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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' naïve 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 naïve 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.

Blackjack 2011-04-13 03:27 PM

Airdate: 24 September 2001
Written By: Yukiyoshi Ohashi
Adapted By: Marc Handler
Japanese Title: Quintuple Merge! Valdigus

At a remote location, Scourge and the Decepticon Commandos to destroy a dam. Megatron is impressed, and the Decepticons plan to attack a larger one that humans depend on. Sky-Byte is angry that Megatron is focused on the Decepticons, and along with the Predacon trio plans to steal Scourge's thunder in the next mission by disguising as Autobots to trick the Decepticons. The four argue who gets to be Optimus. In the Autobot base, the Autobots have witnessed the Commandos' attack, and Autobots are deployed to various dams. Koji is at the Sherman Dam, and X-Brawn, patrolling nearby, encounters the Decepticons. Scourge easily tosses X-Brawn into the water where he sinks like a brick. As the Decepticons begin to climb the Dam and plant bombs, Koji alerts Optimus. Side Burn and Prowl are deployed. Sky-Byte and the Predacon trio, all disguised as Optimus Prime, open fire on the Commandos. Scourge drives off the fake Autobots and again tosses Prowl and Side Burn into the water. Dark Scream flies unnoticed and plants a transmitter on one of the bombs.

Optimus Prime arrives as well, while Megatron broadcasts a threat to Los Bogus, where lots of people (including Kelly) watches. Megatron monologues and then orders Scourge to detonate the charges... but nothing happens when Scourge presses the detonator. Megatron is enraged, and Sky-Byte tells Megatron he could do it. Before he could press the new detonator, Optimus arrives and battles the Predacon four. The detonator falls into the water where the Brothers have sunk in, sitting and waiting for help. Megatron is enraged and orders the Decepticon to tear the dam apart. Mega-Octane blows a hole in the dam, causing a blackout in Los Bogus, just before Kelly gets a jackpot. Optimus Prime attack Scourge, while the Brothers, washed down by the water gushing out of the dam, charge the ground-bound Commandos. Movor and Ro-Tor arrive, but so do Team Bullet Train. The Predacon quartet fire indiscriminately from the dam to take out everyone in their way, but a bunch of stray shots from Optimus sends the quartet into the water. Team Bullet Train combines into Rail Racer, but the Commandos combine as well into Ruination. Ruination initially gains the upper hand, but the Brothers disrupt the Decepticon, allowing Rail Racer to blast Ruination apart. The Decepticons retreat. The dam is repaired, power is restored, Megatron is angry, Kelly doesn't win anything and Sky-Byte swears vengeance.

Featured Transformers: Scourge, Megatron, Mega-Octane, Ro-Tor, Armorhide, Rollbar, Movor, Dark Scream, Sky-Byte, Slapper, Gas Skunk, Optimus Prime, X-Brawn, Side Burn, Prowl, Midnight Express, Rapid Run, Railspike, Rail Racer, Ruination
Notable Others: T-AI, Koji Onishi, Kelly

Another forgettable, overlong episode. The Decepticons are generic yes-man thugs, Scourge is an angry, super-powered generic thug (in here), the Predacons are bumbling fools, and the battle between Ruination and Rail Racer falls flat. Megatron, after seeming more menacing after several episodes of being kept out of the limelight, comes off a total idiot more concerned about speeches instead of napalming the dam. Add that to the uninteresting plot and the big plot hole of why didn't the stupid Predacons and Decepticons blow up the dam with their weaponry and have to rely on mines... Sky-Byte's jealousy is executed terribly here, being flat and unsympathetic unlike how his jealousy would be in later episodes.

Kelly is also godawfully irritating. It was funny at first when she appeared for a couple of seconds to be chased by Side Burn or run off the road and all. Give her a wee bit more screentime and she gets on your nerves. The only good bits here are the gag scenes — the Predacons cosplaying as Optimus Prime and discussing about who gets to be Prime, and X-Brawn's swim-swim-swim scene. Charming, but gags won't save a crap episode.

(Two out of Ten)

First appearance of Ruination, otherwise known as Valdigus in Japan, which is a play on Bruticus' name (upon whom Ruination/Valdigus is repainted off). Ruination has two combination modes since he's a scramble city-type gestalt. Here is the more common one with air-based Movor and Ro-Tor as arms and the ground-based Armorhide and Rollbar as legs.

The Ruination five are referred as 'Commandos', while the group as a whole with Scourge is referred as 'Decepticons'.

Ruination uses the combined weapons of his components.

Los Bogus is, of course, Las Vegas in all but name.

When G1 gestalts combine, the extra parts (fists, head et al) are grown from the combiners' body. Ruination, however, has his combiner kibble (head, chestplate et al) flying in out of nowhere during the stock footage.

The first feud between the Decepticons and Predacons. Won't be the last.

Slapper quotes Optimus Primal's catchphrase 'Well ain't that just Prime'.

Sherman Dam had been featured in the second G1 episode 'More than Meets the Eye Part 2', where that series' Optimus and Megatron had their iconic (and clunky) fight with the energy axe and flail.

The Autobot Brothers can swim underwater pretty well in 'the Hunt for Black Pyramid' but here they sink like bricks, despite X-Brawn's efforts.

Why don't the Decepticons and Predacons, you know, shoot the dam? Mega-Octane alone should be able to create enough holes to cause enough stress for the dam to break.

When Ruination first combines, his thumb clips onto his chest.

Blackjack 2011-04-17 02:29 AM

Airdate: 25 September 2001
Written By: Tads Hayakawa
Adapted By: Tom Wyner
Japanese Title: En Garde! Two Convoys!

Megatron dispatches the Predacons and Decepticons to investigate a volcano in a Caribbean resort which might be tapped into energy. The Predacon trio is dispatched to investigate the volcano, while Sky-Byte and Scourge guard the mouth of the volcano, and ignore each other. The Predacon trio triggers an eruption and flees for their lives as a stream of molten lava gushes out and begins to 'chase' them through the tunnels. Kelly happens to be in the resort, and is using the hot springs. As the eruption heats it up she thinks that the hotel workers had turned up the heat for her just as requested. Optimus Prime and the Spychangers arrive, and Sky-Byte and Scourge attack them. Scourge pushes an indignant Sky-Byte aside to battle Optimus, much to his chagrin. Optimus tries to stop the lava from erupting with his Blizzard Storm, but the Commandos arrive and try to shoot him down. Scourge easily knock around the Spychangers, but Wars slows Scourge enough for Optimus to freeze the lava... but it's good only for for eight minutes. Ruination forms and pins down the Spychangers with rapid fire. The resort is evacuated bar Kelly, oblivious to everything.

Sky-byte destroys the ice plug so that it would get rid of both Optimus and Scourge. The Spychangers push Ruination over, and tries to hold the lava back with rock barricades. Ruination destroys the barricade, and Optimus knocks down the combiner. However, too many lava has oozed out. Scourge confronts Sky-Byte over attacking him, but he insists he was only trying to hit Optimus. All the while, the Predacon trio run for their lives as they emerge from the tunnels to find more lava. Hot Shot orders the Spychangers to initiate their group 'Inferno Blast' attack to carve a path for the lava and redirect it. Scourge pays Sky-Byte back by shooting him and the Predacons, sending them into the ocean. Optimus takes down Ruination, and the bad guys retreat. Kelly emerges from the hot spring, on the verge of collapse.

Featured Transformers: Dark Scream, Slapper, Gas Skunk, Scourge, Sky-Byte, Optimus Prime, Wars, Ironhide, Mirage, Hot Shot, Crosswise, Rev, Ro-Tor, Rollbar, Movor, Armorhide, Mega-Octane, Ruination
Notable Others: Kelly, T-AI

Terrible again, sadly., although a wee bit better than 'Commandos'. The plot is uninteresting, with waaay too much time devoted to Kelly being a dumbass and trying to get a holiday. The Spychanger's magic glowing attack, the Predacon trio trying to run away from lava, are all superfluous and overlong. And the lava being treated like something half-sentient is rubbish. Also, we have random fugly action scenes, which are boring and repetitive. I mean, Ruination holds all the Spychangers down by using his big gonzo guns. Optimus gives one order and they charge and push Ruination's legs over, and he doesn't even try to stop them. What. Also, overexposition. How many times do the Predacon trio say 'the lava is still coming' or some variant thereof?

There are some bits of nice character: Sky-Byte's rivalry with Scourge, Sky-Byte's little haiku and Scourge's encounter with Optimus Prime. But those are two shining moments amid a sea of banal plot. It's like a G1 cartoon episode, but with terrible dialogue and repetitive action scenes. At least they've got Sky-Byte. While not exactly a great character like the BW guys, the fact that somebody like Sky-Byte became so memorable is because none of the other members of the cast have any personality to speak of.

(Three out of Ten)

First appearance of Ruination's second configuration, with the land-based Commandos as hands and the air-based Commandos as legs. In Japan it's called the 'Land Mission' mode. What it accomplishes aside from denying Ruination his shoulder-rotor-blade attack thing is unknown.

Again, Spychangers do their toy gimmick of extending arms in vehicle mode, like in 'Spychangers to the Rescue'.

In a moment of proper biology (in a show that features a flying shark and a two-headed dragon) Dark Scream reveals he cannot fly per se, only glide from higher places. Of course, this means that it only applies when the plot calls for it.

Lava shouldn't freeze into ice, it should become rock if subjected to colder temperatures.

Lava isn't alive.

Scatterbrained as Kelly is, how could she miss the damned volcano erupting, big giant robots beating each other up and a mass evacuation?

For that matter, how did the hotel staff miss a guest? It's chaotic and all, but when they cleared the pool...

Also, other than the human immortality that often occurs in Transformers cartoons, being boiled in a hot spring while the volcano supplying it is erupting would decidedly do much worse than burn your skin. Like, internal organ damages and stuff.

Blackjack 2011-04-22 11:30 AM

Attack From Outer Space
Airdate: 12 January 2002
Written By: Kazuhiko Godo
Adapted By: Matthew V Lewis
Japanese Title: Aiming From Space! Shuttler!!

A space shuttle is launched into orbit by the humans, but they are unaware that the shuttle is really Movor. When he reaches orbit Movor began observing Autobots to locate their base. However, tracking Tow-Line and later Prowl proved fruitless, since those two are in the process serving the law and catching criminals. Megatron and the others are getting impatient. Movor then observes the Predacon goons carving a giant Megatron face onto the ground, having been fooled by Mega-Octane into doing so. He watches as X-Brawn battles the Predacons. Movor tries to warn them that surrounding a lone hero never works out, but X-Brawn knocks the Predacons down. Movor tracks X-Brawn, but loses track of him and then begins to track Side Burn, who is chasing Kelly's red sports car. Side Burn pursues Kelly around and around. Convinced that Side Burn would lead him to the Autobot base, Movor sends the rest of the Decepticons to attack the sector Side Burn seems to head to, but when the Decepticons have leveled the area they only find a graveyard.

Each location Side Burn goes to is reported as the Autobot base by Movor, leading the Decepticons to destroy summer homes, a power plant, an airport and a shipyard. Scourge and Mega-Octane are not happy. Kelly, meanwhile, falls down a hole and Side Burn loses her. The Autobots try to figure out why the shuttle isn't responding, and with some hacking and deduction they realise Movor has been tracking their movements. They trick Side Burn into going to a pier for a date with a red car. The irritated Decepticons are directed there by Movor. Optimus Prime, Prowl, X-Brawn and the Bullet Trains arrive to engage the Decepticons. Scourge and Optimus fight one-on-one, and Movor tries to attack Optimus from space. However, due to the combatants constantly moving around, Movor hits Scourge twice. Seeing their disadvantage Mega-Octane calls for a retreat. The Autobots laugh at the whole situation. Movor is knocked out of orbit by a satellite, burns upon reentry and lands in the ocean.

