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Old 2011-04-13, 10:18 AM   #20
Blackjack
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The Decepticons
Airdate: 22 September 2001
Written By: Junki Takegami
Adapted By: Tom Wyner
Japanese Title: Foe? Friend!? Black Convoy

Synopsis:
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

Review:
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)

Notes:
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!

Goofs:
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.
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-11-25 at 06:04 AM.
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