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Transform! God On!
Transformers: Super-God Masterforce is the third or fourth (depending on how the third series of G1 is viewed) incarnation of Transformers produced. Divisive even by Transformers standards, it tells the story of a battle between Transformers who become humans, and humans who become Transformers.
Millennia ago, a group of Transformers gained the ability to disguise themselves as organic beings. Calling themselves Pretenders, they came to live on Earth, where the Autobots disguised themselves as humans. The Decepticons disguised themselves as demons and terrorised humanity until they were sealed away in the Egyptian pyramids, Atlantis, and the Nazca Lines of Peru. Much later, the Decepticon Pretenders reawaken and, led by the mysterious Devil Z, begin an assault on humanity.
A short time into the show, both factions recruited the Headmaster Juniors. These were a group of human children bonded to inanimate Transformer bodies known as Transtectors, of which they became the heads. They thus represented a medium between the American and Japanese incarnations of the Headmaster toys, while also being closest thing Transformers has had to Humongous Mecha. The Autobot Headmaster Juniors transformed into emergency vehicles, while their Decepticon counterparts transformed into animals.
Later, the Godmasters (whose toys were known as Powermasters in English-speaking territories) were introduced. Godmasters were similar to Headmaster Juniors, but instead of forming their Transtectors' heads, they formed the engines. They added jinchokon, the Life Energy of humanity, to the tenchokon (heavenly energy) and chichokon (Earth energy) of the Transformers, thus forming the ultimate lifeform - the Super-Gods of the title.
In terms of Continuity, Masterforce is canonically set after Headmasters; however, while Headmasters was clearly set Twenty Minutes Into the Future, Masterforce used contemporary technology and fashions. However, aside from a few brief instances, Masterforce is pretty much self-contained, and so knowledge of Headmasters is (fortunately) not necessary to follow or understand it.
Masterforce was the first Transformers series to have an ongoing plot and Character Development. The theme of personal transformation, rather clumsily attempted in Headmasters, is skilfully shown here as the human characters are shown to initially be quite naive and to gradually evolve into powerful warriors and protectors. The final result is a rather sad but satisfying ending.
The toyline was largely the same as the American G1 toyline for 1989, but with a few additions, such as the Ginrai toy (Optimus Prime in Hasbro territories) coming with the Godbomber; this would not be released outside Japan until 2003 with the 15th anniversary reissue of Powermaster Optimus Prime, where it was known as Apex Armour.
The Pretenders were rather simple toys with basic transformations and forgettable altmodes, which came with human- or demon-shaped posable outer shells. The Headmaster Junior toys were the same as the regular Headmaster toys - a large robot whose head transforms into a smaller robot and whose body becomes a vehicle or animal. The Godmasters also had two components; one was a small human in Powered Armour that transforms into an engine which plugs into a slot in the larger vehicle. The vehicle cannot transform into robot mode unless the engine is plugged in.
The cartoon received the same hilariously bad dub treatment as Transformers Headmasters. The dub was first broadcast in Malaysia on RTM-1 in 1988, and later in Singapore on StarTV. DVDs containing both the dub and subtitled Japanese episodes were released in the UK in 2006 (sub only) and Australia in 2008; both were also shown in the UK on Anime Central in 2007.
Followed by Transformers Victory
The show provides examples of:
- Arrogant Kung Fu Guy: Sixknight, also Cancer is literally one.
- A Mech by Any Other Name: Though part of the "Transformers" meta-family, Masterforce also makes use of lifeless mech bodies called 'Transtectors' that a human being can merge with, effectively becoming a giant robot as opposed to merely piloting one.
- As You Know: Blood has an unusually appropriate reaction to this trope being used on him: "Shut up! I don't need you to tell me that!"
- Banjo Ginga: Black Zarak
- Battle Couple: Mega and Giga
- Big Bad: The series has you convinced that Overlord is the greatest threat for the longest time. Turns out its Devil Z.
- Bishonen: Buster and Hydra.
