Anime · Cartoons

Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy Chapter 1: Siege Review [Spoiler Free]

I was browsing Netflix the other day when I didn’t have anything to do and this show was recommended to me.  I’m a Transformers fan, so figured I’d give it a go and was pleasantly surprised.  This show has a lot of depth, a well-paced plot, and great characters.  Good voice cast as well, and with audio description too!  But how does the show hold up under a microscope?  Let’s see, on to the review!

 

Technically this one is a trilogy of episodes?  I thought it was going to be a trilogy of movies, but then this first chapter wound up being six episodes so we’ll go with it being a mini series of sorts.  The first chapter of this, I really enjoyed.  Now keep in mind, I’m going in as a casual Transformers fan.  I watch the live action movies and like about half of them, I grew up watching the old franchise but I was super young so don’t remember it super well.  I watched episodes of Cybertron back in the day, and liked it well enough.  I’ve seen people complaining about this show destroying their childhoods, that it wasn’t good because it wasn’t like the old Generation 1 cartoon and can we please just give this a rest?  I get tired of people wearing nostalgia glasses and ruining new experiences for viewers that enjoyed somethings newer take because maybe they just want to watch something and enjoy it without comparing it to the original.  I prefer Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon over Sailor Moon Crystal, but you don’t see me crapping all over people who may think differently, do you?  But ahem I went on a bit of a tirade there.  It’s just that I went to read discussion threads about the series when I finished it because I enjoy doing that, saw people doing nothing but complain about it not being like the original instead of talking about how the show was on its own and it just bothered me so much.

 

But anyway!  I really enjoyed this take on the franchise.  It’s nice to see a robot-centric version of the show when for years it’s been about the humans more.  Optomus and Megatron’s relationship is the focal point of this series, and already I think they’re doing a good job with its execution – though be prepared for some heavy handed handling when it comes to Megatron allegory.

 

There are a lot of characters in the series, and they do a decent job of giving us supporting casts that are fleshed out enough, but not taking the spotlight from the main group of bots.  This is a darker take on the war for Cybertron, with a lot of action and it doesn’t shy away from really heart wrenching plot beats, and deaths.  And for this show, I think it works.  The storytelling is really well done, as well as the character work, and the conflict feels real, and raw, and it just captures a war time story really well.

 

The ending of this six episodes was a bit of a cliffhanger, while at the same time finishing up the storyline set up in this first chapter.  There are enough mysteries laid out for the second chapter, and I can’t wait to see what happens in chapter 2.
This show has audio description yaaay.  It describes the fight scenes really well, and also describes what’s happening in each scene really succinctly.  One thing I have to dock it points for however, is it just expects you to drop into this universe and know which bot is which.  So instead of describing the bots, it says “RC, Bumblebee, and Mirage all stand on a cliff” and it really doesn’t give you a nice grasp of their new designs, or what they would look like other than they are robots.  It also bothered me that they didn’t tell us what Megatron turned into, which is weird?  Like every time a bot transforms, it says they turn into a jet or truck or something, so why not Megatron also?  I’m assuming he has his classic design of turning into a motorcycle, but at the same time there are so many different Megatron designs that maybe it isn’t.  And I had vision when watching Transformers as a kid so would know this, but for a person coming into the series blind, it’s kind of a glaring error to not describe every robot’s look and transformation.  There are also new characters in this, so what do they look like?  I get it’s a huge cast, and it’s hard to cram all the aesthetics into a description when a scene is going, but it took me out of the viewing experience a bit not knowing at least basic details of how they looked in this iteration.  It makes you have to look up descriptions on the wiki, and while doing that extra legwork is something I do anyways when I like something, it’s also avoidable if the description described the characters a teeny bit more throughout scenes.  Other than that, solid plot beat and battle narration.

 

So would I recommend this series?  I really enjoyed it.  I didn’t find anything wrong with the series at all.  Voice cast is superb, plot is really deep and well-paced, character work great.  If you like anime, I’d best describe this as Transformers if we just turned it into a mecha anime, because it hits all of those plot beats from the genre.  If you’re new to the series I feel like you’ll like it more than old timers with the franchise, but who knows?  Needless to say I super enjoyed the first chapter and can’t wait to follow this show to its conclusion.

 

Did you watch Transformers:  War for Cybertron?  Let me know what you thought in the comments!

