Michael Bay is known for going totally pee-on-your-head crazy with the Transformers movies. But could it be that the most batshit insane Transformers stories were already told, a quarter century ago?
To coincide with Transformers 3, Shout! Factory has released the Japanese series Transformers: Headmasters on DVD for the first time, and it's completely nuts.
Just watch the above clip, in which Sixshot reveals his secret seventh transformation: Wingwolf. And he utters the great line, "See the Ninja Officer's technique for climactic battles!"
There are approximately 10,000 crazy fight scenes in each episode, which play out like playground brawls. The giant robots show up and taunt each other for a while, then they fight. Most of the fights never actually resolve anything — instead, one group of robots or the other says "We'll settle this later," and then leave.
Oh, and the Transformers are always trying to hypnotize each other. How would that even work?
By this time in the Transformers series, there are train-bots. And dinosaur-bots. And basically every other kind of robot creature and vehicle you can imagine. Including Cerebros, but I'm not sure what he's supposed to be.
And it's insanely melodramatic as well as filled with moments of genuine poignancy. Like the episode where — spoiler alert — Planet Cybertron is blown up. And the Autobots freak out, saying stuff like, "An unstoppable bomb?! That's the worst!" And "I don't want Cybertron to be blowing up." Here's a heavily edited version of the scenes where Cybertron is blowing up:
You have to love any show where someone utters the line: "Weirdwolf! Skull! Wipe! Come!"
And yet, suddenly it turns into a moment of amazing poignancy, towards the end of the above clip, where Rodimus Prime surveys the shattered wasteland of Cybertron, and decides that the "Golden Age of Transformers is over." And it's time for him to go off and look for a new homeworld, which he does. It's genuinely moving, and kind of a shock after the over-the-top craziness of the preceding hours.
Check out the incredible closing credits to each episode, in which you learn how you, too, can transform into a truck, a fighter plane, or a helicopter, with the help of a partner of the opposite sex. It's like a transforming-robot Kama Sutra:
One more amazing sequence — the evil Galvatron decides that he wants to absorb the Planet Earth into his body and become a super-humongous transforming robot. But first he needs to absorb the bodies of some of the strongest Decepticons (Destrons), to compensate for the "weaknesses in my head." Here's a clip where, among other things, he tries to sell Sixshot on the idea of becoming part of him. It's quite a pitch:
The Headmasters 4-DVD set includes 35 episodes remastered with brand new English subtitles. (So, not the same as the subtitles on those Youtube videos. Although I think the fan subtitles might actually be better.) It's a great way to kill a dozen hours or so, although you may start getting the shakes after a few hours.
Also newly on DVD from Shout Factory!: Transformers: Beast Wars, a 1990s computer-animated series in which a group of Decepticons and a group of Autobots crash on a planet and turn themselves into actual animals to protect themselves from toxic Energon radiation. So Optimus
Prime Primal becomes a gorilla, and so on. It's also pleasingly silly, but the early computer animation made me unable to watch very much of it.