Transformers Japanese Collection: Headmasters

A year has passed since the events of Sunbow’s third season, and the war between Convoy’s (a/k/a Optimus Prime) Cybertrons and the Destrons has finally come to its conclusion. Peace once again reigns supreme over the galaxy: but the game quickly changes with the emergence of a new breed of Transformers . . . the Headmasters!

Now you can finally watch the rarely seen Japanese series that’s had Transformers and anime fans talking for over 20 years! Includes the original Japanese audio with brand-new English subtitles!In 1987, the toy company Takara and the Toei studio began producing an alternate version of the popular product-based Transformers series featuring characters and story lines geared to the Japanese market. For decades, American mecha fans could only watch Headmasters in dim conversions from other formats and/or bootleg copies. Shout Factory is releasing the series for the first time in the United States. During this first season, the familiar Autobots and Decepticons are replaced by a new corps of robots who turn into tanks, helicopters, and other mechanical devices designed to please the core audience of elementary-school boys. However, the basic components of the story line remain the same: friendships are forged, battles are fought, allegiances shift, threats appear, situations grow dire, and good robots triumph over bad ones. For viewers who grew up on the original Transformers, Headmasters offers an enticing blend of nostalgia and new adventures. However, anyone who lacks those childhood memories may wonder what all the excitement is about. The animation is extremely limited, the Japanese voice actors chew the painted scenery endlessly, and the direction repeats many of the clichés of ’80s Saturday morning kidvid. (Instead of creating transitions between scenes, the directors simply cut to a spinning logo, as their counterparts at Hanna-Barbera and Filmation did.) The designs of the robots, including the central cadre of Fortress Maximus, Brain Storm, Chromedome, Hardhead, and Highbrow, lack the dynamic sophistication of Yoshiyuki Tomino’s Gundam, which debuted in 1979. When Transformers premiered, children’s advocates and parents’ groups denounced it as a thinly disguised commercial, created to sell toys to boys. Those boys have grown up, and men who want to revisit that part of their childhood will revel in the struggles of Fortress Maximus and his fellow warriors against their evil counterparts. (Not rated; suitable for ages 6 and older: cartoon robot vs. robot violence) –Charles Solomon

(1. Four Warriors from Outer Space, 2. The Mystery of Planet Master, 3. Behold the Birth of Double Prime, 4. The Autobot Cassette Operation, 5. Rebellion on Planet Beast, 6. Approach of the Demon Meteorite, 7. The Four-Million-Year-Old Veil of Mystery, 8. Terror of the Six Shadows, 9. Planet Cybertron Is in Grave Danger, Part 1, 10. Planet Cybertron Is in Grave Danger, Part 2, 11. Zarak–The Shadow Emperor, 12. The Dormant Volcano Mysteriously Erupts, 13. Head On, Fortress Maximus! 14. Explosion on Mars! Maximus Is in Danger! 15. Explosion on Mars! Scorponok Appears! 16. Return of the Immortal Emperor, 17. SOS from Planet Sandra, 18. Daniel Faces his Biggest Crisis Ever, 19. Fight to the Death on Planet Beehive, 20. Battle for Defense of the False Planet, 21. Find Scorponok’s Weak Spot, 22. Head Formation of Friendship, 23. Mystery of the Space Pirate Ship, 24. The Death of Ultra Magnus, 25. The Emperor of Destruction Vanishes on an Iceberg, 26. I Risk My Life for Earth, 27. The Miracle Warriors–The Target Masters, Part 1, 28. The Miracle Warriors–The Target Masters, Part 2, 29. The Master Is in Danger, 30. The Zarak Shield Turns the Tide, 31. Operation: Destroy the Decepticons, 32. My Friend, Sixshot! 33. Duel on the Asteroid, 34. The Final Showdown on Earth, Part 1, 35. The Final Showdown on Earth, Part 2)

List Price: $ 29.93

Price: $ 14.64

3 Responses to Transformers Japanese Collection: Headmasters

  1. Prowl Da Owl says:
    21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Loved It, But Your Mileage May Vary, July 18, 2011
    By 

    This review is from: Transformers Japanese Collection: Headmasters (DVD)

