Anime: Transformers Armada

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 Hirofumi Ichikawa, 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 comic from the now defunct Dreamwave Comics was made covering all of the series. It started out mostly mirroring the shows plot with some considerable differences (Mini-Cons could speak normally for starters, while in the show they were limited to bleeps and other electronic noises) but went off in its own direction once Simon Furman took over writing duties. The second half of the series concerns some of the first major mentions of a Transformers multiverse, Unicron invading Earth with his heralds, all Generation 1 Decepticons, and Megatron battling Generation 1 Galvatron one-on-one. The comic was received fairly positively despite (or because?) of these differences.

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 Transformers: War for Cybertron.


This series provides examples of:

  • A Father to His Men: Optimus Prime — but that goes without saying. At some points, Megatron displays parallel behavior toward his men, though in a more "irritable father" compared to Optimus' "doting father."
  • All There in the Manual: Many plot points and holes are explained in Linkage.
  • Animation Bump: The final few episodes have a very noticeable increase in animation quality.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: Megatron spends most of his time brooding after Optimus takes a hit from the Hydra Cannon, and only snaps out of it once Optimus is miraculously reconstituted.
  • As Long As There Is Hatred: Unicron claims that the war-like nature of the Transformers has energized him.
  • Atlantis: The kids suspect that undersea ruins they visit early in the series are the remains of Atlantis, destroyed in conflicts over Mini-cons.
  • Ax-Crazy: To Cyclonus, shooting stuff is the meaning of life. But honestly, he's more of a pain in the ass than a serious threat.
  • Back from the Dead: What did you expect? Optimus Prime, of course!
    • There is a touch-and-go incident with Smokescreen as well, see Family Unfriendly Death below.
  • Bad Boss: Megatron often behaves like a schoolyard bully, in sharp contrast to Optimus Prime. Starscream calls him out on it after his Heel-Face Turn and just before his death.
  • Benevolent Boss: Optimus Prime is hardly Optimus Prime if he doesn't respect and value of his troops.
  • Best Served Cold: Wheeljack traps himself, the one he believes responsible for ruining his life, and a mostly innocent bystander in a burning abandoned factory.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Definitely has issues with misidentifying characters and losing track of the finer points. However, so far as idiocy goes, you ain't seen nothing yet.
  • Blood Knight: Optimus gets accused of continuing the war because he enjoys it. However, Megatron better embodies the trope; he unequivocally enjoys it.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Jetfire seems like one sometimes.
  • Brawler Lock: The show's approach to battle scenes is mostly made up of this this sort of grappling, Blade Lock, and areal shots of fire fights.
  • The Captain: Optimus
  • Captain Obvious: These kids probably contributed to the fandom's dislike of human characters in general. A great deal of the time, their role in an episode was to spend half an hour giving statements like this:
    Optimus: [Gets hit, falls down]
    Alexis: [to Rad and Carlos, who are standing right next to her and watching the same fight] Oh, no! You guys, Optimus is down!
    Rad: Oh, no!
  • Clip Show: "Detection" and "Cramp"
  • Combining Mecha: Powerlinking.
  • Dancing Mook Credits: The Transformers Armada video game for the Playstation 2 ended it's credits sequence with several of the Decepticlones and Tidal Wave working out in time with the jazzy music.
  • Defector from Decadence: Starscream, after Megatron and Thrust use him as a diversion and abandon him after the Deceptions withdraw. Watch out for that Heel-Face Revolving Door, though.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: Everyone knows we're just here for the robots, but that doesn't stop Armada from centering its first episode squarely on the annoying kids as they go to 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.
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: o hai Sideways
  • The Dragon: Starscream at first, then later Thrust until the former returns.
  • 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.
  • Evil Former Friend: Wheeljack and Hot Shot were best friends before a traumatic event separated them. Now, Wheeljack is a Decepticon.
  • Evil Laugh: Almost all of the Decepticons, most notably Cyclonus and Megatron. Though Wheeljack had a pretty creepy one in his introduction.
  • Expy: The character development of Starscream and Hot Shot mirrored that of Dinobot and Cheetor's respectively.