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Miraculous Lady Bug and Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure, and the Modern Redemption Arc

I watch a lot of cartoons.  I’m sure anyone who has read this blog can attest to that.  I notice there are a lot of trends happening in recent cartoons, and find it quite interesting to wanted to talk about it.  Modern cartoons have a lot of nuance to them, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  I’m not saying this particular theme I’m talking about in this post doesn’t work, but it’s just fascinating to me how certain cartoons execute it, so I wanted to talk about it.
What I’m talking about, is the redemption arc.  In modern cartoons, we see a lot of characters that seem beyond redemption, or characters that it’s obvious will get a redemption arc.  In both instances, it can work, and the two examples of this I want to talk about are from Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure, and Miraculous Ladybug.  Needless to say, after this point in the post, major major MAJOR spoilers for both shows.

 

The first one I want to talk about is in Miraculous Ladybug.  Specifically, for the character Chloe.  I thought her story arc was super interesting, because it isn’t quite done yet.  We see in season 2, that Ladybug gives her a chance by giving her the Bee Miraculous.  When Master Fu asks Ladybug if that’s the right choice, she replies “Being Ladybug made me a better person, so maybe being Queen Bee will help Chloe”.  I thought this was a really mature way to go about starting a redemption arc, because so many times a bad character just is instantly reformed.  With this, you see that Chloe isn’t even close to a redemption, but it takes someone wanting to give her a chance to reform for her to try.  That being said, in season 3 she completely goes back to her old ways, possibly getting worse, but I’m curious to see what is going to happen in season 4.  Chloe was totally reforming for all of the wrong reasons before:  She was doing so to get her Miraculous, to show Ladybug that she was worth her idol’s time.  After realizing things weren’t going to work the way Chloe wanted to, she just went back to old habits.  She needs to truly want to change herself, and see that her actions have consequences.  Someone willing to give her a chance isn’t enough if she’s not willing to change, and having a cartoon show that to younger audiences I think is a really smart move.  Like I said before, it’s a mature way to frame a seemingly heartless character and give her more depth, while at the same time keeping an antagonist an antagonist until they truly earn said redemption.  And it is something that Chloe needs to earn, because she started off so far away from being a good person that we need to see her gradually change.  Which, once again, we saw glimpses of – it just wasn’t enough for her to overcome all of her inner demons, and I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen as the story progresses.

 

In Tangled, we have the complete opposite situation.  Cassandra is a huge character in the series, and at the end of season 2, she betrays Rapunzel for her own ends and desires.  Now I wish we would have gotten a liiiittle more of her shown in season 3, but still there was enough to see her inner turmoil.  Her feelings towards Rapunzel weren’t invalid, but she wasn’t willing to acknowledge her own shortcomings in what happened either.  She wanted to prove she was more than what others saw in her, but she had no idea what she truly wanted to do in her life, or how to achieve it.  So as soon as she had a “chance” to prove herself, she tried.  When she realized that she was never going to get what she wanted through the means she tried to use, and actually had a heart to heart talk with Rapunzel, they both realized that perhaps they were going about the situation the wrong way and were able to part amicably at series end.

 

In this scenario, we also get to see Cassandra throughout the entire series, and her character growth.  But opposed to Chloe, Cassandra started out with good intentions, but was lost and hurt by the actions of other characters.  She used her anger to fuel her desires, but still wasn’t sure what exactly her desires were and it was interesting seeing her misdirection.  When the house of cards came tumbling down, she felt like a failure and it took her falling from grace to redeem herself, and realize trying to force what you want on yourself and push away your friends isn’t the answer.

 

Both of these are interesting, because they are both redemption arcs in completely different ways.  Cassandra started out good, lost her way, and found it again.  Chloe never knew what her way was, and is currently trying to find it.  She’s messing up and stumbling through her growth, but so did Cassandra and it took a good friend bringing her back from the brink to redeem her.  Chloe is going to need to see that the world doesn’t revolve around her, and that her actions and words matter and need to change before her inward change can occur.

 

It’s a really good way to show redemption arcs.  A plotted out, methodical series that viewers can track, empathize with, and understand.  It helps people see that people like this may exist in real life, and how to possibly deal with it in their lives.  A lot better than the old version where someone just reforms because the writers want them to, and we see no change whatsoever on screen and we’re just supposed to accept that they’re good now.

 

What do you think about modern redemption arcs?  Are some well done, others done poorly?  Some shows do too many of them?  Let me know what you think in the comments!