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I'm re-watching Armada

PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:45 pm
by Sabrblade
I've decided to take another watch of Armada. As a refresher viewing. This time, however, I'll be looking at it from a fresh, unbiased perspective without any expectations aside from "to be entertained and satisfied". So, the nostalgia glasses come off here and now. No influences from past feelings or memories. Just honest, open-minded viewing.

I'll be sharing my thoughts on each episode here in this thread.

Re: I'm re-watching Armada

PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:46 pm
by Wing Saber
This ought to be interesting.

This perspective is what really helped me enjoy Animated the second go-round.

Re: I'm re-watching Armada

PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:43 pm
by Sabrblade
Episode 1

:o :o :o :o :o :o :o

Oh... my... word...

That... was... uuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh! :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry:

Terrible! Just so terrible! The script, it's simply unbearable! GAAAAAAH!!!! :x

*after calming down*

Okay... let me try again.

The actual story itself was just okay. Not great, but okay enough. And the whole mysterious nature surrounding the panel in the group as everything lights up and goes crazy was very surreal. The animation was par for the course, without much that looked really off about it. Then again, it's a rather ordinary art style that at this point feels more "safe" than anything, so nothing too eye-popping in this one.

The problems that came about in this one, however, were very noticeable

First off, none of the Autobots and Decepticons actually showed up until the final few minutes, leaving the kids being the main focus for the most part. And I'm sorry to say that they were not very entertaining at all. Rad's a middle schooler who sounds like a high schooler but speaks with the mannerisms of a grade schooler, and provides way too much expository narration for the audience. Carlos is just... well, he's not too terrible in this one, but he's close. It's Alexis, however, who proves the most grating, with her inflated obnoxiousness and swinging moods switching from stuck up but calm to loud and flat out harsh. Billy's hardly worth calling a "bully", as he's more what PBS Kids would portray as a bully. And out of all of them, it's pretty sad when that leaves Fred as the best-written character of the episode. :-(

And when the robots do finally show up, at first it's only Megatron who appears on Earth and... he just stands there. He sees the Mini-Con in front of him, but does he actually attempt to grab for it? Nup! He just looks at it all bored and confused, only finally making a move for it when it goes mobile. Then there's his dialogue, or lack thereof. His lines consist almost entirely of "Hmm", "Mmmm", "Hmm?" and the occasional "Hrrgh". He doesn't start to actually say any words until a good amount after his arrival, towards the episode's end. That's right about when Optimus shows up, who has zero qualms with speaking out loud and yelling all his lines (at least he's expressing more energy than Megatron's boring debut). :P They then proceed to have a fight that involves them, um... grabbing each other's hands and pushing. Not very action-y. :|

Okay, I've beat around the bush long enough, so it's time to talk about the elephant in the room, the script. There is no defending this here, the script is simply the worst aspect of this episode. When the first line spoken in a show is as badly written as something like "Lightyears ago...", it's never a good sign. And it just heads downhill from there throughout the rest of it. I honestly do not remember ever having been so frustrated by this as a kid. It is so obviously rushed and hastily put together that makes it so baffling that they felt this was deemed worthy for televised air. Then again, Cartoon Network has done this with other shows they've aired back in the day, so I guess I shouldn't find it too surprising.

Overall, I am sad to say that this was not as enjoyable a watch as I had hoped, instead having very disappointing results. However, I made a commitment to see this viewing to the end and plan to stick to it. Hopefully, things may improve over time since, considering the deadlines CN place on this show at the time, I wouldn't be surprised if it gets better after the first few episodes, when deadlines wouldn't have been such an issue.

Re: I'm re-watching Armada

PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:39 am
by ironrod prime

Re: I'm re-watching Armada

PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2013 4:22 pm
by Sabrblade
Episode 2 -

Good grief! This one was even worse! :x

I really don't know what to make of this one as far as any positives go. The script was just as bad, if not worse than before, and this one was a very vocally-driven episode with its actions affected by what the characters were saying.

