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Transformers: Energon

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Transformers: Energon
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"Bringing you pain for far too long." - Transformers Wiki
Genre: Shonen
Action
Mecha
Running Time: 22 minutes
Country: Japan
Canada
United States
Release Date: January 9, 2004 – December 24, 2004
Network(s): TV Tokyo
Cartoon Network
YTV
Created by: Eugene Ishikawa
Steve Drucker
Distributed by: Hasbro
Seasons: 1
Episodes: 52 (51 dubbed)
Previous show: Transformers: Armada
Next show: Transformers: Cybertron


Transformers: Energon, known in Japan as Transformer: Superlink (Japanese: トランスフォーマー スーパーリンク Toransufōmā Sūpārinku), is a hybrid CGI-anime TV series that aired on Cartoon Network during 2004 - 2005 and was meant to be a celebration of Transformers' 20th anniversary. Transformers: Energon is also another co-production between Hasbro and Takara, and a direct sequel to Transformers: Armada (and therefore, the second installment of the "Unicron Trilogy"). It is also the first Japanese Transformers show where the Transformers are computer-generated (CG) in a cel-shaded technique similar to the Zoids anime, which was a trend that would continue into the next series, Transformers: Cybertron.

Plot

The show takes place ten years after the finale of Armada, opening in an age of peace on both Cybertron and Earth that is soon cut short by the return of the Decepticons. Energon pits the Autobots against an array of villains such as the reborn Megatron, the barely-functional Unicron, and the mysterious Alpha Q and his Terrorcon minions.

Bad Qualities

  1. Lazy plotting: Unicron gets revived at the 20th episode... and then gets deactivated before the whole storyline goes nowhere for the next 20 episodes. Even after the Autobots defeat Unicron for a second and final time, the show still goes for 13 more episodes with the driving aspect gone.
  2. Several character arcs and sub-plots get dropped in silly and abrupt ways.
    • Demolisher has an "uncertainty arc", where he's unable to decide whether to return to the Decepticons or become an Autobot. While this does sound interesting on paper, it gets resolved when he sacrifices himself for Megatron... who promptly "thanks" him by erasing his memories and reformatting him into a new body, where he's revived as a mindless brute.
    • Inferno ends his suffering (which was caused by Megatron's Decepticon programming) by committing suicide... only to then be rebuilt as Roadblock and be reduced to a background character.
    • Kicker has a burning hatred towards Transformers, which only lasts for 2 episodes.
    • Rodimus and Optimus Prime have an ideological feud over whether Unicron should be destroyed or not. This, however, is not brought up again once Rodimus puts himself under Prime's command.
    • Wing Saber dedicates himself to capturing Shockblast so that he can avenge the death of his loved ones. However, once Shockblast escapes from under his nose, Wing Saber just doesn't seem to care about it anymore.
  3. The CGI animation with cel-shading is vomit-inducingly crappy, even for 2004 standards. It's also a barnyard of animation errors.
    • Huge lack of emotion with only the mouth moving (open or closed, depending on the context of the scene), while some other characters (even characters without mouth plates) don't have mouth movement at all.
    • The Transformers often make awkward and laughable movements.
    • The action scenes often reuse the same, ugly-looking explosion effect, which gives the Michael Bay movies a run for their money.
    • Due to the overly huge focus on toy accuracy, the characters end up looking like actual oversized toys rather than actual breathing beings.
  4. One-dimensional characters who have about as much depth to themselves as a glass of apple juice.
    • Kicker Jones is an annoying, unlikeable dollar store version of Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion whose "Give me a break!" catchphrase gets old fast. Doesn't that sound familiar?!
    • Ironhide is an annoying, whiny and obnoxious brat who's also a huge butt-monkey while looking absolutely nothing like his original counterpart from G1.
    • Optimus Prime is butchered into a terrible leader who is also pushy and dimwitted. That's not how you characterize a pop-culture icon known for believing that "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings"!
    • Snow Cat (the reformatted Cyclonus) is an annoying comedy-relief character who yodels in every single scene he's in, which will get on your last nerve.
    • Megatron/Galvatron treats the Decepticons under his command as utterly expendable pawns and keeps putting them in lethal situations.
    • Starscream's character development from Armada is nullified, as Alpha Q resurrected him in the form of an "Energon Ghost" who loses all of his memories and serves Alpha Q as an assassin/spy. It also doesn't help that the little development he gets in the show gets wasted as Megatron wipes his mind before turning him into an eternally-loyal minion.
    • Wing Saber and Omega Supreme are reduced to being over-glorified power-ups for Optimus.
  5. The character designs are hit-and-miss. For instance, many designs include unnecessarily large shoulder pads.
    • Optimus Prime, in particular, looks like he has a very bad case of diabetes. Due to this, he's often referred to by the Transformers fandom as "Fatimus Prime".
  6. Four misspelled title cards.
  7. Overuse of stock footage.
  8. The soundtrack, while pretty good, has some of its tracks placed at rather inappropriate moments, causing them to become rather unfitting with the overall tone of certain scenes.
  9. The Japanese version was already stupid and confusing, but the English dub turns it up to 11. It also had several technical errors, considering how rushed it is.
    • The voice acting can come off as rather annoying and amateurish at times.
    • It puts unnecessary dialogue on scenes where there was originally none.
    • Downshift and Cliffjumper often had their voice-lines/names swapped up.
    • It skipped an entire episode from the Japanese version.
  10. The episode "Team Optimus Prime" is just a clip show.
  11. It's filled with awkwardly nonsensical moments, as the show treats the audience as literal babies who don't have a single brain cell.
  12. In the Japanese version, Mirage (the reformatted Tidal Wave) has a very creepy obsession with Megatron/Galvatron, which can get very uncomfortable at times. Fortunately, it was changed in the English version to simply just being very loyal.
  13. It keeps introducing all sorts of pointless characters for the sake of selling toys, and nothing else.
  14. Misleading title: There's an episode titled "Bulkhead", which might indicate that Bulkhead might have a major role in this episode, considering that it's named after him. However, he hardly does anything here.
    • Speaking of the episode "Bulkhead", it's a complete rehash of "Energon Tower".
  15. The "Powerlinx" gimmick is not portrayed very well. The resulting combined 'bots don't show any signs of enhanced power, making it look almost completely useless.
    • The "Maximus" combiners also fall into this category. Most of the time, they are seen in their combined modes, rarely splitting into individual vehicles, and even then, it's only the torso units that are shown as individual robots, with the limb units not even being implied to be individual characters. Therefore, the show portrays the "limb units" as extra upgrades to the "torso units", even though each component was supposed to be an individual character.
  16. It fails to give the Transformers any reason to transform.

