What this show is is not an ordinary television series, or even a television series at all. Rather, it is instead a series of 10 short episodes (running ~12 minutes long, each) released direct-to-DVD as bonus pack-in material with two Japanese magazines: TV Magazine and TV-Kun Magazine. TakaraTomy's YouTube channel would later rerelease several episodes in HD format, but only up until the last few, which remain SD-only. Each episode is not part of a single linear storyline, but instead are part of two! All episodes released with TV-Kun are part of a "Samurai Volume" of episodes focusing on the Swordbot Samurai Team, while the episodes released with TV Magazine are the "Shinobi Volume" episodes that center around the Swordbot Shinobi Team. Thus, there are two distinct "Episode 1's", two "Episodes 2's", etc.
1. "Sanjou Gattai! Swordbot - Samurai!"
2. "Pursue! The Legendiscs!"
3. "The Invincible Swordsman - Ryōma Sakamoto!?"
4. "Showdown! Benkei Musashibō!"
5. "Depart! Optimus ExPrime!"
6. "Final Battle! Renketsu Sanjou Gattai DaiKenzan!"
1. "Sanjou Gattai! Swordbot - Ninja!"
2. "Discover! The Legendiscs!"
3. "Enter! The New Warrior!"
4. "Final Battle! Renketsu Sanjou Gattai DaiGekisou!"
Subsequently, there are two versions of the show's opening theme, each containing its own unique visuals based on which volume the episodes belong to. Here are the two versions (the name of the song is "TRANSFORMERS-Go!"):
As for where this show takes place continuity-wise, it is set after Chou Robot Seimeitai Transformers: Prime (Super Robot Lifeform Transformers: Prime), the Japanese dub of the Tranformers: Prime cartoon. However, the Japanese Prime cartoon did not end in the same way that the English version did. Thus far, only the first two seasons of Prime have been dubbed into Japanese and released in Japan, with currently no signs of season 3, "Beast Hunters", being imported to the Land of the Rising Sun.
In addition, even though the Japanese Prime dub ended with season 2's ending, it did not end the same way that the English season 2 finale ended. As many of us know, season 2 ended in English with the Autobot base being attacked, the Autobots having to evacuate and scatter to various locations across the nation, and the Nemesis destroying the base with Optimus still inside it. In the Japanese version, however, the final scene of the episode was heavily edited, with the entire sequence of the base's destruction, and everything after it, being cut out and removed altogether. The last thing we see in the episode is Optimus slashing at the GroundBridge control panel with his sword and the screen fading to white immediately afterward, leaving the fate of the base, the Autobots, the Decepticons, and pretty much everything, completely ambiguous.
Here is the episode's conclusion as it played out in Japan:
Thus, in Go!, Optimus is alive and well, even sporting his Beast Hunters toy body. What we have here is simply another split-off case like with G1's "The Rebirth" and The Headmasters cartoon.
The backstory of Go! plays out as described in the first half of this video (sorry, no subtitles, I'll explain it below):
Basically, after the events of TF: Prime season 2, rather than the events of Beast Hunters occurring, the Autobots and Decepticons instead shifted their battles away from Earth into outer space. Here, Shockwave came along and created a whole new faction, the Predacons, to help fight against the Autobots. However, the Predacons in this new series turned on the Decepticons and broke away from them, scattering across the universe by the hundreds. To hunt them down, the Autobots and Decepticons upgraded into "Hunter Mode" with the power of a new armor created by Ratchet called "Preda-Armor". Eventually, a group of Predacons led by the Demon Emperor Dragotron soon arrived on both Earth and particular locations in the universe with the intent of invading them. But, the Autobots and Decepticons followed this group of Predacons back to Earth and, together, succeeded in defeating the Predacons by sealing away Dragotron deep underground with the power of a mystical object known as a Legendisc (one of five). Optimus Prime and his Autobots then returned to space to deal with the remaining Predacons that had previously scattered throughout the universe, but in case any of the Earth-based Predacons ever returned to threaten the planet, Optimus charged two three-member combiner teams of a new Autobot subgroup, the Swordbots, to deal with them.
With that said, the premise of the cartoon itself is as follows: The day of awakening for the Predacons has finally come. An incident at Mount Fuji unearths the face of the defeated Dragotron, awakening his minions known as the Four Oni: Budora, Gaidora, Bakudora, and Judora. They seek to locate the five Legendics and use them to revive their fallen master. But the two Autobot teams of Swordbots are also summoned in response to this threat, thanks to two young boys who interfered with the Predacons' plans. The Swordbot Samurai Team (Kenzan, Jinbu, and Ganoh) come to aid the young Isami Tatewaki, and the Swordbot Shinobi Team (Gekisoumaru, Hishoumaru, and Sensuimaru) come to help Tobio Fūma. The two teams use their combination abilities to battle the Predacons, and recruit both Isami and Tobio to help them in their fight. Optimus contacts both teams and instructs them each to find all of the remaining Legendiscs--which are located in various past time-periods throughout history--so as to keep them safe from the Predacons.