    Transformers: Headmasters is the first of a loose “trilogy” of Japanese-exclusive Transformers cartoons produced after the demise of the American “G1″ cartoon. I was introduced to this show (and its successors, Transformers: Masterforce and Transformers: Victory) by way of badly-converted (PAL-to-NTSC) VHS bootlegs and an English dub by way of Singapore. I was able to get into Masterforce and Victory, since the characters were mostly “all-new” and had few, if any, connections to the original series, but I could never get more than five or six episodes into Headmasters because of the glaringly horrible way they dealt with the names (Blurr is called “Wally,” Blaster is called “Billy,” Spike is “Sparkle,” the Matrix of Leadership is called “The Power Pack,” etc.). It was laughingly bad and still a subject of much derision today (there’s a line in Masterforce about “going to headQUARters to have some keBABS” that still makes me chuckle years later).

    Shout! Factory’s official U.S. release of these cartoons is a blessing by comparison. Not only do the subtitles reflect the “correct” names for the characters, but they opt to use the American names of the characters (Optimus Prime, Kup, Cerebros, Autobots, Decepticons) vs. the Japanese (Convoy, Char, Fortress, Cybertrons, Destrons). It is easier to get into the story when you’re not thinking “Did they really just call him ‘SPARKLE’?!?” The “Japanese with English Subtitles” may turn off the casual viewer, but it’s really the only way to watch the show, as the only “legitimate” English dub track is absolutely abominable in it’s badness. The story is much broader and more engaging than the three-episode “Season 4″ although the toy collectors among us may grumble about the cool Japanese-exclusive characters that we never got back in the ’80s (the Trainbots, Twincast, Soundblaster, and so forth). Also be on the look-out for one episode appearance by Hasbro’s Battle Beast characters, who were released in Japan as a Transformers tie-in called “Beastformers”.

    While some of the storylines are a bit darker than the American version (i.e., major robot character deaths as early as episode 3), it won’t traumatize any child who survived watching the wholesale robo-slaughter in the original “Transformers: The Movie” (or the spine-tearing, face-ripping goodness of the live action movies, for that matter). In fact, those hoping for a “hardcore and mature Transformers story” in the vein of “TFTM” or the Michael Bay films may walk away a little disappointed. “Headmasters” is completely and unabashedly a kid’s show, and a Japanese kid’s show at that. As such, there’s much focus on the human POV character, Daniel, and the occasional bits of shtick and slapstick that might turn off the hardcore G1 “purist,” but it is overall a good show.

    Besides, Blurr’s Japanese voice actor is absolutely awesome and certainly evokes the legendary John (FedEx, Micromachines) Moschitta, Jr. in his portrayal. That and Grimlock’s subtitles being in “Me-Grimlockspeak” make me a very happy Transfan.

    The set is beautifully packaged and affordably priced. While the extras are a little sparse (an art gallery and nothing else), getting 35 episodes of an anime for $20-$25 is worth the price of admission in and of itself.

    The only major complaint I have is that occasionally the timing of the subtitle track will get a little “off” and doesn’t quite keep up with the dialogue at times. It happens rarely, but often enough to be noticeable.

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  2. A. J. BOOTON "AJ-san" says:
    17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Japanified, August 11, 2011
    By 
    A. J. BOOTON “AJ-san” (Colorado, USA) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Transformers Japanese Collection: Headmasters (DVD)

    I have to rate this release as a 5-Star for several reasons:

    1. The great price and for the fact that it’s not a bootleg.
    2. If this is the ‘weakest’ series of the Japanese “trilogy”, then I hope Shout Factory releases the other two sets (Headmasters; Super God Masterforce; Victory), the storytelling and action is excellent.
    3. Even for an 80’s ‘toon, and not remastered from its original film, it has held up brilliantly; much moreso than the U.S. counterparts in my opinion.
    4. It doesn’t belittle: adult wars – check; actual robot destruction/dismemberment and ‘game over’ – check; extremely mild language (I wouldn’t even consider it profanity) – check.

    It’s basically what you wanted to see as a kid. I was hesitant to watch the release at first. It sat on my player for over a month. Not because it’s a Japanese release and has no English Dubs — I watch all of my anime with Subs, but because it’s from the 80’s. Don’t get me wrong; I’m crazy about TF G1, mainly the 1st and 2nd seasons. After re-watching the 3rd and 4th seasons; good grief those did not age well — the U.S. storytelling for the later seasons is mediocre; some plots and animation made my eyes roll. It was actually painful to watch; especially the distant planets and the attention focused moreso on the annoying characters (aliens and humans) rather than the robots.

