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Anime / Transformers Headmasters

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"It's true that you do sometimes get poorly translated dubs. You do get voice actors so bad that it seems they didn't even see the script until they stepped into the booth to give a completely emotionless performance recited right off the page. You get inappropriate voice choices. You get lazy writers who clearly have zero knowledge of the source material. But you don't usually get them all at once, and that makes Headmasters something rare and special."''
Snarking the Headmasters English Dub

Transform! ...Head On!

Transformers: The★Headmasters is an anime series which aired in 1987, continuing the story after the end of the third season of The Transformers and ignoring the events of "The Rebirth". The evil Decepticons, supposedly defeated at the end of G1, attack the Autobots' home planet of Cybertron, aided by new allies, the Headmasters. Just when things look their bleakest, a group of Autobot Headmasters suddenly appear to turn the tide. So of course also do the Decepticons.

The show concerned the continuation of the war between Autobot and Decepticon, focusing on the Headmasters and, later, their Targetmaster allies. As time went on, most of the original characters were phased out to allow the new toys to take centre stage.

The majority of the new characters were members of two subgroups of Transformer, who were fairly evenly split between the two main factions.

  • Headmasters are a group of small Transformers who left Cybertron in the distant past to avoid the Great War. Settling on the planet Master, they built themselves larger bodies in order to survive. The small Headmaster units transform into larger heads which attach to the robot form of the larger Transtector. The Transtector itself transforms into a vehicle or an animal, which can then be piloted by the Headmaster.
  • Targetmasters result from the fusion of standard-size Transformers with Headmaster-sized bots. The smaller bots transform into guns which can then be wielded by their partners. The Targetmasters' ability to select targets independently of their wielders allows the wielders to use two guns separately.

After a three episode pilot during which Optimus Prime died yet again, the show settled back into the generally episodic format of its predecessor. Continuity was much stronger in Headmasters than in Generation 1, with the result that even though the majority of episodes are self-contained, they still have to be watched in the correct order. Unfortunately, Pacing Problems are present throughout, with long stretches of time spent with the characters standing around doing not very much, and the fight scenes seem to be present to pad out the episode and resemble more of an impromptu laser dance party than an actual fight.


On the other hand, the animation was taken back by Toei, which resulted in a considerable improvement in quality. Animation and continuity errors were rarer, albeit still present on occasion.

This show was somewhat darker than G1. Several episodes included on-screen deaths (mostly robots, but also some aliens encountered along the way), and the Autobots lost battles as often as they won. This all meant that Scorponok didn't suffer Villain Decay, and Galvatron regained a good deal of the threat he had lost in G1.

The show received a hilariously bad English dub by Omni Productions in Hong Kong, which gained notoriety after being broadcast on StarTV in Singapore. While the dub was perfectly comprehensible, it did contain some "Blind Idiot" Translation, which spawned a few short-lived memes. If you were English, Mindwipe's hypnotism somehow became 'magic', proving that whoever translated the show didn't even read the title before they started. There was also no attempt to replicate the G1 voice actors in English despite the Japanese dub doing so, resulting in characters like Dummy!Blurr and Intellectual!Grimlock. And though the Japanese Galvatron still sounded suave and leaderly in Japanese (whether you understand Japanese or not) in English he sounded like somebody who kicks people in the balls for a living.

The first episode of the dub was included as a bonus on the DVD edition of the animated Transformers movie. DVDs containing both the dub and the original Japanese with subtitles were released in Australia and the U.K. in 2005, and both versions were shown in the UK on Anime Central in 2007. Shout! Factory released the series in the U.S. on July 5, five days after Dark of the Moon opens. The dub was not included, due to Hasbro's apparent concerns about content and quality.

Currently the fan group "Prime Productions" is working to create a proper dub of the series, with completely new voice overs and a new team of writers. Information on the project can be found on the group's YouTube page.

Followed by Transformers: Super-God Masterforce

The Battle Beasts in the series ended up getting a Spiritual Successor called Beast Saga in 2012/2013