Featured Transformers: Movor, Optimus Prime, Scourge, Megatron, Ro-Tor, Armorhide, Rollbar, Mega-Octane, Tow-Line, Prowl, Gas Skunk, Slapper, Dark Scream, Sky-Byte, X-Brawn, Side Burn, Railspike, Rapid Run, Midnight Express
Notable Others: T-AI, Koji Onishi, Kelly

It's a pretty fun episode that gives Movor, Scourge and Octane some much needed characterisation. Movor as a clueless, scatterbrained yet genre savvy Decepticon is pretty fun, too. However, while the plot is much more realistic in a warring situation, that is, finding the Autobot base, there are loads of major plot holes that leads us to wonder how bloody incompetent the Autobots are... and how bloody incompetent the Predacons are for not utilizing the Autobots' stupidity better.

Yeah, because a bunch of villas, an airport, a shipyard and a power plant get blown up for no good reason other than comedy, this episode was never aired. Which is a good thing, I suppose... Movor is great, but a good deal focuses on Side Burn's stupid obsession. It's gone from 'stupid but cute' to outright irritating, especially when Kelly, nowhere likeable at all, gets involved. Nice action scene at the end, though, with hilarious results from Movor. Movor is great, Scourge and Octane are good fun as well, X-Brawn and Sky-Byte get some good lines. All in all not a bad episode, although after watching the likes of Prime and Animated whilst doing this review I can't help but be unimpressed that this is actually one of the better RID episodes.

Woe betide whenever I get to doing the Unicron Trilogy.

(Six out of Ten)

This episode was never aired in the US due to 9/11, since the Decepticons randomly blow up a lot of buildings and properties just for the hell of it.

Side Burn describes movies that are probably 'Titanic' and 'Jurassic Park'. Also, aliens that take over people's minds.

Prowl is 'unit three' by the Metro City police, and can communicate on their radio frequency. No idea whether it's part of his disguise or if the police employs Autobots now.

How can the space agency miss their shuttle replaced like that? And no humans responding? Are there no security?

When Movor tracks Tow-Line, the insignia at the bottom left of the display switches from a Predacon insignia to a Decepticon insignia at random.

When the Decepticons attack the graveyard, Rollbar is missing and replaced by Movor, who should be in space.

Why don't the Autobots mobilize when the Decepticons begin to blow up random properties?

Normally Movor's vehicle mode is about the size of the other Decepticons (i.e. the size of a tank or a helicopter). However this episode suddenly he becomes a full-sized space shuttle.

Why can't Movor fly out to space without the hassle of disturbing human launchs, which attracted Autobot attention? If he had, the Autobots wouldn't suspect Movor's plans at all.

Blackjack 2011-04-30 01:07 PM

The Test
Airdate: 26 September 2001
Written By: Junki Takegami
Adapted By: Tom Wyner
Japanese Title: Awaken to Righteousness! Black Convoy

Sky-Byte is dispatched to destroy a drilling platform in the ocean, but as he celebrates his success, Scourge attacks him. Optimus Prime arrives, and this drives Sky-Byte away. Optimus tries to recruit Scourge, appealing to his Autobot nature and tells him to reject Megatron's programming but Scourge leaves without a word. At the Predacon base, Sky-Byte reports to Megatron about Scourge's betrayal but Megatron refuses to believe him. Sky-Byte is convinced that something is wrong. In Autobot HQ Optimus is convinced that the Decepticons' good side is winning out but the Brothers are much more distrustful. T-AI receives a clandestine transmission from Mega-Octane, requesting a meeting with Optimus. Despite advice otherwise, Optimus arrives at the location and meets with the Decepticon. Mega-Octane explains that the Decepticons wants to defect to the Autobots. Optimus is pleased, while an eavesdropping Sky-Byte hatches a plan to get rid of the Decepticons. Afterwards Mega-Octane reports to Megatron that their plan to fool the Autobots is working, and that they will discover the Autobots' secret base in no time. Scourge is unhappy with all these non-fighting schemes.

The Brothers argue with Optimus Prime, who insists on giving the Decepticons a chance. Side Burn has an idea to subject the Decepticons to menial tasks. The Decepticons are set to clean up a random forest of fallen leaves with giant brooms, but after some protests the Decepticons work anyway, surprising the Autobots with their 'enthusiasm' and dedication. The Decepticons are set to direct traffic, working construction and cleaning waterways. As the Decepticons huddle around after the ordeal, Mega-Octane barely keeps Scourge from exploding, but the Brothers are satisfied. Optimus is about to take the Decepticons to HQ when Sky-Byte attacks, intent on destroying the traitors. The Decepticons consider that blowing the Predacon up will prove their loyalty to Prime whilst getting rid of competition, and attacks. Scourge goes after Sky-Byte but nearly kills a passing Kelly if not for Optimus' intervention. Mega-Octane tries to calm things down, but Scourge lost his temper and mocks Optimus for his gullibility. Enraged at this, Optimus Prime single-handedly takes down all six Decepticons, forcing them to retreat. Later Optimus Prime apologizes to the Brothers for allowing blind hopes override better judgment.

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

The Autobots are stupid, the Decepticons are stupid, Megatron is stupid. Sky-Byte, on the other hand, shines. Actually seeming dangerous by blowing the oil rig up, lobbing haikus and poems (with excellent delivery for once), trying so hard to defeat Scourge and the Autobots yet failing at every turn, yet keep getting back up to attack the Autobots... with uninteresting Autobots and unbelievably incompetent Decepticons in this episode, I can't help but cheer solely for Sky-Byte. He is the only source of any points I give this episode. Rollbar (I think) manages to become the second Commando to have a personality by carrying the fake act even when they don't have to, but that's not saying much. Any suspense that they are actually defecting is ruined by the illusion being dissolved very early on.

The Commandos and Brothers are flatly characterised. Scourge, usually portrayed as a competent leader, now hugs the idiot ball by simply not being able to control his temper in order for the plan-of-the-week to succeed. It's pretty daft, although playing on Optimus' hopes (although Optimus himself shares the idiot ball with Scourge) is a pretty interesting concept... if used properly. And what do the Autobots do when six Decepticons join them? Do they launch a full scale assault with two combiners, the Spychanger squad and human military at the remaining five Predacons? No, they set them to sweep parks of fallen leaves. No wonder they never get anything done.

(Three out of Ten)

First appearance of Optimus Prime's missile rain thing (the name sort of varies dfrom episode to episode.

Sky-Byte once again hums the Jaws theme soundtrack as he moves towards the drilling platform.

I don't think I mentioned this before, but Scourge's trailer, like Optimus Prime and his G1 counterpart, disappears and reappears from off-screen as needed.

Ro-Tor is missing his rotors at one point.

Ruination's scale relative to Scourge are out of whack. Well, more than usual anyway.

while helping the law and traffic and stuff might be understandable considering how RID Autobots help the humans, what good is cleaning a forest of fallen leaves?

Why didn't Sky-Byte attack the Decepticons when they were, like, sweeping the forests or something?

Blackjack 2011-05-01 01:07 PM

The Fish Test
Airdate: 27 September 2001
Written By: Yukiyoshi Ohashi
Adapted By: Marc Handler
Japanese Title: Secret Strategy! Gelshark

Slapper watches as Sky-Byte takes an online 'fish personality test' on the computer, but is dejected when the quiz identifies himself as a jellyfish. Megatron summons Sky-Byte, and assigns him to lend assistance for Scourge's latest plan. Scourge's orders? Remain at base and stay out of the way. Dark Scream manages to find out that Scourge plans to siphon energy from Earth's power plants, and Sky-Byte begins to concoct a plan to sabotage this effort with his troops. Scourge leads his troops to a power plant, and are ambushed by the 'Autobots', who, in reality, are the Predacons in disguise. A firefight soon ensues. In Autobot HQ, Side Burn also takes the fish test, but is interrupted by an alert on the power plant battle. The Brothers are dispatched, and begin to engage the Decepticons... and despite this being part of Sky-Byte's plan, the Predacons are caught in the crossfire, making their intervention blatant for all to see. At the Predacon base Sky-Byte is scolded severely by Megatron for interfering with their plans. Afterwards, however, Dark Scream gets word of the Decepticons' next attack location. Sky-Byte tries to warn the Autobots, picking Side Burn, but because he interrupted Side Burn's chase with a red sportscar, Side Burn blows Sky-Byte away. The Predacons track down X-Brawn, but the Autobot isn't trusting either. Prowl and Side Burn arrive as well, and after demanding that Sky-Byte perform a set of humiliating tricks to prove his sincerity, the Brothers check out the Predacon's tip.

The Autobots and Sky-Byte wait at the Bayshore power plant... only for both T-AI and Dark Scream to tell both parties respectively that the Decepticons are attacking a different power plant. The Brothers assume Sky-Byte has tricked them. The Bullet Trains arrive on the other power plant, and drive off the Decepticons. Sky-Byte sulks at a cliffside, feeling pretty sorry for himself. However, the Predacon Trio managed to convince him to try again, and Sky-Byte attacks a power plant by his lonesome... only to discover that Megatron and the Decepticons are already there, siphoning energy covertly, and Sky-Byte's grandiose attack has only drawn the Autobots on-site. Both Megatron and the Autobots give Sky-Byte hell, both verbally and physically. Sky-Byte finally manages to escape the Autobots... only to be scolded again by Megatron at HQ, ordering him to cleaner duty. A dejected Sky-Byte looks at his horoscope... and sees that it warns him against attempted betrayal for the day or he would be humilitaed utterly. Sky-Byte smashes the computer with his claw... only to be electrocuted.

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

Surprisingly, despite what the title implies, the Fish Test itself does not figure too much into the episode. It's pretty fun if it drags on for quite some time. Sky-Byte's antics alone are fun, if silly. The whole episode is clearly played out for laughs, and unlike previous installments the rivalry between Sky-Byte and the Decepticons are more entertaining here instead of tiring and uninspired before. The Predacon trio also get some nice lines, as do the Autobots (who have finally caught up to the fact that the Predacon four are yesterday's goons and can be blasted away with impunity). Poor Sky-Byte is the Waspinator of this series, which only endears him more.

The moment where Sky-Byte sulks in the cliff is a nice moment ruined only by the narmish delivery of the lines at the end. I absolutely adore how Sky-Byte acts like a stereotypical flamboyant anime hero of justice while disguised as Rail Racer, while the Trio chuckle about it. Being forced to act like a seal was hilarious as well. The rivalry between Sky-Byte and Scourge is explored deeper after episodes of the past, and while Scourge is clearly the more competent (if arrogant) of the two, Sky-Byte can't help but be endearing by way of being a woobie. Both Sky-Byte and Scourge get played well this episode. Dark Scream also gets some nice moments acting as the Predacons' resident spy. Sadly, this is not by far a spectacular episode, and is about any good as the second leg of RID would get. Which, sadly, isn't any good compared to shows like Prime or Beast Wars.

(Six out of Ten)

This is the second time the Predacon four have tried to pass themselves off as Autobots to sabotage the Decepticons. The result is still the same. Although to their credit, they picked different Autobots to disguise themselves as.

Slapper asks Sky-Byte to perform the 'universal greeting dance', a reference to the universal greeting seen in 1986's Transformers the Movie.

Sky-Byte acknowledges that the jellyfish isn't a real fish, a nice touch of basic Biology.

When the Predacon trio comment on Sky-Byte's horrible acting, Gas Skunk breaks the fourth wall by saying that Sky-Byte can always work in cartoons.

Before the logo transition after T-AI sends out the call to investigate the first power plant attack, there is a stray shot of Sky-Byte talking to the Predacon trio from early on in the episode for a couple of seconds.

