After almost exactly two years ago and after close to 600 episodes, my review of the Transformers franchise is almost to an end. Beginning on June 8th, 2015, I embarked on the quest to objectively review every episode of the Transformers franchise. This was meant to expand the previous panel (of the same name) which only dealt with seasons one and two of the original cartoon (ostensibly known as Generation One). Today, I have finished Transformers Prime, the most recent series to finish its run (and be made available for home viewing, my criteria for review).
It’s been an amazing process to watch the series change and evolve, often in step with the world around it. I’ve written about the world that gave birth to the Transformers, how the characters and their development evolved, and more lessons in general to be taken from the process. Yet I feel like there’s still more to be said and done regarding the franchise.
I imagine any area of study becomes illuminating the closer you look, but the more I spend time with this beloved franchise, the more I see things worth exploring and talking about. Now that I’m about done with the project (at least until seasons two and three of Robots in Disguise come out on DVD), I can’t help but feel a certain melancholy. I’ve watched these characters develop and evolve and change. I’ve seen Bumblebee go from a good-natured buddy to a wise-cracking egotist to an optimistic and eager scout, from voiced by Dan Gilvezan to Bumper Robinson to Will Friedle. The same with Starscream; to watch him go from conniving second-in-command voiced by the underrated Chris Latta to a patriot voiced by the overlooked Michael Dobson to the brilliant-but-cowardly opportunist voiced by the inexhaustible Steve Blum. Never the same but always familiar.
I’ve watched enough Transformers to confirm some long-held beliefs (like the Unicron Trilogy is utter garbage), challenge some false notions (Beast Machines isn’t nearly as bad as people remember), and to even develop some very unpopular opinions (Gary Chalk might be a better Optimus than Peter Cullen). I’ve seen the dialogue standards rise, fall, and rise again. I’ve seen the state of censorship in broadcast television change as well.
And all the while, I’ve watched these fictional groups wage war against one another.
The tale of the Autobots versus the Decepticons has many incarnations, and they operate under many names. Yet it remains the struggle of good versus evil, of greed versus selflessness.
This weekend at Anime Mid-Atlantic, I will be unveiling the newest and most up-to-date version of the Top Ten Episodes of Transformers. It will cover everything from Gen-1 all the way through Prime. I’ll talk about the standards I use to judge each episode (seven points of criteria), how I account for the evolution of the medium (since you can’t fairly judge a show from the 1980s against a show from the 2010s), and why the list is still subjective. I’ll talk about which series to buy, which to borrow, and which to forget exist. I’ll touch on where we get many of the myths of the series (mostly the comics) and why continuity is overrated. I’ll address for which reason I ignore the live-action movies and laud the many accolades of the animated movie.
And I’ll tell you which are the ten best episodes of the entire Transformers series.
As mentioned above, I will be at Anime Mid-Atlantic this weekend. I’ll be there promoting RocKaiju and Proton as well as hosting panels. Top Ten Transformers Episodes, obviously, but I will also be speaking in defense of Video Game Movies and talking about just how the world of anime could throw together their own Avengers-style shared universe. Come by the con, come by the panels, come by the table. I’ll see you there!