  • Aerith and Bob: Among names like Fortress, Chromedome, Highbrow and Hardhead, there's also robots called Jack and Abel.
  • Action-Hogging Opening: perhaps the most blatant out of the G1 sequels by far.
  • All for Nothing: The first three episodes revolve around the Decepticons trying to gain control of Vector Sigma, eventually resulting in Optimus sacrificing himself... and then a few episodes later Scorponok goes and blows Cybertron up, rendering all of that completely pointless.
  • Anyone Can Die: Optimus Prime (after four episodes of resurrected life), Galvatron and Ultra Magnus.
  • Applied Phlebotinum
  • Atlantis, sort of. Part of the last two episodes concern metal found on "Lemuria", which became Atlantis in the English dub. However, this was better than the subtitles, which mangled it into 'Demonia' and 'Libelia'
  • Back from the Dead: A number of characters who should be dead just... appear. Hi, Prowl/Ironhide/Wheeljack! This is due to Japan not getting The Transformers: The Movie until 1989. The appearances are largely of the blink and you'll miss it cameo variety, so it's not too bad. Later Japanese fiction would establish the the Prowl and Wheeljack seen here are actually from another universe, and they replaced their deceased counterparts.
    • Also notably Soundwave and Blaster, who kill each other in battle but are later rebuilt as Soundblaster and Twincast, respectively. They aren't much different from Soundwave and Blaster, aside from the fact that Soundblaster is black instead of blue, and Twincast is blue instead of red, as well as the fact their toys were retooled to now hold two cassettes each instead of one; the double tape door on Soundblaster was later reused on an American reissue of the original Soundwave toy in 2006.
  • Badass Crew: The Targetmasters, on both sides.
  • Bad Boss: Galvatron wants to sacrifice Sixshot despite his loyalty, and later on Scorponok tried to kill Sixshot, and in both instances this causes their plans to fail.
  • Backstab Backfire: Galvatron planned to banish Scorponok and the Headmasters after he got his hands on the alloy. In response, Scorponok blew up Cybertron to prevent the alloy from falling into the hands of either side. Scorponok tried to get rid of Sixshot, but the latter returned to aid the Autobots in the final battles.
  • Banjo Ginga: Scorponok/Mega Zarak
  • Bastard Understudy: Scorponok
  • BFS: Fortress Maximus' Master-Sword.
  • Big Bad: Galvatron from episodes 1-10 & 16-25, Scorponok from episodes 11-15 & 26-35.
  • Big Damn Heroes: This is how the Headmasters and Targetmasters are introduced.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The heroes win, of course, but driving the Decepticons from Earth just means that the Autobots will have to depart for a different battlefront elsewhere in the galaxy. So Daniel has to bid his friends a tearful farewell. Not to mention the fact that Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus are dead (though later material reveals that Optimus was rebuilt as Star Convoy, Ultra Magnus was also brought back, and Galvatron was freed from his icy prison and upgraded into Super Megatron.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The hilarious Hong Kong dub, so beloved amongst comedy anime enthusiasts it was included in the 2008 DVD release as an audio option.
    • This little bit from the Hong Kong dub:
      Scorponok: "Huh huh huh huh, what's wrong with the Headmasters? Couldn't they fight without Chromedome? Fortress Maximus has come himself. Okay, then I shall get Fortress Maximus to fight me. Huh huh huh huh."
    • A simple example in the episode where Optimus Prime and Rodimus Prime team-up to take out the Decepticons: In Japan, Optimus Prime was called "Convoy" while Rodimus Prime was called "Rodimus Convoy". The original narrator describes the team-up as "Two Convoys", which makes sense. Due to the literal translation, the dub's narrator describes the team-up as "Two Optimus Primes".
    • Another infamous example is when both the Matrix of Leadership AND the Energon Cubes are called "Power Packs" like they are interchangable. And, in one episode, Fortress Maximus is called "Spaceship Bruce".
  • Bullying a Dragon: Scorponok think it is a smart decision to try to murder Sixshot, who just happens to be their second in command and someone who is proably the only person capable of taking all 4 Headmasters. This really backfired on him.
  • Canon Discontinuity: This series completely ignores the entirety of the short-lived 4th Season of Transformers and instead picks up where Season 3 left off.
  • Changing of the Guard: Some characters get explicitly written out while others just stop appearing all together, but by the end of the series pretty much all of the non-human cast are new additions.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Whatever happened to Grimlock? Disappears with no explanation.
    • And the rest of the Dinobots. And Wreck-Gar. And Hound.
    • Springer appears in a grand total of two episodes... and then never appears again.
  • Combining Mecha: For the Decepticons, they're essentially giant Mooks.
  • Compelling Voice: Mindwipe is a hypnotist, so this comes with the territory.
  • Continuity Snarl: One of the biggest issues in the series. Optimus in the film dies from his battle with Megatron. Here... he gets randomly shot by a Decepticon laser fire. Though you can't blame Toei Animation or Takara for that due to the No Export for You issues regarding the movie
