For whatever reason Japan did not get past season two of Transformers Prime. Like in the original series and “The Rebirth”, the rest of the series was ignored (the cliffhanger of season two removed) and a different series took its place. Triple Combination: Transformers Go! also didn’t air on television, released only on DVD through magazines TV-Kun and TV Magazine. Produced by Tatsunuko, the story was released in two different but coordinated “volumes” following two different Combiner teams exclusive to Japan’s Aligned continuity, the Swordbots. One team operated as samurai and the other as ninja. Yet oddly it was the samurai team who got the alternate modes that best serve as a disguise–a police car, fire engine, and fighter jet, while the “shinobi” team gets a lion, a bird, and a shark of all animals. Did the guys behind Science NINJA Team Gatchaman forget how ninjas work or is someone at TakaraTomy to blame?
The enemy in this series were Predacons, which doesn’t fit the Aligned status of the Predacons. They’re still ancient and hostile dragon-like Transformers like in Prime but, and granted I still need to catch the rest of the “Beast Hunters” season, they’re all supposed to be dead or clones created by Shockwave. How did five of them end up on Earth? I’m only up to episode two of both volumes so maybe that’s explained, but that’s for another day. This is supposed to be an intros series, and given how little the TF Wiki discusses the behind-the-scenes on this one (if it wasn’t for the subtitles in these videos I wouldn’t even have lyric translations) it’s time to get right into that. Both volumes use the same song, “TRANSFORMERS-Go!” by Daiki Ise, but they have different visuals. So let’s check them out.
The first one comes from the “Shinobi” set of shows, which only has four episodes to “Samurai”‘s six. I think the Samurai swiped an episode.
Since both use the same theme song and the same basic idea let’s see the Samurai version before getting to the analysis. The only one I found online as of this writing is in Spanish, so this week you get three languages for the price of one! That’s kind of fitting given the Autobot’s gimmick.
[UPDATE: 1/23/2022] While looking for a replacement after the previously used video was taken down I found one with English subtitles. All is right with the world. Apologies to the Spanish-reading audience but this is an American site and if you didn’t read English you wouldn’t be here. 🙂
Both intros are generally the same and thus have the same strengths and weaknesses. First of all the theme song is really good, and actually seems to be tied to the cartoon. It mentions the two Autobot teams, “Transformers” is important to the theme, and it also mentions the “Legend Disks”, the thing everyone is after. Two of the disks are in the hands of the human allies, which is a whole other conversation. They’re shown off here as well as the three combinations of the Swordbot team followed in the volume. Each combination offers that team’s combined form an enhancement in certain battle situations–power, flight, and just overall combat skills–and are activated when the disk’s owner makes a connection to their respective teams. Like I said, long story. All of this is highlighted well enough in the visuals.
Not really showcased as well are the time travel bits or Optimus Prime’s part as their mentor, operating from I believe the Autobot base back in Nevada. How he knows about the disks or anything about the disks is really not explained in the first two episodes. Really nothing is, although according to descriptions at least some of this comes out eventually. It also highlights how well the CG and 2D animation work together, the quality of which is up for debate while on their own the only complaint I have is that the mouths don’t move when the Transformers talk and stock footage reigns supreme with combinations and how the Predacons seemingly create their own combining clones, apparently through magic. The biggest problem though is that the intro is again all clips with no original animation outside of the logo. I know these are just some giveaway magazine DVDs but even Transformers Go-Bots (yeah, we’ll get into that one eventually, as part of the final part of this series with some other one-shot Transformers series) was a giveaway VHS, given out with the actual Playskool toys and they still had some original footage.
Overall though it may be one of the best Japanese intros we’ve seen. The theme song matches and celebrates the concept, it looks cool, and it might get you excited to see the show, which might convince you to buy the toys since from those two episodes it is a good show, though a bit light on explaining…anything, really. Next time (after the holidays) we’ll look at the next chapter of the Aligned continuity with the other cartoon called Robots In Disguise.