Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

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Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby Cthulhunicron » Tue Apr 14, 2009 7:44 pm

From reading these forums and the various Transformers wikis that have popped up, it seems most people really hate the "Unicron Trilogy" (especially Energon) while often overlooking the many flaws of G1.

I really don't understand this. So far, I've seen all of Armada and Energon, as well as part of Superlink and Galaxy Force. I've also seen all of G1. I will definitely acknowledge that the "trilogy" has its flaws, but no more than G1. I've heard people vehemently criticize the animation, but come on...it's light years beyond the animation of G1. The music is way way better than in G1. The sound FX are not heavily (and obviously) dependent on Star Wars. The stories of Armada and Energon definitely drag at times, but at least there were storylines, and not just a stream of disconnected stand-alone episodes riddled with continuity errors.

This isn't to say that I completely despise G1. It definitely has some perks. I prefer a lot of the designs over those of the A/E/C series, some of the voice acting is awesome (Welker, Latta, Cullen, & Burton especially), and the animation, while uneven as hell, can definitely be pretty well done at times.

Personally, I think most of the Transformers 'toons are more or less equal in terms of quality (except for Beast Wars, which was flat out awesome). They all do certain things well and not so well. There are things I definitely don't like about the Japanese "trilogy" but I really can't honestly say it's any worse than G1, and in some areas, it's much better.
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby ProwlJazz » Tue Apr 14, 2009 8:15 pm

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You know this is exactly what I was thinking. Armada was what got me into Transformers and while it isn`t the greatest it still is good, now G1 I watched up until episode 31 and just got tired and confused with it, I mean where did Dirge and Ramjet come from and also PowerGlide and Hoist. At least the Unicron Trilogy made introduction episodes, anyway thanks for your time and hopefully you`ll understand where were coming from.
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby Star_ling » Tue Apr 14, 2009 8:22 pm

I kinda agree with you, it did have its flaws but it was watchable. Especially at the time I watched it, for my age I didn't notice most of the things I do now. The same can be said of G1 really.

The few thing the A/E/C trilogy had over G1 were the irritating humans, bad dubbing, and the yodeling.
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby Cthulhunicron » Tue Apr 14, 2009 8:48 pm

I think pretty much all the humans in transformers are annoying. lol
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby i_amtrunks » Tue Apr 14, 2009 9:35 pm

It's part of the fandom.

Plenty of people said Beast Wars was crap compared to G1, then more hated against Beast Machines.

The hate then transferred to the AEC trilogy and Animated, as they were released.

It's a rose coloured glasses kinda deal.
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby ponycorn » Tue Apr 14, 2009 11:35 pm

Probably the worst dis-service done to the "trilogy" was trying to ham-hand Galaxy Force in to the Armada + Energon contunuity when bringing it to the States as Cybertron. The show stands on it's own two stablizing servos and should have continued to do so. So my answer is that making it a trilogy in the first place may be why some hate it.

I personally very much like it. I have seen Cybertron (most episodes sub titled of Galaxy Force too) and Energon as well as maybe about 1/3rd of Armada. (I'm holding out for an Ultimate Collection box set to watch Armada in it's entirity.)

Also, the DW Armada comics were wonderful. I'm dipping in to the Engergon DW series and liking it too. (A direct numbered continuation of DW Armada.)
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby oldskooltf » Tue Apr 14, 2009 11:48 pm

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What I didn't like about Armada was all the "huh" dialog in the beginning episodes -- I guess that was due to dubbing issues and it being rushed out to Cartoon Network, USA. I don't like the kids either. The Minicons were okay -- could have been worse, I suppose.

TF Energon, I didn't care too much for Kicker in TF Energon -- but he wasn't as annoying to me as the Armada kids. Just my opinion. What really annoyed me in Energon was how the storyline was a little too over the top for me. It just became a little way-too-unreasonable and confusing. Again,... just my opinion. I did like the homages to G1 -- like Omega and the combiners. Disliked Energon Ironhide but liked Energon Rodimus. Energon Tidalwave, even though he was as stupid as a tree stump, was actually a bit humorous to me -- don't know why.

(And trust me... as much as I grew up on G1, a lot of its stories were ridiculous.)

