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Anime / Transformers: Super-God Masterforce

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We believe tomorrow.

Transform! God On!

Transformers: Super-God Masterforce (1988) is the third or fourth (depending on how the third season of G1 is viewed) incarnation of Transformers produced. Divisive even by Transformers standards, it tells the story of a battle between Transformers who become humans, and humans who become Transformers.

Millennia ago, a group of Transformers gained the ability to disguise themselves as organic beings. Calling themselves Pretenders, they came to live on Earth, where the Autobots disguised themselves as humans. The Decepticons disguised themselves as demons and terrorized humanity until they were sealed away in the Egyptian pyramids, Atlantis, and the Nazca Lines of Peru. Much later, the Decepticon Pretenders reawaken and, led by the mysterious Devil Z, begin an assault on humanity.

A short time into the show, both factions recruited the Headmaster Juniors. These were a group of human children bonded to inanimate Transformer bodies known as Transtectors, of which they became the heads. They thus represented a medium between the American and Japanese incarnations of the Headmaster toys, while also being closest thing Transformers has had to Humongous Mecha. The Autobot Headmaster Juniors transformed into emergency vehicles, while their Decepticon counterparts transformed into animals.

Later, the Godmasters (whose toys were known as Powermasters in English-speaking territories) were introduced. Godmasters were similar to Headmaster Juniors, but instead of forming their Transtectors' heads, they formed the engines. They added jinchokon, the Life Energy of humanity, to the tenchokon (heavenly energy) and chichokon (Earth energy) of the Transformers, thus forming the ultimate lifeform - the Super-Gods of the title.

In terms of continuity, Masterforce is canonically set after Headmasters; however, while Headmasters was clearly set 20 Minutes into the Future, Masterforce used contemporary technology and fashions. However, aside from a few brief instances, Masterforce is pretty much self-contained, and so knowledge of Headmasters is (fortunately) not necessary to follow or understand it.

Masterforce was the first Transformers series to have an ongoing plot and Character Development. The theme of personal transformation, rather clumsily attempted in Headmasters, is skillfully shown here as the human characters are shown to initially be quite naive and to gradually evolve into powerful warriors and protectors. The final result is a rather sad but satisfying ending.

The toyline was largely the same as the American G1 toyline for 1989, but with a few additions, such as the Ginrai toy (Optimus Prime in Hasbro territories) coming with the Godbomber; this would not be released outside Japan until 2003 with the 15th anniversary reissue of Powermaster Optimus Prime, where it was known as Apex Armor.

The Pretenders were rather simple toys with basic transformations and forgettable altmodes, which came with human- or demon-shaped posable outer shells. The Headmaster Junior toys were the same as the regular Headmaster toys - a large robot whose head transforms into a smaller robot and whose body becomes a vehicle or animal. The Godmasters also had two components; one was a small human in Powered Armor that transforms into an engine which plugs into a slot in the larger vehicle. The vehicle cannot transform into robot mode unless the engine is plugged in.note 

The cartoon received the same hilariously bad dub treatment as Transformers Headmasters. The dub was first broadcast in Malaysia on RTM-1 in 1988, and later in Singapore on StarTV. DVDs containing both the dub and subtitled Japanese episodes were released in the UK in 2006 (sub only) and Australia in 2008; both were also shown in the UK on Anime Central in 2007.

The entire series is now released on DVD, but you'll won't be able to find the extras post-series like you would on YouTube, since they were not included.