- Buster's decidedly feminine apperance is a leftover from the character's original conception as a girl.
- Blood Knight: Sixknight
- Bow Ties Are Cool: Minerva's default outfit.
- Brainwashed: Black Zarak is the Headmasters villain Mega Zarak/Scorponok in a new body. Prior to the start of the Masterforce series Devil Z made him his mind-controlled bitch.
- But Not Too Foreign: Minerva is half-Japanese
- By the Power of Greyskull: Lots of variations: "Suit On!", "Pretender!!", "Masterforce!", "Head On!" and "God On!".
- The Hydra brothers also yell "Wing Cross!" when combining, while Ginrai gets "Double On!" and "Chojin Gattai!" for his increasingly more powerful transformations.
- Calling Your Attacks: Anything more flashy than your standard gunshot gets a fancy name. Even if it's just a whip.
- Character Development: In a Transformers show. Fancy that.
- Character-Magnetic Team: The Autobot ranks swell over the course of the series, while the Decepticons never get any new permenant additions outside of Hydra and Buster.
- Complete Monster: Devil Z. Even Overlord starts to loathe his brutality.
- Crowning Moment of Awesome: Quite a few. Usually involving Ginrai.
- Cultural Cross-Reference: One episode makes a direct reference to Superman.
- Daisuke Gouri: Dauros
- Defeat Means Friendship: Sixknight bows to this.
- Delinquents: The Decepticon Pretender Jrs., especially Bullhorn and Wilder.
- Distressed Damsel: Minerva, on occasion.
- Elite Mook: King Poseidon, essentially
- The Sparkdash grunts may also qualify. They seem to function as Devil Z's equivalent to the Seacons.
- Empathic Weapon: The Godbomber upgrade for Ginrai. It can't talk, but it does communicate.
- Energy Being: Devil Z. Though any further information on his motivations/origins are not divulged.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Most of the Decepticons who still have human components turn against Devil Z at the end, wthout much success.
- Expy: Ginrai's Transtector looks essentially identical to Optimus Prime, the toy having been designed as a new version of the character.
- Eyes Always Shut: Ranger.
- Gratuitous English: You are hero!
- Handsome Lech: Lander, who apparently is struck with a critical case of Mars Needs Women.
- Heel Face Turn: Sixknight, Clouder, eventually many human Decepticons.
- Henshin Hero: Masterforce is unique among Transformers series in that human beings play very active roles as both the central protagonists and the main antagonists.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Sixknight. Overlord also has a try, but doesn't fare too well.
- Lightfoot's also a bit too eager to give up his life for the sake of the mission.
- Honour Before Reason: Sixknight may be an arrogant jerk whose secure in his superiority, but he'll beat you fair and square to show you his superiority.
- Later in the series, Overlord insists on fighting the incredibly powerful God Ginrai without using any of his weapons in order to showcase 'the power of flesh' to his nutjob boss. He's willing to die in the process, if need by.
- Hot-Blooded: Ginrai. Though he can also be mighty laid back, too.
- Humans Are Special: Jinchokon (meaning "The Power of Man" essentially) is unique to humans. It allows the Godmasters to attain their full power by combining the three primal energies of life: the other two on their own are nowhere near as potent without Jinchokon.
- Humongous Mecha Real ones too.
- I Am Your Opponent: Practically Ginrai's Catch Phrase.
- The Idiot From Osaka: Browning.
- Image Song: "Don't Cry".
- Jumped At the Call: The Autobot Headmaster Jrs. Lightfoot, Ranger and Road King all seem pretty fine with having to fight evil alien robots, too.
- Kaneto Shiozawa: Road King.
- Kick the Dog: Wilder literally kicked and killed a little girl's puppy simply because it was annoying him. As if he hadn't been shown to be an utter sociopath already...
- Kill All Humans: After bearing witness to the feats of the Godmasters throughout the series, Devil Z panics at the power of human potential and decides it'd be a wise move to exterminate the lot of them.
- Koji Totani: Blood.