TF Cybertron was okay. The kids didn't seem as annoying to me. The stories didn't seem quite so crazy other than how many races did they do before they got the first cyber planet key. It seemed forever to me. The cyber key power thing was a little too gimicky for me, but whatever.

Cybertron Starscream was cool -- actually Armada Starscream was fine too. Energon Starscream seemed too disconnected from classic Starscream personality traits.

Now... TF Animated -- once you get past the animation, it is a real gem. Great stuff there!
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby Saber Prime » Wed Apr 15, 2009 2:12 am

Cthulhunicron wrote:From reading these forums and the various Transformers wikis that have popped up, it seems most people really hate the "Unicron Trilogy" (especially Energon) while often overlooking the many flaws of G1.


I can't speak for others but I don't overlook the flaws of G1. However G1 was still WAY better than Armada.

I really don't understand this. So far, I've seen all of Armada and Energon, as well as part of Superlink and Galaxy Force. I've also seen all of G1. I will definitely acknowledge that the "trilogy" has its flaws, but no more than G1. I've heard people vehemently criticize the animation, but come on...it's light years beyond the animation of G1. The music is way way better than in G1. The sound FX are not heavily (and obviously) dependent on Star Wars. The stories of Armada and Energon definitely drag at times, but at least there were storylines, and not just a stream of disconnected stand-alone episodes riddled with continuity errors.


Are you sure you're not confusing the two? G1 had it's fair share of continuity errors but it's no where near as bad as Armada was.

G1 does have a few characters with multiple origins and others that just seemed to appear out of thin air but every episode of Armada seemed to be based in an entirely new universe.

The characters in G1 with all their flaws were WAY more consistant than the characters of Armada who seemed to change drastically each episode. Hell by the end of the series it was like we were watching the Shattered Glass version of Armada. I saw Megatron as the hero of the story for sacrificing himself to save everyone from Unicron, something that Optimus Prime should of done not Megatron. And Optimus Prime the guy who started out preeching freedom for the Mini-cons was useing them as weapons just the same as the Decepticons.

Tidal Wave was introduced as this great warrior and leader of his own team of Decepticons and he was comming to assist Megatron and then he turned out to be the worlds biggest idiot. He made Demolisher and Cyclonus look inteligent in comparison. Yeah he's powerfull but he's not the great leader he was made out to be.

Thrust seemed so cool on his first appearance and for no appearent reason he went from being that great character I loved the first time I saw him to being like Sky-Bite. At least Sky-Bite had a reason for going insaine, Thrust just lost his mind randomly. And Thrust was supose to be this great statigist yet he never won a single battle.

The Decepticons won more battles before Thrust and Tidal Wave added to the show and that's amazingly stupid considering both characters were made out to be such great soilders.

This isn't to say that I completely despise G1. It definitely has some perks. I prefer a lot of the designs over those of the A/E/C series, some of the voice acting is awesome (Welker, Latta, Cullen, & Burton especially), and the animation, while uneven as hell, can definitely be pretty well done at times.


The animation, G1 animation was as good as it could get for the time it was made. It's really not fair to compair the two. Allthough G1 is the only series where the human cast actully have realistic proportions rather than cartoonish ones. (meaning they didn't have eyes that fill 2/3s of their faces and large spiky hair.)

As for the designs of the actual Transformers, the designs of the toys are the only thing I really liked from Armada. I own the entire Armada toy line.

Personally, I think most of the Transformers 'toons are more or less equal in terms of quality (except for Beast Wars, which was flat out awesome). They all do certain things well and not so well. There are things I definitely don't like about the Japanese "trilogy" but I really can't honestly say it's any worse than G1, and in some areas, it's much better.


Honestly the hate for me comes from Armada. It is by far the worst Transformers series. Even the movie which I don't even consider to be a Transformers movie because it focuses too much on the humans and the Transformers aren't recognizable as characters has a better story line than the entire Armada series.

As a Trilligy it's really awfull because the series don't really have anything to do with eachother. They just happen to share the same characters but other than that they don't follow the same story line.

Energon on it's own is a good series. Cybertron on it's own is a good series. Armada is a horrible tragidy of a series. And the 3 togeather make me want to bash my head agenst the wall trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

I prefer to pretend Armada never happened.
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby Burn » Wed Apr 15, 2009 3:31 am

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Cthulhunicron wrote:I think pretty much all the humans in transformers are annoying. lol


My name is Burn and I endorse this statement.

