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Animation / Tobot

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Look out, Transformers, there's a new franchise in town.

"Tobot X, waiting for your command."
Tobot X

Tobot, known in Korea as Byunshin Jadongcha Tobotnote , is an animated series produced in South Korea by toymaking company Young Toys and animating studio Retrobot. The first merchandise was released in 2009, and the animated series spanned 19 "seasons" from 2010 to 2015, featuring transforming robots and their "pilots".

Many years ago, Dr. Franklin Char and Limo, a pair of scientists work to combine their ideas in an effort to create a robot to help the world. However, their lab catches on fire and the two are separated, Franklin is injured, both of their wives are killed and their new robot fails to save them. Five years later, a group of mysterious men capture Franklin to the surprise of his twin sons, Ryan and Kory, who find that their father's car is actually a transforming robot.


The series has two English dubs: a Southeast Asian dub that stopped at season 13, and a North American dub by Ocean Productions that has finished dubbing the entire series (although it isn't readily available).

Note: as of April 2017, the videos are not available for viewing in the US, apparently. A similar trend has been noticed by one troper among various other foreign, especially Korean, animations with English dubs.

For reference, here's how the episodes of the English Dub are broken down: each of the Korean episodes are only approximately 4 minutes long. Each Korean Season (which is generally what is being referred to when "Season" is used on this page) is made up of about 16 (later 28, then 30) of these episodes that comprise 1 Story Arc.note  The 28 episodes of what is listed as "Season 1" here is comprised of the first 7 Korean Seasons broken up neatly into seven 4-episode Story Arcs, with each episode having four of the 4-minute Korean episodes spliced together with Eye Catches that, together with the Intro, Outro, and "last time/next time on" segments, make a more typical 21~ minute episode. "Season 2" uses a similar structure. The English episodes are seamless enough that you wouldn't know they were originally 4 minutes long unless you stumbled upon it or were told.


So, simply put: 1 Korean Season = 16 four-minute short-episodes = 4 English episodes (4 per episode) = 1 Story Arc. Phew.

Has a sister series called Biklonz, as well as a spin-off, Tobot Athlon. A new series, Tobot V, is currently in production, albeit with Studio Button at the helm instead of Retrobot.

Tropes present in Tobot:

  • All Your Powers Combined: The Spider Cannon that debuts in season 6 has Evolution X and Z shooting a giant laser gun at Evolution Y, who turns invisible, acting as a prism to fire a series of bright laser beams.
  • Art Evolution: Later Seasons, particularly after about Season 9 or so, see an increase in the overall quality from what came before. The colors are all more vivid and slightly more varied (and it's around this time were we begin to see more outdoorsy environments away from the city) and the models are much smoother and less grainy, too.
    • Despite the radical design changes, V's animation and visuals on a technical level are a fair bit better than the previous seasons, thanks in part to the advancements of CGI and a switch to a new studio.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: R often acts as a reporter and does his reports towards the audience.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: "Tobot ___, transform!" "Tobots! Integrate!"
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: Milder than most examples, but the story matter of each Season/Story Arc will tend to fluctuate up and down between Lighter and Softer and Darker and Edgier, like going from the first Season's ramifications of grade-school kids home alone without their father because he was kidnapped and fearing the Department of Child Disservices for a month's time to the following Seasons' more lighthearted "don't judge a book by its cover" and "don't develop a swollen head"/"be considerate to other's feelings" Aesops. Sometimes, even the episodes within each Arc will fluctuate, like those of Dylan's introductory Arc.
    • The Quatran Arc of Season 13 is another very good example: It goes from a somewhat overconfident Professor Noh and Tobot R getting injured to Noh needing blood of a rare type for a transfusion and surgery. Then it switches to Neon (carrier of said rare blood-type) being overworked by his comically nagging farmer dad as he begs him to let him leave to donate. The operation goes well, but it seems Noh is in no position to pilot R, and the deed goes to Neon. But wait! We now shift gears into finding an Acnee voice double, game show style, before settling on Diluk on helium, who proceeds to humiliate X, Y, Z, and W in public via a "Dance Off". From then on, we switch back and forth from Diluk getting too into the role as Acnee's voice double, Master Pitt covering up his shady doings with dangerous fires and the like, and Neon deeply struggling to be an effective pilot for Tobot R and leader for the Quatran integration team, complete with emotional turmoil. Oh, and that's not even getting into Pitt singing about his Evil Plan, complete with trippy background.
  • Combining Mecha: Different from most cases. When Tobots combine, their inner structure changes to be able to turn into the bigger robot's specific parts.
    • X + Y = Titan
    • X + Y + Z = Tritan
    • C + D + R + W = Quatran
    • Adventure X + Adventure Z + D = Deltatron
    • Adventure X + Adventure Y + Adventure Z + D + Taekwon K + Cargo (V) + Terracle (T) = Giga 7
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The aforementioned Combo Shield drains X and Y's power quickly.
  • Dub Name Change: For pretty much all of the human characters.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Many of the villain mecha have unimaginative names. For example, the robot that transforms from a dump truck is named "Dumpbot", and a flying raptor robot is named "Raptorbot".
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Season 16 has Limo mixing up the Mind Cores, resulting in them being placed in the wrong bodies.note 
  • Great Big Book of Everything: In season 1, Ryan uses the book Franklin and Limo published to work on repairing and upgrading the Tobots.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: The main point of Season 9. The Mind Cores react to emotions as a result of Ryan and Kory's mom's lullaby.
    • The same goes for Toborobot, the predecessor of the Tobots.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Subverted for a time. While Limo turns good, he only becomes part of the team 7 seasons later, since he gets arrested and does jail time in the meantime. Later, Zero turns good as well.
    • Right after being introduced, Nathan eventually develops a grudge against Ryan, Kory, and their Tobots, causing them problems out of spite at Diluk and Ms. Acnee's behest. Before the Story Arc is through, though, Timmy causes Nathan to go through a change of heart, reversing the damage done. A few Seasons later, he and his brother return, and he bonds with and eventually becomes the pilot to Tobot W.
  • Humongous Mecha: But of course, and they get more Humongous when they integrate with other Tobots.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Starting around Season 5, Dolly starts trying to find different ways to be useful and relevant to the Ryan-Kory-Dylan trio. When the prospect of having her own Tobot to pilot comes to light in Season 7, she darn near loses it with trying to make sure that pilot is her. Towards the Arc's end, she comes to the realization that Nathan, and not her, earned the right to be Tobot W's pilot when the voice synchronization process fails for her but succeeds for him. She eventually does come into a Tobot of her own in Tobot D.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bug: In various seasons, 1 and 14 in particular, the Buggys- small larvae robots- attach to the bottom of cars and cause them to go out of control. In doing so, they emit blue electric bolts, and thus can be seen easily from the side.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Though he's almost always ineffectual, with few exceptions, exactly how sympathetic Diluk is tends to waver. The Biker Bots tend to play this Trope straight more consistently.
  • Meaningful Name: For various Tobots:
    • Tritannote 
    • Wnote 
    • Cnote 
    • Rnote 
    • Dnote 
    • Quatrannote 
    • Cargonote  (V)
    • Terracle note  (T)
  • Monster of the Week: Subverted. There isn't a new monster every week (considering each episode is only four minutes long), but each villain robot is usually destroyed by the end of the season. We even get the "MoTW recycled" segment in Season 16. Arc Tyrant II is the only exception.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Makes sense considering Young Toys is a toy company and the majority of the Tobots are based on KIA cars.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Some of the stronger villain robots: Cyclops, Arc Tyrant II, Giant Centipede, Bulldozerbot.
  • The Night That Never Ends: Subverted/downplayed. In season 3, a machine is built on the tallest building in Daedo City to create dark clouds, preventing the Tobots from recharging with solar energy. In season 9 and the climax of season 15, the clouds return merely for dramatic effect.