When Sky-Byte is confronted by Megatron, he holds up two hands to form two peace gestures... when his left hand is supposed to be a four-pronged trident-claw thing.

Ro-Tor and Movor are missing from the Decepticon ranks for the entire episode.

Blackjack 2011-05-04 10:59 AM

Wedge's Short Fuse
Airdate: 28 September 2001
Written By: Junki Takegami
Adapted By: Richard Epcar
Japanese Title: Hot-Blooded Warriors! Buildmaster

The Predacons attack a diamond mine in Antarctica. T-AI dispatches the Autobot Brothers to Antarctica, but the Brothers are unable to do so when they realise the Global Space Bridge section to Antarctica is incomplete, and the Build Team is working on it. The young leader of the Build Team, Wedge, strikes a deal with Optimus Prime in order to prove themselves in battle duty. Optimus is sceptical about sending an inexperienced construction crew into battle, but doesn't have a choice. T-AI is then forced to go through the Battle Protocol all over again. In the Antarctic, the Predacons are waiting for the Autobots to arrive and be captured in a trap (with a massive net, no less) in order to discredit Scourge. While the Predacon Trio initially mistake the unfamiliar Build Team as transport trucks, Sky-Byte recognizes them as Autobots and a battle breaks out. The Predacons overwhelm the inexperienced Build Team and Sky-Byte traps the smaller Wedge on his jaws. The Predacon holds the young Autobot hostage, and Heavy Load strikes a deal — a disc containing a full map of the Global Space Bridge network in return for Wedge's release. Knowing that such knowledge would tip the war in their favour, and agrees. Heavy Load places the disc on a rock despite his teammates' protests, and Slapper is about to claim the prize with his tongue when Optimus Prime arrives.

Wedge breaks free and rallies the Build Team to chase after the disc... which had fallen on the head of a penguin that snowboards away. The Predacons and Optimus Prime chase after it as well, but Ro-Tor arrives, snags the disc and gives it to a waiting Scourge. Sky-Byte demands Scourge return his 'rightful property', and when Scourge refuses the Predacons and Decepticons battle. Wedge charges into the fray, despite Heavy Load's warning not to. Optimus asks Heavy Load what he was thinking, Heavy Load reveals that the disc was bogus, containing sewer schematics instead of the Bridge map. However Wedge does not hear this, and charges Sky-Byte. Fortunately for him the Predacons and Decepticons are too preoccupied with each other to treat the smaller Autobot as anything more than a distraction. As a result of the scuffle the disc flies back to Sky-Byte, who announces that there is an entrance to the 'Space Bridge' nearby and plans to attack the Autobot HQ from there. The Predacons jump into the tunnel, the Decepticons hot on their tail. A still-clueless Wedge wants to follow but the other Build Team members restrain him and fill him in. The Predacons and Decepticons land in a heap in the sewer, and as they realize they have been duped, Optimus launches a Blizzard Storm that freezes them solid. Optimus talks tosthe Build Team, telling them that their unlikely victory and mistakes are valuable experience, and they will improve.

Featured Transformers: Optimus Prime, Dark Scream, Gas Skunk, Slapper, Prowl, X-Brawn, Side Burn, Wedge, Heavy Load, Grimlock, Hightower, Sky-Byte, Ro-Tor, Scourge, Movor, Armorhide, Mega-Octane, Rollbar
Notable Others: T-AI

Ah, the Build Team. A bunch of builders who wants to fight but messes everything up in general until their 'New Toy™' status kicks in next episode. Let us take out the context that the magical set of teleporting portals is now a physical set of tunnels, and the sheer stupidity of the Build Team literally digging their way through Earth's crust from wherever Metro City is to Antarctica in ten seconds flat. And the long, tiring Battle Protocol sequence that even annoys our resident dry, lifeless T-AI. And the whole nonsense with the penguin. And the Antarctic sewer. Out of the four new characters introduced, Hightower and Grimlock are really lifeless; you could plop in any of the Spychangers and there wouldn't be any difference. Wedge, for all the showtime he receives, is blander than even the likes of Prowl and Gas Skunk, and that's saying something. He's basically this supposed Jimmy Neutron-styled boy genius, but comes off as an over-eager, hot-headed idiot who gets into fights he can't win. Plus those treads sliding like awkwards gloves can't help to make him look any better. He comes off as terribly irritating.

On the other hand, it is nice for the Predacon goon squad to get a win or two once in a while, and Sky-Byte, Scourge and even Slapper gets some nice moments of character here. The civil war was fun as well, with the Predacon trio clearly unwilling to join but can't help but getting dragged in. Heavy Load was the only new character that's fun with his planning, but when you realise he could've prevented his team captain from rushing into battle if he had told him earlier brings up the fact that the entire Build Team is another bunch of uninteresting boring enthusiastic generic good guys. Add that to the plot, or lack thereof, and this episode is a slow watch. I just hope the Build Team doesn't show up so much, or at the very least get personalities if they do.

(Two out of ten)

First appearance of the Build Team — Wedge (Build Boy in Japan), Heavy Load (Build Typhoon in Japan), Grimlock (Build Hurricane in Japan) and Hightower (Build Cyclone in Japan).

So the Global Space Bridge is actually a physical network of bridges, not a magic teleporting interdimensional thing. This makes a lot less sense.

This episode is the first that sensibly does not feature the luckless, omni-present Kelly. Poor girl didn't even get a name dropped in the show itself...

Despite the episode occurring in the Antarctic, the tunnel project is always referred as the 'Arctic Link'.

Why the hell does T-AI even go through the Battle Protocol nonsense when there is a crisis brewing?

There are sewers in Antarctica. What.

Blackjack 2011-05-04 03:28 PM

Airdate: 22 June 2002
Written By: Yukiyoshi Ohashi
Adapted By: Richard Epcar
Japanese Title: Quadruple Merge! Build King

X-Brawn is pursued by the Decepticon Commandos, and looks as if he would be boxed in... when he jumps into a Global Space Bridge warp tunnel. The Decepticons decide to deal with the Autobots' teleportation technology. Armorhide is in favour of blowing it into pieces but Mega-Octane suggests that they turn the technology against the Autobots. In Metro City, the Build Team work on the Space Bridge's Arctic tunnel link. Wedge suggests that they go for some battle practice, and the team heads off for the 'Battle Zone'. Grimlock leaves behind and uploads the Arctic link data into the Space Bridge's computer network located in a building in the city. Ro-Tor trails Grimlock and after the Autobot is gone the Decepticons arrive, and switch part of the programming discs with one of their own. Scourge tampers with the system again, and dispatches Movor to shoot the city up. When Team Bullet Train tries to respond, the Global Space Bridge deposits them on a busy freeway. Afterwards the Bullet Trains return to HQ. Rapid Run and Wedge get into a heathed argument about whose fault it is for the malfunction. Optimus dispatches the Build Team to check the Bridge for the error, while Scourge dispatches the Commandos to different parts of the city, blowing things up. The Brothers and Bullet Trains move through the Space Bridge again, but Mega-Octane sends them into a variety of undesirable situations, such as the underground levels of a mall, the top of a random building, a desert, a cement mixing and a baseball stadium.

Scourge meets up with Megatron at the North energy research facility, and while the Autobots are distracted by their own Space Bridge, the two will be free to plunder all the energy there. T-AI discovers the Decepticons tampering at the main terminal, and alerts the Build Team. The Build Team engage the Commandos, and Optimus Prime arrives to blow the Decepticons away. The Build Team is able to repair the damage done, replacing the swapped circuitry. The scattered Autobots are collected and together they are sent towards where the Predacons are attacking. Megatron and Scourge engage the Autobots, Megatron getting an advantage in a glacier due to being able to walk with his claws. Team Bullet Train prepares to combine into Rail Racer... when Wedge intervenes, saying that this was personal to the Build Team due to the Predacons' sabotage. Build Team combiens into Landfill and easily knocks Scourge and Megatron around, sending them into retreat. Rapid Run and Wedge apologize to each other and Optimus Prime talks about teamwork for a bit before they head home.

Featured Transformers: X-Brawn, Rollbar, Ro-Tor, Scourge, Armorhide, Mega-Octane, Heavy Load, Wedge, Grimlock, Hightower, Optimus Prime, Rapid Run, Midnight Express, Railspike, Side Burn, Prowl, Megatron, Landfill
Notable Others: T-AI, Koji Onishi, Kelly

Pretty average. The Build Team is still irritating, and while the Autobots-popping-out-everywhere is funny the first few times it gets old really, really fast. However, the Decepticons are back to being competent again, and the sabotage on the Space Bridge is well done. However, Wedge still comes off as pretty irritating as always, and Heavy Load is again the voice of reason. Heavy Load's got some pretty fun action scenes with his massive dump truck claw thing, which is fun to see. There are way too many logic loopholes here to make it enjoyable, though. Why is the system for the Global Bridge in a random bunker in a city instead of their secure base? Why didn't Scourge and company just blow it up when the Build Team arrives? Stuff like that.

Bits of little character moments for guys like Armorhide and Grimlock and the Bullet Trains, which is good. Rapid Run dissing Wedge off is pretty fun as well. The scene where the Commandos shoot the city up is pretty fun as well. Scourge hogs all the good lines. Funny, isn't it, that Landfill, Wedge and Optimus Prime all come off as hollow and lifeless, while the rest of the secondary cast seem to be much more fun? Solid proof that random heroic good guy is the most unattractive character you could ever get. How they figure out that the Cons have tampered with the system... instead of Build Team being the geniuses and figuring things out, the uninteresting TAI has to point it out for them. Also, Landfill's attack is, what, three different shoulder charges which are basically the same? And the stupidly named 'single laser'? This episode wasn't aired, which didn't affect the flow of the show any bit, despite Landfill being introduced this episode. I might be a little too harsh on RID, but then again it's the truth. It isn't bad per se, but it's boring, repetitive and filled with loop holes most of the time.

(Five out of Ten)

The first appearance of Landfill (Build King in Japan). Landfill has three limb combinations since any one of the non-Wedge Build Team members can form either the arms or either leg.

This episode never aired in the US due to post 9/11 sensitivities, since lots of buildings get blown up real good just for laughs. But since it featured the debut of a new character (Landfill) the events of this episode would be the main event of the next clip show, which proves that clip shows can too be useful under circumstances like this.

Optimus Prime's combination sequence into his battle mode now has an extended sequence that pops up every single time he enters battle mdoe from now on.

X-Brawn's dialogue, 'they are on me like Insecticons on a power core', is a shout out to the G1 episode where the Insecticons attack and eat a power core. Was it 'the Insecticon Syndrome' or 'the Core'? All those G1 titles are so vague...

Movor destroys a sign with a stylized Ronald McDonald on it.

Megatron's "next time, Autobots!" line is very similar to Doctor Claw's catchphrase as he escapes.

The first episode ever in Robots in Disguise that Sky-Byte or the Predacon trio do not feature in any capacity, not even as background characters.

The Build Team are working on an 'Arctic Link Tunnel', presumably the Antarctic Link seen last episode... but even then, why would an Arctic/Antarctic link be dug out in the middle of a city?

Whose bright idea was it to place the Space Bridge's computing system in a bunker without even security cameras or alarm systems instead of the otherwise unknown Autobot HQ?

As Rapid Run pops out and crashes down a hill, he speaks with Railspike's voice. It was probably intended to be Railspike since we saw Rapid Run a fair bit ago, but the animators screwed up... or something.

Presumably the Bullet Trains cannot return to Autobot HQ with the malfunctioning Space Bridge, so why didn't the Decepticons follow them to the HQ?

Midnight Express and Rapid Run constantly get their colour schemes swapped at one point or another while in vehicle mode.

Despite Scourge's dialogue to tell the Decepticons to move out, in the next shot the Decepticons are still in the terminal.