That being said, I actually find the humans in A/E/C to be the LEAST annoying.

But that's just me, and i'm pretty much a heretic for hating the almighty sun-shining out of it's backside because of a few "homeages" glorious series known as Animated. But you know, WHATEVER!
Still think BW was the better of all the series, if you like Animated, well whoopdeedoo for you. Congratulations, have a Mickey Mouse badge, and leave me alone to enjoy what I like and i'll do the bloody same for you!

A/E/C's biggest let down is that it was animated in Japan, and the English release saw a VERY poor translation. Still, the animation style, and toys, vastly superior over certain other series which I won't bother mentioning again lest I be burnt at the stake!
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby Chaoslock » Wed Apr 15, 2009 6:37 am

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Armada, I never could watch it past the first few episodes...

For me, the hate of Energon/Cybertron is a combination of many things:
- the forced uniting of the two series from Hasbro, that sprout much more continuity errors than Shane McCarthy could ever cause under 100 years
- cameos gone bad -Unicron, the quintesson in E, the usage of WW design for C Starscream, and pointless cameos from G1 characters- topped with the re-usage of a lot of G1 names
- japanese glitches:
-- While every japanese Tf series used transformation sequences, these two series used them countless times, with the actual gimmicks showed every times "to sell toys"
-- the TFs were too human-like, the top of it were, when in Cybertron the humans found an actual minicon playground :shock:
--humans: that's a point where I really didn't care about them, they were annoying, yes, but there were bigger problems.
--lack of logic in storytelling
-BAD CGI: While using the toys as bases for the characters, Beast Wars with its hundred-year-old CG was more profesional in this.
-figure designs: Too colorful, too futuristic, too japanese.
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby Burn » Wed Apr 15, 2009 6:41 am

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Chaoslock wrote:- cameos gone bad -Unicron, the quintesson in E, the usage of WW design for C Starscream, and pointless cameos from G1 characters- topped with the re-usage of a lot of G1 names


Same can be said about Animated.
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby Duke of Luns » Wed Apr 15, 2009 7:12 am

For me, it would definitely be the use of poor voice actors and not so great CGI-animation for Energon. But voice actors definitely. I haven't seen Energon in ages, haven't gotten the complete set yet(saw it all on CN though), but from what I remember many of the voice were very generic. Plus a lot of times the voices were just flat out wrong, and heck, Shockblast went from cold, brutal Zechs Marquise to Krusty the Clown after a few episodes!!

But that's nothing compared to Bulkhead, my gosh, what a TERRIBLE voice actor choice for him. That voice works for someone like Kagome's Granfather from Inuyasha(which is where I recognized it from, same tone and everything), but not for a Transformer that doesn't even look old or MOVE HIS MOUTH! Then there's his hip shaking machine-gun attack, :shock: . On it's own it's bad enough, but combined with that old man voice is just freaky....

However, Energon wasn't the worst show in existence I guess, but it was the weakest entry in the Trilogy, and maybe even the Transformers cartoon history. Armada had some pretty decent acting and animation(at times), but it did create a lot of memorable characters. Of course, I haven't seen it for a long while either. Of course, I refer to the second half. The first half was pretty bad.

Cybertron was a breath of fresh air, but after watching the Ultimate Collection(actually, I never did finish watching that, saw it all on CN though), it's a little lackluster when compared to Animated. But it's still the best of the Trilogy hands down, with good CG animation, some pretty good distintive voice actors, and sometimes even funny dialogue.

Oh yeah, and as for G1, nastalgia nastalgia nastalgia combined with distinctive voice actors, some great single shot episodes, awsome memorable characters, some cool plots(for their time), and because it's the original.
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby Chaoslock » Wed Apr 15, 2009 7:15 am

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Burn wrote:
Chaoslock wrote:- cameos gone bad -Unicron, the quintesson in E, the usage of WW design for C Starscream, and pointless cameos from G1 characters- topped with the re-usage of a lot of G1 names


Same can be said about Animated.