  • Darker and Edgier: Sort of. On the one hand, characters die on screen, and the tone is at times somewhat grim or tragic. On the other hand, it also has a fair amount of light-hearted and silly comic relief, Daniel and Wheelie are prominent characters throughout the series, and overall it's evident that the series is still aimed at children. The fact that it can come off as Darker and Edgier at times can probably be attributed to cultural differences regarding shows aimed at kids.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Sixshot defects after a duel with Chromedome.
  • Defector from Decadence: Sixshot in the grand finale
  • Detachment Combat: The Duocons are unique from the usual Combining Mecha in that Battletrap and Flywheels are each a single robot that separates into two vehicles controlled by one mind. And they're actually pretty effective against the Autobots, too.
  • Dub Name Change: Some rather hilarious ones in the Omni dub. You can find the name changes on the Omni entry on TFWiki.
    • Of note: Blaster -> "Billy"; Jazz -> "Marshall", Blurr -> "Wally", and Spike Witwicky -> "Sparkle". Then, there's Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime, who was called "Rodimus Prime" (with a long O, sounding like Roadimus) in both forms. Bear in mind, these are all characters from the original series, which was shown in Singapore in its original American broadcast form.
    • Perhaps the best (read: most amusing) invocation of this trope comes from Twincast and Soundblaster, the rebuilt versions of Blaster and Soundwave respectively. The dub calls Twincast "Blaster", thereby getting his new name wrong by finally getting his original name correct. Meanwhile Soundblaster is quite literally called "New Soundwave", which is spoken so quickly in dialogue that it sounds as if it's a one-word name ("Newsoundwave")
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Galvatron, who previously survived being at ground-zero of a planet destroying explosion, is killed when the headmasters... drop an iceberg on him.
  • Dubtitle: The subtitles on the "Shout! Factory" DVDs (the only ones available in the US) replace all of the characters' Japanese names with their English ones, or the nearest equivalent (Convoy becomes Optimus Prime, Fortress becomes Cerebros, etc.). They also occasionally try to work in Transformers-specific terms that hadn't actually been coined yet when the series was created (Soundwave and Blaster's Cassettes are called "Deployers," "scrap" is used in place of any sort of rough language, Transformers' lifes/hearts/souls are now "sparks"...).
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Cybertron and Mars. Scorponok's goal is to do this to Earth as well.
  • Epic Fail: At one point Spike says to Daniel, on another planet, surrounded by giant robot aliens who he's known since he was a teenager, that there's no such thing as aliens.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Zarak, as voiced by Banjo Ginga.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Several episode titles, notably "The Dormant Volcano Mysteriously Erupts!" and "Ultra Magnus Dies!!"
  • Extreme Doormat: In the movie, Arcee is The Chick and at least makes an attempt to be useful. Here she goes to being the House Wife.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: Zarak's entire body manages this, remaining concealed no matter where he is. Once he even manages it while surrounded by flames. It stops after episode 15.
  • Final Battle
  • Five-Man Band
  • Foreshadowing: Fortress Maximus' head mode appears several episodes before he combines with his transtector.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Ultra Magnus is forgotten about pretty soon after his death. Even when his killer, Sixshot, is shown nearing a Heel–Face Turn, the death is never mentioned, with Chromedome instead holding the demise of an old friend from Planet Master against him instead.
  • Good Bad Translation:
    • "Alright listen up, I'm the ninja consultant for the Decepticons, my name is Sixshot!"
    • "I can feel the heat!"
    • "Hahaha, Fortress Maximus has come himself. Okay then! I shall get Fortress Maximus to fight me!"
    • "That's strange... how come a robot should feel sleepy?"
  • Grand Finale: This series serves as the conclusion to the Japanese continuity of the Generation 1 Transformers cartoon, replacing the American airing's fourth season consisting solely of the three-part episode "The Rebirth".
  • Gratuitous English: "Transform! Head on!"
  • His Name Is...: In Find Mega Zarak's Weak Spot!!, the Autobots discover an ex-slave of Scorponok who knows the weakness to his transtector. Just before he reveals it, he is fatally shot by Weirdwolf.
  • Humongous Mecha: What Headmaster technology basically is. Except here the mecha is piloted by another mecha.
  • It's Personal: Chromedome's friend Abel was killed by a shadowy ninja before the events of the series. In the present, Chromedome learns that the ninja was Sixshot, and vows to exact vengeance on him.
  • Karma Houdini: Sixshot kills numerous characters in cruel ways ( including Ultra Magnus) and only rejects the Decepticons because Scorponok tried to kill him. He still gets to walk away at the end of the series, suffering no punishment.
  • Killed Off for Real: Optimus Prime, Cybertron itself, Galvatron, Ultra Magnus, and the planet Mars.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Scorponok turns up the seriousness of the show in that he actually proves to a very effective leader, even if he doesn't fight initially at least.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The first three episodes have over a hundred separate characters appearing in various roles. Once the Headmasters show up, both forces seem to lose a lot of their soldiers.
  • Losing Your Head: Duh.
  • Lucky Charms Title: Transformers: The☆Headmasters
