Last summer, I wrote a haiku for each episode of the original Generation One Transformers series that aired in the United States. (Plus five based on the ’86 movie.) I had a great time with this little project. There were many episodes I had never seen, though I’ve owned the series for years. As a big Transformers guy, I needed to see them all.
After the release of my third book, I rewarded myself by picking up the complete Japanese Transformers collection on DVD. This set includes three Transformers shows that never aired on American shores: The Headmasters, Masterforce, and Victory. Never having watched a single episode, I’ve really been having fun with the first show, The Headmasters, and bringing back the haikus seemed like a no-brainer.
A few thoughts on The Headmasters 2/3 of the way in:
The quality of these DVDs isn’t as good as that of the G1 show. It looks like Shout Factory didn’t restore it in any way. Fuzz and scratches are apparent throughout, and the colors seem washed out and bland. The quality of the screenshots for the haikus has taken a hit, as a result. It’s certainly watchable, but hard to ignore.
I’m happy that Titans Return was so heavily based on characters featured in The Headmasters. I’m more of an early G1 fan, and don’t have much interest in the often-weird(wolf) toys from 1987 and beyond. Watching this show has changed that for me, just as it must have done for Japanese kids in the late 1980s. Thankfully, I’ve got many of these characters in their inexpensive Titans Return forms. Hopefully, they’ll remake the Horrorcons and Autobot Targetmasters in Power of the Primes!
The American G1 show was tame, due to the standards imposed on kids’ TV at the time. The Headmasters is brutal in contrast. Characters die horribly – often. The Decepticons blow up entire planets. They straight up murder human-like aliens onscreen. One particular episode stands out. A civilian Transformer gets whipped (not beat up, WHIPPED), mind-controlled, and implanted with a bomb. He’s sent on a suicide run and one of the Autobots, who was the poor guy’s friend, has to kill him to save everyone else. It was really shocking to see this in a cartoon intended for kids! Maybe not as shocking as seeing Optimus Prime die (glad I never saw that as a kid), but still shocking.
The Headmasters has been a fun series to watch. There are some cheesy slapstick moments, and Daniel and Wheelie are still around, but the good outweighs the bad for the most part. I’m not as excited for Masterforce, as I’ve heard it’s not as good. But Victory will surely be better. Follow me on Twitter for a daily dose of Japanese G1 in haiku form, and see the whole collection here!