Maybe (I'm not happy that Red Alert is now a fembot... and it was weird to imagine Ratchet as old at first, while I allways thought of him as the young medic he was in the Marvel comics) but at least the writing saves Animated characters - they finally have solid personalities.
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby oldskooltf » Wed Apr 15, 2009 10:28 am

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Burn wrote:
Chaoslock wrote:- cameos gone bad -Unicron, the quintesson in E, the usage of WW design for C Starscream, and pointless cameos from G1 characters- topped with the re-usage of a lot of G1 names


Same can be said about Animated.



I disagree. I mean... I'm not going to try to get you to like TF Animated -- feel free to dislike it if you want to. That's your opinion.

But... I do not feel that Animated has pointless cameos or pointless re-usage of G1 names like Energon and Cybertron did. The only exception might be Animated Jetfire looks nothing like G1 Jetfire. But the others do.

In Energon (& Armada), Cyclonus looks nothing like G1 Cyclonus. Same can be said about Energon Ironhide vs. G1 Ironhide, Energon Cliffjumper vs. G1 Cliffjumper. Cybertron Scattershot vs. G1 Scattershot. Energon Sixshot vs. G1 Sixshot.

There were some uses in Energon that were good/decent homeages to G1 names like Energon Omega Supreme, Inferno, the combiners, and possibly even Shockblast (Shockwave) & Jetfire. So, it wasn't like they always used names in ways that were nothing like their G1 counterpart, but you have to admit (or at least it's my strong opinion) that Animated uses the name of the G1 character and really does a nice job of making him look and/or act like their G1 counterpart (with the exception of Jetfire).
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby Counterpunch » Wed Apr 15, 2009 12:25 pm

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I think I'm the biggest fan of the Trilogy here.

I have, literally, all of the toys from it. (wanna see pics?)

UT gets hated on for the reasons stated above and most of all, because the critics of the series, now all cynical 20 and 30 somethings, have forgotten that the show (even G1) was a kids show.

It's meant to be fun, kind of lame, and a vehicle to tell a story quickly for sales sake.
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby sto_vo_kor_2000 » Wed Apr 15, 2009 12:41 pm

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ProwlJazz wrote:You know this is exactly what I was thinking. Armada was what got me into Transformers and while it isn`t the greatest it still is good, now G1 I watched up until episode 31 and just got tired and confused with it, I mean where did Dirge and Ramjet come from and also PowerGlide and Hoist. At least the Unicron Trilogy made introduction episodes, anyway thanks for your time and hopefully you`ll understand where were coming from.


Actually G1 did imply that Dirge,Ramjet,PowerGlide,Hoist and the others were on earth as long as Optimus,Megatron and the rest.

And there just wasnt as many continuity errors in G1 as many seem to think.
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby Uber Galvatron » Wed Apr 15, 2009 1:26 pm

Unicron Trilogy did have its flaws.
Armada pretty much abandoned its Mini-con hunt story half-way through and had irritating humans
Energon had too much combining, the most irritating humans, a cheasy plotline and barely any Transforming
Cybertron had an error filled plotline and Do i even need to mention the humans
One major flaw that I had in these series' was that the Decepticons were pathetic (There are a few that make it as villains though)

Together they weren't exactly as good as Beast Wars and G1 but they certainly were watchable and Armada's inclusion of Unicron, Energons inclusion of the Combiners and Cybertron's inclusion of Primus were all sneaky and very well put.
They were also very good in letting the Decepticons win several times, which was never seen in G1.
Overall they were pretty decent shows and had a good lineup of figures (not as much Armada) and probably deserves a 7/10.
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby Counterpunch » Wed Apr 15, 2009 1:35 pm

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Uber Galvatron wrote:Cybertron had an error filled plotline and Do i even need to mention the humans



Bud, Lori, and Coby are the best.

The worst you could say about them is that they are over-positive.
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby Burn » Wed Apr 15, 2009 2:52 pm

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oldskooltf wrote:There were some uses in Energon that were good/decent homeages to G1 names like Energon Omega Supreme, Inferno, the combiners, and possibly even Shockblast (Shockwave) & Jetfire. So, it wasn't like they always used names in ways that were nothing like their G1 counterpart, but you have to admit (or at least it's my strong opinion) that Animated uses the name of the G1 character and really does a nice job of making him look and/or act like their G1 counterpart (with the exception of Jetfire).


