Wow, it's been some time since I've updated this thing. Oh well, better much later than never, eh? Anyway yes, I am back.
That being said, things are going to be pretty different here from now on. As I have subtly hinted at in the past, I have been growing increasingly tired of anime. In the intervening months since that post, my opinion has not changed. In fact, I don't think I've seen any anime since that post. So where does that leave Taikutsu Remedy? Western animation, games, comics and the rest of nerdom, I guess.
In which I pretentiously insinuate that my time in absence was an epic journey of self discovery in which I drove a bitchin' car.
Now that's out of the way, let's dive into my newest love; Transformers: Prime!
Capitalizing on the massive financial success of the live action movies, Transformers: Prime (henceforth TFP) is the latest in the long line of 30 minute ads masquerading as childrens' entertainment.
Cynicism aside, TFP is nonetheless an amazing show. Produced by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the writers of the first and second Transformers movie, TFP is essentially what the movies would have been without director Michael Bay. And the result is a smartly written show with appealing characters and amazing visuals.
The Autobots and Decepticons, two warring sects of sentient toys, have waged battle for millennia, leaving their home planet of Cybertron (sold separately) in ruins. For reasons inadequately explained, they have now found their way to Earth, where they battle for the hearts and minds of children, and the wallets of their parents. Also for fate of the Earth or something, but that's not important.
The heroic, valiant and chronically noble leader of the Autobots. Look, you know him, you've seen him in the theaters and you probably owned his toy as a kid. Has an annoying habit of doling out inspirational speeches, seemingly on demand. Also has frightfully feminine hips. Voiced by Peter Cullen, Lord of your childhood.
Second in command of the Autobots. Arcee is a sarcastic warrior woman who is presumably the robot equivalent of a ninja. Other powers include the ability to transcend the laws of physics, given that she can transform from an average sized motorcycle to a 25 feet tall robot. Voiced by Sumalee Montano, a Harvard educated former investment banker, which is the best former career anyone could possibly have.
Voiced by Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, which pretty much describes his entire character. Seriously, he's The Rock, but as a robot. It's awesome.
The big, lovable oaf of the Autobots. A metalhead with a head of metal, pun! Has tires that are literally five feet long. Voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson.
He's like an onion. On the outside, he's a giant, hulking death machine. But inside, he's a big lovable oaf. A big lovable oaf whose hands are stained with the blood of hundreds.
The youngest member of the Autobots and the kid appeal character. More or less like his live movie incarnation, but more akin to a robot puppy, and less like the murderous robot with a gimp mask for a face that he was in the movies. Voiced by stock sound effects.
A cranky medic and general scientist guy for the Autobots. Spends most his time complaining, hating people and breaking medical ethics. Voiced by Jeffrey Combs, who having made a career playing mad scientists, is probably also one in real life.
The evil leader of the Decepticons. Mad and absurdly powerful, his crimes include war, genocide, raising the dead and not brushing his teeth. Once sang an amazing song about summer alongside a pink pony. Voiced by Frank Welker, the richest actor you've never heard of.
His backstory states he once fought on the side of good. The side of good were idiots for ever trusting a face like this. Seriously, who the hell was their HR manager? Dr. Evil?
Megatron's conniving second in command. Cruel, cowardly and deliciously flamboyant, he rocks high heels better than anyone. Even women. Voiced by Steve Blum, who you may know from pretty much every anime that's ever had an English dub.
A voyeuristic pervert, Soundwave spends his time spying on people and recording them. Apparently what would be a crime in any other society is instead a commendable skill amongst the Decepticons, who have him as their chief communications officer. Also, he has no face, try not to get freaked out by that. Voiced by the people he records.
Soundwave can deploy a remote drone from his chest. So technically, he's attacking you with his tits.
A flamboyantly gay Decepticon doctor, Knockout is as flaming as a robot could possibly get. Homicidally vain, Knockout's idea of health care is to stick his long, hard drill into people. Voiced by Daran Norris, whose most famous role involved the line, "Now suck my cock."
Knockout's bear. Voiced by Adam Baldwin, apparently the only Baldwin in the known universe who isn't related to those other Baldwins.
Cruel and sadistic, Airachnid is about as close to a lesbian serial killer as a childrens' cartoon can possibly get. Spends nearly all of her screen time trying to kill the various men in Arcee's life, presumably so that she can have Arcee's love to herself. Voiced by Gina Torres, who is married to a man who goes around offering pills to awkward computer nerds who can't act.
Animated by Polygon Studios, the lovely chaps behind the CG portions of Ghost in the Shell Innocence and The Sky Crawlers, TFP is a lovely piece of work. Being a weekly TV show, is is admittedly not as beautiful as the aforementioned movies, but is nonetheless a visual treat, especially when viewed in HD.
Unfortunately, the show does suffer from some of the common shortfalls of the weekly CG shows, such as a limited cast and sparsely detailed backgrounds. The character models are amazingly detailed and intricate, but the cost of such is that there are very few characters given how expensive their models are, resulting in a rather bare cast. Similarly, the locations tend to feel lifeless and barren, a product of the small cast and poorly detailed environments.
In contrast, the characters move fluidly, with the bots really coming to life in fight scenes. Polygon Studios are masters of their craft, and it shows when it comes to action. When combined with its epic musical score, the action invokes a cinematic flair rarely seen in weekly television.
Most impressively however is how humanlike the robots are. Designed with eyebrows and expressive eyes, the robots are able to emote at a level never before seen in Transformers media. Combined with subtle body language, the cast of TFP come off as more human than most humans I've seen in cartoons and anime.
Stuff like TFP are the reasons why I don't watch anime anymore. The writing is far more sophisticated than all but the best that anime has to offer, the animation is beautiful and the voice acting is incredible (and in a language that I understand!).
All attempts to come up with a suitably smarmy captioned have failed. All you see here are the ruins of broken dreams.
Special mention must be given to the voice acting, which is probably the best I've seen in any tv show. Steve Blum in particular deserves a medal. Known amongst anime fans as the voice of Spike Speigel, Blum has reached an even higher plateau of acting, positively owning his role as Starscream. Seriously, I'm willing to contend that the show can be enjoyed even by the blind, that's how intense the audio erotica is.
I realize this is an anime blog, and as a result, most of my readers may not be the target audience of a Transformers show. But if there was ever a time to broaden your horizons, it's now. I guarantee you it's better than most the pedophilic crap that's been coming out of Glorious Nippon. And if you really must insist on maintaining your weaboo cred, it's animated in Japan, so you could just take it as dubbed anime.
As an aside, the sheer amount of homosexual overtones in the show is rather amusing. The Transformers fandom has always been known to have a very strong sub base of yaoi fangirls, and I very much suspect that a few of them have snuck into the writing team. Between Starscream's heels and hooker legs, Airachnid and Knockout, there's no way this can be intentional.
Americans can catch Transformers: Prime on the Hub. Canadians can catch it on Teletoon, though I'm pretty sure Canada is a fictional country. Everyone else can find the show here, though the more noble amongst you can download it via iTunes.