The Go! cartoon was released in Japan in July 2013 and had its episodes released on a monthly basis. For those who don't speak/understand Japanese, fansubbing group TV-Nihon (the same group that has previously subbed The Headmasters, Masterforce, Victory, Super Link, Galaxy Force, and RobotMasters) has completed an English subtitled version of the whole series, which can be acquired here - http://tracker.tvnihon.com/index.php?category=106
Another group called METAsubs originally produced their own subbed releases for the series (and which seemed a touch more polished than TV-Nihon's subs), but sadly only released three episodes (in both SD and HD format):
Samurai 1 SD DVD subs - http://www.nyaa.se/?page=view&tid=487484
Samurai 1 HD subs - http://www.nyaa.se/?page=view&tid=487483
Shinobi 1 SD DVD subs - http://www.nyaa.se/?page=view&tid=462347
Shinobi 1 HD subs - http://www.nyaa.se/?page=view&tid=487485
Samurai 2 SD DVD subs - http://www.nyaa.se/?page=view&tid=461306
Samurai 2 HD subs - http://www.nyaa.se/?page=view&tid=487487
Therefore, TV-Nihon's release remains the only complete version, and should serve sufficiently. If you have any issues acquiring the episodes, let me know and I can help you view them.
Glossary of terms:
- Swordbot - a type of Autobot martial artist, six of which are divided into two three-member teams
- Swordbot Samurai Team - Swordbot trio consisting of Kenzan, Jinbu, and Ganoh
- Swordbot Shinobi Team - Swordbot ninja trio consisting of Gekisoumaru, Hishoumaru, and Sensuimaru
- Oni - demon monsters of Japanese folklore; four of the Predacons transform from dragons into Oni
- Four Oni (Shikishu) - Predacon quartet made up of Budora, Gaidora, Bakudora, and Judora
- Jaki - Predacon footsoldiers who serve the Four Oni and Dragotron; the name refers to a very minor class of Japanese evil spirits like "imps" or "goblins"
- Dark Jaki Corps (Yami no Jaki Gundan) or just Dark Jaki (Yami no Jaki-domo) - the five Jaki who combine into Goradora; consists of Dorara, Burara, Garara, Barara, and Jurara
- Legendisc - one of at least five mysterious objects the Autobots and Predacons are fighting over; resembles a CD with the design markings of the Generations Data Discs
- Time Slip - the time-travelling ability a Legendisc can grant to its wielder
- Time Slip Point - the specific location at which a Time Slip can be performed at its best
- Hunter Optimus Prime - Autobot Commander; later upgrades into Optimus ExPrime
- Kenzan - Samurai Team Number 1 and leader; turns into a police car
- Jinbu - Samurai Team Number 2; turns into a fighter jet
- Ganoh - Samurai Team Number 3; turns into a fire truck
- Gekisoumaru - Shinobi Team Number 1 and leader; Lion Shinobi of the Earth
- Hishoumaru - Shinobi Team Number 2; Hawk Shinobi of the Wind
- Sensuimaru - Shinobi Team Number 3; Shark Shinobi of the Water
- Dragotron - Predacon Demon Emperor; redeco of Predaking; later upgrades into in Guren Dragotron, the Ultimate Demon Emperor
- Budora - Fighter Oni (Budōki) and leader of the Four Oni; redeco/remold of Grimwing/Darksteel
- Gaidora - Supernatural Strength Oni (Kairikiki) and member of the Four Oni; redeco/remold of Lazerback/Vertebreak
- Bakudora - Explosive Speed Oni (Bakusokuki) and member of the Four Oni; redeco/remold of Ripclaw, is a male character
- Judora - Curse Oni (Jubakuki) and member of the Four Oni; redeco/remold of Skystalker/Skylynx
- Dorara - torso Jaki and controlled by Dragotron; redeco of Hun-Gurrr
- Burara - left leg Jaki and likely controlled by Budora; redeco of Blight
- Garara - left arm Jaki and likely controlled by Gaidora; redeco of Twinstrike
- Barara - right arm Jaki and likely controlled by Bakudora; redeco of Windrazor
- Jurara - right leg Jaki and likely controlled by Judora; redeco of Rippersnapper
- Isami Tatewaki - human boy ally of the Swordbot Samurai Team; possesses the red Legendisc; descended from a Samurai clan
- Tobio Fūma - human boy ally of the Swordbot Shinobi Team; possesses the azure Legendisc; descended from a ninja clan
- Sekishūsai Tatewaki -Isami's grandfather and Kendo sensei; previous owner of the red Legendisc
- Musashi Miyamoto - real world historical Samurai swordsman from the Sengoku Period; appears in Samurai Volume episode 2; one of many owners of the green Legendisc
- Kotarō Fūma - real world historical ninja from the Sengoku Period; appears in Shinobi Volume episode 2; one of many owners of the yellow Legendisc
- Ryōma Sakamoto - real world historical Samurai swordsman from the Bakumatsu period; appears as a child in Samurai Volume episode 3; one of many owners of the green Legendisc
- Benkei Musashibō -rel world historical Samurai swordman from the Kamakura Period; appears in Samurai Volume episode 4; one of many owners of the green Legendisc
- Gattai - Japanese word for "combination", "fusion", "union", "merge", etc.