Actually I was leaning more towards all the little "easter eggs" they often sneak into each episode.

If it wasn't the 25th Anniversary of the line then i'd have to think it was done simply to make over zealous fanboys soil their pants ...
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby Darth Bombshell » Wed Apr 15, 2009 4:37 pm

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Uber Galvatron wrote:Cybertron had an error filled plotline and Do i even need to mention the humans


That's cause the Japanese dub originally wasn't meant to connect to Armada and Energon at all, even though, thanks to the irritating use of the retcon, it now does.
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby ponycorn » Wed Apr 15, 2009 6:42 pm

Darth Bombshell wrote:
Uber Galvatron wrote:Cybertron had an error filled plotline and Do i even need to mention the humans


That's cause the Japanese dub originally wasn't meant to connect to Armada and Energon at all, even though, thanks to the irritating use of the retcon, it now does.


Well said and good point. It seemed like the show got dumbed down for US audiances too. Like in one of the first episodes, Coby and Lori are arguing if machines could be considered alive (something like that) in the Japanese Galaxy Force. The same episode US style in Cybertron has them arguing about flavors of icecream. :-(
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby AutobotJazz » Wed Apr 15, 2009 9:23 pm

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I could just never get into it. I found it boring. But the A/E/C series were still better than RiD. That show is probably the worst cartoon I've ever seen.
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby Saber Prime » Wed Apr 15, 2009 9:35 pm

AutobotJazz wrote:I could just never get into it. I found it boring. But the A/E/C series were still better than RiD. That show is probably the worst cartoon I've ever seen.


RID is my favorite series outside of the Beast series.
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby Sabrblade » Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:18 pm

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I could go on and on about this topic, but I'll just let the facts speak for themselves.

First up is Armada:
TFWiki.net wrote:Criticisms
The US dub of Armada was plagued with errors. Most explicit is the repeated misnaming of characters, particularly the Mini-Cons. More subtle clues point to scripts that were transliterated and never given a proper re-write to adapt them for a Western audience.

The show also featured wildly varying animation quality. This is due in large part to an extremely rushed production schedule; Voicebox often received unfinished animation to work with, and rarely had time to get more than a first-draft translation of the script together in time for recording.

The cause of this rush job is still under speculation, but there appear to be two primary suspects:
  • Initial plans called for Dreamwave to supply character models for the series (at least, that was the claim), but that never materialized, possibly throwing off production schedules.
  • Cartoon Network, the channel that aired the show, reportedly would not sign off on the series without a certain number of episodes already finished, forcing a rush job to get the cartoon out to coincide with the toy line's release.

Even accounting for the rushed dub, Armada's scripting tends to be of poor quality. Characters give long, rambling, semi-coherent monologues, react strangely to one another's dialog, have very disjointed "conversations", reiterate obvious plot points to one another, and repeatedly use stock phrases such as "Hey, wait up!" Moments of intended silence are filled with babble, especially the dreaded "Uh?" every time a character reacts to anything.

The show has also taken flack for the repetitive nature of its first half, in which the same small groups of Autobots and Decepticons hunt for Mini-Cons in one episode after another. The threat of Unicron, as well as the gradually expanding cast, eventually led to more wide-ranging stories.

Reception
Although fans had a mixed reaction towards the product as a whole (which is typical of any new series), it was incredibly successful with the target audience, children ages 4-9. The toys sold like hotcakes, prompting Hasbro to pad out the tail end of the toyline with a number of Beast Wars redecos.

The success of Armada led to the more expensive R&D that went into the next two franchises, Energon and Cybertron. It also prompted the launch of the Transformers Universe subline, as demand for Transformers product continued to outstrip Hasbro's ability to develop new molds.


Prepare yourself for Energon:
TFWiki.net wrote:Criticisms
The Unicron Trilogy was a franchise that got off to a poor start, fictionally speaking. Armada (the predecessor to Energon) suffered from a bad beginning that, in the eyes of many, condemned the entire show. Although it improved as it went along (with the "Unicron Battles" story arc regarded as fairly good in comparison), the sub-par start left it laboring under a bad reputation that it never escaped. Many fans had hopes that Energon would be a return to glory. In retrospect, the fans' positive initial reaction may have been simply because it wasn't Armada.