The people around Koji at the baseball game changes in every single shot.

At one point Heavy Load's entire face is yellow like his helmet.

Blackjack 2011-05-04 07:18 PM

Sky-Byte Saves The Day
Airdate: 23 June 2002
Written By: Tadashi Hayakawa
Adapted By: Matthew V Lewis
Japanese Title: Friend of Righteousness? Gelshark

Optimus Prime and T-AI discuss about the O-Parts, and affirms that finding them is their number one priority. In Metro City, Sky-Byte and the Predacon trio arrive at the grand opening of the CGA Tower, one of the tallest towers in the world. Sky-Byte plans to topple the tower, which would make the Predacons famous. Despite their skepticism, the Predacons follow Sky-Byte as they attack the support rods of the tower. Build Team is deployed, but their arrival provokes the Predacons to open fire indiscriminately at buildings, and Wedge negotiates with Sky-Byte not to harm the hostages. Sky-Byte, not realising that the people in the tower could be used as hostages, attempts to improvise as if he has planned this and demands to talk to Optimus. When asked for demands, Sky-Byte and the Predacons randomly babble for a 'thingy'. Optimus and T-AI think that it is a demand for the O-Parts, which Sky-Byte confirms... although they have no idea what the O-Parts are. Optimus goes off to deliver the O-Parts personally. Sky-Byte feels pretty good about the situation... and knocks the last tower support off by leaning on it.

Sky-Byte and Wedge rush to hold the tower up, and the rest of their teams rush in to help as well. To the onlookers and hostages, it looks as if the Predacons are helping. The Decepticons ambush Optimus Prime, wanting to steal Sky-Byte's thunder. Optimus Prime swiftly blasts Ruination and then Scourge, and drives on. In the tower, the Predacons are not really happy (Sky-Byte has an itch) but the kids cheer for Sky-Byte, something that has never happened to the Predacon before. Optimus arrives but so does Scourge, who opens fire out of revenge because he can't get the O-Parts. Optimus battles Scourge while the Build Team tries to keep Scourge's missiles away. Sky-Byte struggles to keep the tower upright despite the crossfire, wanting to 'save his dear hostages'. The Autobots drive Scourge off and Landfill drills a hole for the tower to go in. The day is saved! Afterwards Sky-Byte and the Predacons watch the sunset and recover from their back pain and itches... and realise that they forgot to pick the O-Parts from Optimus.

Featured Transformers: Optimus Prime, Sky-Byte, Dark Scream, Gas Skunk, Slapper, Hightower, Wedge, Heavy Load, Grimlock, Megatron, Scourge, Movor, Ro-Tor, Armorhide, Mega-Octane, Rollbar, Ruination, Landfill
Notable Others: T-AI, Koji Onishi, Jenny, Karl, Kelly

Much silliness, but the good kind of silliness. While the Build Team is still largely uninteresting at least Wedge isn't as irritating as he was in the past two episodes. Sky-Byte is absolutely golden, being clueless yet still persistent enough to try to get whatever he is supposed to get... and foul up because he tries to save the people who actually cheer for him. You just pity him, he's this harmless bully that's unappreciated by everyone else, but too stupid to make the leap from evil goon to anti-hero. The Predacon trio are still by-and-by generic, sarcastic troublemaking goons, but they've grown personalities. Not distinct, but as a whole. Kelly is still irritating, and both T-AI and Koji are still lifeless. All is well with the world.

Optimus Prime's pretty fun as he trashes both Ruination and Scourge in three hits to save the humans. And all the while this ties in to the O-Parts plot. Scourge is pretty nice to see as well, a real villain, that Scourge. He just can't stand to see Sky-Byte succeed, even though the Decepticons clearly outclass Sky-Byte's Predacons in every way. He's an angry, jealous soul, unwilling to let others even get the slightest bit of victory. Sky-Byte undoubtedly steals the show, though, and at the end of the day you find that you won't root for the Autobots or Decepticons or Megatron, but for Sky-Byte. It's funny, isn't it? The character meant to be a pathetic joke is the one with the most distinct characterisation? Despite all the episodes we've been through, only Sky-Byte and Scourge, and maybe Side Burn have any kind of interesting development. Enjoy Sky-Byte, he's the best thing RID gave us. He's no Waspinator but he's his own brand of crazy fun.

(Seven out of Ten)

An episode about a group of Predacons holding a tower with hundreds of people inside hostage, with it threatening to topple being the main plot of the episode? Yeah, this episode so never aired in the US.

Although it was not mentioned in that episode itself, apparently in 'Volcano' the Decepticons were looking for the O-Parts. Poor Sky-Byte wasn't informed, though.

Landfill combines in a different way this episode. Normally Landfill forms with Grimlock as arms and the other two as legs (Hurricane mode in Japan) but for this episode, Heavy Load forms the arms and the other two become legs (Typhoon mode in Japan). According to the Japan writers, Hurricane Mode gives Landfill a balance between offense and defense, while Typhoon Mode gives a higher offense. The third mode, Cyclone Mode, with Hightower as arms (not seen until much later) is the defensive mode.

The CGA tower's relative height varies widely, sometimes reaching for the skies, sometimes only as tall as the buildings around it.

Both the Tower and Autobot HQ are in Metro City, so why does Optimus Prime drive away from the city?

Blackjack 2011-05-07 06:28 AM

A Test of Metal
Airdate: 29 September 2001
Written By: Kazuhiko Godo
Adapted By: Richard Epcar
Japanese Title: Targeted Buildmasters

The Commandos attack the East Power Station, and Team Bullet Train arrive to stop them. Both teams combine and battle, but Ruination does not notice the Build Team taking the energy away. The Autobots escape through the Space Bridge, and the Commandos are chewed out by Megatron and Scourge. The Commandos are pissed at the Autobots' ability and decide to destroy the Space Bridge, and do so by destroying the Build Team. The Commandos attack random construction sites to draw out the Build Team and threatens to keep doing so until the Build Team shows up. Optimus Prime wants the Build Team working on the Space Bridge so he sends in the Brothers and the Bullet Trains. However they fail to stop the Commandos. Wedge finds out about the attack on construction sites, but Optimus Prime orders him not to attack. The Build Team can't take it, and disobey Optimus' orders and sabotages the Space Bridge so they can fight the Commandos without interruption.

The Commandos find the Build Team not much of a challenge in battle. Landfill and Ruination both form, but Landfill finds himself outclassed against Ruination. The Brothers try to help them but the Space Bridge deposits them in a random desert thanks to Heavy Load's tampering earlier. Landfill digs a pit to bring the fight underground and finds a series of underground caverns. The two combiners exchange weapons fire, and the cavern fills with oil up to the combiners' chests. Ruination calls a truce not to open fire because it will ignite the oil. Landfill fires anyway after a Mexican standoff. The Commandos are blasted away, while the Build Team are set on fire. Optimus Prime arrives and puts the fire out, and the Autobots tsake a dip in the remaining oil pools. Wedge apologizes.

Featured Transformers: Armorhide, Rollbar, Ro-Tor, Movor, Mega-Octane, Optimus Prime, Wedge, Railspike, Rapid Run, Midnight Express, Rail Racer, Ruination, Heavy Load, Hightower, Grimlock, Megatron, Scourge, Prowl, X-Brawn, Side Burn, Landfill
Notable Others: T-AI, Koji Onishi

It's not that it's particularly bad, but it's a dreary retread of the same old plot. There's absolutely no creativity, no plot twists, you know Landfill will win out at the end. The whole 'Decepticons seeking for revenge while planning vague ambush' is not at all unpredictable. Instead of focusing on the more interesting Scourge, the main villains this episode is the Commandos... who have as much character as five bricks. Really, where is the fun Movor we had before? Combine that with the sub-par voice acting and action sequences makes watching this a long drag. Does anyone honestly believe a random oil explosion will kill either Ruination or Landfill? Honestly, how many times must they show stock transformation footages? Even by the standards of RID, this episode obscenely doubles the standard fare of streaky anime lines. I honestly can't bring myself to say anymore other than this episode is dull.

(Two out of Ten)

Apparently the Autobots consider oil pools the way we humans consider hot springs.

T-AI is voiced by another voice actor this episode, which makes T-AI's already bland and dry voice sound even more bland and dry.

Why didn't the Commandos attack the control bunker thing from last episode and blow it up?

The entire power plant appears to explode after the first shot but remains intact (if charred) in all subsequent shots.

After Ruination battles Rail Racer, the scene transition is Predacon-Predacon, even though when Scourge and company are involved the transition is usually uses the Decepticon symbol.

When Landfill and Ruination has that Anime pushing contest in a fight, his eyes are tiny compared to his face.

Blackjack 2011-05-11 03:33 PM

Ultra Magnus
Airdate: 6 October 2001
Written By: Junki Takegami
Adapted By: Tom Wyner
Japanese Title: Enter! God Magnus

In Metro City a mysterious Autobot stands on top of a building and declares he will take back what is rightfully his from Optimus Prime. In an oil refinery, the six Decepticons are in the middle of a raid when the Autobot Brothers arrive. Even though they realise they can't fire for fear of igniting the oil, Side Burn tries to bluff. However, the mysterious Autobot car carrier bears down, unleashing his firepower. The Autobot Brothers stop this mystery Autobot, and in the confusion the Decepticons escape. Prowl and Side Burn trade barbs with the newcomer, who accuses them of being incompetent and being traitors. Watching nearby, Sky-Byte is about to attempt his own raid on the now-abandoned oil refinery, but Koji and his friends, having turned into fans of Sky-Byte arrive and talk to him. Panicked yet elated, Sky-Byte flies away. Despite his failure Megatron forgives the Predacon and sends him to find the remaining O-Parts. However, Sky-Byte's orders to the other Predacons are relayed by Mega-Octane to the Autobot headquarters. Optimus dispatches the Brothers to the coordinates.

Sky-Byte, meanwhile, digs for the O-Part but only finds a rubber duck. He doesn't give up, however. However, en-route the Brothers are intercepted by the mysterious Autobot, who warns them of an ambush. He then uses a stun ray, shocking the Brothers into unconsciousness before carrying them and junking them in a junkyard. Mega-Octane and Scourge discuss their plan to lead the Autobots to their ambush using Sky-Byte's transmission as bait, but the mysterious Autobot arrives and introduces him as Ultra Magnus. Magnus is unimpressed by the Decepticons' attacks, and easily blasts Ruination into his component parts. When Optimus Prime arrives, the Decepticons retreat. Optimus Prime offers Magnus a place on the team, but Magnus refuses. A startled Optimus asks why Magnus is so aggressive, to which Magnus recounts how Optimus is chosen to carry the Matrix of Leadership over him. The resentful Magnus is here to take it back.... meanwhile Sky-Byte digs up an old bomb which explodes on his face.

To be continued...

Featured Transformers: Ultra Magnus, Scourge, Armorhide, Rollbar, Mega-Octane, Ro-Tor, Movor, X-Brawn, Prowl, Side Burn, Optimus Prime, Sky-Byte, Megatron, Ruination
Notable Others: T-AI, Koji Onishi

Hate him or love him, Ultra Magnus' arrival marks the start of an overreaching plot across the remaining RID episodes in that they are actually interconnected instead of just vaguely related via the O-Parts which have about five seconds of screentime in the episodes they were in. I personally find Magnus irritating, but probably it's because I can't stand anime-styled anti-hero vigilantes, and Magnus had to be that while being a total jerkass. While the mystery about Magnus is well-kept for once instead of being revealed five seconds off the bat, the execution of this episode is far from perfect. Other than Magnus, Optimus, Sky-Byte and maybe Prowl, everybody's dialogue is simply horrible stuff a six-year old could make up. Especially the Commandos.