  • Man-Eating Plant: Big enough that it prompts the first appearance of Fortress Maximus in order to defeat it.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Besides Transformers, the show also plugs other Takara products like Battle Beasts and Video Challenger
  • The Mole: Punch / Counterpunch, for the Autobots. His job is helped by the fact that the Decepticons have the collective brainpower of rice-pudding.
  • Multiple Headcase: Doubleheader, the Monsterbot, has two heads in his dragon mode. These heads have their own personalities, and tend to bicker with each other during fights.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Subverted. Scorponok dosent engage the Autobots in a physical fight until Episode 15, when his Transtector makes him almost uneatable.
  • Ninja: Sixshot
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Sixshot, again. He's a robot ninja with superpowers.
  • On The Next Episode Of Catchphrase
  • Noble Demon: Sixshot
  • Precision F-Strike: Chromedome:Fucking Destrons (Decepticons). He says it at around the 0:56 mark.
    • This is a case of Spice Up the Subtitles. Chromedome utters "Desutoron-me", which is a fairly light equivalent of coarse dialogue in the Japanese language. A more accurate translation would yield "damn Decepticons" or "curse you, Decepticons".
  • Plant Aliens: Used in one of Scorponok's schemes.
  • Put on a Bus: Rodimus Prime, who pretty much quits when Cybertron is destroyed. He takes Blurr and Kup with him.
  • The Power of Friendship
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad
  • Religious Robot: Brainstorm crosses himself, implying some sort of Christianity-based belief.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Surprisingly, Rodimus Prime, a good guy example of this trope who never returned to "save the day". After Cybertron was destroyed, Rodimus Prime pretty much gave up trying to lead the Autobots, casually pass on his leadership to Fortress, and left for another place. This is largely due to the writer's intention to replace him with the Headmasters as main protagonists.
  • Shout-Out: In one episode, when Fortress is trying to wield the Master Sword, there's the distinctive sound of the TARDIS in the background.
  • Spoiler Opening: "The Return of the Immortal Emperor!" gives away the climax in the first ten seconds.
  • Spoiler Title: Ultra Magnus Dies!!
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Arcee, previously displayed as being every bit the warrior as Rodimus or Springer, becomes the Autobot secretary. And when Rodimus decides to bug out, she offers to come with him, and is told to stay and look after Daniel and Wheelie.
  • Theme Music Powerup
  • Theme Tune Cameo Hard Head sings karaoke to the closing credits theme.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Daniel, Daniel, and Daniel again. But a key moment would be when he tries attacking a plant monster that can give Transformers a hard time with a stick.
  • The Strategist: Galvatron shows some serious strategic skill when he embarks on a planet plundering expedition by having Sixshot pose as him using his powers, along with previous episodes where he tries to neutralize the Autobots through science rather than a head on fight. Scorponok in his first stint as leader forces the Autobots to keep focused on Earth until he decides to destroy Mars and when his weak spot is exposed, avoids fighting, preferring underhanded methods until he can flee. If he hadant grasped the Villian Ball his plot would have worked.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: Several, actually. Headmasters inexplicably changed Cyclonus and Scourge from genuinely menacing and formidable warriors into mentally-retarded Dirty Coward Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain comic reliefs who manage little more than cheap childish slapstick whenever they appear. The E Nglish Dub makes it even worse.
    • Trypticon, previously portrayed as nigh-unstoppable to the average 'bot, gets taken out by frikken Wheelie tricking him into stepping on a suspension-bridge.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: Subverted in Explosion on Mars!! Maximus Is in Danger. When Fortress is about to transform into Fortress Maximus, the Decepticons launch a bomb in his face and immediately stop his Transformation Sequence.
  • Transformation Sequence: Fortress Maximus and Scorponok have them
  • Transforming Mecha
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The year 2011
  • Unexplained Recovery: Outside of the characters mentioned above in Back from the Dead, Galvatron somehow survives being at ground zero of a planetary explosion. No explanation is given to how he escaped.
  • Villain Ball:
    • Galvatron chose a bad time to reveal to Sixshot, who happened to be one of his most competent and loyal Decepticons, that he intends to sacrifice him for his Grand Galvatron project. Upon this revelation, Sixshot sensibly switched his allegiance to that of Scorponok, hence leaving Galvatron to his doom at the hands of the Autobot Headmasters.
  • Villain Decay:
    • Trypticon, who was previously able to level the Ark, is here reduced to a common Mook, capable of being taken out by a rope bridge and gravity.
    • Previously portrayed as formidable opponents of the Autobots, Cyclonus and Scourge were reduced to bumbling comic reliefs - Trying to use a big rock to take out Rodimus Prime (Who was busy in a physical struggle with Galvatron), only to hit Galvatron in the face instead.
  • Wham Episode: Cybertron Is in Grave Danger, Part 2. Scorponok blows up Cybertron, Galvatron is presumed dead, Rodimus, Kup and Blurr leave to find another planet to call home, and Rodimus makes Fortress the new leader of the Autobots.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Mindwipe, who has a vampire bat alt-mode, is terrified of bats.