It was quite the proverbial [stone] to the [head], then, that Energon, the televisual representation of Transformers for its 20th anniversary year, turned out to be just the opposite — a series with a strong beginning, which slowly but surely degenerated into what is widely considered the worst Transformers cartoon broadcast in the U.S.

Conceptual and storytelling flaws
Plotting
The primary flaw of Energon is that it simply does not have enough plot to fill 52 episodes. The first half of the series moves at a respectable pace, and around episode #20, the villains achieve their objective — the restoration of Unicron. However, because there are another 30 episodes to fill, an attack by the Autobots and their allies deactivates Unicron. The storyline is then essentially repeated for twenty more episodes, until Unicron is reactivated again and destroyed again. But even then, there are still thirteen more episodes to go, and with the driving aspect of the plot destroyed, viewers are served up a virtually pointless storyline full of repaints and combiners, which added nothing to what had already taken place.

Individual episodes are likewise padded out with time-killing scenes such as stock footage sequences, generally a minimum of three per episode. An incredible amount of time is consumed in communication and report scenes, in which the characters stand around in front of video screens and tell one another things that the viewers already know.

Character de-evolution
The series takes a very dismissive attitude towards characters and their development. With the exception of Ironhide (who survives the series and resolves his long-running feud with Scorponok), the writers seemed unable to carry personal sub-plots and conflicts through to any conclusion. Instead, they would either quietly drop these opportunities for character development, or (much more gallingly) the characters would die and/or get mindwiped, so the stories would not have to be resolved. Examples:
  • Demolishor's uncertainty in the Decepticon cause? "Resolved" by having him sacrifice himself to save Megatron, then having Megatron resurrect him with no memories.
  • Inferno's struggle against Megatron's Decepticon programming? Brought to an end by having him kill himself, then be resurrected, only to do absolutely nothing for the rest of the series.
  • Kicker's hatred of Transformers? Vanishes with no explanation after roughly two episodes, save for the occasional kick to Ironhide.
  • Rodimus and Optimus Prime's ideological feud over whether Unicron should be destroyed? Rodimus puts himself under Optimus's command for the mission to defeat Galvatron, and the argument never comes up again.
  • Wing Saber's dedication to capturing Shockblast? Well, he captures him . . . but when Shockblast escapes again, Wing Saber doesn't say a word.

Many similar examples exist.

Promoting toys
Of course, any Transformers series exists to sell toys, but in promoting the abilities and gimmicks of its toyline, Energon frequently ignored common sense to the most amazing degree in order to shoehorn these concepts into a setting and story where they didn't make sense.

In choosing to set most of its action in the void of space, Energon foolishly robbed the Transformers of any real reason to transform. They can all happily fly in robot mode (in space, on planets, anywhere), inviting the question of why transformation is necessary. But, to promote the fact that the toys transform, characters would routinely change to vehicle mode anyway, even in outer space. Cue innumerable scenes of cars, trucks, and snowmobiles driving through space. Characters would even transform to vehicle mode on the ground, and then drive away into the air. Everyone could control their flight with no problem in either form, completely invalidating the need for any variety in alternate mode. Conversely, on occasions when it might actually make sense to transform to a speedy vehicle form for fast or long-distance travel, characters often choose to run to where they're going instead.

Whereas the English version of the series takes its name from the central plot element (the collection of Energon) the Japanese version, Super Link, takes its name from the main thematic concept/gimmick: Autobots powerlinxing. The Japanese version of the show contained a lot of waffling about the symbolic nature of this ("Even when one heart is weak, together, we are strong!"). Unfortunately, the fact remains that, almost without exception, these combinations are used in straight firefights, where combining two soldiers into one means fewer guns to fire at the enemy. Further, the resulting combined soldier rarely shows any sign of enhanced firepower.

Further failing to advertise the combining gimmick are the "Maximus" combiner teams. For about 90% of their screen time, the three giants are seen in only their combined super robot modes, rarely splitting into individual vehicles. The central torso units are seen as individual robots for perhaps 5 seconds in the entire series, and the show doesn't even acknowledge that the limbs could be individuals.

