Headmasters starts with Galvatron leading a new batch of Destrons to wage war on Seibertron, the Destron Headmasters. The Cybertrons are rescued by the arrival of the Cybertron Headmasters, led by Fortress (Cerebros, the head of Fortress Maximus). It is revealed that Fortress left Seibertron millions of years ago in search of energy, and have finally managed to come home. He explains that the Headmasters are from a planet called Master; the human-sized robots who live there built themselves Transformers-sized bodies. They can then transform themselves into the heads of the robots, and have now joined the Cybertron-Destron war.
This anime is in fact an alternative continuation of the American version, picking up right after the third season and overlapping the fourth. The Japanese version made this clear by making Transformers 2010, which is basically the third season with different episode order. Thus Headmaster is the sequel to 2010, where all that fuss with the Headmasters and the Targetmasters is not shown in a completely different way. Offering a whole season to work on the idea, I can say for certainty that it is much better than the American fourth season and a worthy addition to the first generation of Transformers. I will assume you have watched the American cartoon as there is little point in watching it if you didn’t. So you may remember the part where Optimus gets resurrected and Rodimus returns back to Hot Rod (yeah, the change didn’t work so they brought Optimus back). So now both Autobots and Decepticons (Cybertronians and Destrons in the Japanese version) now ally with Headmasters, small robots that can transform into heads and operate huge headless robots. They are in a way the stars of this season, as all major plot points are done thanks to them. Scorponoc is the new Starscream, aiming to undo Galvatron and become leader, Sixshot has a ton of different modes and even kills a major character, Optimus kicks the bucket again, Rodimus is back, Cybertron blows up, a dozen other things happen. The story has progress to at least half the episodes, while the twists and turns are for such a show very well done. Of course, they will all feel very naive if you try to see them from a mature POV, but as far as the franchise goes, the internal logic of the series is well done. It is interesting to see the differences in the way the season was planed, now fully under Japanese supervision. The music is of course with less beat; midi and pop instead of rock and techno. The dialogues feel more childish but on the other hand, violence and mentioning of death and torture are a lot higher. Storytelling has lots of telling instead of showing, which frankly give off a very sloppy end product. Many things are described through a narrator when in the American version it would be some robot describing or doing it mutely, allowing the viewer to fill the in-between. Pacing is slower, with panels showing for several seconds without anything going on; most likely for atmosphere building and chewing up excess time. Action scenes have now sloppier choreography but they are far more in numbers and look cooler. As a genuine mecha show the focus on transformations and combining robots is tripled. Also, many characters now use a kind of body language that is more Japanese-oriented. There is for example a rather large amount of slapstick done purely for laughs. In the American version it would feel completely stupid. On the other hand, no episode ands with all the characters laughing, which is a western trademark of children storytelling. On a side note UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO WATCH THE DUBBED VERSION. It is done by amateurs (not the great ones from the first season) who were not even English speakers or had prior knowledge of the series. The end result is plain laughable; it took me three hours to recover from the pilot episode before switching to subs. By the end of the day, it’s still about the bad robots trying to steal energy or rule the universe and the good robots trying to stop them. The premise and the execution are quite childish, power levels and death mean nothing after awhile; the ever-present scourges of any kids’ show. It is still a very good continuation and expansion of the original storyline if you get used to the different language and slight changes to aesthetics.
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