The Transformers recaps are back! After the cartoon ended here in the States, it continued for another 3 full seasons in Japan. Same continuity. We’ve covered Headmasters and Super God Masterforce, so here we are with the third and final full season, Victory. This season focuses on two factions of Autobots, one on Earth and one in space, defending the galaxy against the Decepticons. All the Decepticons are new this season, but the Autobots have two characters from last season and two from the original U.S. series (although in minor supporting roles). But is it good? Is it bad? Is it just ridiculous? Let’s get into it.
We kick things off on a distant planet that’s kind of like an Old West gold mining town, but filled with robots. I don’t know where this is and the show is about to throw TONS of characters at us, so don’t get bogged down with details like setting or you’ll fall behind.
Two random Decepticons start shooting the place up, causing the robots to cower behind doors. But then a knockoff Ennio Morricone tune plays and a big bad Autobot slowly strides into town. Oh, and behind him is a Christian church so these are religious robots. I don’t think that’s important but who knows?
The Decepticons attack with their guns but the Autobot guy deflects their blasts with his sword, which is basically a lightsaber from Star Wars. This prompts the bad guys to switch to axes. In the world of Transformers, you don’t bring a gun to a knife fight.
The Autobot guy jumps up and fires an energy blast from his sword that blasts the Decepticons far off into the distance. Presumably he has killed them, because then he flies away. Oh, and the show finally tells us he has a name. Star Saber! He has an interesting transformation. He’s basically a jet that turns into a robot, but he also has a second part that connects to make him a bigger jet and when he transforms, his robot form fits into a big body and a second head snaps onto him. So he never really walks around in his smaller robot form or smaller jet. It’s like a power up that he always uses.
We then get a narrator explaining to us that the Decepticons were driven off of Earth by God Ginrai (as seen in our recaps of Super God Masterforce). The year is 2025. The Decepticons are now invading worlds all over the galaxy, looking for a new home. That’s totally understandable. Surely they deserve to live SOMEWHERE. Anyway, they shouldn’t live where other people live so all the planets teamed up with Earth to create something they call the Galactic Peace Alliance. I guess the Happy Happy Team Up Buddies was too on-the-nose. The Alliance is led by Star Saber.
The Alliance works on Planet V, which basically looks a hell of a lot like Earth but we don’t see too much of it because as soon as Star Saber returns, he gets word about a Decepticon attack. But that’s jumping forward slightly. First we get to see the attack…
A team of 6 Decepticons called the Dinoforce is flying through space. Not in a spaceship and seemingly with no propulsion. These are Pretenders, whose concept was introduced last season. They are sort of what they appear to be but the Transformers’ robot body lives inside in some unexplained process. The Dinoforce leader, Goryu, actually rides his Tyrannosaurus Rex “shell”, unlike the rest of his team. The team has basically the same dinosaurs as the Dinobots, but the show never gives us a Dinobot/Dinoforce matchup. This really disappoints me.
Oh, the sixth member of the team is Kakuryu. He’s fat and extra stupid, so he’s basically the comic relief. For whatever reason he’s having trouble keeping up with the rest of the Dinoforce, doing a doggy paddle. But then they all teleport from wherever they are to Earth. Or they go to warp speed. I don’t know. They turn into pink energy and move real fast. It isn’t explained. Apparently only they can do this.
They may sound stupid and they may not look cool with all that weird cyborg armor, but they sure do smash the crap out of the space station above Earth, killing dozens of people. You know, like comic relief so often does.
At this point, Goryu finally explains what their mission is – to steal energy from the moon base. There’s a base full of astronauts on the moon at this point, you see. It’s the future. Why there would be any significant energy on the moon is anyone’s guess. The only thing there seems to be a modest research base. They’re probably just probing the Autobots’ defenses?
Oh, and when they get their mission, the Dinoforce gathers together and sings. Can’t explain this one to you. Cultural joke that’s funny to the Japanese I guess? Seems like it could be a reference to something. I guess it’d be like showing Family Guy to a family in Indonesia or something.
So over on Earth, they call that the Sector One area. The leader of that base is God Ginrai, the leader from last season. He tells Blacker stuff he already knows. Blacker is a Brainmaster. What’s that and how does it differ from the Headmaster? Well, the Headmasters were small Transformers who in their robot form drove their vehicles and then transformed into the head, which controlled their bodies, known as Transtectors. Brainmasters are very similar, but they basically occupy the face, not the whole head. Anyway, Blacker tells God Ginrai that he is Ginrai’s second in command. These guys must be pretty forgetful if they just walk around telling each other these things.
Blacker seems to be updating Ginrai on the Decepticon attacks. He tells him that the Decepticons have been focusing their attacks on Sector One lately. God Girnai tells him that they are led by Deathsaurus. That’s sort of an anglicized version of his name. The Japanese name is Deszaras, but it sounds like Deathsaurus and that sounds much cooler, so let’s use that.
Get ready for comic relief. Here comes Holi and Jean. Did you miss the antics of Wheelie and Daniel? Because these guys seem like a new version of that. Jean is a human that sits on a floating disc (but he’s not physically impaired in any way, so I guess he’s just lazy) and he mostly just gets excited to talk to the Autobots. His story isn’t explained at all in this episode, so just be patient. He has a reason to be there, but for now he’s the only human in the cast and he’s just there. Holi is a Micromaster, though I don’t know yet whether they’ll address what that means on this show. His toy was really small, but he seems to be about the right size to transform into a police car here. Not sure. He doesn’t transform. So anyway, they’re two new characters and they tell God Ginrai. God Ginrai has Blacker take his fellow Brainmasters and fight the Decepticons, while he teleports back to Sector Two where he is supposed to be in charge. What a super weird decision to leave right then!