Production flaws
Art and animation
Energon introduced a new concept to Transformers cartoons: the blending of CGI with traditional cel animation. The animators rendered the Transformer characters in cel-shaded CGI, while animating humans and other aspects of the show through traditional means. On the plus side, this allowed for a consistently high level of cel animation quality (especially enjoyable after the often scattershot quality of Armada). In particular, the show uses the CGI to show many characters in motion at once, often with a high frame rate that gives them a very fluid appearance (for example, the many charges of the Battle Ravage Terrorcon drones, replete with numerous stamping legs and bobbing heads and tails.)

On the other hand, the CGI animation is positively primitive. Characters possess no sense of weight and can not move in any manner but the most basic. Even walking is a challenge for characters with bulky models, like Ironhide, who is often reduced to swinging his arms and legs back and forth while sliding along a predetermined path. The black-line outlines of character models were often not rescaled for different shots, resulting in the characters sometimes appearing as indecipherable masses of heavy black lines.

Additionally, "emotion" is nonexistent; the blank-faced CGI models could not easily display any facial expressions beyond "mouth open" and "mouth closed." Numerous characters don't have facial animation, even ones with mouths. Most prominent among these is Alpha Q, who has no facial animation at all despite the fact that he's basically nothing but four faces. In some cases, when it was necessary for a character to emote visibly (Megatron's pronounced yawning, Inferno's tortured screaming), or to do something visually dynamic (acrobatic transformation), the CGI would actually be replaced with cel animation, because it just looked more impressive. Does that seem right to you?

In addition, the show's CGI compares very poorly with Beast Wars and Beast Machines, both of which came out years previously, both of which were fully CGI (without the crutch of cel animation to fall back on), and both of which had characters who boasted complex, nuanced facial expressions and fluid, constant body language — even the ones with utterly inhuman faces and bodies. The only way to spare the animators' reputation is to assume that Energon's budget was minuscule in comparison.

Even within the limits of the animation, many bad editing, design, and lighting choices make the series difficult to follow visually. Unicron's body -- primarily black, to match his Energon redeco toy -- is frequently lost against the blackness of space. When Alpha Q energizes Unicron's head, it becomes an Energon orb, with no visual indication as to what it used to be. Scenes set underground or within Unicron's body are commonly underlit, to the point that the characters can't even be distinguished. Strange elements such as the rift in space are inconsistently animated and described by the characters, making it difficult to figure out what they are.

Editing
At times, Energon tends to flow like a single feature-length film... a film that has been mercilessly chopped up into 22 minute segments. Thus, confusing, unclear elements like the rift in space and Unicron's dark, partially re-energized body are routinely shown in closeup without any introductory establishing shots, making it extraordinarily unclear what's happening or where for the viewer who's just watching one particular episode by itself. To be a little bit fairer, this "chopped-up film" sensation is not exactly uncommon in Japanese animated series with a defined length, but Energon is a good example of the method at its very worst.

The show's scene editing also tends to be very abrupt and choppy. Battle animation in particular routinely cuts between numerous, very short scenes, showing several simultaneous but unrelated events as if the viewer must be kept up to date on all of them in real time. This makes it difficult to grasp the significance of any of the events shown. When boiled down, this editing style often serves to mask the fact that not much is actually happening.

To make things worse for the credibility of the editors, Scorpinok, A Tale of Two Heros, Improsoned Inferno, and Deception Army all have blatant spelling errors in the titles!

Scripting and dubbing
The original Japanese version of the show is, in short, sluggish and confusing... but at least the conversations make sense. Even that got lost when the show was ported for North American consumption.

The dub of Energon seems even more rushed than Armada, which was already known for being so hurried that dubbers were working with unfinished animation, got names wrong, and had moments of dialogue that didn't jibe with the action. Energon generally got completed animation, and usually got names right—but Misha gets three different names during the course of the show, and Downshift and Cliffjumper are constantly confused.

The rushed dub script is full of mistranslations. Though some elements obviously needed to be altered to suit a Western audience, it seems that many portions of the dub were never checked to see if they made logical sense. As a result, the script is stilted, perfunctory, and repetitive, constantly throwing in cliche, time-killing phrases like "We've gotta [repeat the plot which everyone already knows]", "Let's do it!", and "It's time to [perform some action that's already blatantly obvious]". There is arbitrary new dialogue (that seems to exist purely due to writers' carelessness) which does not match what is occurring onscreen. The final result is a show with some bizarre non-sequiturs and more than a few moments of genuine nonsense.