TFWiki hits the nail on the head when describing what was up with script:
The English dub of Armada was plagued with errors—not deliberate changes in premise and dialogue (although those did exist), or other things that would make a typical anime fan claim the dub was "bad", but genuine, quantifiable technical faults on a scripting and production level that make it clear the show was put together hastily, haphazardly, and was, ultimately, simply not up to modern broadcast standards when it was released. Most explicit are the repeated instances of characters being referred to with the wrong name, particularly the Mini-Cons, but evidence strongly suggesting that many scripts were translated only very roughly, and never given proper re-writes to either adapt them for a Western audience, or to even check if they actually corroborated what was happening on-screen. Characters give long, rambling, semi-coherent monologues, react strangely to one another's dialogue, have very disjointed "conversations", reiterate obvious plot points to one another, and repeatedly use stock phrases such as "Hey, wait up!" Moments of intended silence are filled with babble, especially the dreaded "Uh?" every time a character reacts to anything.
And boy does it show in this one!

We finally get some dialogue after more staring and grunting from the other Autobots and Decepticons who arrive on the scene (seriously, is Optimus the only one who's allowed to speak clearly in his debut?), and it's not really anything that great. The Autobots are all business with flat, straightman personalities, which makes for a lousy first impression. Red Alert looks up at the moon as says, "They're up there..." as though he somehow already knows about where the Decepticon base is, when none of the Autobots should know that at all. It's only episode 2 and already there's a massive continuity error. :-(

The discussion at the Decepticon base isn't much better either, with all of Megatron's lines being generic evil threats and anger. Demolishor and Cyclonus (the latter of whom had the weakest first impression due to his lazily sleeping during the battle) are just generic mooks, and Starscream's... just there. Their dialogue is all flat and one-note without little effort put into it to make any of them stand out.

Rad's exposition in the base has him not only repeating what was already made clear in the opening narration of the first episode, but he reaches his conclusions through many massive leaps of logic, deducing things he should not being able to even know.

Optimus says he's going to scan the area for any Decepticons... when the visuals clearly show him to not be doing that at all. Rather, he's simply scanning an Earth altmode for himself. :roll:

The rest of the episode is either Megatron being a gluttonous jerk or the kids goofing off with their new Mini-Cons, with the Autobots only returning toward the end to get the kids out of a jam. Optimus does get a big hero moment, slamming his truck mode into Megatron, but that's when the disappointment kicks in. The Bots show up, get ready to rumble with the Cons in this somewhat decent entrance, and it just cuts to the episode's end on a frustrating cliffhanger. :x

Well, at least we got a surprisingly gorgeous, albeit sinister and evil-looking, close up of Optimus's super mode face. :|

Episode 3 -

Right off the bat, the script kicks in the stupidity. Rad's initial narration claims that everything happening onscreen are events that happened last episode, when anyone who saw the previous one would know that isn't the case, what with these events supposed to be this episode's beginning proper.

And really, these narrations--not just Rad's but all of them in general--have been a big strike against this cartoon. With the first episode, we got an opening narration explaining to us things that are happening on screen, as though we're to stupid enough to actually see what's happening on screen. Not to mention that some of the things spoken in said narration even seem to contradict what we're looking at, like the first episode's narration saying that a truce was signed to let the Mini-Cons leave Cybertron, despite all the visuals showing a space battle going on that's obviously got one side trying to prevent the Mini-Cons from leaving. What, did this so-called treaty say that they could only leave under heavy laser fire trying to shoot them down? It's the same kind of irrational thinking with the opening narration of this episode claiming what's happening now is what happened previously, when it clearly isn't. It's almost along the same kind of thinking of what the Japanese did to their dub of the G1 cartoon, adding needless narrations into places that contain no speaking so as to inform audiences what's going on onscreen when anyone looking at the screen can clearly see what's happening. It's an insult to the audience's intelligence and a sign of inconsiderate simple-mindedness. :-(

And once we get to the introduction scene in the base with the Autobots and kids, the dialogue exchange between them once again repeats things that we already know for the third time. And, no, it's not done simply as a means to inform the characters, but the wording and delivery of the lines by the actors is done in a way that makes it pretty clear that it's to inform the audience yet again of what we already know. :roll:

At least we get some more plot development with Hot Shot getting Jolt, Red Alert getting Longarm, Cyclonus getting Crumplezone (offscreen, apparently), and Demolishor getting Blackout (Megatron got Leader-1 last episode in a childish fit of his). But, wait. Demolishor gets Blackout after Megatron just gives it to him, yet Megatron tells Starscream that he has to find his own Mini-Con. Favoritism much, Megatron? Or is it just plain spite? That's not gonna win you any popularity points if you keep dissing your own men, Megatron. First Cyclonus last episode, now Starscream. Why do they like you, again? :roll:

Then we get an alert of another Mini-Con being located aaaaaaaaand... cliffhanger. :|

Episode 4 -

At last, we reach the final part of the series opener. Back when the show debuted on Toonami, Cartoon Network ran the first three episodes together in the form of a TV movie special. Probably would have been smarter to include episode 4 in that airing since all four episodes tell one contiguous story, and ending it on episode 3's cliffhanger makes for a pretty hollow ending.