Followed by Transformers Victory

The show provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Minerva doesn't like to fight, but usually comports herself well when she has to.
  • All There in the Manual: A lot of plot points aren't explained during the show's run.
    • Just what the heck the deal is with Devil Z. A clip show explained he was an evil alien. Decades later, Ask Vector Prime said He was the child of a Light God, partner and sibling to the original Godmaster, who became corrupted on entering Earth's atmosphere. And also a space alien, since that reality had become more strange after Zarak blew up Cybertron.
    • As to why BlackZarak has gone from the Big Bad to a slightly tougher-than-average goon for Devil Z... he's brainwashed.
    • BlackZarak gets his head knocked off by Ginrai in their tussle on the moon, but it doesn't slow him down. This goes completely unexplained in the show, but supplementary materials revealed the true Zarak is actually wired into the body's torso.
  • Anachronic Order: According to the Transformers Wiki, when the series was aired in Russia, this series was the first to be shown, then to Victory, then to Headmasters.
  • Anime Hair: Mostly averted, though Clouder plays this one to the hilt.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Sixknight, also Cancer is literally one.
  • A Mech by Any Other Name: Though part of the "Transformers" meta-family, Masterforce also makes use of lifeless mech bodies called 'Transtectors' that a human being can merge with, effectively becoming a giant robot as opposed to merely piloting one.
  • Anti-Villain: Cancer clearly has the most sympathetic backstory, is outright disgusted at some of the more serious schemes, and when Devil Z goes completely off the rails, he turns on the Decepticons.
  • Arch-Enemy: Every friggin' Decepticon treat Ginrai as their most powerful and dangerous enemy, treating the other Autobot Godmasters as if they donn't matter.
  • As You Know: Blood has an unusually appropriate reaction to this trope being used on him: "Shut up! I don't need you to tell me that!"
  • Battle Couple: Mega and Giga.
  • Bicep-Polishing Gesture: Minerva, of all people—when she's talking about how good she is at making salad.
  • Big Bad: The series has you convinced that Overlord is the greatest threat for the longest time. Turns out its Devil Z.
  • Bishōnen: Buster's decidedly feminine appearance is a leftover from the character's original conception as a girl.
  • Blood Brothers: Buster and Hydra. As an added bonus, they are literally blood relatives.
  • Blood Knight: Sixknight wanders the galaxy in search of of a Worthy Opponent. Of course, Ginrai proves to be that worthy opponent.
  • Bowdlerise: Anytime a character sound like they're about to swear, "Scrap" is used in its place in the region 1 release. Ginrai briefly "swears" until later episodes replace any instance of swearing as "scrap" as all the others. Sometimes out of place.
  • Brain Washed: Black Zarak is the Headmasters villain Mega Zarak/Scorponok in a new body. Prior to the start of the Masterforce series, Devil Z made him his mind-controlled bitch.
  • Broad Strokes/Continuity Snarl: Masterforce is both a clean break from and a continuation of Headmasters — something that tends to frustrate Transformers fans. The creators wanted to try something new with this series, and it has a dramatically different feel compared to any Transformers media that precedes it. But it also canonically follows Headmasters, which makes viewers wonder things like "if this show is set post-2020, why is its setting indistinguishable from the late 1980s?" or "considering that the Autobots previously had a public presence on Earth, why don't humans recognize Transformers anymore?" Don't expect the show to address these questions.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Minerva is half-Japanese.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • The Decepticon Pretenders were a considerable threat in the first couple of episodes. Afterwards, they are just sort of there to be trounced by Godmasters.
    • King Poseideon has the same issue. He's the first Decepticon combiner in this series and was a considerable threat. After Ginrai becomes both Super and God, his threat level is practically non-existent, but only to him. Others such as Headmaster Jrs., he's still a threat to.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: Lots of variations: "Suit On!", "Pretender!!", "Masterforce!", "Head On!" and "God On!".
    • The Hydra brothers also yell "Wing Cross!" when combining, while Ginrai gets "Double On!" and "Chojin Gattai!" for his increasingly more powerful transformations.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Anything more flashy than your standard gunshot gets a fancy name. Even if it's just a whip.
