In Japan, The Transformers
was broken apart into 2 separately branded shows:Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers
Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers
(戦え! 超ロボット生命体 トランスフォーマー, Tatakae! Chō Robotto Seimeitai Transformers
) began airing in 1985, consisting of the North American season 1 and 2 episodes. Although 2 episodes out of the original 65 were cut ("Attack of the Autobots" and "Day of the Machines"), an additional 9 clip shows were created, composed entirely of re-used footage taken from various episodes, bringing the total number of Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers
episodes to 72. The 2 missing episodes were later dubbed in 1990 and released straight-to-video, then retroactively added to the series episode list, boosting its official count to 74 episodes.
The additional clip shows are as follows:
14. "Birth of the Transformers!"
55. "War Without End"
56. "Desperate Battle on Dinobot Island"
57. "Devastator, the Giant Warrior"
58. "Neverending Struggle"
69. "Earth's Greatest Crisis"
70. "Seek the Cybertonium"
71. "Stunticons vs Aerialbots"
72. "Mutiny of the Combaticons"
The broadcast order of the series was significantly reworked, with most of the episodes featuring Skyfire being pushed to the end of the run (presumably owing the character's shaky status as a Bandai toy in Japan). Contrary to what would be sensible, this did not
involve correcting any of the chronological errors present in the original order; in fact, it even created some new ones. The pack-in booklet included with the laserdisk and DVD sets from Pioneer feature a "narrative viewing order" list.
Perhaps most notoriously, the episodes were edited before their broadcast in Japan. These edits were made not for content, but for length so that the show could accommodate longer opening and ending sequences. The combined length of the U.S. opening and ending sequences was about 1 minute and 10 seconds. The combined length of the Japanese opening and ending sequences, however, was about 2 minutes and 20 seconds. This resulted in roughly 1 minute and 10 seconds of content being cut from every single episode.
The translation in terms of script and story was faithful in regards to the original English version (the same cannot be said of the translations of Beast Wars
and onward). However, the dub was at times rushed and had its own unique errors, primarily in terms of matching the right voices and names to the characters on screen. Some examples of character identification mistakes include "More than Meets the Eye, Part 3", in which it is Thundercracker
who requests permission to teleport and attack Ironhide, and "Divide and Conquer", where Starscream
voices the teleporting Seeker rather than Skywarp (as a result, to Japanese viewers, it appears as though teleportation is a trait inherent in all Seekers and not just Skywarp). One of the worse examples would come in "The Master Builders", as Megatron orders Blitzwing into battle, though the jet is clearly Ramjet (Ramjet is even dubbed with Blitzwing's voice).
Although primary characters such as Megatron, Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, etc., had consistent actors, the dub was extremely loose in terms of casting its secondary characters. Bluestreak, for example, had no less than seven
different actors portray him over the course of the series (though Kōki Kataoka is typically credited as his "standard" voice actor). By the looks of things, if a secondary character only received one or two lines in a given episode, then whatever actor was on hand in the studio would be called in to play them, consistency be damned.
Additionally, the Japanese dub of Transformers
was geared toward a younger audience than the original English version. While the dialogue and stories remained faithful in localization, the episodes received extensive
narration from Issei Masamune. The additional narration was relentless to the point of becoming play-by-play commentary. The narrator would constantly describe what was happening on screen, summarize scenes and dialogue immediately after they were seen or spoken, and generally just provide needless asides such as "And then!" "Suddenly!" and "Meanwhile!" This was done to help the younger Japanese viewers follow along with the story, though later domestically produced Japanese Transformers
animation would not include such excessive narration.Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers
aired on various local Nihon TV affiliates and as a result, some episodes were preempted in some areas ("The Golden Lagoon", for example, only aired in the Kansai region, while "The Girl Who Loved Powerglide" aired in every region but the Kansai region). The opening theme was "TRANSFORMER" by Satoko Shimonari and the ending theme was "Peace Again" also by Shimonari.Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers 2010Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers 2010
(戦え! 超ロボット生命体 トランスフォーマー 2010, Tatakae! Chō Robotto Seimeitai Transformers 2010
) began airing in 1986, consisting of the North American season 3 episodes. All 30 episodes were dubbed for Transformers 2010
and 2 additional clip episodes were produced, bringing the total to 32 episodes.
The additional clip shows are as follows:
29. "Daniel's Adventure"
30. "The Desperate Struggle of Justice"
As with Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers
, Transformers 2010
considerably reordered the sequence of episodes. However, rather than restore the narrative order (as the North American broadcast had jumbled up the story arcs), the Japanese broadcast actually made things worse
. And as with Super Robot Lifeform Transformers, Pioneer's laserdisk and DVD sets for Transformers 2010
include a "narrative viewing order" list in the pack-in booklet.Transformers 2010
received the same editing treatment as its predecessor, losing scenes to make room for the longer title and credits sequences. Likewise, it received all the excessive narration and was prone to the same rotating cast members and character identification hiccups. In regards to the latter, it could become especially problematic when the narrator
was the one misidentifying the characters (in "The Burden Hardest to Bear", the narrator mistakenly identifies Wildrider and Dead End as Runabout and Runamuck).
In addition to the extensive narration to hold the viewer's hand, Transformers 2010
also received brand new text captions which had not been often utilized in Super Robot Lifeform Transformers. These captions would appear on screen to designate locations (be they planets, countries or cities) and to identify new characters whenever they first appeared (including both names and functions). The Secret Files of Teletraan II segments were also reworked; some were dubbed, some were dropped and some brand new ones exclusive to Transformers 2010
The release of The Transformers: The Movie
was delayed in Japan and was not available between Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers
and Transformers 2010
. To help viewers acclimate to the new status quo, explanatory material was published in the pages of TV Magazine
, describing the events of The Movie as the "Unicron War" and summarizing vital events from the film (such as Optimus Prime's death, Rodimus Prime's ascension and Megatron's upgrade into Galvatron). The Movie
would eventually be released straight-to-video in 1989.
Like Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers
, Transformers 2010
was broadcast on various local Nihon TV affiliates, resulting in preemptions in certain areas ("The Face of the Nijika" for example). The opening theme was "TRANSFORMER 2010" by Shō Hirose and the ending theme was "WHAT'S YOU" also by Hirose.Transformers: The Rebirth
The season 4 episodes of The Transformers
were not originally broadcast in Japan, with Takara instead electing to produce a brand new series to continue the story of their animated continuity: The Headmasters
. However, all 3 episodes were eventually released straight-to-video in 1996 as Transformers: The Rebirth
(トランスフォーマー ザ・リバース). The episodes received their much-belated Japanese television broadcast in 2007 on Cartoon Network Japan.
To differentiate "The Rebirth" from the Japanese continuity of Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers
, the episodes were released under the American The Transformers
branding. To further this distinction, the dub used standard English-language names and terminology for the most part ("Hot Rod" was not changed to "Hot Rodimus" and "Kup" was not changed to "Chear", for example) while maintaining the Japanese-exclusive names for the more high profile characters ("Convoy" was not changed to "Optimus Prime", for example).
Only three actors from Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers
and Transformers 2010
returned to voice their respective characters: Tesshō Genda (Optimus Prime), Seizō Katō (Galvatron) and Issei Masamune (narrator). Every other cast member was replaced with a soundalike, to varying degrees of success. The voice direction for these episodes was conducted by Shōzō Tajima.