- Sanjou Gattai - the process through which the Swordbots combine into three different combined forms; means "Triple Combination", as well as a play on "Sanjou!", which is an old-fashioned way of dramatically announcing one's entrance.
- Kabuto - the type of helmet worn by each Sanjou Gattai; refers to the type of helmet worn by ancient Japanese armor-clad warriors
- "Kabuto sōchaku!" - means "Equip Kabuto helm!"; spoken when the Kabuto is attached to the Sanjou Gattai's head.
- GoKenzan - Samurai Team combination with Kenzan on top, Jinbu centered, and Ganoh as the legs; known as the "Sanjou Gattai of Skill" (Waza no Sanjou Gattai)
- GoJinbu - Samurai Team combination with Jinbu on top, Ganoh centered, and Kenzan as the legs; known as the "Sanjou Gattai of Speed" (Hayasa no Sanjou Gattai)
- GoGanoh - Samurai Team combination with Ganoh on top, Kenzan centered, and Jinbu as the legs; known as the "Sanjou Gattai of Power (Chikara no Sanjou Gattai)
- GoGekisou - Shinobi Team combination with Gekisoumaru on top, Hishoumaru centered, and Sensuimaru as the legs; known as the "Sanjou Gattai of the Land" (Riku no Sanjou Gattai)
- GoHishou - Shinobi Team combination with Hishoumaru on top, Sensuimaru centered, and Gekisoumaru as the legs; known as the "Sanjou Gattai of the Sky" (Sora no Sanjou Gattai)
- GoSensui - Shinobi Team combination with Sensuimaru on top, Gekisoumaru centered, and Hishoumaru as the legs; known as the "Sanjou Gattai of the Sea" (Umi no Sanjou Gattai)
- Jaki Gattai - The process through which the Dark Jaki Corps combines into Goradora
- Goradora - The combination of Dorara (torso), Burara (left leg), Garara (left arm), Barara (right arm), and Jurara (right leg); redeco of Abominus
- Black Jaki Gattai - a powered up version of a normal Jaki Gattai that results in a stronger, black-colored Goradora
- Renketsu Sanjou Gattai - the process through which Optimus Exprime combines with both Kenzan and Gekisoumaru into two different forms; means "Connected Triple Combination"
- DaiKenzan - Combination with Kenzan on top, Optimus Exprime centered, and Gekisoumaru as the legs; known as the "Samurai Renketsu Sanjou Gattai"
- DaiGekisou - Combination with Gekisoumaru on top, Optimus Exprime centered, and Kenzan as the legs; known as the "Shinobi Renketsu Sanjou Gattai"
Fighting styles and attack-related terms:
- Kinkyuu Nitouryuu - Kenzan's fighting style; means "Emergency Dual-Sword Style"
- Choukuu Choutouryuu - Jinbu's fighting style; means "High-flying Longsword Style"
- Shoubou Totsugekiryuu - Ganoh's fighting style; means "Firefighting Assault Style"
- Zan Jin Gan - The Samurai principle of which Kenzan is a proud follower; means "Cutting swiftly, but being as durable as the rocks."
- Sanjou Ougi - the kind of finishing attack used by the Samurai Team's combined forms; means "Sanjou Secret Technique"
- Zankou Juuji - GoKenzan's Sanjou Ougi; means "Cutting Light Cross" or "Slashing Light Cross"; announced as "Zan! Zan! Zankou Juuji!"
