When it comes to the Cybertron toyline I have mixed feelings. On the one hand they’re some of the coolest looking Transformers of the Unicron Trilogy. Sure I don’t buy that Optimus Prime’s new form is a fire truck but it looks darn cool and one of the favorite trailer combos of the Primes among fans for a reason. For some odd reason I’m more into RID1’s Optimus Fire Convoy Prime but Galaxy Optimus Convoy Prime still looks darn cool. It could be because Fire Prime actually looks like a fire truck or maybe because he can link to Mini-Cons?
And that’s kind of what my problem with Cybertron was. The gimmick is basically Armada’s gimmick, only swap out “cool little robot that are their own toys and characters while also having extra features the media ignored” with “small circle of plastic claiming to be a key that’s easier to lose because it gets ignored when not unlocking the extra weapons”. The story for Cybertron is that the Autobots and Decepticons can now summon “cyber keys” out of nowhere to unlock hidden weapons while searching the galaxy for four Cyber Planet Keys, physical objects in the show while in the toyline it’s just the specially colored keys of the various planet leaders. When inserted in the Omega Lock (and I forget if they’re even needed on the toy, you just need the Omega Lock) they allow Primus to turn Cybertron into his robot body, ready to finally have a fair fight with Unicron…except Unicron is dead, thus losing that potential. A handful of Cybertron’s Transformers are Mini-Con compatible, and a smaller number of those have Mini-Con partners, but it’s the keys that unlock the gimmick. It’s kind of a disappointment.
The show on the other hand may be the better of the three, which let’s be honest isn’t saying much. We’ve forgot to tell someone at Gonzo, the new animation studio, that this was the final chapter of a trilogy, forcing the dubbers to try to force connections in with dialog and a specially drawn sequence showing what happened to the other human characters. They also tried to add some more character to the characters, explain some of the odd choices of the Japanese counterpart, Galaxy Force, and not having the Autobots shrugging off tense situations. They also made Nitro Convoy, leader of Speed Planet (a world where racing really is king), from male to the female Override because Cartoon Network wanted a female Autobot I guess. She would be the first one since G1 (not counting Maximals or computer AI holograms), and there was a female Decepticon named Thunderblast, the second time we saw a female Decepticon outside of manga in a series. Anime purists who saw the subtitles for Galaxy Force weren’t happy of course but as far as the Unicron Trilogy goes this had more effort put into it than the previous two. Too bad the CG/traditional animation hybrid still looks terrible. Zoids was out around this time, guys. We knew it could be done right.
I can’t finish this overly long intro (which is why I didn’t go into the stock footage transformations that takes more time than actually transforming the toys) without warning you that Galaxy Force had five intros! However, three of them have so few variations that I’m not going to try to track them all down. Cybertron only has one so let’s start with that.
That thumbnail is three Autobots away from being the Brady Bunch intro.
As covers of the classic theme goes it’s okay. Apparently Jetfire isn’t the only one adopting an Australian accent. Yes, Jetfire has an Aussie accent for some reason now. I could waste time going over the characters but we’re here for the intros. It is the better intro despite also being a whole ton of stock footage from the episodes. It does the job but doesn’t really stand out. It does show off how obsessed this series is with transformations and what little action we see is decent. At least the tone and pace of the show is represented well.
There’s not much else to really say so let’s see the first of the Galaxy Force intros. And this first one I don’t need to hunt the translation down for (unless I’m forced to use a new version in the future) since we have subtitles for Shinji Kakijima’s, “Call You…The Future Of You And Me”.
This is the only decent copy of any version of the intro I could find. By now I’ve just been living with what little ties to the show I can get out of the lyrics. The Autobots are valiant warriors, they are searching the galaxy, and they are Transformers. We’ve seen worse in this retrospective review of Transformers intros. As I noted the visuals are changed two more times, but the changes are so minor under the period of this theme and it’s hard to find a decent copy of the intros that I’m just going to grab notes from the Transformers Wiki on the differences that show up.
- Galaxy Force debuts its second opening sequence in “Savage“. While the beginning is identical to the first opening of using footage from the series itself, there’s a new sequence where a super-imposed Coby, Lori, and Bud fade in and out over Earth seen from space one after each other. However, it quickly switches back to a montage from most episodes shown up to that point (with a few future peeks).
- Galaxy Force debuts its third opening sequence in “Ice“, at last adding some new original animation to go along with the clips and stock footage that have made up the previous two. New footage includes: the kids sitting in a field; Lori dancing down a city street; Coby working on his bike when Bud jumps on his back, causing him to chase him; and Lori and Coby standing back to back, about to hold hands (the first real hint at the romance which will blossom between the characters later in the series) when Bud jumps into a shot and pulls a Naruto-style jutsu pose that turns everything chibi, at which point the Mini-Cons pop into shot one after the other. Stock footage of Savage Claw Mode is also added.
Some of this shows up in the later intros. For the last two they were completely redone and a new song, CHINO’s “Ignition” sticks through the rest of the series. This one I’m going to have to post the intro for since the best footage I found were both clean intros, with no credits or subtitles.
Is it just me (for those of you who saw the show in either language) or does it look like the only things not episode or stock footage just the same scenes we saw mentioned in the notes for the alternate intros before this? Lori and Coby holding hands before Bud and the Mini-Cons play ninja and the kid trio superimposed over the Earth all emotional and stuff. Otherwise, everything is the usual transformation/cyber key power/Savage Claw Mode Optimus/Leobreaker stock footage or random episode scenes. Now what about the lyrics?
- Make these emotions start running
- To the future, Transformers
- Guide us, lead us to freedom, become stronger!
Hope has blossomed within you
It has been flung to the end of the galaxy
You can hear it from far away
Our future is resting on that melody
- Let the creation spring forth
- So that this planet may be protected
- Guide us wisdom, and stand up!
- The time to fight has come
- Go into the galaxy, Transformers
- Make the fragments of your dream into reality
Okay, I’ll get what I can out of this. The Transformers, specifically the Autobots/Cybertrons since Megatron of course just wants power for himself and isn’t worried about the black hole created by Unicron’s remains (at least he’s consistent with Megatron of the other two series; so obsessed with power that Starscream has more clarity of the situation), are the last hope for the galaxy. Points for “Ignition” as a title working for a show involving robots that turn into cars and the gimmick being powers activated by a key I guess. Otherwise I think the previous theme had a better association. Which, like comparing Cybertron to Armada and Energon, really isn’t saying much. The last intro to use this song was a huge change from the previous so let’s look at that one, too.
Much less stock and episode footage on this one. In fact I double-checked with the wiki and this is almost entirely new footage. That’s more like it! I want to see more of that fight between Wing Saber and Thunderblast. While there’s still a bit of power up stock footage most of it is just action, be it fighting or going into action. Then you have the moments of the characters in contemplation, which matches the more relax portion of the song–by the way, points for getting the logo reveal in time with the song–which works but I wonder why Lori and Bud have their backs to the camera in the far shot but Coby is facing forward in both far and near shots? Visually this is probably the best of all five intros.
This won’t be the last Japanese made series on our list, but as of this writing the only other two are Japanese exclusives that we never got in the States. However, there will be more Japanese intros for the US-produced shows we’ll be following as next time we look at Transformers Animated. The wiki says there are two Japanese intros for that show versus one for the US. We’ll see how that works out in our next installment.