Masterforce is considered to be the sequel to Headmasters but the continuity has gone haywire. Although there are clips and models of previous Transformers shown in the series, the story could very well be a stand-alone show. Here, let me tell you the basics of the story. The Destrons (Decepticons) have been driven away from Earth and a few Cybertronians (Autobots) remained back to defend it in case they return. Turns out some of them were trapped in ancient ruins for several millennia and after they are freed, they decide to conquer Earth and be worshiped as Gods. So far, the story is fine. The thing that looks so weird is the concept of the Pretenders. In this show the robots can shapeshift to resemble other lifeforms. The Cybertronian robots decided to look like humans, in other to live with humanity in peace, while the Destrons decided to look like huge mythological monsters, in order to look scary. So um… what is going on here? The good guys first transform from normal humans to armored humans and then to huge robots and then to vehicle/airplane mode. What kind of bending of the rules is that? Mass or weight don’t even seem to be an issue. The Destrons on the other side want to look like monsters because … being huge robots that blow up cities is not scary enough? What is going on here? Not only that, the Destrons literally steal human corpses and turn them to zombies by chanting a satanic ritual. And the rest of humanity has forgotten who the Transformers are. And there are these superhuman soldiers called Godmasters (or Powermasters) who can beat even the huge robots and there is The Devil (Devil Z) who wants to create a powerful body and thus possesses Black Zarak (Scorponoc from the previous series) and is rivaled by a robot that looks exactly like Optimus but is not. What is going on here, does any of that remind you of Transformers?
Seriously, the story was a lot closer to some Mahou Shonen show than Transformers, as everything was so loose and unsupported and with little effort to glue it together with Headmasters. The actual plot is not bad. It is cool (albeit totally childish) and has constant changes and power-ups. The thing is, outside the robot shapes it hardly reminds you of the previous series. But then again, the whole concept of transformation, what is this, Sailor Moon? In this show every time they have to transform or attack, they yell the name of the move. How off is that?
The cast is another weird thing to like or not. On this show, the humans have all the focus. The main heroes are the Headmaster Juniors, (little kids) and later the Godmasters. Even the Transformers are shown most of the time as normal humans or ugly monsters, casting off any importance their robotic forms have outside of battle. The show is called Transformers yet the humans get all the glory, so it is again weird. Other than that, the cast is well defined and colorized nicely, although it never escapes its mold of stereotypes and predictable outcomes. The characters are easily separated to generic robots in human disguise (Pretenders) who want to protect or conquer Earth (yeah, you know the words that will be heard a lot in this show), kids who want to show their resolve (more usual words), and some generic lord of evil who is there just to mastermind everything from the shadows. Practically, there are no recurring characters outside of cameos and the new cast falls a bit too much on the usual average yet likable cast. It is just that where the characters of the previous seasons needed hundreds of episodes to grow an identity on us, the newcomers simply feel poor without support from the established ones. The Headmasters and Targetmasters in the previous season still attached themselves to the familiar robots we know and love but here you practically have just cameos. It really is hard to like it.
I have nothing in particular to say about the animation or the sound. They are both quite average and passable, almost like any other typical 80’s show. Which is a shame because the transformers were supposed to be a big thing back then and of high budget. Yet with all the more magical that mechanic transformations (humans turning to huge robots has no way of saving it) and the very soft to the ears music score, it is just very forgettable. What it definitely ain’t is the occult overtones they inserted in this, trying to make it feel scary to 10 year olds. I mean the villains look like demons and resurrect dead corpses, and chant satanic hymns, and have The Devil as their hidden mastermind. Plus, in a Godzilla fashion never forget to rein terror on Japanese cities and blow up buildings, terrifying little children who yell for the good guys to come to the rescue.
… God, that sounds awful. I never watched Transformers to see 10 year olds saving random people from ruins nor for demons performing simplistic plans of world domination based on scaring humanity. Where are the Energon hunts? The Space Bridges and the war on Cybertron? Why are all the good robots look like normal businessmen? Why doesn’t anyone know of the Transformers when they were fighting on Earth for decades and were seen by billions of people? The feeling is just not there.
Is it a good show? No, I’d say it is average to good. The transformations help to keep you interested but the alienation from the previous storylines and casts, as well as the occult/mahou shonen overtones make it really weird to accept.