23 Feb 2015

TeleTalk - Transformers RID (2015) Season 1 Episode 3 Review

I think I'm going to make housekeeping a regular thing because it save me writing a separate post, and it's pretty quick. For now, it's at the beginning of each post, but let me know if you'd rather see it at the end, after the jump (and after the review, in this case). I figure it's a little messy here but is far more effective at the top.

  • I'm a day late with this review. Apologies. I think I got burnt out after a weekend of Transformers (people watching RID in English, at least from TFW probably know what I'm talking about).
  • I've got a video that I'm working on for YouTube that should hopefully be up by the end of the week. It's not exciting in the least and it was just a spur-of-the-moment thing, but it's better than nothing. Actually good videos are going to have to wait a bit longer, but they're in the works.
  • Next week's RID reviews might be delayed because of my birthday. Ugh. I don't like birthdays (or Christmas, because I'm Scrooge - true story), but my family insists on making a thing out of it, so it's beyond my control... and since my birthday is on a Sunday, they're making it "convenient" for everyone by celebrating on Saturday. Which means my Sunday will also be taken up by this crap. At least I'll be able to WATCH Transformers, but the reviews might be delayed. I'd rather be writing reviews.
  • I'm going to tentatively announce that I'll be reviewing some tokusatsu, since I love the genre and since Shuriken Sentai Ninninger started yesterday. I have no idea if I'll actually get around to it, but I plan to. I most likely won't review shows that have already started and/or finished, though - it's a lot of extra effort for something that others have already done (and done better).

Transformers Robots in Disguise Sideswipe

Alrighty then, it's review time! Transformers Robots in Disguise (I refuse to use a semi-colon because the logo doesn't have one) season one, episode three is here. It aired yesterday in New Zealand (and some place called Australia that no one cares about. Screw those guys), so everyone now has access to the episode in English... which means I can review it. By "review", I of course mean "beat it like a dead horse". Spoilers abound, so beware. You've been warned - this is your last chance to turn back. Join me after the jump for a wall of text about a children's cartoon!

I want to preface this by saying I loved this episode, in a show that I expected not to enjoy much. The characters work so well, and it seems Transformers just always has great guest voice actors (and great voice actors in general).

This episode, aptly named "Trust Exercises" covers the theme of teamwork, at least loosely. We get to see the beginning of Sideswipe and Strongarm's relationship (take that how you will), as well as seeing Grimlock fully integrated into the team (at least, for now). Bumblebee and Grimlock may not be a perfect team, but we're treated to some great scenes with the two of them as they work to bag the baddie in this episode.
We're introduced to two new (Decepticon) characters, Steeljaw (voiced by Troy Baker) and Hammerstrike (voiced by David Kaye) - the former of which Hasbro has announced as the new Decepticon leader (it's hard to tell if this is just for the group currently on Earth or if it'll be more than that), and the latter of which is our "monster-of-the-week" villain. There's plenty of time to talk about Steeljaw because he'll be around for a while, so let's touch on Hammerstrike first.

Just in case you were worried that David Kaye would be a no-show in Robots in Disguise, here he is in episode three to allay those fears, voicing the pirate Sharkticon, Hammerstrike. By the way, surprise, David Kaye is a really good voice actor. Hammerstrike sounds like a fairly typical pirate voice, except that it's much better than that. It's basically a very typical pirate voice that is better than every other typical pirate voice. It's hard to describe in text, but it sounds wonderful. Oh, by the way, Hammerstrike has a sizeable ego. I'm sensing a pattern here (Underbite, possibly Grimlock both having huge egos), but it's one that I'm thoroughly enjoying, and Hammerstrike continues this sort-of trend in a great way.
We all know that pirates hate those filthy landlubbers, but Hammerstrike actually puts his money where his mouth is, letting Grimlock and Bumblebee know they smell of land (which is apparently disgusting) so they're clearly inferior, and performing well on land, too. Sure, he ends up getting captured (almost literally a can of tuna, as Bumblebee kindly points out), but his excellent amphibious mobility is appreciated, especially for a shark.
Yes, Hammerstrike continues the bestial designs for the Decepticons (which I adore) with his hammerhead shark alternate mode and a very shark-esque robot mode. We even get to see Grimlock riding on Hammerstrike in alt. mode, which is amusing. But at the end of the day, Hammerstrike gets canned (literally) and Grimlock gets to put him away (also literally). The action scene in the oil refinery between Hammerstrike, Bumblebee and Grimlock is very enjoyable, although for his natural environment, Hammerstrike doesn't seem to perform amazingly in oil. The animation is still far from perfect, but I believe it looked better - a tad smoother, perhaps, and definitely cleaner - in this episode, and this scene is one of the two important action scenes, so it's worth watching the animation carefully here.