- Jinrai Gaeshi - GoJinbu's Sanjou Ougi; means "Thunderclap Counter-strike" or "Thunder Reversal"; announced as "Jin! Jin! Jinrai Gaeshi!"
- Ganen Bakuha - GoGanoh's Sanjou Ougi; means "Powerful Blaze Blast" or "Rock Flaming Burst"; announced as "Gan! Gan! Ganen Bakuha!"
- Shinobi Ninpou - the kind of techniques used by the Shinobi Team; means "Shinobi Ninja Art"
- Oni Taiji - Gekisoumaru's Shinobi Ninpou; means "Oni Extermination"
- Hishou Sen - Hishoumaru's Shinobi Ninpou; means "Soaring Fan" or "Flying Fan"
- Sensui Giri - Sensuimaru's Shinobi Ninpou; means "Diving Slash"
- Vivit Bute (Bibbitobyūto) - Gekisoumaru's whip weapon
- Oobirei Juuji Shuriken - Sensuimaru's ninja star weapon; means "Large Fin Cross Shuriken"
- Sanjou Ninpou - the kind of finishing attack used by the Shinobi Team's combined forms; means "Sanjou Ninja Art"
- Gekido Juuga - GoGekisou's Sanjou Ninpou; means "Striking Land Beast Fang" or "Slaying Land Beast Fang"; announced as "Geki! Geki! Gekido Juuga!"
- Shoufuu Ranbu - GoHishou's Sanjou Ninpou; means "Soaring Wind Dance"; announced as "Shou! Shou! Shoufuu Ranbu!"
- Sensui Resshou - GoSensui's Sanjou Ninpou; means "Diving Burst Palm"; announced as "Sen! Sen! Sensui Resshou!"
Here are my personal thoughts on the first two Samurai episodes and the first Shinobi episode:
Huh, no intro theme song. Just a title card with the series logo and episode name.
Interesting how the Four Oni Predacons just happen to be located in such close proximity to Dragotron and each other in Japan.
Well, that was quick. Optimus wastes no time detecting the Predacons awakening. Or detecting six more, newer signals.
And here's our new human pal, Isami Tatewaki, who practices Kendo. Heh, his grandfather looks kinda like Dr. Wily from the Mega Man games. He also seems a bit on the strict energetic side.
Incoming Budora and Gaidora. I knew this episode was short, but it's really more fast-paced than I expected.
They've come to steal the Tatewaki Family's sacred mirror, which is in fact a Legendisc. Isami's grandfather refers to the Preds first as "monsters" ("bakemono") and then as "Oni".
Gaidora transformed his Beast Mode claw into his Robot Mode hand with a flash of light to properly grab the Legendisc. What's more is that this can be replicated with the toy.
Run, Isami! Run! Keep the disc away from them!
I can't help but find the Preds' lack of any and all facial movement when speaking (meaning, their mouths don't move at all) cheesy as all get out.
Whoa! The Legendisc is responding to Isami's outrage at the Predacons threatening to kill some children if he doesn't hang over the disc, and its using him as a vessel to scan new altmodes for the Samurai Team. What's more is that the fire truck he looks at/scans is similar to the one that Fire Convoy/Optimus Prime from Car Robots/RiD turned into.
The Swordbots have arrived!
"Kenzan!" "Jinbu!" "Ganoh!" "Swordbot Samurai Team!"
Oh, so that's what the Japanese Abominus Predacons are. Gaidora used a matter alteration ability to turn five nearby automobiles into "Yami no Jaki" (Dark Jaki), who will combine in a "Jaki Gattai" (Jaki Combination) to form Goradora.
Kenzan has a skill-based fighting style, Jinbu's is based on speed, and Ganoh's is based on power.
Goradora is a BIG dude. This is why I want the new upscaled Predacon toys of Twinstrike, Windrazor, and their buddies to be able to combine into a large Abominus; so that it can be redecoed into a large Goradora. The Cyberverse toy is just too small to fight the Swordbot toys on a proper scale.
Isami's pleas to the Legendisc activate it to grant the Samurai Team the ability to combine.
"Sanjō Gattai! GoKenzan!"
GoKenzan quickly decombines Goradora with his attack, but Gaidora forcefully recombines Goradora, who attacks more swiftly. The Swordbots switch to GoJinbu, who defeats the villain yet again. Agitated, Gaidora reforms Goradora again and has him attack more brutally. To retaliate, the Bots switch to GoGanoh, who, predictably, overpowers Goradora. They then go back to GoKenzan who promptly slays the monster for good, and then goes in for Gaidora and Budora (were they seriously just standing there watching the whole time?).