  • No Flow in CGI: As a general "rule" for this show, most on-screen elements avoid having things that would obviously flow if given proper provocation: characters usually have short or compact hairstyles and favor fitted attire over loose, as examples, and if not, they tend to be in environments and situations where lack of flowing wouldn't be too out of place. Beyond this, this Trope will be Averted or Played Straight on the whims of the scene. Neon's hair is a perfect example of this, as it's usually laying flush against his face no matter what most of the time, but when he coolly blows on it or is falling fast down a shaft with the Tobots to certain doom, it's almost lovingly animated to flow freely.
    • Averted in The Movie, where the characters' hair has noticeably more movement.
    • Also averted in V, at least in regards to hair, which bounces and sways any time a character moves.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: Whenever we see his name spelled in the English Dub, it's always written as "Diluk" or "Dilluk". Despite this, his name is always pronounced "Diruk" when it's spoken.
    • Similarly, Season 10 introduces new villain Master Brad Pitt. Even though there are no longer any written English cues in show to reference possible spelling, Brad Pitt's name is always pronounced "Bad" Pitt whenever it is spoken, even by his adoring fans. Likely, this was done to make the joke more tongue-in-cheek, since he is a bad guy, and possible to make this parody slightly more lawyer friendly on the English side of things.
  • Out of Focus: After Season 3, Dylan's introductory Story Arc, finishes, Dolly, her mom, and Officer Oh go out of focus of the goings on, despite having had notable to decent presence beforehand (lampshaded by Dolly in Season 5 when she noted to Dr. Char that Ryan and Kory don't really call her anymore). Though Mrs. Park never really regains her overbearing prominence, Dolly and Hera eventually do gain more screen-time and focus that eventually culminates with them getting their own Tobots, with Dolly even getting a "I just want a Tobot of my own." subplot that spans multiple Seasons/Story Arcs beginning in Season 7.
    • Once Nathan becomes W's pilot, Timmy all but drops off the face of the show, only getting occasional cameos, usually sans lines. This is somewhat jarring since, beforehand, he was shown to be his brother's best friend and vice-versa, being attached to Nathan's hip so to speak, and he was very active in the Arc Nathan received W, including wanting to be his pilot for a time. Nathan always piloting W from the inside when transformed and the cockpit seemingly only having one seat probably didn't help in the long run. Also, unlike Dolly, who generally found ways to stick around the action and plot even when she was Out of Focus, Timmy is usually left at home (to his disappointment, as was once shown) when Nathan goes out adventuring.
  • Palette Swap: Great Tobot X, Shield-On Tritan, Shield-On X, Shield-On Y, Anti-Flame W, Black Quatrannote 
  • Power Trio: From the end of the third Season and onward, Ryan, Kory, and Dylan become this.
  • Put on a Bus/The Bus Came Back: Most of the new characters that are introduced with each Season's new Story Arc are written out come that Season's end, the biggest exception being Dylan, who sticks around permanently after he's introduced (Professor Noh sticks around one Arc past his introduction, but leaves at the beginning of the following Arc). It's near routine that if a character leaves their Arc amicable with or having befriended our trio of Ryan-Kory-Dylan, then you can expect them to return at a later date. It's likely not coincidence that they tend to become Tobot pilots down the road, too.
    • Starter Villain Limo gets put in a car to jail at the end of Season 1, then returns later in Season 8. Likewise, Neon also leaves via car to return to his parents at the end of his intro Story Arc only to return later.
  • Screw Destiny: Scientifically, it would be impossible for the Tobots to defeat Arc Tyrant II. They try it anyway.
  • Ship Tease: Dolly gets some with Ryan, Corey, and Dylan, complete with some Tsundere tendencies. She also does a one-off swoon upon meeting Neon.
  • Shout-Out: Angela is building a bunch of Biklonz toys in season 17 specifically Taurus.
    • In general, the two shows constantly reference each other in interesting ways.
    • This show has tons of cute and funny shout outs to real world things, often done in the fashion of very obvious Bland Name Products. McRonald's and Kimchi King were two of the first and kind of "blink and you'll miss it" in that they usually occurred during driving scenes. Neon's intro Story Arc brings quite a few more, too.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Quatran and Deltatron. To elaborate, after their debut, one of the later combiner Tobots will appear for the final battle every season (with the exception of season 15) until the next one. For example, season 14 had a focus on Dylan, Limo and Z, but Quatran came in and cleaned up. In season 17, which was mostly between Kory, Suho, Y and K, Deltatron beats the enemy robot. Likely due to the fact that the series is Merchandise-Driven.
  • Super Mode: Great Tobot X, although it's only used for one season.
  • Toilet Humour: Happens often in season 3 and occurs rarely after that, with a big example being Season 7's Stinkerbot, which throws out obnoxious gases and outright poo!
  • Too Long; Didn't Dub: Some of the sentences and phrases said in the English dub sound like they came fresh out of Google Translate. Seems to happen more noticeably in later Seasons.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: Once a Tobot begins transforming, the enemy robots do nothing until the transformation ends. This even applies to Tobot C, who takes 17 seconds to transform. To put this into perspective, this is about how long Tritan- a three piece combiner- takes to transform.
  • Transformation Trinket: All Tobots require a specialized "ToKey" to transform.
  • Transforming Mecha: From Vehicle Mode, to Robot Mode, to Combiner Mode, and other such modes in-between.
  • True Companions: A common point in several seasons, usually between Ryan, Kory and Dylan.
  • Unexpected Character: Who really expected Zero, an emotionless villain robot, to return as a pacifist Tobot? Limo, too, to a lesser extent, particularly considering how long he was gone.
  • Verbal Tic: Almost every Tobot.
    • Z ends his sentences with "that's what I heard" or "that's what I said".
    • After attacking, Tritan bows and says "Sir,".
    • The last word of W's sentences echo.
    • C ends his sentences with "Over." followed by a "tssh".
    • As previously mentioned, R acts as a news reporter.
    • As a result of being underdeveloped, D talks with very few words, sometimes getting their order mixed up.
    • Verbal tics are also present in Zero, Deltatron, K, Cargo (V), Terracle (T), and Giga 7, although the dubbed versions are difficult to locate.
  • Weapon of Choice:
  • Wham Episodes: The episodes/Story Arcs comprised of Seasons 8 and 9.


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