Also, while Megatron playing at Sky-Byte's ego to trick him into providing a distraction is well done, there are ludicrous amounts of padding scenes here. What is the use of the whole sequence of Magnus dumping the Brothers? Or Scourge and Mega Octane going over their ambush plan twice? Also, while the action scenes are pretty well-done, you just can't help but wish that Magnus' character model was a little less blocky, it looks so awkward as he does all those fighting moves. I am not Ultra Magnus' biggest fan, he comes off as really irritating and being a jerk unnecessarily. Also, he is able to steamroll his way through any fight. However, at least Magnus has an actual personality, even if it's a tired cliché.

(Six out of Ten)

First appearance of Ultra Magnus, a.k.a. God Magnus in Japan. His alternate mode was obviously based on his G1 counterpart. He's also partly based on the Japanese-exclusive Godbomber toy as well.

Magnus is the first Autobot that can fly in the RID series.

Also, first appearance in the series of Cybertron, as well as mention of the Matrix of Leadership. Cybertron is glowing green for no good reason.

The kids liking Sky-Byte stems from the episode 'Sky-Byte Saves the Day'. Since it wasn't aired in the US, to them it must seem like Koji and company suddenly liked the old main baddie for no good reason at all.

Optimus mentions that somebody had chosen him over Magnus as leader of the Autobots, and the one that inherited the Matrix of Leadership.

The Brothers at one point drive past Dongwoo Animation Co. Ltd, a real-life Korean animation studio.

Sky-Byte digs out a gigantic rubber ducky, which is a blindingly obvious shout-out to BW Megatron's quirky habits of keeping one in his tub.

Ultra Magnus' Autobot insignia is coloured wrongly at several shots.

The Brothers found Magnus suspicious because he knew who Optimus Prime was. Why wouldn't any Autobot know who their leader was?

The Predacon trio never show up to Sky-Byte's summons.

Blackjack 2011-05-19 05:22 PM

Ultra Magnus: Forced Fusion!
Airdate: 13 October 2001
Written By: Junki Takegami
Adapted By: Matthew V Lewis
Japanese Title: Forced Fusion! God Fire Convoy

Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus are facing off against each other, and Optimus Prime is disappointed at Magnus' grudge. Magnus opens fire despite Optimus refusing to fight. The Brothers make their way towards the battlefield, wondering why Optimus wouldn't fight Magnus. Movor observes the battle from orbit and transmits it to the Megastar, and Megatron watches in amusement as Ultra Magnus knocks Optimus Prime around. Megatron muses how his Decepticons can't get the job done. Sky-Byte, flying from where he was blown away previously, stumbles upon the battle. The Brothers arrive to rescue Optimus Prime from defeat. Sky-Byte manages to surreptitiously tag Optimus Prime with a tracking device. Ultra Magnus is too slow to stop them from disappearing through the Space Bridge. Sky-Byte follows the signal, anticipating eagerly the rewards that would surely be given to him if he kills Optimus Prime, unaware that both Magnus and Movor are tracking him.

Despite losing the signal for a bit, Sky-Byte manages to fly towards the island where Landfill and Ruination had battled before. Indeed, Optimus is being repaired in that island. Optimus Prime tells Side Burn that Magnus is his brother, and that Magnus is carrying a grudge because Optimus was chosen as commander instead of him. Optimus asks for some time alone and Side Burn leaves via the Space Bridge. Sky-Byte seals the portal hurriedly with a bunch of large rocks, and is about to destroy the weakened Optimus Prime when Megatron and the Decepticons arrive. However, as they begin to open fire, Ultra Magnus arrives and begins to knock the Decepticons around. The Commandos merge into Ruination and he ignites the oil deposits which causes an explosion. The Brothers try to help after being alerted by T-AI, but their end of the Space Bridge is sealed by Sky-Byte's handiwork. In the flames Magnus approaches the weakened Optimus and asks for forgiveness... but it's apparently a feint to steal Optimus' power. Unexpectedly the two Autobots combine into a new form, Omega Prime. Everybody present (including the Brothers, who broke through the blockade) watches in stunned amazement. Magnus finds he cannot control Omega Prime, and is reduced to watching as Omega Prime lay waste to the Decepticons, and drive them off. After separating, Ultra Magnus too flies off.

Featured Transformers: Ultra Magnus, Optimus Prime, X-Brawn, Prowl, Side Burn, Movor, Megatron, Mega-Octane, Scourge, Sky-Byte, Ro-Tor, Armorhide, Rollbar, Ruination, Omega Prime
Notable Others: Koji Onishi, T-AI

Pretty good, surprisingly. Ignore the more emo bits, and Ultra Magnus is a pretty great character. It is refreshing to see an Autobot with actual motivations and a wee bit of corruption — envy and greed — rather than the bland identikit cast we are having so far. I thought it was going to be another cheesy standard good guys scene when Ultra Magnus approaches Optimus Prime in the flame, but the cruel subversion as Magnus tries to steal Optimus' power is well played. The voice actors, sadly, aren't just that expressive and it sound kind of plain. As expected with a Japanese dubbed show, New Toy Syndrome™ hits in full fever, and both Ultra Magnus and Omega Prime simply blows away everybody else with little effort. Still, while there are some continuity goofs this episode is pretty engaging instead of terribly silly, something RID hasn't been for a little while.

I also like the sense of continuity with the previous episode. Even though episode naming isn't quite that creative, it's a nice contrast to the previous standalone episodes. We also get some nice character work in Side Burn after a long time of being a Hot Rod expy with a thing for red cars. Side Burn showing concern at Optimus' depression, and his shock at seeing how badly screwed up the Optimus-Magnus brotherhood is... well, while Transformers siblings seldom make sense, it does lend credence to how disappointed Optimus Prime is. Sky-Byte and Movor again get some nice development, but poor Scourge gets downgraded to just another thug this episode. Megatron comes off as uninteresting and lazy, actually. This is the first time he's seen action for quite a while.

(Seven out of Ten)

First appearance of Omega Prime (God Fire Convoy in Japan).

Optimus and Magnus are brothers. They were both created by Alpha Trion, a reference to Trion 'creating' Optimus Prime in the original cartoon.

At various points it is said that Optimus was selected to lead by the Matrix, by the AllSpark or by Vector Sigma. All three were mystical semi-sentient plot devices in G1, and Beast Machines in the case of the AllSpark. Whether this is a case of inconsistency, or Optimus is so good three plot devices chose him is unknown.

In the original Car Robots series, both Magnus and Optimus have their own Matrices, and Magnus wants to add Optimus' Matrix to his own to become more powerful instead of just stealing the one true Matrix of Leadership.

The island is first seen in 'A Test of Metal'.

When originally aired the title was spelled wrongly as 'Ultra Magnus: Forced Fushion!' This was repaired in subsequent airings.

Koji wasn't in the HQ last episode.

Movor gets to space relatively fast, although previous episodes ('Attack from Outer Space') indicates that he needs assistance to reach orbit.

One of Scourge's excuses to Megatron is 'Armorhide can't fly that day'. Armorhide is a tank, so he can't possibly fly! Probably they meant Ro-Tor?

A dubbing mistake: the action on the screen shows Ultra Magnus flying into the air to finish Optimus with a dramatic kick, but the dubbers are seemingly confused by Magnus activating his jetpack, and they added a line that Magnus is giving Optimus one cycle to hand the Matrix over. Especially jarring since a little dialogue before he's demanding Optimus hand over the Matrix that instant.

If the Predacons have tracking devices, why don't they use them on the Autobots in previous episodes so they don't have to undergo all the grief of trying to hack the global space bridge and stuff?

Sky-Byte remembers the climatic battle between Landfill and Ruination in 'A Test of Metal' to identify the island... but he wasn't there in the episode.

Why does Optimus go to the island instead of HQ? Sure, Sky-Byte doesn't find out where Autobot HQ is, but still...

Blackjack 2011-05-20 08:26 PM

Lessons of the Past
Airdate: 14 December 2001
Written By: Tom Wyner

Synopsis: Optimus, Koji and T-AI watch footage of Optimus Prime fighting the Decepticons. Koji and Optimus regrets not being able to obtain the Protoforms from the Predacons. Optimus and company then reviews the time when Scourge sabotaged the Space Bridge, and battles Landfill. Optimus decides to test the Space Bridge to make sure it is fixed. A long roll call later, they all test the Bridge.

Featured Transformers: Optimus Prime, Ro-Tor, Movor, Armorhide, Mega-Octane, Rollbar, Ruination, Scourge, X-Brawn, Slapper, Dark Scream, Gas Skunk, Sky-Byte, Prowl, Megatron, Side Burn, Kelly, Grimlock, Rapid Run, Midnight Express, Railspike, Wedge, Heavy Load, Hightower, Landfill, Mirage, Hot Shot, Rev, Crosswise, Ironhide, Wars
Notable Others: T-AI, Koji Onishi

You cannot expect any better from a clip episode, and the tediously soporific roll call at the end doesn't make things any better. However, at least this clip show is justified in that the second half basically recaps 'Landfill', which the US broadcast never got to watch. It's just as well. However, while not as terrible as the previous clip show it is still arduous and boring. I mean, the plot amounts to the Autobots sitting at home re-watching vidcams of their previous episodes.

(Two out of Ten)

The footage reviewed here is taken from 'Sky-Byte Saves the Day', 'the Decepticons', 'Wedge's Short Fuse' and 'Landfill'. Mostly 'Landfill' and 'the Decepticons'. Of the four episodes, two of them did not air in the US.

As with other clip shows, the entirely of this episode is made up of spliced footage from previous episodes. However, I do not care enough to identify which episodes these are from.

In Japan, a different clip show, 'Assemble! New Troops!' is shown instead. It focuses on the introduction of the Decepticons, Build Team, Ultra Magnus and Omega Prime.

When reviewing the Sky-Byte saves the day footage, Optimus mistakenly says he is on his way to meet the Build Team instead of meeting Sky-Byte.

'Landfill' took place quite some time ago, and the Autobots have been using the Space Bridge regularly ever since the Build Team repaired it. Why the hell check it now?

Blackjack 2011-05-21 10:30 AM

The Two Faces of Ultra Magnus
Airdate: 20 October 2001
Written By: Yukiyoshi Ohashi
Adapted By: Michael McConnohie
Japanese Title: Stalemate! 3 Car-Robo Brothers

Reviewing their encounters with Ultra Magnus, Megatron, Sky-Byte and Scourge ponders the mysterious Autobot. Sky-Byte points out that Magnus does not get along well with Optimus Prime, and suggests recruiting him to the Decepticons. Megatron dispatches Sky-Byte to go forth with his mission. In the Autobot base, Koji and the Autobots likewise discuss about Magnus. In the city, the Brothers encounter Sky-Byte, and later Ultra Magnus, and a rumble ensues. Sky-Byte manages to get Ultra Magnus alone, and the Predacon offers a team-up against Optimus Prime. Magnus pretends to be interested in the offer, while secretly wanting only to gain information from the clumsy Predacon. The Brothers have been eavesdropping and confront Magnus (who they think is a traitor). Before Magnus could decide whether to keep up the act, the Commandos ambush the Brothers and trap them in a net. Optimus and T-AI send Team Bullet Train to investigate the Brothers' disappearance. As a test of loyalty, Megatron sends Ultra Magnus to kill any one of the Bullet Trains. Scourge, meanwhile, sets up a trap with the Brothers as bait to lure Optimus Prime in. Ultra Magnus gets the location of the trap from Sky-Byte, and rushes from the cliff to attack the Bullet Trains... before turning around and shooting Sky-Byte. The four Autobots quickly take care of the Predacon shark.

