Transformers Energon: The Ultimate Collection
Directed by Jan Kawagoe and Yutaka Satoh
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 1092 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo English
MSRP: $ 61.99
Release Date: December 16, 2008
Review Date: December 4, 2008
The next phase of Paramount’s plan to keep the Transformers in everyone’s mind until the next live action film version can be produced is the release of the 2008 television edition of the animated Transformers Energon: The Ultimate Collection. The 51 episodes which make up this seven disc package cover a wide ranging story with dozens of characters both human and machine fighting for the preservation of the universe. Of course they triumph, but it’s a long, winding road to that ultimate victory.
After the last defeat of the Decepticons by the hero Autobots, an uneasy truce has developed as both sides began working together to excavate energon, the power source needed to restore the planet Cybertron to its once-great heights. Evil powers in the universe led by an entity with four personalities called Alpha Q (Trevor Devall), of course, are out to thwart this strained alliance and steal all available energon for themselves instead of sharing the wealth with all. During the course of the episodes, two hero sides and two villain sides are established and are constantly at war with one another for control of all universal stores of energon. Of course, the Autobots with Optimus Prime (Garry Chalk) as their leader must wage war on the evil Decepticons headed by the resurrected Megatron (David Kaye), and another alliance of good guys led by the legendary Rodimus (Paul Dobson) go head-to-head against their sworn enemies. The episodes cover a wide territory of planets and involve quite a few story arcs including the always effective behind-the-scenes betrayals as various ‘bots switch sides with abandon and sometimes those who seem evil actually aren’t. As has been the case with all Transformer programs either live action or animated, the Autobots make friends with and come to depend on Earth children; in this story, it’s the surly, independent Kicker (Brad Swaile) who can sense enormous energon deposits around the galaxy and Misha (Ellen Kennedy), whose intellectual talents come in very handy, who both become valuable members of the team. And during the course of their adventures, there are surprises in store for both sides including some dissentions in the ranks, some moments where resolve begins to break down, and climaxes where some heroes appear from unexpected sources.
Every episode contains the usual tauntings and physical confrontations between good and evil that are the hallmarks of the Transformer universe. Truth to tell, the battles become a bit too formulaic over the run of these seven discs of episodes though part of the tedium with their sameness was due to my watching all of them in a very concentrated amount of time. The animation of the Transformers is quite colorful and very well conceived and executed on a TV budget much in the style of anime (the animation of the children is typically much less imaginative and stiff), and the writers of the show have included as many life lessons (the importance of teamwork, an attention to the needs of others before yourself, the “stick-to-it” attitude that true heroes demonstrate) as they can comfortably squeeze into the twenty-one minutes of episode they have to work with. Additionally, the voice work is quite good especially on the Autobot side of the ledger. The actors give these drawings real personalities that will draw in younger viewers in droves.
The 51 episodes are spread over seven discs in this set. Here are the episode titles on each disc:
Disc One - Cybertron City, Energon Stars, Scorponok, Megatron’s Sword, The New Cybertron City, Megatron Resurrected, Megatron Raid, Starscream and the Mysterious Mercenary
Disc Two - Battle of the Asteroid Belt, Energon Tower, The Legend of Rodimus, Crisin in Jungle City, Kicker Beware!, Energon Grid, Rodmius: Friend or Foe?, Go for Unicron!
Disc Three - The Return of Demolisher, A Tale of Two Heroes, Battle Stations, Alpha Q: Identity, Shockblast: Rampage, Survival Instincts, Each One Fights…, Unicron Unleashed
Disc Four - Open Fire!, Ripped Up Space, Team Optimus Prime, Protection, Imprisoned Inferno, Jungle Planet, Bulkhead, Farewell Inferno
Disc Five - Crash Course, Omega Supreme, A Heroic Battle, The Power of Unicron, Optimus Supreme Bulks Up, Unicron Perishes, Ambition
Disc Six - Wishes, Galvatron!, Break Through, Distribution, The Omega Train, Decepticon Army, Ironhide Team, Formidable
Disc Seven - Galvatron Terror, Destructive Power, Spark, The Sun
The program’s 1.33:1 original aspect ratio is faithfully rendered in these transfers. The animation is solid and extremely colorful, almost fluorescent in nature. However, without anamorphic enhancement, there are jaggies and some aliasing, though the amount varies from episode to episode and such artifacts seem to disappear in the later discs in the set. Most of the programs have been divided into 4 chapters though there are occasional ones with 3 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio track was probably meant to be heard through TV speakers, but allowing Dolby Prologic IIx to decode it adds a surprising sense of depth to the battles with some impressive bass and good spread on ambient sounds and music, especially for a small budgeted TV animation series such as this.
There are no special features at all in this seven disc set.
Though repetitive and predictable, Transformers Energon will suit the small fry at your house (especially the male variety) just fine with its action-filled episodes and bright, colorful images. Not much here for the rest of the family, but the young ones will definitely enjoy it.