To cite just one example: at the start of "Team Optimus Prime", Dr. Jones says, in a frustrated tone, "I can't get back the energon I sent to Kicker. That's impossible!" The entire notion of "getting it back" is absurd on the surface, akin to trying to get back water that went down a drain; saying that not getting it back is impossible is even more ridiculous; and further, the original dialog is a passive lament, more along the lines of "It's not like that energon I sent is ever coming back." Similar examples exist in nearly every single episode of the show.

Outside of these accidents, there are also some strange deliberate changes, chief among them the tendency for Primus to be intermittently ignored. In one episode, Primus would be dubbed accurately, talking with other characters normally, while in the next, he would be deliberately edited out, with his lines erased or given to other characters, and references to him replaced with "the core". Other odd instances include Terrorcon drones having spoken lines randomly inserted in some scenes, never attributed to any one Terrorcon.

Given all of this, the quality of voice acting frequently suffers throughout the show. This can be a common result of the antiseptic ADR (automated dialog replacement) environment, where actors perform solo, with no one to play off. But Energon is particularly bad in this regard. Lead talents such as Garry Chalk and David Kaye still turn in strong performances, but actors for many of the secondary characters clearly struggle to make something of the material they're given, often sounding flat and uninspired, or just confused. There are many times when all the actors clearly have no idea what their lines mean in the greater scheme of things, nor any idea of what they're really talking about; the Dr. Jones quote cited above is also an example of this problem.

There's also a pronounced amount of "filling dead air," with characters talking from offscreen simply to make noise where there was none originally. Take a drink every time someone goes "Uhh?" to break the silence, and you'll be hammered by the first commercial break.


If you've survived this far, here's Cybertron:
TFWiki.net wrote:Criticism
Like Energon before it, Cybertron was animated using shaded CGI for the Transformers characters, and cel animation for most everything else. Though more advanced than that of Energon, the CGI still suffers from most of the problems of its predecessor: Few facial expressions beyond "mouth open" and "mouth closed"[1], restricted range of motion, a tendency for the Transformers to stand around like statues, et cetera. The shading techniques used on the Transformer characters also means they look very strange alongside their traditionally-animated human cohorts.

There is a sense that Cybertron actively attempts to avoid the main problem that plagued Energon—that is to say, running out of plot. Consequently, while the basic plot of Cybertron is far more focused and coherent than that of Energon, its first half is quite ponderous and drawn out, especially in the case of the Velocitron story arc, in which thirteen solid episodes are taken up by race after generic race, doing very little to advance the plot. Conversely, then, in the final quarter of the series, the stories of Gigantion and Planet X seem very truncated, as if the drawn-out first half left no room to see these plots through to their fullest extent.

In addition, Cybertron delights in the use of stock transformation sequences, using them to pad out episodes as if they were packing peanuts.

Praise
On the plus side, the three kids who serve as central human characters generally aren't considered quite as annoying as many of their predecessors. (We're looking at you, Kicker.)

The dub is much more polished than that of Energon or Armada, giving characters distinct voices and accents (which totally never happened before, really), and throwing a lot of pop-culture and Transformers references into the mix. It also makes the excessive stock footage — which seems to make up 50% of some episodes — mildly entertaining to listen to by having the characters talk during them. As time went on, the stock-footage banter got a little self-referential and fourth-wall-pokey, showing that the writers were well aware of what they were working with.

Since the scripts had comprehensible context and some actual work put into them, the voice actors were likewise able to turn in stronger performances.
Last edited by Sabrblade on Fri Apr 17, 2009 2:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"When there's gold feathers, punch behind you!!"

Shadowman wrote:This is Sabrblade we're talking about. His ability to store trivial information about TV shows is downright superhuman.
Caelus wrote:My wife pointed out something interesting about the prehistoric Predacons. I said that everyone was complaining because transforming for them mostly consisted of them just standing up-right. She essentially said, 'So? That's what our ancestors did.'
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Re: Why all the 'Unicron Trilogy' hate?

Postby oldskooltf » Fri Apr 17, 2009 1:47 pm

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Wow Sabrblade, where did you get all of that?

If you wrote it all yourself, then I'm quite impressed with all the detail.
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