a good deal like their counterparts from Beast Wars as well, although in Beast Wars the pod doesn't disappear when the Transformer inside comes out. The protoforms are also referred to as 'proto-entities', as well as 'Cybertrons'. That last bit might be a misdubbing which is supposed to be 'Autobots' (Cybertron in Japan) or might be intentional, referring to Cybertronians as a whole.

Here stasis pods have to be manually operated to scan vehicles, though. When they do they become electrified, flash brightly and the light becomes the resulting Transformer.

The first blatant reference to 'Sparks' as the essence of a Transformer after several off-hand generic uses before. Megs' Spark can infuse itself into the Protoforms to reprogram them.

Possibly more of a coincidence than anything, but the UFO in one of the pictures looks like a blue version of Cosmos. It's Pathfinder!

Why didn't Optimus and company, you know, shoot the Predacons instead of arguing who has dibs on the ship?

Scourge's battle station is pretty messed up in this episode. The center rocket faces backwards, while all the other funky weapons open fire at the Autobots.

Scourge can somehow know Mega-Octane's name without first having introductions first.

There are some mountains in the US named Castle Peak, but none of them match the coordinates at T-AI's screen.

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