  • Fallen Hero: Wheeljack and to a lesser extent Starscream after his heelfaceturn.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: If humans died the way Transformers do, it would be truly grizzly. The Requiem Blaster warps Smokescreen's torso beyond repair. Optimus shatters under the force of the Hydra Cannon. Thrust is crushed to death from the feet up.
    • And then there's Starscream...ole Screamer had two! First he gets blasted like Smokescreen (though messing with the timeline saved him), then Megatron impales him, and finally meets his end getting disintegrated by Unicron.
  • Gambit Pileup: Just barely makes it with four to five plots going on at once. The dub makes 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.
  • Godzilla Threshold: In the comic, the Air Defense Mini-Con team willingly lets themselves be used by Armada Megatron as the Star Saber to defeat G1 Galvatron. This is after spending most of the series doing everything in their power to hide from Megs and avoid being used as a Decepticon weapon.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Starscream dies satisfied that his sacrifice goaded Megatron into action.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Scavenger demonstrates his badassery early on by fighting unarmed. He even tests himself against the Star Saber bare-handed.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The plot of the first thirteen episodes is focused around gaining Mini-cons as allies.
  • Green Aesop: The episode "Jungle" features a heavy-handed ecological message.
  • Hand Cannon: Aside from individual Transformer weapons, there's the assembled Requiem Blaster and Hydra Cannon.
  • Heel-Face Revolving Door: Starscream. And Sideways, Hoo boy, Sideways.
  • Heel-Face Turn: The Decepticons. All of them, except Thrust. The survivors even maintain this status through the beginning of Transformers Energon.
  • Hero-Worshipper: Side Swipe idolizes Blurr to such a degree that he follows his hero to Earth. When Blurr pawns Side Swipe off on Hot Shot, it doesn't take long for Side Swipe to transfer his hero worship to Hot Shot.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Smokescreen, Starscream Optimus, even Megatron in the last episode. All of them get better at some point, at least in the sequel series.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Thrust.
  • Honor Before Reason: Averted.
  • Hulk Speak: Tidal Wave.
  • Human-Focused Adaptation: Most of the series, particularly the first half, is about the kids' view of the Autobot/Decepticon war.
  • The Hyena: Cyclonus and his incessant cackling.
  • Hypocritical Humour: In "Conspiracy", when Demolishor is planning an attack on Starscream, he looks to the others for support, including Sideways:
    Sideways: Don't look at me - I'm not taking sides!
  • Inconsistent Dub: And how.
    Wheeljack: "I think you're mistaken, Hot Shot. I didn't come here for revenge."
    Wheeljack (later): "I've come to get my revenge."
  • Ineffectual Loner: Blurr, the triple-changing speedster with antisocial tendencies. Hot Shot starts a rivalry with him, though eventually the two become friends.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: The kids and the Transformers, Smokescreen and Hot Shot.
  • Jerkass: Thrust
  • Karmic Death: Oh boy, did Thrust ever earn his miserable demise.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Wheeljack, unknowingly thinking that Thrust was attacking him, shoots the latter out of the sky. Hard to feel bad about it, though.
    • Galvatron does this to Thrust, by leaving him to die. It would be cruel, but Thrust was a power hungry asshole.
  • Kid-Appeal Character: It's easy to want to root for Hot Shot. Plus, the kids in the show root for him, so it's easy for impressionable viewers to follow their example.
  • Leave the Camera Running: The other problem of the series was that there were often looooong periods of nothing.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Hot Shot picks the wrong moment to run in, guns blazing, on more than one occasion.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Sideways, and to a lesser extent, Thrust.
  • The Medic: Red Alert. In fact, in the Japanese version his name is Ratchet, same as the G1 chief medical officer.
  • Memento Macguffin: The mars rocks, especially Alexis' mars rock necklace. All the rocks symbolize the children's relationship with Starscream, but while the others throw theirs away as he proceeds though the Heel-Face Revolving Door, Alexis keeps her rock. Alexis makes her rock into a necklace, upgrading its significance such that it gains empathic properties: it shatters when Starscream dies.
  • The Mole: Armada loves this trope dearly and features a number of characters infiltrating the opposition, sometimes more than once.
    • First, Scavenger is a mole for the Autobots.
    • Next, Sideways shows up. First he poses as an Autobot, then '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, Sideways 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.
  • More Than Mind Control: Unicron to the minicons.