Optimus Prime arrives in the location Scourge has contacted them with, but Ultra Magnus has told the Bullet Trains of the trap, and they charge in to the rescue. However, they cannot fight back as well due to Scourge holding the Brothers hostage. Ultra Magnus arrives to the warehouse where the Predacon Trio are guarding the Autobot Brothers, and tricks Slapper into letting him in. Sky-Byte's warning comes in too late, and Magnus knocks the Predacon Trio silly before freeing the Autobot Brothers. Magnus carries the Autobot Brothers into the battlefield. Seeing that the Brothers are free, Optimus Prime and Rail Racer hold nothing back. Everybody joins the battle, but Megatron stomps down on the three Brothers. Ultra Magnus' chest glows with a green power at this, something that surprises even him, and the energy is transferred to the Autobot Brothers. The Brothers change colour into stronger versions of themselves. To add more fuel to the fire, Optimus and Magnus form Omega Prime, and the Predacons and Decepticons quickly hightail it. Despite this, Ultra Magnus tells Optimus that their grudge still stands. Privately, Magnus wonders if the strange power is caused by the two of them somehow sharing the Matrix...

Featured Transformers: Megatron, Sky-Byte, Scourge, Ultra Magnus, X-Brawn, Side Burn, Prowl, Mega-Octane, Ro-Tor, Rollbar, Optimus Prime, Railspike, Rapid Run, Midnight Express, Gas Skunk, Darkscream, Slapper, Movor, Armorhide, Rail Racer, Omega Prime
Notable Others: Koji Onishi, T-AI, Kelly

Actually a pretty fun episode. While as with other episodes of RID, there are a lot of superfluous scenes that could be cut to avoid banality -- Ultra Magnus driving the Brothers past a stunned Kelly; the Autobots basically repeating what the Decepticons had just said about Ultra Magnus, et al -- the episode is still quite fun. Both Ultra Magnus and Sky-Byte are well defined, and Sky-Byte's voice actor has improved a lot, delivering Sky-Byte's lines with the same sort of incompetence and surprise that the character has. It's so fun to see the naive Predacon be tricked by Ultra Magnus. Ultra Magnus also comes along as a jerk and one of the smarter characters of the series, stringing along Sky-Byte like a guitar before cutting him off. The plot is pretty nice too, although it is pretty repetitive. I mean, how many times does an Autobot need to be taken captive by the Predacons? Side Burn and Prowl's indignance at Magnus' apparent betrayal is well portrayed as well.

However, the whole 'brothers hating each other' point is rendered moot somewhat. While Magnus and the Brothers are warming up to each other, if Magnus hates Optimus so much why do they keep combining into Omega 'unstoppable' Prime? The Brothers' supercharged modes do nothing other than look cool, and the poor Decepticons and Predacons just can't catch a break. Makes you wonder why they don't just shoot the Brothers when they had the chance. Megatron comes off as uninteresting and boring, while Scourge is reduced to Megatron's lackey for this episode.

(Seven out of Ten)

First appearance of the 'Super' colour versions of the Brothers. This, of course, reflects the new repainted toys that the Autobot Brothers have in the market. Side Burn becomes red in a paintjob similar to Hot Rod, Prowl becomes dark blue, and X-Brawn becomes somewhat similar to G1 Wheeljack's paintjob. Unlike most 'upgrades', however, these Supercharged modes are not permanent and are called upon as necessary, somewhat like Super Modes.

It's a bit unsettling that Side Burn, whose main characterisation amounts to molesting red sports cars, is now turned into a red sports car himself. This raises, some, um, interesting questions about what this is supposed to represent. Self-harassment?

According to Side Burn, he is first in his class in theoretical mechanics back on Cybertron. Apparently Side Burn is the team's medic, based on the dialogue. Kind of an informed ability, considering how the guy acts...

The Japanese show has Ultra Magnus' Matrix activating for the first time to power up the Autobot Brothers. Here it is theorised by Magnus to be the two of them somehow sharing the Matrix of Leadership's power together. Although it begs to question why Magnus would show more concern to the Brothers than Optimus Prime.

Surely a net can't hold the Brothers down? At the very least Side Burn has a bayonet that could easily cut through the net...

Why didn't the Brothers contact T-AI? 'HALP THE DECEPTICONS HAVE CAPTURED US!'

Why didn't Optimus Prime suspect a trap? Surely the Spychangers or the Build Team could've teleported in nearby, ready to support Optimus Prime?

Apparently the time Sky-Byte needs to remember that he needs to warn Slapper that Magnus has crossed them is the same time that Magnus needs to drive to said location.

Blackjack 2011-05-21 03:07 PM

Power to Burn!
Airdate: 19 October 2001
Written By: Tadashi Hayakawa
Adapted By: Tom Wyner
Japanese Title: Invoke! Double Matrix

Optimus, T-AI and Koji try to figure out the mechanics of the Brothers' magic power-up, and realise that the power came from Magnus. In the Decepticon base Megatron admonishes Sky-Byte. Scourge comes up with a plan to try and persuade Ultra Magnus to join them and defeat Optimus, and Megatron is somehow impressed. T-AI contacts Side Burn and asks him to look out for Side Burn. Side Burn is distracted by Kelly's red sports car, but he unexpectedly powers up. Prowl, driving nearby, comments that Magnus has been near. The two find Magnus some distance ahead. Side Burn is excited and begins to talk non-stop to Magnus, who tries to get away from Side Burn. Magnus meets Scourge, and pursues him to a clearing. Prowl and Side Burn follow. Scourge proposes to Magnus that they join forces to destroy both Optimus Prime and Megatron. Ultra Magnus turns Scourge down. Ruination arrives, but when Side Burn and Prowl arrive to back Magnus up, Magnus flies away in annoyance.

Side Burn and Prowl power up, and X-Brawn arrives. However, during the battle Side Burn and Prowl unexpectedly power down, and fall exhausted. Ultra Magnus watches from a distance and regrets leaving the two to Decepticons. However before he can enter the battle, Optimus Prime arrives. The Autobot leader takes on the Decepticons while X-Brawn drag Side Burn and Prowl to safety. Ruination separates and the Decepticons open fire in a concentrated attack against Optimus, who is overwhelmed. Ultra Magnus rejoins the fight against the Decepticons. Megatron, Sky-Byte and the Predacon Trio arrives, and they begin to attack Optimus Prime. Optimus Prime gives a speech about how goodness will always prevail (which weirds out the Predacon Trio) before combining with Magnus into Omega Prime. Omega Prime shrugs off every single thing the Predacons and Decepticons throw, and forces the Predacons into full retreat. Ultra Magnus flies away, and the Brothers speculate that next time Magnus might join the team.

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

Still great material, surprisingly. Ultra Magnus is a fun character, and this ia a nice character development as he begins to warm up to the Autobot Brothers and even Optimus Prime (even if he justifies it as protecting the Matrix) but it is nice not to see the status quo dragged on for the entire series. That heroic BSOD moment as Magnus realises that his jerkass attitude causes the Brothers to be placed in danger is nicely done. Also, Side Burn also gets some development. Seeing that initially he was the one that most strongly opposes Ultra Magnus, and now he's the one that most strongly encourages the others to trust Magnus, it's again a nice touch. The whole upgrade thing all happen without warning, though.. if you consider the time limits of their cooldown, it doesn't really make sense.

The Predacon Trio finally pop out after several episodes of being MIA, and immediately get to their stuff by delivering funny lines. Their reaction at Optimus Prime's good will always triumph speech is pretty funny. Scourge also gets a nice moment when he shows his true power-hungriness in wanting to get rid of Megatron... the competent yet disloyal Scourge is a nice contrast to the bumbling yet fully loyal Sky-Byte. However, the main characters of the story, Optimus and Megatron, fall flat on their faces and have no weight whatsoever other than being 'good' and 'evil', being even more bland than their G1 counterparts. The climax is also handled badly. Would anyone expect Optimus Prime to die because of the concentrated Commando fire? And Omega Prime basically blowing away the entire army of bad guys in ten seconds bodes ill for any hope that the bad guys would ever gain an upper hand in subsequent episodes...

(Seven out of Ten)

Unlike the G1 Matrix, in the RID continuity if Optimus Prime dies, the Matrix dies with him since it is tethered to the holder's lifeforce. Which is one of the reasons that Ultra Magnus can't kill Optimus just yet.

The Brothers apparently can power up if they are excited enough and Magnus is near. Considering how Side Burn powers up when he was excited by Kelly's red sports car... this raises some... unfortunate implications if you look at it.

Whenever the Brothers use their power ups, they are left exhausted and drained.

Apparently Megatron forgot that Sky-Byte's plan that he admonishes is the exact same one he praises Scourge for.

During the review of the footage as the Brothers power up, X-Brawn's line 'what the bejillickers' is replaced with 'what in tarnation'. An improvement in dialogue, sure, but a continuity goof nevertheless.

The Decepticons react in surprise at the Autobot Brothers' power up, even though they were there when the Brothers powered up last episode.

You would think that Brawn would make driving away the Decepticons a priority other than using all the time given by his power up to drag Prowl and Side Burn away.

Ruination's scale is haywire relative to Scourge and the Brothers.

At one point during the battle Scourge's sword is coloured black instead of red.

Blackjack 2011-05-21 03:11 PM

People who have watched the Japanese show: is my notes about the two Matrices thing correct? I am not sure at all...

Blackjack 2011-06-08 11:37 PM

Fortress Maximus
Airdate: 27 October 2001
Written By: Kazuhiko Godo
Adapted By: Richard Epcar
Japanese Title: Arise! Cybertron City

Megatron and his lieutenants watch as they see the memories of Doctor Onishi as he oversees a drilling operation to find an energy source in some underground ruins. Doctor Onishi's equipments malfunction as they hit some electronic shielding, but before the dream could continue it fades out. Megatron orders Scourge to take the Decepticons to investigate the site. Elsewhere, Side Burn harasses Kelly. At Autobot HQ, T-AI reports that she has extracted information on the ruins the Doctor was excavating and suspects that they contain something from Cybertron. Build Team is called in, and they recall that when they were excavating in the area previously they experienced hallucinations and began seeing each other as Predacons. Wedge resolves that this time this won't happen. The Decepticons are soon sighted in the area. T-AI mobilises all the Autobots to protect the site. As the Decepticons prepare do descend lower into the city, the Spychangers attack. Armorhide and Rollbar stay to hold them back, while the other Decepticons journey deeper underground.

After evading the Autobot Brothers, Movor and Ro-Tor are left to battle Railspike and Rapid Run in the subway tunnels. Ultra Magnus joins in the battle, but his recklessness causes a flood that washes all the combatants (and a hapless Midnight Express) away. The Build Team began to see hallucinations again and fight among themselves. Only Heavy Load has enough common sense to realise they have seen this before and contacts Optimus Prime, who believes that the hallucinations are caused by Cybertronian radiation. Heavy Load resolves to get his comrades to see sense. Elsewhere other Transformers also hallucinate — Side Burn sees a line of red sports cars instead of a subway train, Armorhide sees Sky-Byte, while Sky-Byte sees a cake. After eating the 'cake', really a subway train, Sky-Byte locates Scourge and Mega-Octane. The other Decepticons rendezvous with the two, and Sky-Byte tails the Decepticons. Underground, Build Team finds the ruins in a massive subterranean chamber with green liquid and Transformer statues. The flood washes everyone in the tunnels, including the Decepticons, into the ruins as well. Scourge begins to experience flashbacks. All the combiners combine, and Optimus Prime shows up to form Omega Prime. As they begin to battle, Scourge steps closer to the ruins which causes to crumble as an even larger metallic fortress rises out of the water...

