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Transformers: The Headmasters is an Anime series which aired in 1987, continuing the story after the end of the third series of The Transformers and ignoring the events of "The Rebirth". The evil Decepticons, supposedly defeated at the end of G1, attack the Autobots' home planet of Cybertron, aided by new allies, the Headmasters. Just when things look their bleakest, a group of Autobot Headmasters suddenly appear to turn the tide.
The show concerned the continuation of the war between Autobot and Decepticon, focusing on the Headmasters and, later, their Targetmaster allies. As time went on, most of the original characters were phased out until to allow the new toys to take centre stage.
The majority of the new characters were members of two subgroups of Transformer, who were fairly evenly split between the two main factions.
- Headmasters are a group of small Transformers who left Cybertron in the distant past to avoid the Great War. Settling on the planet Master, they built themselves larger bodies in order to survive. The small Headmaster units transform into larger heads which attach to the robot form of the larger Transtector. The Transtector itself transforms into a vehicle or an animal, which can then be piloted by the Headmaster.
- Targetmasters result from the fusion of standard-size Transformers with Headmaster-sized bots. The smaller bots transform into guns which can then be wielded by their partners. The Targetmasters' ability to select targets independently of their wielders allows the wielders to use to guns separately.
After a three episode pilot (during which Optimus Prime died yet again), the show settled back into the generally episodic format of its predecessor. Continuity was much stronger in Headmasters than in Generation 1, with the result that even though the majority of episodes are self-contained, they still have to be watched in the correct order. Unfortunately, Pacing Problems are present throughout, with long stretches of time spent with the characters standing around doing not very much, and the fight scenes generally aren't as exciting as those of other continuities.
On the other hand, the animation was taken back by Toei, which resulted in a considerable improvement in quality. Animation and continuity errors were rarer, albeit still present on occasion.
This show was somewhat darker than G1. Several episodes included on-screen deaths (mostly robots, but also some aliens encountered along the way), and the Autobots lost battles as often as they won. This all meant that Scorponok didn't suffer Villain Decay, and Galvatron regained a good deal of the threat he had lost in G1.
The show received a hilariously bad English dub in Malaysia, which gained notoriety after being broadcast on StarTV in Singapore. While the dub was perfectly comprehensible, it did contain some Blind Idiot Translation, which spawned a few short-lived memes.
The first episode of the dub was included as a bonus on the DVD edition of the animated Transformers movie. DVDs containing both the dub and the original Japanese with subtitles were released in Australia and the U.K. in 2005, and both versions were shown in the UK on Anime Central in 2007. Shout Factory will release the series in the U.S. on July 5, five days after Dark Of The Moon opens. The dub will not be included, due to Hasbro's apparent concerns about content.
Followed by Transformers Masterforce.
- Anyone Can Die: Optimus Prime (after four episodes of resurrected life), Galvatron and Ultra Magnus.
- Applied Phlebotinum
- Atlantis, sort of. Part of the last two episodes concern metal found on "Lemuria", which became Atlantis in the English dub. However, this was better than the subtitles, which mangled it into 'Demonia' and 'Libelia'
- Back from the Dead: A number of characters who should be dead just... appear. Hi, Prowl/Ironhide/Wheeljack! This is due to Japan not getting Transformers: The Movie until much later. The appearances are largely of the blink and you'll miss it cameo variety, so it's not too bad.
- Also notably Soundwave and Blaster, who kill each other in battle but are later rebuilt
- Banjo Ginga: Scorponok/Mega Zarak
- Bastard Understudy: Scorponok
- Big Damn Heroes: This is how the Headmasters and Targetmasters are introduced.
- Bittersweet Ending
- Blind Idiot Translation: The hilarious Malaysian dub, so beloved amongst comedy anime enthusiasts it was included in the 2008 DVD release as an audio option.
- This little bit from the Malaysian dub:
Scorponok: "Huh huh huh huh, what's wrong with the Headmasters? Couldn't they fight without Chromedome? Fortress Maximus has come himself. Okay, then I shall get Fortress Maximus to fight me. Huh huh huh huh."
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Whatever happened to Grimlock? Disappears with no explanation.
- Combining Mecha
- Compelling Voice: Mindwipe is a hypnotist, so this comes with the territory.
- Darker and Edgier: Sort of. On the one hand, characters die on screen, and the tone is at times somewhat grim or tragic. On the other hand, it also has a fair amount of light-hearted and silly comic relief, Daniel and Wheelie are prominent characters throughout the series, and overall it's evident that the series is still aimed at children. The fact that it can come off as Darker and Edgier at times can probably be attributed to cultural differences regarding shows aimed at kids.
- Defeat Means Friendship happens with Sixshot
- Dubtitle: The subtitles on the "Shout! Factory" DVDs (the only ones available in the US) replace all of the characters' Japanese names with their English ones, or the nearest equivalent (Convoy becomes Optimus Prime, Fortress becomes Cerebros, etc.). They also occasionally try to work in Transformers-specific terms that hadn't actually been coined yet when the series was created (Soundwave and Blaster's Cassettes are called "Deployers," "scrap" is used in place of any sort of rough language, Transformers' lifes/hearts/souls are now "sparks"...).
- Earthshattering Kaboom: Cybertron and Mars. Scorponok's goal is to do this to Earth as well.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Several episode titles, notably "The Dormant Volcano Mysteriously Erupts!" and "Ultra Magnus Dies!!"
- Extreme Doormat: Arcee goes from being The Chick in the movie to being the Housewife.
- Final Battle
- Five-Man Band
- Good Bad Translation:
- "Alright listen up, I'm the ninja consultant for the Decepticons, my name is Sixshot!"
- "I can feel the heat!"
- "Hahaha, Fortress Maximus has come himself. Okay then! I shall get Fortress Maximus to fight me!"
- "That's strange... how come a robot should feel sleepy?"
- Grand Finale
- Gratuitous English: "Transform! Head on!"
- Humongous Mecha: What Headmaster technology basically is. Except here the mecha is piloted by another mecha.
- Losing Your Head: Duh.
- Lucky Charms Title
- Man-Eating Plant: Big enough that it prompts the first appearance of Fortress Maximus in order to defeat it.
- Merchandise-Driven: Besides Transformers, the show also plugs other Takara products like Battle Beasts and Video Challenger
- Ninja: Sixshot
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot
- "On the Next Episode of..." Catchphrase
- Noble Demon: Sixshot
- Plant Aliens
- Put on a Bus: Rodimus Prime, who pretty much quits when Cybertron is destroyed.
- The Power of Friendship
- Quirky Miniboss Squad
- Religious Robot: Brainstorm crosses himself, implying some sort of Christianity-based belief.
- Theme Music Power-Up
- Transformation Sequence: Fortress Maximus and Scorponok have them
- Transforming Mecha
- Twenty Minutes Into the Future: The year 2011