Now what would Robots in Disguise be without our obligatory Fixit and human scenes? I like Fixit; I really do. Frankly, I think he's hilarious. The voice tic needs to go now, but other than that, he's just great. To be fair, they had him stutter at one point instead, which is much better than saying a word wrong two times before getting it correct.
Denny Clay doesn't do much of anything in this episode, but from his couple of lines, I believe he has a solid personality. I'm hoping that if they keep his role in the show minimum whilst maintaining his presence, I think we'll have a very enjoyable supporting character.

Really, though, Russell is the most important of the two human characters, but before we can talk about him, we need to talk about the other three characters: Sideswipe, Strongarm and Steeljaw (apparently, they really like the letter "S").
Sideswipe and Strongarm hate each other. They don't trust each other. They even, uh... spin around with each other? I feel that the scene where they're supposedly trying to throw each other is poorly made, because they split the screen down the middle to show a close-up on their faces, one on either side, primarily to save money on animating it properly and showing the entirety of their bodies. Cost-cutting measures happen, but it's just disappointing to see that particular scene suffer.
Anyway, these two don't get along, but they're forced to team up with each other, which may be cliché, but it works pretty well. Strongarm's comm system was damaged during their trust exercises (somehow), so when Sideswipe gets annoyed with her and decides to split up, the two can't stay in contact. Sideswipe doesn't appear to find anything, but Strongarm finds what appears to be stasis pods, although they're brown, as opposed to the much more silver-y ones that the 'bots actually use to stick the caught 'cons in, so they're probably broken (and probably the ones that Steeljaw and Hammerstrike were inside).
So, surprise, Strongarm finds Steeljaw, who you may think mistook her for a Decepticon, but really, this dude isn't very forthcoming with the truth. Steeljaw is a sleezeball. He's mind is as sharp as his claws, making him a very formidable Decepticon. Every word that comes out of his mouth is carefully chosen. Clearly, Steeljaw is a cunning, manipulative 'con that could rival Megatron, at least in brains, and that is tremendously exciting. It also helps that Steeljaw's voice, provided by the excellent Troy Baker (known for... everything), is perfect - sly, cunning, and with a hint of "I'm totally going to stab you in the back when you least expect it".

Strongarm almost believes everything Steeljaw says, and although she may only be a cadet, she's not stupid. At least the Autobots are clearly aware that he's Public Enemy No.1, but it's in their nature to help Decepticons if they truly want to reform, so they can't be too hasty with assumptions.
Russell paints Sideswipe with a "nice" Decepticon insignia (I appreciate them pointing out the cans of paint beforehand) - which, for some reason, they specifically to refer to as a logo instead of an insignia. That's slightly incorrect, but it's a minor problem - so that Sideswipe can become "GrimBee" to distract Steeljaw whilst Russell rescues Strongarm.
I really enjoyed this scene and all the action that ensues. The worst-looking part is when Russell is running, and even then, it's not a deal-breaker. My only real complaint is this: the chains that Steeljaw bound Strongarm with are made by humans, so they're obviously relatively small and fragile. Perhaps it was just because there were a lot of loops tied around Strongarm, but I feel that she should have been able to break out of them. If not, how did Russell manage to get them off when she couldn't? It doesn't seem very logical, but honestly, I didn't think much of this when watching the episode.

At the end of the day, Sideswipe and Strongarm trust each other a tiny bit more; Russell proves to be a useful and enjoyable character, without being pointless and annoying (no, Raf, nobody likes you); Grimlock commands every scene he's in (gotta love watching him try to get out of the sea when he's clearly too heavy to rise up), and Bumblebee still feels like a strong leader who isn't a clueless idiot - he's already starting to show up Rodimus Prime.
I thought this episode was quite solid, and probably my favourite of the three so far, which is a good sign. Oh, and one other thing...

We got an intro! So I heard that we might actually get one after the pilot episodes, and we did. It's... okay. Honestly, it isn't what I expected, what with all the techno dubstep-y crap mixed in, and the only lyrics being "Transformers, Robots in Disguise" (I know it's the name of the show, but where's the "more than meets the eye" part?) but it's nice to have none-the-less, and the music still enjoyable. If you've played the mobile game, then you'll be familiar with some of this music already.
Speaking of the music, it was still good, but they're starting to really lay into the dubstep (although I'm sure someone will tell me it's not dubstep but actually some other form of electronic music that is pretty much dubstep almost but not quite but it originally was but... I don't care: it's dubstep). I hate dubstep, so I don't like that. Admittedly, it fits, but they need to pull it back a bit, in my opinion.

Still, episode three was a lot of fun, and I'm super-excited about next week's episodes (titled "More than Meets the Eye" and "W.W.O.D.?"), which you'll be able to read reviews of right here! Thanks for reading, and make sure to come back next week (or sooner, if you'd like) for more Transformers Robots in Disguise.

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