Good Qualities

  1. The Transformers: Energon toyline was a very unique line-up of figures, which was not only a good follow-up to the Transformers: Armada toys, but also introduced some interesting gimmicks and concepts, such as the "Energon weapons" (see "Trivia").
  2. The human characters from Transformers: Armada make some appearances here, which is a nice touch.
  3. It does have some genuinely likeable characters such as Inferno, Scorponok, Demolisher (of course, before he gets reformatted) and Misha Miramond (the only heroic character who isn't a "Designated Hero", and her character design is pretty beautiful).
  4. The soundtrack is pretty good, especially the theme song and the track that plays in the Japanese version during Inferno's death.
  5. The show does include plenty of funny moments, such as Optimus Prime punching Ironhide.
  6. Just like Transformers: Armada, the 2D animation is still beautiful.
    • Some random, yet nice little 2D sequences such as the Maximus transformations, Megatron torturing Inferno, etc.
  7. Some cool character designs.
    • Wing Saber, in particular, is an interesting homage to Star Saber from Transformers: Victory.
  8. The world building is solid, showing how much humanity has advanced with the help of the Autobots.
  9. It does teach the audience a decent lesson about the importance of teamwork.
  10. The original Japanese version is somewhat more tolerable, especially the voice-acting.
  11. Some fans of Transformers: Armada might still enjoy this series.
  12. The awkward CGI can be unintentionally hilarious at times.

Reception

Transformers: Energon has received mixed-to-negative reviews for its hideous use of CG animation, one-dimensional characters and weak storyline. Many fans consider it to be one of the worst shows in the Transformers franchise, alongside Beast Machines: Transformers, the Combiner Wars web-series and Transformers: BotBots.

Trivia

  • The original concept of the series was a multiversal crossover called Transformers: Super Cross, where Unicron would abduct characters from across space and time, forcing characters from Armada, G1, Beast Wars and the 2001 Robots in Disguise anime to fight each other. This concept was turned down by Hasbro and Takara due to the complicated storyline and the inability to trademark the "Super Cross" title.
  • The "Energon weapon" gimmick would later make a return in the 2022 Transformers: Legacy toyline (a subline imprint of the "Generations" toyline), where several figures come with weapons/accessories (often made of transculent plastic) that can be wielded by the figures in multiple ways, or even be combined with others.

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