Transformers Armada is one of the many series that make up the Transformers franchise. It takes place in its own continuity, separate from the earlier series. The storyline of Armada continued in Transformers Energon and Transformers Cybertron (however, Transformers Cybertron is a seperate continuity in the Japanese version). The three series are known as the "Unicron Trilogy".Unlike Transformers Robots In Disguise before it (which was only imported to buy time), it was a 'main line' series, and as such had a large toyline.Transformers Armada mostly revolves around the Mini-Cons: a race of Transformers smaller than usual (about human size or smaller). When linked to one of their larger brethren, they cause a significant boost in power (usually resulting in extra guns appearing). Due to this, the Autobots and Decepticons warred over them until the Mini-cons ended up leaving to stop the conflict, crash-landing on Earth millions of years in the past and laying dormant until the present day. Most of the episodes revolve around the Autobots trying to gain the support of the Mini-cons, with the Decepticons after them with the intent to use them to conquer the Autobots, Cybertron, and presumably the universe (as usual).It was controversial among fans not only for the focus on Mini-Con collecting (leading some to call it 'Pokeformers'), but for the frequent dubbing errors. Due to rushed production, there are several conversations that don't flow properly, or clash with what's happening onscreen. Many characters have their names mixed up with other characters,' such as pretty much everyone being called Leader-1 (Megatron's Mini-Con) at least once. One particularly glaring instance was Optimus saying he'd left Thrust in charge on Cybertron - and the image has "Thrust" kept in shadow because he (actually intended to be Jetfire) hasn't been introduced yet. Of course, Thrust is the name of the Decepticon master tactician, with no sign of ever having been an Autobot - a major point of confusion for viewers. Also, unfinished animation led to some low-quality scenes, and one or two truly nonsense ones (like a black spot of nothing◊ where Starscream was supposed to be in one battle.) But like most things, had a few redeeming factors in the overall story and the reintroduction of the meta-villain Unicron. It is generally considered to improve considerably in the second half.In addition to the series, a mini-manga, called Linkage was released with the Japanese DVDs, written by HirofumiIchikawa, which told a separate story about a group of Mini-Cons who encounter a woman named Stella Holley, who helps them free the Mini-Cons from Unicron. The story also features several links to the animated series, and even fills a few plot holes. The series was fan-translated in collaboration with Ichikawa, and can be read online here.A video game adaptation, simply called Transformers (but with the working title of Prelude To Energon, which it is sometimes identified as), was released for the Playstation 2, and is considered one of the better Video Game adaptations, and the best one so far for Transformers until recently.
This series provides examples of:
A Father to His Men: Optimus. Megatron in many of the episodes displays parallel behavior to his men though in a more "Irritable father" way than Optimus' "Doting father".
Developing Doomed Characters: The first episode, full stop. It's all about the annoying kids at school. They don't meet the Mini-cons until near the end, and actual Autobots and Decepticons don't show up until the very last moments of the episode. If you watch the recap, you can pretty much start with episode two and miss nothing relevant.
Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Starscream fires a blast from his proton cannon during his death scene at Unicron and Megatron does the same thing shortly after. Neither has any effect as Unicron is too far out of range.
Dumb Is Good: Dim-witted Demolishor is probably the closest thing to a 'nice' Decepticon that you're going to find. Though Starscream isn't that bad either, post Character Development. In fact, in the sequel series he seems to have Autobot sympathies and actually fights on their side for a while before Megatron comes back from the dead. He's an all-right guy.
Dumb Muscle: Tidal Wave, most emblematically. Transforming into an entire battleship, he towers above every other Decepticon (or Autobot for that matter), and while his processor doesn't pack much power he's not so much stupid as he is single-minded and easily frustrated. His Pokémon Speak tendencies don't help the image of him as a complete knucklehead, either. Cyclonus and Demolishor both have some traits of this as well.
Family Unfriendly Death: Prime and Smokescreen. Especially Smokescreen. Thrust being crushed to death from the feet up would also count. Though he can't beat Starscream, ole Screamer had two unfriendly deaths! First he gets blasted like Smokescreen (though messing with the timeline saved him), then impaled by Megatron and disintegrated by Unicron.
Gambit Pileup: Just barely makes it with four to five plots going on at once. The dub made it even harder to follow. (Megatron, Starscream, Thrust, Sideways, and Unicron, although Sideways was working for Unicron.)
Gas Lighting: Megatron manages to get the Decepticons (including Starscream himself) to think Starscream is crazy, in order to get the Star Saber from him.
The Mole: Like you wouldn't believe. First, Scavenger is a mole for the Autobots, then Sideways shows up. First he poses as an Autobot, 'reveals' himself to be a Decepticon, and stays there for a while, lowering morale and messing with their heads. Later, he is uncovered as a servant of Unicron, sent to infiltrate and disrupt both factions. Later, he appears to Thrust, and convinces him to become the new mole for Unicron.
More Dakka: Powerlinx and super modes tend to bring this into play. Most notably Optimus combined with Overload and Jetfire. Megatron can do this too, combining with Tidal Wave for the most dakka of any Megatron to date.
Ms. Fanservice: Stella Holley from the DVDs' pack-in comics Linkage, a fairly mild example.
Not So Similar: Starscream takes offense to the insinuation he's anything like Sideways.
Not Too Dead To Save The Day: In "Miracle", the Autobots are being overpowered by the Decepticons in an Asteroid field, and Hot Shot, as Megatron says, is indeed "a poor substitute for Optimus Prime". But Sparkplug and Perceptor summon a team of glowing space-traveling Mini-Cons, who, with their sparks and the data in the Matrix, bring Optimus Back from the Dead.
Off Model: One of the worst recent examples. This was partially because of Cartoon Network's meddling, and partially because the studio behind the animation was genuinely not that great. The Japanese version, to its credit, did try and correct some of these errors, but it didn't really succeed. More info on that version can be read here.
Red Shirt Army: Generic background characters in the larger battle scenes come apart like tissue paper and are never mentioned (compare the reaction to Smokescreen's reversible death to the reaction to the permanent deaths of one shipful of soldiers after another near the end).
Remember the New Guy: Overload is never introduced, he just appears out of nowhere in one episode as a trailer for Optimus, and everyone acts like he's been there the whole time.
Role Reprisal: One of the highlights was getting David Kaye and Garry Chalk to play Megatron and Optimus, although technically both in the Beast Wars era were similar characters and not actual adaptations of the originals, as evidence that this is the first time Chalk played Optimus Prime.
Temporal Paradox: A predestination paradox occurs in "Drift", where the kids travel back in time and meet the Mini-Cons when they are created, and tell them to escape from Cybertron and come to Earth, which in turn is required for all the subsequent events, including the time travel itself, apparently carried out by Highwire. First, however, the kids stop by in the alternate past where Unicron used the Mini-Cons, who never left Cybertron, to make the Transformers fight each other to exhaustion, before imprisoning and digesting them. Did we mention that we get no explanation for this?