  • The Cameo / Continuity Nod: Chromedome makes a brief appearance in an early episode, linking this series with Headmasters. Metalhawk reveals that he supplied the Transtectors for the Junior Headmasters.
  • Character Development: This is the first Transformers show where characters effectively change and grow as people. Though admittedly, the Transformers aren't subject to development. Just the humans.
    • This is noticable with Ginrai. At first, he didn't want anything to do with the Cybertronian wars, but circumstance forced him to be a permanent memeber of the Autobots. While fighting BlackZarak and Overlord on the moon, he realizes how beautiful the Earth is, and must not let it become a dead world like the moon.
    • Cancer's central conflict is when he realizes how nice Minerva is being nice to him. Since then, his sense of right and wrong plagued him, until he realizes the lengths the Decepticons are willing to go to destroy humanity. He ultimately defected to the Autobots, and help them find the Decepticons' hideout.
  • Character-Magnetic Team: The Autobot ranks swell over the course of the series, while the Decepticons never get any new permanent additions outside of Hydra and Buster.
  • Child Soldier: At least some of the Autobots and Decepticons ranks are kids to teenagers. The Autobots has two adult Godmasters, with Lightfoot being the youngest. The youngest Godmaster in the Deceptionsis probably Clouder.
  • Combining Mecha: The dread King Poseidon. However, since he's made to the Seacons, he's not much of a threat.
  • Complexity Addiction: Hydra, Hydra, HYDRA. The guy's never happy with the idea of just killing his opponents with guns, he's always got to create an overly elaborate scheme first. But his best example of this would be his plan in Ep 21. To whit; kidnap every doctor on Earth, to make people realise how short life is, to make them lose the will to live. Somehow.
  • Crutch Character: The Autobots treat Ginrai as he is their only hope as he is the strongest among his other three fellow Godmasters (and plus with Godbomber, which makes him the strongest Autobot in general). The Decepticons' feeling is mutual as they treat him as their greatest threat.
  • Cultural Cross-Reference: One episode makes a direct reference to Superman.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Sixknight bows to this.
  • Delinquents: The Decepticon Headmaster Jrs., especially Bullhorn and Wilder.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Buster and Hydra hatch an utterly ridiculous plan to do this with their hostages so they'll lose their will to live. This involves kidnapping every doctor in the entire world. They make Megatron or Galvatron look like geniuses.
  • Distressed Damsel: Minerva, on occasion.
  • Doing In the Wizard: The Shout Factory subtitles make a valiant attempt at proclaiming the various Chokon powers to be "Energon", but... it's magic super-powers.
  • The Drifter: Ginrai wanted to be this. Until Buster and Hydra attacked his co-workers, prompting him to permanently join the Autobots.
  • Dubtitle: As with Transformers Headmasters, the region 1 DVD release changes the name of several characters to match their American counterparts from their Japanese. However, "Godmaster" was never changed to "Powermaster" despite the two being similar (except that transectors are non-sentient compared the already sentient Powermaster robots).
    • Plus, the name of the girl's little dog Pis is renamed to "Peace" in the subtitles. For obvious reasons. However, the grave for the dog has its name kept as is.
  • Elite Mook: King Poseidon, essentially.
    • The Sparkdash grunts may also qualify. They seem to function as Devil Z's equivalent to the Seacons.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The intro of the series shows major characters 15-20 episodes before they are introduced in some cases. For instance, Ginrai first appears in episode 9, but he features prominently in the opening from the very start. The ending is no better either, showing all six Headmaster Jrs before the majority of them turn up in an episode.
  • Empathic Weapon: The Godbomber upgrade for Ginrai. It can't talk, but it does communicate.
  • Energy Being: Devil Z. Though any further information on his motivations/origins are not divulged.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Most of the Decepticons who still have human components turn against Devil Z at the end, without much success.
  • Expy: Ginrai's Transtector looks essentially identical to Optimus Prime, the toy having been designed as a new version of the character.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Ranger.