Featured Transformers: Sky-Byte, Mega-Octane, Scourge, Megatron, Side Burn, X-Brawn, Prowl, Optimus Prime, Movor, Ro-Tor, Armorhide, Rollbar, Wedge, Heavy Load, Grimlock, Hightower, Hot Shot, Rev, Wars, Ironhide, Mirage, Crosswise, Railspike, Rapid Run, Midnight Express, Ultra Magnus, Ruination, Landfill, Rail Racer, Omega Prime, Fortress Maximus
Notable Others: Doctor Onishi, Kelly, Koji Onishi, T-AI

Due to the full-out brawl between every major Transformer in the series excepting the Predacon trio, this episode is entertaining. The Autobot Brothers and Team Bullet Train in particular are fun, with great scenes in between them. Sky-Byte's antics as he follows the Decepticons are great as well. Scourge seems to be developed little by little as well, being created into something more than an angry powerful ninja thug. The race to get to the mysterious object underground is pretty fun, with the Decepticons beating up every team sent their way. But this is spoiled by the simple stupidity of Build Team (bar Heavy Load) which really has been played to its limit, surely?

Also, when while the three combiners form, you would expect a big-ass fight, right? No. Instead Omega Prime pops out (groan), no doubt to send the bad guys home with a single blow. Still, the revelation of Fortress Maximus is pretty dramatic, and I like how massive he is compared to the others. Not a terrible episode, but nothing spectacular. Plus points for actually advancing what passes for an overreaching plot, though.

(Seven out of Ten)

First appearance of Fortress Maximus, who is repainted from the G1 character of the same name. He is called Brave Maximus in Japan. Fortress Maximus is not released as a toy in the RID toyline due to new toyline laws that mean the Fortress Maximus mold is no longer child-safe.

Entering the ruins opens up old memories in Scourge of his Autobot ancestry, something that would be followed up in future episodes.

The Predacon Trio's models are used as hallucinations but they do not appear.

The stone Transformer carvings that surround the ruins are stylized Optimus Prime heads. This is not addressed nor mentioned by anyone.

Build Team spends a good long scene describing how they were fooled by hallucinations in the underground episodes... and within less than five minutes they (other than Heavy Load) are fooled by the same hallucinations. Apparently, for a genius team that can design a Global Space Bridge system, the Build Team has less common sense than a five year old.

Seeing how hopeless the Build Team is, it's difficult to believe they survived the first hallucination incident.

Where did Optimus Prime pop up from at the end of the episode?

Blackjack 2011-06-10 11:52 PM

Koji Gets His Wish
Airdate: 3 November 2001
Written By: Junki Takegami
Adapted By: Richard Epcar
Japanese Title: JRX vs Valdigus

The Decepticons having apparently retreated, Optimus Prime orders the Autobots to keep the Predacons away from Fortress Maximus while he puts a plan into action. At the Decepticon ship, Megatron is overjoyed that Fortress Maximus has been located. Scourge suggests that Megatron sends Sky-Byte to find Cerebros, the key to Fortress Maximus' power. Later Mega-Octane demands an explanation why Scourge has seemingly given Sky-Byte an opportunity to obtain glory that is rightfully theirs. Scourge explains that if they can find the Maximus first (since by sending the incompetent Sky-Byte, Megatron would not go personally) they would no longer need the Predacons. Sky-Byte tries to eavesdrop but is not successful, and merely thinks that Scourge is trying to curry favour with Megatron. In the Autobot HQ, Koji misses his father, but T-AI assures Koji that the doctor must still be alive since the Decepticons found out about the ruins. Koji returns home and has a long moement remembering his father taking him on a fishing trip.In the Predacon base, Sky-Byte plans to take Doctor Onishi to extract information about Cerebros' location, and switches him with a drawing, before strapping the pod with Doctor Onishi onto his back. In the city, Rail Racer and Ruination both battle. Scourge, equipped with a set of goggles to prevent hallucinations, proceeds into the underground tunnels. Wedge observes the battle from behind a construction site's coverings, and very nearly jumps into battle in all eagerness before Heavy Load stops him.

Underground, Sky-Byte sings along, and Scourge, tailing the Predacon is confronted by Optimus Prime. Scourge and Optimus Prime battle, causing Scourge to drop his goggles. Sky-Byte runs away from the two of them as their struggle takes them into the underground cavern. Sky-Byte hightails it out of the underground tunnels. Once aboveground, Sky-Byte is beset by Koji, who tearfully asks Sky-Byte to take a present to give Doctor Onishi, who is in the Predacon base. Sky-Byte initially refuses and tries to intimidate Koji, but fails and finally agrees. He does not mention that Doctor Onishi is technically strapped to the pod on his back for fear of angering Megatron. The Autobot Brothers arrive and open fire at Sky-Byte, thinking he was trying to kidnap Koji. As the battle between Scourge and Optimus reaches the underground site, Scourge is shocked to discover that Fortress Maximus is gone. After a brief battle, Ultra Magnus arrives and combines with Optimus Prime, easily sending Scourge into a retreat. In the streets above, Sky-Byte tosses the pod containing Doctor Onishi aside in order to transform into robot mode, but even then the Autobot brothers easily overpower the Predacon. Koji discovers that the pod contains his father and thanks Sky-Byte for rescuing Doctor Onishi, and the Autobot Brothers apologize. Scourge arrives just then, and realises what Sky-Byte has done. All the Predacons and Decepticons retreat. Koji introduces the Autobots and his father to each other, and it is revealed that the Autobots had hidden Fortress Maximus smack dab in the middle of the city, with its four sides covered with like a building under construction. In the Predacon base, Sky-Byte is surprised when Scourge covers for his mistake, and later suggests that the Decepticons and Predacons join forces to find Cerebros. Sky-Byte suspects an ulterior motive, which Scourge clearly has...

Featured Transformers: Fortress Maximus, Ultra Magnus, Prowl, X-Brawn, Side Burn, Heavy Load, Wedge, Optimus Prime, Hightower, Grimlock, Rapid Run, Railspike, Midnight Express, Megatron, Scourge, Sky-Byte, Mega-Octane, Koji Onishi, T-AI, Kenneth Onishi, Ro-Tor, Movor, Rollbar, Armorhide, Ruination, Rail Racer, Omega Prime
Notable Others: Koji Onishi, T-AI, Doctor Onishi, Kelly

Pretty blah. Don't get me wrong, both Sky-Byte and Scourge are great material as always, the Brothers aren't bad, and even Koji gets a few nice moments. But so many plot holes and unnecessary scenes happen here that you just keep waiting for Sky-Byte to show up. At least with Sky-Byte you are guaranteed a dose of silliness. He seems to have taken up singing as a new hobby, which is pretty funny. Scourge, in contrast, is a nice foil by being all serious and dark and everything. Koji's longing for his father... well, call me cold-hearted, but how many episodes has it been since he last said anything about his father? Bastard kid. Well, lousy continuity in show, anyway. This shows how incompetent the Autobots are, surely? I mean, Doctor Onishi was kidnapped from the very first episode, but the Autobots never so much as looked for him, and in the end he was freed by Sky-Byte.

Also, hiding Fortress Maximus in a place where any flying Decepticon could easily spot? Terribly stupid. And I don't even want to know what happened to the buildings that should be where Fort Max is sitting at. The fight between Optimus and Scourge is dull as well, since the bad guys here really don't have a hope against the Autobots. There's not even the tension seen that the Autobots just might lose this fight. Events happen seemingly at random too. Didn't Scourge want to find Cerebros? Why let Sky-Byte go? Megatron is such an incompetent leader that he never sets off personally anyway. And why the hell did Sky-Byte bring the doctor with him? All in all this episode severely lacks any sort of cohesive content, other than Sky-Byte.

(Four out of Ten)

The ship that the Decepticons (before they were Decepticons) use to travel to Earth is based on the Axalon, the Maximals' shuttle from Beast Wars. According to Scourge their original mission as Autobots was to reactivate a fortress hidden on Earth.

First reference to Cerebros. How anybody knew about him is a mystery. We could suppose Optimus was briefed about it, and Scourge has his memories, but Megatron and Sky-Byte seem to understand what Scourge is talking about.

Sky-Byte's second song is a parody of the song 'the Lady is a Tramp'.

Scourge name-drops the Scraplets at one point during his fight with Optimus Prime... in the sense of the word 'scrap', not the metal-eating pests that is the real meaning of 'Scraplets'.

When intimidating Koji Sky-Byte strikes a pose similar to the iconic Jaws poster.

This episode picks up where we left off last episode... but when we left off, the Autobots and Decepticons were locked in battle as Fortress Maximus rose. Here, the Autobots are alone with Fortress Maximus, while the Decepticons and Sky-Byte are already at the Decepticon ship.

The recap has Omega Prime call out Fortress Maximus' name, which never happened in the previous episode.

Early on when Wedge runs to ask if the Build Team can join the others, he clips through Grimlock's arm.

Koji's flashback features dialogue of Doctor Onishi congratulating Koji on catching a big fish, but the images show that the Doctor is the one who caught it.

Before fighting Rail Racer, Ruination has the airborne Commandos as arms and the land-bound Commandos as legs, but when the battle begins the two pairs switch. When we cut back, it switched back again.

Blackjack 2011-06-16 05:46 PM

A Friendly Contest
Airdate: 1 November 2000
Written By: Yukiyoshi Ohashi
Adapted By: Matthew V. Lewis
Japanese Title: Gelshark's Trap

The Autobot brothers and the Build Team search for O-Parts using a detector developed by T-AI and Doctor Onishi. After Side Burn finds one, the Brothers and Build Team decide to have a contest to see who would find more O-Parts. The Decepticons arrive, but the Autobots evade them with the Global Space Bridge. Elsewhere Sky-Byte and Slapper discuss their plan to find O-Parts. Sky-Byte has created a fake O-Part and attempts to bury it as a decoy at some ruins. However, the Autobots turn up and swipe the real O-Part. The Decepticons arrive and the Autobots retreat, while Sky-Byte and Slapper find themselves buried in the hole they made. Some time later Sky-Byte hides more fake O-Parts around other ruins, but realises that their detector can't tell the fake O-Parts from the real ones, and marks the bogus O-Parts with an S. Scourge arrives and takes the real O-Part, but the Autobots and Ultra Magnus steal it from him. At another site, the Build Team locates another O-Part. Sky-Byte pretends to be on their side and tricks them and swaps his fake O-Part and the real one. However, fire from Scourge (who, for once tries to help Sky-Byte but is not aware that the Predacon is acting) and the Autobots causes the fake O-Part to end up on Scourge's hand, and the Autobots to make off with the real one.

At a Pyramid Wedge locates the last O-Part, meaning that the Build Team wins their friendly contest. Side Burn is depressed. However, Megatron and the Decepticons arrive and attack. Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus likewise arrive to support the other Autobots. In the resulting scuffle Megatron takes Wedge hostage and demand Optimus hand over the O-Parts. Sky-Byte, watching from the sidelines and not understanding, charges in and tries to switch the real O-Parts with the fake ones. Sky-Byte collides with Optimuis and mixes up both real and fake O-Parts. In the commotion, Optimus and Magnus form Omega Prime. Wedge also manages to break free, allowing Omega Prime to open fire at the Predacons. The Predacons flee, and Megatron promises punishment at Sky-Byte's meddling. In their headquarters, the Autobots bring all the O-Parts they have gathered together, and they react to form something. Doctor Onishi believes it's a key to a brave new world, but T-AI isn't so sure...

Featured Transformers: Side Burn, Prowl, X-Brawn, Wedge, Heavy Load, Hightower, Grimlock, Scourge, Armorhide, Mega-Octane, Movor, Sky-Byte, Slapper, Ro-Tor, Ruination (flashback), Rollbar, Ultra Magnus, Megatron, Fortress Maximus, Omega Prime
Notable Others: Doctor Onishi, Koji Onishi, T-AI, Kelly

Pretty fun, with Sky-Byte and Slapper taking center stage. The two of them are pretty fun and have been sidelined quite a lot with new toys being introduced. Scourge and Side Burn make decent secondary characters with their own goals clearly defined, and even Wedge is not quite that annoying here. Scourge's backstory is great, and his willingness to help Sky-Byte, albeit grudgingly, is a nice justification as well. A solid, fun episode which basically details on the antics of Sky-Byte with the fake O-Parts, but while at the same time moving on the overdue O-Parts plot. Also, sadly poor Magnus have been reduced to nothing but a deus ex machina lately.