    The later U.S. releases remind me of the new live-action films. Love everything about the robots; highly dislike the annoying human characters (although the 1st movie still remains the most watchable). However, I don’t mind a re-telling. I don’t mind liberties. I enjoy a little shake-up.

    The detail and animation of the Japanese “Rebirth” story, to me, is hands above the 4th season of the U.S. Whereas, in the U.S. cartoon… you might count 10-15 different ‘bots; I basically lost count at 40 in the first episode of “Headmasters”. I understand cartoons are the main push to sell the latest series of the toyline; but it’s nice to see so many older ‘bots in the Japanese cartoon. Also, the tape cassette wars and the amount of combiner ‘bots in just the first 5 episodes is outstanding; I was shocked; it made me drivel. I could not stop watching the series, and the episodes fly by.

    The cartoon action usually takes place in several locations and on several planets; there is a great voice-over/subtitles narrater to keep you up to track on the story and the whereabouts of the ‘bots — much more in depth than the U.S. cartoons (which did not take advantage of such tools and storytelling; and watered down adult themes); you’ll know what I mean once viewing a few shows. It is action paced and I’ll state it again, the animation and battles are noncomparable. I instantly wanted to watch the release again, which means an instant ‘keeper’ and ‘winner’ in my book. And I’m very picky. I wasn’t born in the 80’s, so I’m not a fan of CG ‘toons such as Beast Wars/Machines, Energon, etc. So I heavily rely on these cel-shaded ‘toon releases.

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. It won’t hurt to add to your collection.

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  3. DJ Skeletal "Skel" says:
    40 of 50 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Fanfare has its privileges…, April 23, 2011
    By 
    DJ Skeletal “Skel” (St. Louis, MO) –

    This review is from: Transformers Japanese Collection: Headmasters (DVD)

    At long last, after nearly two decades of having to suffer through overpriced bootlegs and imports, the U.S. ‘Transformers’ fan base finally gets a proper release of the Japanese series!

    As any online summary will tell you, the Japanese ‘Headmasters’ ignores the ‘Rebirth’ mini-series and follows its own take following the events of ‘The Return of Optimus Prime’ (or Convoy, as he is called in the Japanese series). Parents of younger ‘Transformers’ fans may want to be aware that the tone of the series is a tad darker than the U.S. episodes mainly due to character deaths throughout the series (a certain character sacrifices himself AGAIN), and by U.S. standards, there is a substantial amount of profanity. (NOTE: At the time of this review, I was going by the Japanese and Australian releases, which did feature said profanity in the English subtitles. Apparently, Shout Factory/Hasbro made sure that these were not in the U.S. release.)

    My major gripe with ‘Headmasters’ is that in general, the writing is very weak and often seems as if it is trying too hard to mimic the previous U.S. ‘Generation One’ (G1) series. Even the ‘lip syncing’ of the characters in early episodes seems as if it is trying to reproduce that of the original English language shows. Keep in mind that anime of the late 80s was not being marketed as heavily to the western world as it is today. In that respect, ‘Headmasters’ curiously comes off as if it were in some ways a half-serious parody of the U.S. shows (such as ‘G.I. JOE’ and ‘Transformers’) for which Japanese animation studios had been contracted. (The subsequent series, ‘Super God Masterforce’ and ‘Victory’, are stronger for taking their own direction.)

    Some characterizations are extremely inconsistent to the original series. For example, Soundwave is extremely ‘chatty’, and Galvatron is nowhere near as insane as in Season 3. Also, if you couldn’t stand Wheelie and Daniel Witwicky, be warned that they are fairly prominent in this show. The perk, however, is getting to see familiar characters as well as plenty of new (at the time) ones, as the world of the Transformers was ever-satisfying in creating inventive new robots and their alternative forms. Also, look for the appearance of the Beastformers (known in the U.S. as ‘Battle Beasts’).

    ‘Headmasters’ is by far considered the weakest of the Japanese ‘G1′ series. However, the appeal for U.S. fans is “the continuing adventures” of the original G1 cast of characters. For hardcore fans, this is a must-have.

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