  • Four Is Death: Sixknight appears in four episodes through the series. The final time has him reduced to a smoking crater by Devil Z.
  • Freudian Excuse: In "God Ginrai - Save Cancer!?", Cancer joined the Decepticons because he wanted to help his former master to give the dojo it's reputation. In "God Ginrai - Showdown at the Decepticon's Base", he also explains that he wanted to join them to become stronger. In parallels to his action at the start of the series where he, alongside Bullhorn and Wilder, cause mayhem.
  • Front Line General: Ginrai when he becomes Autobot leader, and Overlord.
  • Gratuitous English: ''You are hero!'' and We Believe Tomorrow.
  • Handsome Lech: Lander, who apparently is struck with a critical case of Mars Needs Women.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: After Cancer talks Wilder and Bullhorn into siding with the Autobots, they rush to their transtectors, ready to join the fight, and ZAP! Devil Z separates them and brings the mecha to life on their own.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Sixknight, Clouder, eventually all the human Decepticons but Buster and Hydra.
  • Henshin Hero: Masterforce is unique among Transformers series in that human beings play very active roles as both the central protagonists and the main antagonists.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Sixknight. Overlord also has a try, but doesn't fare too well.
    • Lightfoot's also a bit too eager to give up his life for the sake of the mission.
  • Honour Before Reason: Sixknight may be an arrogant jerk who's secure in his superiority, but he'll beat you fair and square to show you his superiority.
    • Later in the series, Overlord insists on fighting the incredibly powerful God Ginrai without using any of his weapons in order to showcase 'the power of flesh' to his nutjob boss. He's willing to die in the process, if need be.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In the episode "Life? Death? A Desperate Lightfoot!", Hydra threatens to cut his arms off if he doesn't join them. During the battle, Lightfoot punches Buster's arm clean off.
  • Hot-Blooded: Ginrai. Though he can also be mighty laid back, too.
  • Humans Are Special: Jinchokon (meaning "The Power of Man" essentially) is unique to humans. It allows the Godmasters to attain their full power by combining the three primal energies of life: the other two on their own are nowhere near as potent without Jinchokon.
    • The belief that humans are special is why Metalhawk and the other Autobot Pretenders have created human disguises.
  • Humongous Mecha Real ones too.
  • I Am Your Opponent: Practically Ginrai's Catch-Phrase.
  • Idiot Ball: Ginrai decidedly chose to bring 3 Godmasters instead of just him and one other to handle Buster and Hydra, leaving the exposed Autobot base raided by Decepticons.
  • The Idiot from Osaka: Browning.
  • Image Song: "Don't Cry".
  • Improbable Age: Clouder is (probably) a U.S government agent, despite looking somewhere in his early twenties at the most.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Devil Z severely beats Hydra and Buster for failure. Afterwards, Hydra declares they deserved it for being "weak".
  • Jumped at the Call: The Autobot Headmaster Jrs. Lightfoot, Ranger and Road King all seem pretty fine with having to fight evil alien robots, too.
    • Clouder as well. It's just that he decided to join the Decepticons first.
  • Kick the Dog: Wilder literally kicked and killed a little girl's puppy simply because it was annoying him. As if he hadn't been shown to be an utter sociopath already...
  • Kill All Humans: After bearing witness to the feats of the Godmasters throughout the series, Devil Z panics at the power of human potential and decides it'd be a wise move to exterminate the lot of them.
  • Knightof Cerebus: Devil Z significantly ups the darkness in the series. When he takes over in the final arc, there is absolutely no comedy whatsoever.
  • Lensman Arms Race: Both factions race to locate the leftover Godmasters. When that comes to a close they focus on giving their respective commanders powerful upgrades.
  • Made of Explodium: The Seacons. Later, the Sparkdashers join them.
  • Magic Countdown: In "Crisis! The Day of Human Extinction", during Black Zarak's second countdown, approximately 27 seconds pass between "five" and "two" when God Ginrai and Overload gets into a fight and Overload tries to prevent Ginrai from stopping Devil Z's weapon from completely destroying the stratosphere.