- Lensman Arms Race: Both factions race to locate the leftover Godmasters. When that comes to a close they focus on giving their respective commanders powerful upgrades.
- Made of Explodium: The Seacons.
- Mechanical Lifeform: The Transformers themselves.
- The Medic: Minerva. Her transtector turns into an ambulence, after all.
- All three of the Autobot Headmaster Jrs are primarily assigned to rescue duties before engaging in combat.
- Merchandise-Driven: 'natch.
- Mid-Season Upgrade: Super Ginrai becomes God Ginrai.
- Multinational Team:
- Omnicidal Maniac: Devil Z.
- "On the Next Episode of..." Catchphrase: "Now, you too use the Masterforce to transform!"
- Pet the Dog
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Sixknight, of the Six Tribe.
- Put on a Bus: The Autobots Pretenders are quickly pushed out of the limelight to make way for the super-cool Godmasters.
- Phoenix is put on a bus almost immediatly, getting virtually no screentime.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Decepticon Pretenders probably count.
- Refusal of the Call: Ginrai resists becoming a permenant member of the Autobot crew for a while, eventually deciding to join when the Decepticons show they won't stop making his life hell even when he's not on the battlefield.
- Shonen Upgrade
- Show Hayami: Sixknight.
- Sibling Team: Hydra & Buster.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: Cab can converse with animals. He even keeps a bird and armadillo.
- Story Arc: While Masterforce does have quite a few standalone episodes, its best appreciated in a back-to-back format. Certainly executed much better than Headmasters and Victory.
- Redemption Equals Death: Overlord and Sixknight get this.
- Rocket Punch: Ginrai's Godbomber upgrade allows him to do this. Fortunately, his fists return on their own.
- Takeshi Kusao: Double Clouder.
- Talking Is a Free Action: One instance has Ginrai explaining the finer points to transforming and being a Godmaster to new guy Ranger while the pair of them are falling off a cliff.
- Team Mom: Mega is a rare villainous version.
- Team Pet: Cab's parrot and armadillo, as well as Browning.
- The Call Knows Where You Live: Hydra and Buster attack Ginrai during his day job on a few occassions. They also take the oppurtunity to murder some of his friends.
- Theme Music Power-Up: Several themes of Masterforce are good indicators that you're about to get the snot beaten out of you.
- Ironically, one such song that was specifically about Ginrai was played while the suped-up Hydra brothers were badly beating him.
- This Is Unforgivable!
- Three Amigos: Shuta, Cab, and Minerva.
- Transforming Mecha
- True Companions: Both good and evil.
- Unwanted Harem (Gender-flipped and G-rated)
- Villain Decay: The poor Decepticon Pretenders suffer from this. They go from being monstrously ruthless foes to the threat level of your average He-Man villain.
- King Poseidon also stops being quite as threatening when Ginrai beats seven bells out of him every other day.
- Villainous Rescue: Towards the end of the series, the Autobot Headmaster Juniors and a reformed Cancer were in a pinch fighting the seacons and just when they were about to be overwhelmed, the disgruntled Decepticon Headmaster Juniors came in and helped turn the tide of the battle.
- You Have Failed Me: As one might expect, big boss Devil Z starts to get mighty peeved at the constant failures of his underlings. So much so he almost batters Buster and Hydra to death in a fit of rage.
- Yumi Touma: Go Shuta.
- Walking the Earth: Sixknight after his humbling defeat by Ginrai.
- We Have Reserves: The Seacons are droves of mindless drones who show up, fire a few lasers and then explode.
- The Sparkdashers don't fare much better.
- Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him: One episode had Hydra pretty much refuse to use his guns at the proper moment: He has Ginrai cornered and outgunned, he walks menacingly towards him, smirks and...flips his guns over and uses them as clubs. Later on his brother has Ginrai in a chokehold, so Hydra once again moves to shoot the hero, only to discard his gun at the last moment and punch Ginrai in the gut. JUST SHOOT HIM ALREADY.
- Word Salad Title