The Takara Collection Volume 1: Headmasters
February 12, 2006
It’s Transformers, but not quite how you might remember it. In 1987 the Americans decided they didn’t want to make the cartoon anymore and ditched it after 3 episodes into Season 4. The Japanese were not ready to let the show die. Ignoring those three episodes from Season 4, they started their own season 4 with their own stories. Using the same style of animation as the American series and mixing classic characters with brand new ones, it looks like the stuff you know and loved as a kid. There is however one major difference, it’s in Japanese!
The year is 2011 and the evil Decepticons return to the transformers home planet of Cybertron to take control with a new breed of robot – the headmasters. It’s not just the Headmasters that are new in this series, we are also introduced to The Trainbots, The Targetmasters, the Duocons, Decepticon Ninja Sixshot, and giant battle bases Fortress Maximus and Scorponok to name a few, and we still get to see old faves like Optimus Prime, Galvatron, Hot Rod and Ultra Magnus. For the very first time all 35 episodes are here together and spin many story arcs that see the search for the matrix, the mysterious Zarak’s plans to blow up planets, the death and re-birth of characters, the unlikely bond between the human Daniel and Sixshot and slowly revealing the origins of the headmasters.
In watching Headmasters viewers have a choice to make, they can either watch it in the original Japanese available for the first time with English subtitles or the same episodes can be watched with a highly dubious English dub. The dub was produced by an Asian company involving people who, it would seem, had no idea about Transformers or translating into English; and knew even less about dubbing. It should only be viewed for comic value and will have transfans crying with laughter at some of the awful translations and blatant errors. On the up side, DVD distributors Metrodome have done some welcome alterations on the subtitles, changing the characters names so they are consistent with the series how we in the West remember them.
So no longer will giant city sized Autobot warrior Metroplex be referred to as Phillip.
The only thing spoiling it is that on the odd occasion a correction has been missed and could potentially be confusing for the un-educated.
The animation errors that riddled the American series are gone, but so are a few other things that fans might be used to, and replaced with something quite abundantly Japanese, brand new pop happy theme tunes, a voice over throughout ever episode, any excuse to have giant combining robots fight (usually a few martial arts moves are thrown in) and a scene in which Hardhead performs Karaoke.
Hardcore transformers fans should find something that will entertain them here and should be excited as most of this box set has never bee seen before in the West. Any fans of the new modern era of transformers or anyone looking for a nostalgia kick should really ignore this and refer back to the previously release American series.
The whole boxset is like a special feature, with its never seen before episodes, optional dub or corrected subtitles, but also featured is a neat little booklet with good explanations of where the dubs came from and how Headmasters fit into the timeline. Plus a list of Japanese-English translations on the characters names, and also the booklet acts as an episode guide. Metrodome’s previous transformer releases had a house style of silver packaging and individual boxes – this has gone. The four discs come in a fold out tray and the cover features a image by Transformers comic artist Andrew Wildman.
Rounding the set off nicely is a commentary track over the first three episodes by a Transformers fan. The commentary will help anyone who is at a loss and will fill in some of the gaps concerning the origins of this Japanese series but fans will not learn anything new.