  • Meaningful Name: Cancer's name is another word for "crab". And thus, fitting for his transtector that looks like a Giant Enemy Crab. Unfortunately, it got Lost in Translation when his name was changed to "Sqeezeplay" (his American toy name) instead.
  • Mechanical Lifeform: The Transformers themselves.
  • The Medic: Minerva. Her transtector turns into an ambulence, after all.
    • All three of the Autobot Headmaster Jrs are primarily assigned to rescue duties before engaging in combat.
  • Merchandise-Driven: 'natch.
  • Metaphorically True: a villainous example – as revealed by Ask Vector Prime, the Godmasters being parts of a divine being, the complete Godmaster, and Godmessenger being it's sibling, as told by Devil Z, are true, with the exception of the fact Godmaster wasn't a Decepticon God – he/she and it's sibling Godmessenger – Devil Z, are children of a Light God – member of Primus' pantheon of light, and kin to Primus and Unicron. It's more complicated though, as the origin of them eight Transtectors from the G Nebula stolen by Devil Z is also true, due to a Cosmic Paradox that created a Schrödinger's Cat situation.
  • Midseason Upgrade: Super Ginrai becomes God Ginrai.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal:
    • Clouder initially decides to join the Decepticons, because he thinks they're cooler. Then they leave him to die in the exploding Autobot base.
    • Mega and Giga become increasingly disgruntled by Devil Z's crappy treatment of his troops, until they turn on him. Sadly, Redemption Equals Death.
  • Monumental Damage: The Arc D' Triomph gets blown up twice.
  • Multinational Team: The Headmaster Juniors and Godmasters on both sides are from all over the world.
  • Mysterious Past: Devil Z spends most of the series looking like a pulsating energy ball. Then, when he fuses with Blackzarak, he states he is revealing his true form. We get a brief glimpse of some creepy looking foetus, and that's it. A later clip show hurriedly explained he was an energy being from space. And as further revealed by Ask Vector Prime, Devil Z is the Godmessenger from the origins of the Godmasters he described. Godmessenger (Devil Z) and Godmaster, were originally children of a Light God, but when they entered Earth's atmosphere, Godmaster got shattered into the 8 Godmasters, and Godmessenger got corrupted into Devil Z.
  • No Export for You: Inverted. Shout! Factory released the entire series on DVD in North America. The only thing they did not include was the clipshows and an extra where Shuta and Grand Maximus explaining every detail about the entire story. However, it may due the fact that Toei Animation refuses to release the clipshows and only for the episodes, as they initially refused to send Scramble City and the 'Transformers Zone'' OVA.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Devil Z.
  • On The Next Episode Of Catchphrase: "Now, you too use the Masterforce to transform!"
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Sixknight is not only a rare Six Changer but he's also mastered one of the three forms of Chokon energy. In any previous series he would possibly be one of the strongest Transformers in existence. Unfortunately for him by the time he shows up most of the regulars have all three forms of Chokon energy and he routinely gets kicked to the curb as a result.
  • Parrot Exposition: Quite commonly, one character will say something, and another character will repeat it in an awed or shocked tone.
    Devil Z: It is a powerup for Super Ginrai.
    Giga: A powerup for Super Ginrai?
  • Pet the Dog
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Sixknight, of the Six Tribe.
  • Put on a Bus: The Autobots Pretenders are quickly pushed out of the limelight to make way for the super-cool Godmasters. The title sequence even changes halfway through the series to reflect this.
    • Phoenix is put on a bus almost immediately, getting virtually no screentime.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Decepticon Pretenders probably count.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Overlord and Sixknight get this.
  • Refusal of the Call: Ginrai resists becoming a permanent member of the Autobot crew for a while, eventually deciding to join when the Decepticons show they won't stop making his life hell even when he's not on the battlefield.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Minerva and Shuta Goh to an extent, particularly in the first half of the show. Oddly enough levelheaded Minerva had a red color scheme whereas hotheaded Shuta has a blue color scheme.
  • Rocket Punch: Ginrai's Godbomber upgrade allows him to do this. Fortunately, his fists return on their own.