It still grates at some points and feels that it could be told in less than half of what it is. There are also many plot holes, like why the Autobots carry the O-Parts around with them when placing them securely at base would've saved them all the grief. Or why the Brothers and Build Team don't just hop into the Global Space Bridge before the final battle. Or why Sky-Byte doesn't just steal all the scattered O-Parts and sort them out later. Some of the jokes are blatantly not funny. It's not quite handled quite as gracefully or seriously as it should, but the slapstick and kind of half-assed, funny-not-quite-funny manner reflects the tone of the entire series. It's not quite terrible, but could never be mistaken of even approaching spectacular either... which, again, is a very accurate description of RID.

(Seven out of Ten)

Thirty episodes and the Autobots only found two O-parts. This episode they found everything else in less than ten minutes. Quite anti-climatic, eh?

All of the O-Parts are found in archaeological sites, or similar copyright-friendly equivalents. Of course, none of them are named.

Scourge's memories as an Autobot continue to return. Apparently Scourge has the ability to detect O-Parts and their ilk.

Gas Skunk and Dark Scream are absent for the entirely of this episode for no explicable reason.

The webbings on Slapper's hands disappear when he catches the fake O-Part from Sky-Byte.

When Sky-Byte and Slapper are about to be buried under the soil, Slapper mouths Sky-Byte's lines along with him.

Slapper's lower teeth are coloured like the interior of his mouth when he pops out of the ground.

When Wedge is being held hostage by Megatron his right shoulder scoop disappears.

As he tries to escape, Sky-Byte disappears from view before he reaches the edge of the screen.

Blackjack 2011-07-27 11:16 AM

I'm back and finished the series, and after Animated and Prime this ****shit just pisses me off.
Peril from the Past
Airdate: 17 November 2001
Written By: Tadashi Hayakawa
Adapted By: Michael McConnohie
Japanese Title: The Final Key? Farewell, Ai

Synopsis: T-AI informs the Autobots that she will be able to extract the information they need if she merges with the O-Parts, despite the danger the procedure would posess. The O-Parts form into a glowing sphere identified as the key to the Orb of Sigma, and T-AI interacts with it. T-AI founds that the orb in question is hidden in the Sahara desert, but she finds that she cannot extract herself from the O-Parts. T-AI says that the sphere must be taken to the Orb to get her out, and the Autobots make their way there. A worried Koji rides in Side Burn. Through the desert trek X-Brawn rescues Kelly and drops her at an oasis. However, Movor sees them and reports this to Megatron, who insists that he lead this mission due to the feelings that this battle will be a great one. The Autobots find a bunch of ruins. Optimus is not happy that Koji had tagged along, and leaves both Koji and Side Burn outside the ruins.

Optimus, Prowl and X-Brawn explore the ruins. In the surface the Predacons and Decepticons attack, causing a cave-in that leads Side Burn and Koji plummeting into the subterannean ruins as well. Optimus' group reaches a pyramid and finds the Orb of Sigma on a pedestral. T-AI's voice tells them to get the Orb back to base, before contact with her is lost. The Predacons and Decepticons choose that moment to attack. The supercharged brothers battle the Commandos, but Megatron knocks Optimus Prime off the pyramid and grabs the Orb of Sigma. Upon contact with Megatron's hand, however, a bolt of lightning from a booby trap tears through him. Side Burn and Koji arrive through a series of tunnel acrobatics, to see what is happening. As the cavern begins to collapse, Side Burn snags the Orb of Sigma from the still-convulsing Megatron and makes his way to the surface, the Decepticons in hot pursuit. However, the other brothers and Ultra Magnus stop the Decepticons. Scourge and the Decepticons retreat, despite Sky-Byte telling them to wait for Megatron. Megatron and Optimus burst out of the ground, locked in combat. Omega Prime forms, and after a show of attacks, Omega Prime blows up the pyramid, leaving only smoke and rubble. The Autobots return to the base and extract T-AI, who reports that the Orb shows the location of Cerebros, the key to Fortress Maximus. The Autobots wonder what that means. In the ruins of the underground pyramid, the Predacon trio digs themselves out of rubble, finding that the pyramid's energy is still present. Suddenly, they find their power being drained by an unknown force, and the trio collapse and Megatron rises out of the rubble, declaring that he is... Galvatron.

Featured Transformers: Prowl, X-Brawn, Side Burn, Optimus Prime, Ultra Magnus, Movor, Slapper, Gas Skunk, Dark Scream, Sky-Byte, Scourge, Megatron/Galvatron, Armorhide, Mega-Octane, Rollbar, Ro-Tor, Omega Prime
Notable Others: T-AI, Koji Onishi, Doctor Onishi, Kelly

Terrible. A lot of time is wasted on the whiny bitch Koji speaking about how he'll never see T-AI again and stuff. Nevermind that T-AI is not even remotely living (the thing is a computer program!) and Koji's voice actor is really unexpressive, it's not like anyone would believe that T-AI would really be killed off in a show like this. Besides, killing T-AI may be the best thing that happens to the show, she's got absolutely no personality at all. Likewise, throughout this episode most of the characters, human or otherwise don't do shit. It's not that I'm being mean or anything, it's just that, you'd think that after 32 episodes at least one or two of the main characters would be... characterised, you know? So far the closest thing we have to a fresh character that's not another cut-and-paste trope is probably only Sky-Byte, and he's getting tiresome each episode. And action scenes are particularly terrible and are dragged on for a long time. How long does Megatron have to scream like a blithering idiot while holding on to the orb? Yes, T-AI is trapped in the orb, don't need to repeat it seven times before you get into the space bridge.

And what is it with Galvatron anyway? While it's a dramatic thing, sucking the energy out of your goons to give yourself an upgrade, any drama or tension is cut short by the fact that the Predacon trio is fine next episode. This is a very gimmicky and forgettable episode filled with the ever-tiring 'OMEGA ARSENAL BLAST' or 'super whatchamacalit flying donkey spray punch' or whatever they have to say every time they open fire. Or punch. They need to say something long winded every time they do something, even if it's just throwing a single punch. Another thing I really hate is that Kelly and Ultra Magnus always wind up in whatever magic location that the Autobots are at, Kelly to get 10 seconds of banal sceraming and Ultra Magnus just to pop out and become Omega Prime. Poor Magnus has lost all of the rebellious characterisation, and is reduced only to pop out near the end of the episode to combine. Poor sod. And he still isn't part of the Autobots' secret clubhouse.The only good thing about this episode is that it indicates that Fortress Maximus is near, so we're already at the last legs of this series.

(Two out of Ten)

First appearance of Galvatron, or Devil Gigatron as he's known in Japan. Galvatron gains six new alternate modes, and the one we see here is the 'griffin' mode. No, it's not the jet mode with the dragon limbs deployed. You're bluffing yourself. This is the first Megatron other than the original who is upgraded into Galvatron.

Optimus Prime says 'transform and roll out' for the first time in this series.

Movor used to need help to get into orbit, if 'Attack from Outer Space' is anything to go by. Here he pops from orbit into the desert in short order.

Sky-Byte's teeth go AWOL at one point during the battle.

Blackjack 2011-08-12 04:30 PM

Maximus Emerges
Airdate: 16 February 2002
Written By: Kazuhiko Godo
Adapted By: Tom Wyner
Japanese Title: Stolen Plasma

The Decepticons track the Autobots to an old temple. The Autobot Brothers and Build Team are looking for Cerebros, and the Decepticons attack them. Build Team manages to dig a way out, and Ultra Magnus wipe out the Decepticons. However, Sky-Byte and the Predacon trio sneak in and steal Cerebros away. T-AI chews out the Autobots for letting Cerebros slip through their fingers. T-AI theorizes that Cerebros is programmed to ignore an enemy. Optimus Prime dispatches the two combiner teams to search for Cerebros, while the Brothers protect the apparently still-hidden Fortress Maximus. Prowl gets Tow-Line to tow Side Burn because he keeps getting distracted. In the Decepticon ship, Scourge and Mega-Octane revive Cerebros. Scourge tells those present that because he scanned Optimus Prime while taking an Earth mode, he has an Autobot signature. Cerebros activates upon Scourge's contact and they locate Fortress Maximus.

In Metro City, Fortress Maximus lights up as a beacon and the Decepticons spot him (really it's silly that they didn't spot him earlier, but whatever). Scourge has Cerebros turn Fortress Maximus into robot mode. Koji runs from the Autobot base, believing that he can help. An all out battle tears out. The combiners duke it out, and the Autobot Brothers supercharge. Galvatron arrives all of a sudden, reintroducing himself and congratulating his minions for gaining control over Fortress Maximus... only for Maximus to refuse to obey Scourge. Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus form Omega Prime, but even he cannot stop Fortress Maximus. Koji arrives and shouts at the giant Autobot to stop, which it does. The Autobots drive off the Predacons and Decepticons. Fortress Maximus sinks into the ground, but Galvatron manages to take Cerebros. Scourge theorizes that Koji is the key to controlling Maximus. The Autobots are clueless to why Fortress Maximus stopped, though.

Featured Transformers: Ro-Tor, Movor, Armorhide, Rollbar, Mega-Octane, Scourge, X-Brawn, Prowl, Side Burn, Hightower, Grimlock, Heavy Load, Wedge, Cerebros, Sky-Byte, Dark Scream, Gas Skunk, Slapper, Megatron (flashback), Omega Prime (flashback and present), Ultra Magnus, Optimus Prime, Fortress Maximus, Tow-Line, Rapid Run, Railspike, Midnight Express, Emissary, Ruination, Landfill, Rail Racer, Galvatron
Notable Others: Koji Onishi, T-AI, Kelly

Horrible. Massive plot issues abound... why didn't the Predacon trio mention anything about Galvatron? Why didn't the Decepticons and Predacons see the giant robot city in the middle of not-Tokyo City? The one time the Autobots have to defeat the Decepticons and they let Cerebros fall into enemy hands? The episode is very banal, with not even a single redeeming line of nice dialogue. Even usual gems like Sky-Byte fail to impress.

Koji being able to control Fort Max is a stupid plot point which is, even by Saturday morning cartoons, a horrible idea. Worst of all, both Galvatron and Fortress Maximus' debuts are handled poorly and the two seem as stupid as breadsticks. Galvatron does not even have the same weight/threat as, say, the Commandos when they were introduced. Maximus is all scary with his stock footage, but fail to make much of an impact. A failure and a pain to watch.

(One out of ten)

First proper appearance of Cerebros (Plasma in Japan), as well as the unnamed Emissary (Brave in Japan). It's also the debut of Fort Max's robot mode.

Fortress Maximus is referred to as a 'Headmaster' by Cerebros, a reference to the identical technology used to refer to robots turning into heads in G1.

Galvatron claims that Megatron is dead and he is a different person, just like his G1 counterpart. RID Galvatron isn't much different from Megatron, though. Galvatron's new alternate modes include one-winged dragon, hydrofoil, iron mammoth and griffin. I can't be arsed to track which episodes these new alternate modes pop out.

I mean, really. The Decepticons and Predacons can't find Maximus for so long? Good lord, it's a wonder they manage to find their own base when they go home in the night.

The recap section has altered dialogue, as usual with flashback sequences.

More importantly, the Predacon Trio are just fine after the events of last episode, and didn't mention Galvatron at all, and acts just as surprised as everybody else when Galvatron does show up.

Rollbar and Armorhide both shout 'Rollbar, transform' when they transform.

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