And suddenly, we're in the past. Feudal Japan, where two armies prepare to face each other. To everyone's surprise, each army possesses a Legendisc! The one Isami still carries glows and brings them back to the present. Was that just a vision, or an actual temporal displacement of our heroes? Even they are unsure.
The Bots thank "Isami-dono" for their new lease on life, and explain that they are to fight against the Predacons, for they are the Super Robot Lifeforms known as "Transformers".
That night, at his home, Isami gets a call from, apparently, his friend, Tobio, who says that he too is involved in the fight, and shows us a quick look at his own Autobot allies, the Swordbot Shinobi Team. Naturally, Isami is overwhelmed by all that has transpired.
The ending theme has a nice ring to it. No lyrics, though.
Overall, a quick, fun, fast-paced, almost no-nonsense story that, while nothing special, was largely harmless and intriguing enough. Though the battle felt pretty predictable and a little awkward. Namely in that Gaidora pretty much emulates a Pokemon Trainer in commanding the Jaki and forming them into Goradora, rather than actually partaking in the fight himself. And Budora did even less, just standing there in the background the whole time and being all forgotten until Goradora's final defeat. The switching between combinations was an obvious attempt at toy advertisement, but such is to expected from as toyetic a franchise as Transformers. And while many may be put off by the complete and utter lack of any kind of facial expressions from the robots, I wasn't bothered by it too much. All in all, I'll look forward to more.
Same opening footage as Samurai Volume episode 1
Judora and Bakudora do almost the same roars when they arrive at Nagoya Castle as they did when they awakened.
Boy, these two Preds are lot more lively, violent, and talkative than Judora and Gaidora are. Tobio's also more energetic than Isami, as well.
Why is is always human body moisture that activates the Sanjou Gattai?
And why does hitting the Oni Preds always trigger a vision of the past? What happens if the Preds hit each other? Do they get flashbacks too?
Okay, so Isami pretty much says here what he said in the other episode, but Tobio says different lines.
Gotta say, I think I much prefer the BGM score of the Samurai eps than that of the Shinobi eps. It just sounds so much more regal and victorious, with an air of sheer magnificence and power to it.
Well, that sure was quick. They modified the Tatewaki Dojo basement into a base in almost no time at all (if this is still the same first night from episode 1).
So, Optimus is like a "Dear, Princess Celestia"-type character like in Rescue Bots in this show too, eh?
So, there are five Legnediscs. Dragotron already has one, the two boys each have another, and the other two are in the past, as seen in the flashback from the two first episodes. Well, looks like they gotta go find the Preds and hit them again so they can go back in time again.
Wait, why did the two boys faint when Kenzan answered their question with a "Yes"?
Optimus tells Isami that he wants Isami to find the remaining Legendiscs and protect the Earth. Uh, Optimus? Why are you leaving Tobio out of this? He can hear you from where he is too, you know.
I wonder if that's a streak of Dark Energon the Predacons are using to light up their base. Also, that doesn't look too comfortable for their boss to be bound up like that.
What are those giant skeletal fish-like things we see right before we see the Predacon Mark?
What's so special about Akihabara Station that the power of the Legendisc from the past can be sensed there the strongest?
This is the first mention of the word "Autobot" in the whole show.
Hey, it's Bakudora with Budora! Guess they won't be sticking to assigned Predacons for each volume after all.
Aha! No sweat for combining this time!
There's some definite recycling of stock footage use in this one beyond simple attack and transformation sequences.
Uh oh, Musashi's going to strike Budora. Think he'll have a flashback to an even earlier point in time?
Huh, this time when GoJinbu struck Budora, it sent them all back to the present. Either way, it seems like "hitting a Pred = temporal slip" is gonna become a sort of running gag in this series.
Ha! Even the Swordbots comment on the sudden change in timeperiods with each time they attack a Predacon.
WHAT! They didn't get the Legendisc?! But they HAD it! You mean they seriously never picked it back up when it slipped away from Isami?! But Budora was still in the past last we saw. If he stayed behind, the disc is free for him to grab since the Autobots got sent back to the present prematurely. Lesson of the day, kids: Don't strike your opponent with your finisher until you make sure your objective is completed, for doing so too soon could send you to a different time before you get it done.
Yep, definitely love this music more than the Shinobi theme.
Also, this was a very Jinbu-centric episode. I'm guessing Ganoh will be the star of the next one, since Kenzan seemed to get enough lead time in the first one. And Shinobi episode 2 is probably gonna focus on Hishoumaru.