  • Rookie Red Ranger: Once Ginrai becomes the first Autobot Godmaster, he automatically becomes the leader despite no leadership skills. Once he gains enough character development, Ginrai is able to send and give orders with no problem.
  • Sentai
  • She's Got Legs: In "Panic! Protect the Wild Animals!!," Minerva dons an outfit that shows off her legs (and invokes Bare Your Midriff and Who Wears Short Shorts? to boot). Shuta and Cab immediately start ogling her.
  • Sibling Team: Hydra & Buster.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Cab can converse with animals. He even keeps a bird and armadillo.
  • Story Arc: While Masterforce does have quite a few standalone episodes, its best appreciated in a back-to-back format. Certainly executed much better than Headmasters and Victory.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: One instance has Ginrai explaining the finer points to transforming and being a Godmaster to new guy Ranger while Ranger is falling off a cliff.
  • Team Mom: Mega is a rare villainous version. She genuinely seems to care about Cancer/Squeezeplay.
  • Team Pet: Cab's parrot and armadillo, as well as Browning.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Hydra and Buster attack Ginrai during his day job on a few occassions. They also take the oppurtunity to murder some of his friends.
  • Theme Music Powerup: Several themes of Masterforce are good indicators that you're about to get the snot beaten out of you.
    • Ironically, one such song that was specifically about Ginrai was played while the suped-up Hydra brothers were badly beating him.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Most of the things the Decepticons do is usually called this by the Autobots, as per the course, but what really crosses this is when Devil Z starts killing his own minions.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Shuta, Cab, and Minerva.
  • Title Sequence Replacement: About halfway through the series, the original multi-character title sequence is replaced by one that focuses largely on Ginrai fighting Overlord.
  • Transforming Mecha
  • True Companions: Both good and evil.
  • Too Dumb to Live: As the Transformers Wiki says, "Shuta comes up with the worst plan ever for dealing with a combiner". Which involves jumping on King Poseideon's arm to break it off. What?
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: No-one ever comments in the series that Ginrai's transtector is a dead-ringer for a certain famous Autobot. One of the clip shows explained that he was meant to be a new body for Optimus, until Devil Z got involved.
  • Unwanted Harem (Gender-flipped and G-rated)
  • Villain Decay: The poor Decepticon Pretenders suffer from this. They go from being monstrously ruthless foes to the threat level of your average He-Man villain.
    • King Poseidon also stops being quite as threatening when Ginrai beats seven bells out of him every other day.
  • Villainous Rescue: Towards the end of the series, the Autobot Headmaster Juniors and a reformed Cancer were in a pinch fighting the Seacons and just when they were about to be overwhelmed, the disgruntled Decepticon Headmaster Juniors came in and helped turn the tide of the battle.
  • Walking the Earth: Sixknight after his humbling defeat by Ginrai.
  • Watching Troy Burn: After the Decepticons successfully attempted All Your Base Are Belong to Us, they utterly demolished the Autobots' base.
  • We Have Reserves: The Seacons are droves of mindless drones who show up, fire a few lasers and then explode.
    • The Sparkdashers don't fare much better.
  • Wham Episode: Several of them
    • "Super Warriors- The Godmaster Brothers" brings in Hydra and Buster, which suddenly not only puts the Autobots in serious trouble, but changes the entire series.
    • " Eliminate the Godmaster Ginrai" brings in Devil Z, which completely changes the tone of the series.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Plenty. The region 1 DVD names several characters based on their American toy. It would be hard listing all of them.
  • Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: One episode had Hydra pretty much refuse to use his guns at the proper moment: He has Ginrai cornered and outgunned, he walks menacingly towards him, smirks and...flips his guns over and uses them as clubs. Later on his brother has Ginrai in a chokehold, so Hydra once again moves to shoot the hero, only to discard his gun at the last moment and punch Ginrai in the gut. JUST SHOOT HIM ALREADY.
  • Word Salad Title
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Giga has green hair.
  • You Have Failed Me: As one might expect, big boss Devil Z starts to get mighty peeved at the constant failures of his underlings. So much so he almost batters Buster and Hydra to death in a fit of rage.