Hope your holiday went well. However, while Captain Yuletide is being completed I don’t want to give up the reason you guys come here. And with Christmas over, we can continue where we left off.
In the latest installment into the many MANY intros of Transformers cartoons I looked at Triple Combination: Transformers Go!, the line that replaced the “Beast Hunters” season of Transformers Prime. (Check more of that history in the reviews of Transformers Prime Japan and Transformers Go.) The short version is that Go was not released on TV but on DVDs packed with TV Magazine and TV Kun, distributed as “Samurai” and “Shinobi” volumes. Each series followed one of two teams of “Swordbots” and their respective kid companion. Predacons, a group of dragon-like Transformers in the Aligned continuity, had come seeking the Legend Disks, which contain unknown power, but through events unexplained the Samurai and Shinobi Swordbot teams as well as Dragotron and his “Four Oni” Predacons ended up in stasis lock until present day. Now they get to time travel as both the Samurai-in-training kid Isami Tatewaki and the young ninja Tobio Fūma learn what it means to be a noble hero of justice. It’s got Combiners and it has dragon Transformers. You’ve won on the concept! The toyline featured the Beast Hunters figures as well as original molds which are the focus of these DVDs.
On YouTube you can find fansubs (because it’s unlikely this will ever get an official Western release as it’s a Japan-exclusive toyline…then again we thought that about the G1 Japanese Transformers cartoons and we got everything except the home video exclusives), however if you find them in a playlist they group the Samurai and Shinobi volumes together. I wanted to collect them into a proper sequence of episodes so I made my own playlist based on the release dates listed at the TF Wiki. I did the best I could to make a complete narrative because the formatting is a bit off. As mentioned in the intro review, Samurai had six episodes compared to Shinobi’s four, possibly a bias by someone at Tatsunoko. Additionally some episodes have the same events happen with minor changes as two of each Oni challenge a different Swordbot team. Then Optimus Exprime (meant to be the Aligned Optimus) and Dragotron show up simultaneously in both battles and things get confusing. Plus the end sees everything the same except showing off a different new combination despite being the same battle, ramping up the confusion. Still, it’s a good story when you mentally work around these hiccups so enjoy.
If anyone ever did a fandub of this, or even a legit dub, I would love for them to re-edit this into a proper edit. Considering what they were doing with Transformers shows at the time I’m not bothered by not matching the source. At least we aren’t talking about giving the dialog and editing a comedic makeover like they did with the US shows from Beast Wars on. Just reorganize a few scenes to make a comprehensible linear sequence of events. I can even accept the Japanese names by writing it off as something they adopted when they came to Earth and became samurai, ninja, or pretending to be oni. I just want to watch this without the confusion of having Optimus Exprime somehow being part of two combinations at the exact same time with the same two team leaders. That’s all I’m asking for.