  • 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: Poor quality art is unfortunately common. This is partly due to Cartoon Network's meddling, and partly because Actas, the studio behind the animation, was genuinely not all that great.
    • To its credit, the Japanese version did correct some of the most blatant errors. But whether or not it makes a difference is another matter entirely. More info on that version can be read here.
  • Old Master: Scavenger is introduced as a formidable and cunning mercenary. Once he settles in with the Autobots], he even becomes a mentor to Hot Shot and reveals a fondness for catnaps.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Megatron becomes rather depressed when Optimus is killed. (He gets better, and all is well.)
  • Pieces of God: The Mini-cons are pieces of Unicron that rebelled, gaining independent will.
  • Planet Eater: Unicron, although he doesn't get up to any planet-eating in this show.
  • Power Crystal: On a few Transformers.
  • Power Trio: First Autobots: Red Alert the superego, Hot Shot the id, Optimus Prime the ego. Also the kids: Alexis the superego, Carlos the id, and Rad the ego.
  • Put on a Bus: Once Simon Furman took over writing duties in the Armada comic, the kids were all but ignored.
  • Psycho for Hire: Cyclonus
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: Cyclonus and Demolishor, joined by Tidal Wave/Mirage in Energon.
  • Red Is Heroic: Discussed when a kid says that red robots are always the good guys.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Hot Shot and Red Alert. Later, Blurr as the Blue Oni.
  • 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.
  • Reverse Mole: Scavenger lets the Decepticons hire him as a mercenary, but has no intention of sticking with them.
  • Role Reprisal: One of the highlights was getting David Kaye and Gary 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.
  • Scars Are Forever: Wheeljack has a huge scar across his Autobot insignia as a reminder of his reason for Face Heel Turning.
  • Script Wank: On occasion.
  • Shoulder Cannon: Optimus Prime gets these when combined with Overload.
  • Shoulders of Doom: Lots of characters got 'em, but Hot Shot's inspired a meme.
  • Shout-Out: The series makes liberal usage of many model sheets from Generation 1.
  • Smug Snake: Thrust practically IS this ideal.
  • The Spock: Red Alert tends to show aspects of it.
    • Spock Speak: Thankfully, he stops using it after the first time.
  • The Starscream: As obvious as this might seem, Starscream doesn't really have his heart in the backstabbing in this show, and indeed, this continuity. Thrust, on the other hand, is all too happy to plot against Megatron.
  • Stealth Mentor: Scavenger, at first.
  • The Strategist: Thrust
    • There IS a difference between a strategist - whether a plan should go through to achieve the long-term goal - and a tactician - how a plan goes down.
  • Take a Third Option: Hot Shot tries, and may have succeeded if not for a mole's interference.
  • Tank Goodness: Megatron could be considered a literal villainous version of this trope.
  • 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 the viewer gets no explanation for this?
  • Third-Person Person: Tidal Wave
  • Those Two Guys: Of the five kids, Billy and Fred are the most peripheral and the most closely associated with each other. There are stretches of episodes where they don't appear, and they mostly just bounce off each other.
  • ˇThree Amigos!: Rad, Carlos and Alexis; literally in the case of Carlos.
  • Three Plus Two: The Token Trio plus Those Two Guys.
  • Token Trio: Rad is white, Carlos is Hispanic, Alexis seems white but according to the creators, she is of Vietnamese heritage.
  • Underwater Ruins: The setting for the episode "Ruin".
  • Undying Loyalty: Demolishor is devoted to Megatron to the point that he comes off as a Yes-Man. But as the story proceeds, he develops into The Heart of the Decepticons. He knows he's not smart enough to make decisions, but when he can tell that something is wrong, he'll say so.
  • The Unintelligible: Mini-Cons vocalize in whirs and beeps, although High Wire starts making full sentences much later.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Hot Shot, Starscream, Thrust, especially, and possibly probably more.
  • Verbal Tic: "...Tidal Wave..." or "...Shock..." in Japan
  • Villain Episode: "Rebellion" and to a lesser extent, "Detention".
  • Wave Motion Gun: The Hydra Cannon.
  • Wham Episode: "Sacrifice", "Crisis", "Cramp", and to lesser extents "Credulous" and "Past" parts one and two.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: "Past".
  • Young Gun: Hot Shot. Possibly Side Swipe too.