Blacker and his fellow Brainmasters Braver (all the way on the right with the red legs) and Laster (yellow dude) get ready for battle. They leap into the open chests of their Transtectors and when the chest closes, they move up and become the face within the helmet. The toys did this, too. The transformation sequences on Transformers Victory are a mixed bag. The animation is very good, BUT they reuse the transformation sequences as much as possible with generic black or patterned backgrounds. It makes me think future episodes may look really cheap, because while this first episode isn’t bad at all, it isn’t the top-notch quality you can sometimes get. If you’ve watched enough Transformers cartoons, you know what I mean. There are three levels of animation. Hope this one uses the highest a bunch.
With everyone gone, Holi worries aloud how powerful Deathsaurus is. Jean acts like a dick and tells him everyone is more powerful than him. That leads to Holi shaking his little hover disk and dropping him on the floor. Cue laugh track, I guess?
Meanwhile, the Dinoforce begins to break into the lunar base. The people begin fleeing. It’s a lot of staff, actually. And they all seem to have versions of exo suits, like Daniel and Spike used to have. I guess by this point that technology would be “old.” Still, this version of 2025 seems more plausible now than the 2005 that was presented in Transformers: The Movie. Most of the Transformers transform into real cars and jets instead of those lame futuristic pieces of scrap that Rodimus Prime and pals transformed into.
The Dinoforce is confronted by the Autobot Brainmasters. They quickly decide to turn into their robot versions and to do that, instead of shouting “Pretender!” like the old Pretenders did, they shout, “Trans out!” which sounds more like they’re all proudly announcing their sexual identities to the world.
But it’s not like the Brainmasters are doing anything to butch things up (and we don’t need them to) as they exclaim “Three swords” and daintily tap swords before entering into battle. No judgements.
The Dinoforce doesn’t seem especially powerful but they do outnumber the Autobots two to one and eventually they seem to pull ahead in the battle when Goryu knocks Braver into a canyon. This requires you to forget that the Autobots flew to the moon, so do that and let’s move on.
The Autobots end up getting reinforcements. Two of the three Multiforce Autobots show up, Dashtacker and Machtackle. Those aren’t what the Autobots call their junk, they are each two vehicles that combine into one vehicle.
For instance, Machtackle is comprised of Mach, a space shuttle, and Tackle, a truck. Dashtacker is, respectively, a race car and a loading truck. There’s more to them, but for now that’s all you need to know. We’re getting close to the saturation point for new characters.
The Autobots have held Dinoforce off long enough for the scientists at the base to board their escape shuttle. Sounds like the problem’s been solved. What could possibly go wrong?
Star Saber finally flies in, but is blocked by the extremely timely arrival of Deathsaurus. Note to the Autobots. Next time, just let God Ginrai handle it.
Star Saber engages in a pretty great fight with Deathsaurus who is very capable and confident. They’re evenly matched and do all sorts of shooting and punching and throwing around medieval weapons as though that is the most efficient way for robots to fight. Of course, Deathsaurus is really only concerned with delaying Star Saber and the Autobot leader doesn’t seem to pick up on that. The Autobots generally appoint the most powerful guy as their leader. “Sorry, Perceptor. God Ginrai just got a new power-up. He’s our new leader.”
Holi and Jean tell Star Saber that he’s needed on the moon and he breaks off his fight to aid his troops. Star Saber flies down to the moon and the Dinoforce don’t want to fight him. Goryu yells at them and gets them to grudgingly attack. Star Saber flattens all six of them with one swipe of his sword. The Decepticon plans have gone to shit and this is normally where they’d retreat but there’s still 8 minutes or so left in the show.
Around this time, the Autobots realize they’re doing fine and some of them split off to defend the energy station used on the moon. But it isn’t even that big a deal because they’re still able to knock Goryu into a canyon.
Deathsaurus flies down and looks like he’s about to murder Goryu for being so inept. But since Star Saber is there, he decides to fight instead.
Deathsaurus summons his mace and shouts out “Eat this!” So we can all relax. This show will have plenty of THAT catch phrase for us.
Deathsaurus can’t seem to get the edge on Star Saber so he calls on his special ability. Chest attack. You see, Deathsaurus is ANOTHER kind of new Transformer – the Breastforce. Yes, that’s what they were called. They had chest armor that could transform into an animal. And they weren’t embarrassed by this.
Deathsaurus actually has TWO animals. A tiger and an eagle. They’re little and cute and Star Saber beats them up.
Since that doesn’t work, they each pull out their old fashioned weapons and lock in combat. Who is stronger? Can you guess?
Yeah, it’s Star Saber. He pushes Deathsaurus back and threatens to seal him back in the Dark Nebula. Not sure what that whole story is, but maybe it explains why Deathsaurus is the leader now. He must have been locked away until fairly recently. The show is not afraid to drop its mythology on you and leave you wondering. The Japanese show is very much serialized compared to the original U.S. seasons.
With that, Deathsaurus hops on a big spaceship and retreats and the Dinoforce follows him. Again, Kakuryu waddles slowly behind. Not sure why the Autobots don’t just blow him up. Jean shows up to congratulate Star Saber and they seem pretty close. I guess Jean might be the wish fulfillment character like Spike, Daniel, and Shuta. Teens that Autobots think are great and vice versa and there’s never really any conflict or problems that can’t be overcome with some well placed energy blasts.
Finally, Star Saber looks down on Earth and comments on how pretty it is. He says they need to protect it because that beauty is rare. But to me it looks a hell of a lot like Planet V and probably the other planets in their Alliance. Let’s see where things go from here!