This episode introduces the spiffy Autobot suits for the humans, which feel kinda pointless in the rather warm climate they're gonna be warping to pretty soon.

Rad's concerns about how long it'll take for them to get to "Big Canyon" (what, was "Grand Canyon" too hard to translate correctly?) felt too long and drawn out, and aren't helped by Carlos and Alexis simply refusing to listen to him. On one hand, he's trying to make a valid point about how far away the place is, yet they just idiotically ignore him. On the other hand, he takes forever to get to the point, making their reluctance to hear him out feel more justified. During this whole exchange, I'm going "Stop stalling and just spit it out already, Rad! And will you two just shut up and listen to reason, already!" Why are we supposed to like these kids again?

What's worse is when they finally all get to "Big Canyon" ( :roll: ), everyone splits up and leaves Rad alone in the dust behind. Jerks.

When Hot Shot and Alexis eventually come back for him, they blame him for being left behind. Jerks.

Oh, and Alexis calls Hot Shot "Hot Rod". Cuz teh Japanese name iz AWSUM, dood!

And then Hot Shot proceeds to terrorize his passengers with his immense speed and dangerous driving. The two of them are screaming for dear life sake, and he's enjoying every moment of it. Can I say, JERK!

Okay okay, he does apologize for it. But Alexis mocks Rad despite her having been just as scared before. She's a real gem, ain't she? :roll:

Carlos and Red Alert also bicker like a married couple.

When Hot Shot gets stuck between rock piles, why doesn't he just transform after the kids get out of him? He's shown to do this near the end of the episode, so what was stopping him from doing so before?

And here we get the first appearance of Perceptor, which seemingly happens for no other reason than Rad screaming at Optimus. I wouldn't mind this so much if it had more built up to it, as it could have been an event worth looking forward to. Here, however, it happens so suddenly and just feels pulled from out of thin air.

Optmus gets his own Mini-Con, Sparkplug... whom he calls "Leader-1". :roll:

And so, the opening act of the story comes to a close. Was it good... eeenegh? Honestly, it wasn't too bad of a series opener. The biggest issues just seemed to be the heavy focus on the kids (who feel more like what adults imagine preteens to be like rather than what actual preteens are like), the slow pacing of the story, and most crippling of all, the script. It's really maddening to see writing of this poor caliber coming from Voicebox and the voice actors they used, considering how these are all the same people behind so many other great works like ReBoot, Beast Wars, Beast Machines, Ed, Edd, n' Eddy, Zoids, MLP: FIM, Gundam Wing, and so much more. The cast is comprised of some of Canada's finest voice actors, yet here it's like they hardly care about what they're working on. It's no wonder Garry Chalk described his working on Armada as a miserable experience last BotCon, considering what he had to work with here.

I really don't want to be so harsh on this show, but hasty and sloppy dubbing is still hasty and sloppy.

Re: I'm re-watching Armada

PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:52 pm
by Sabrblade
Episode 5 -

The first episode to get an actual opening sequence, and it's pretty unimpressive. Just a bunch of recycled clips from episode 1 with the generic theme tune playing in the background, accompanied by narration from Rad, who wants to tell us about the Traaaaaansformers! There's the Autobots, the good guys! And then, there's the DeCEPticons, a buncha greedy BULLIES... yeah, you can see where it's going from here. :P

Hot Shot displays his first signs of being the young bot of the group, but despite his acting like it, he doesn't really "feel" like it. It's his voice that's got me. Though Brent Miller does a decent job at playing the inexperienced part, I never quite got the "youthful" part from him. It's like how Rad sounds different from how old he is, Hot Shot sounds like an adult trying to sound young instead of just sounding young, period.

And afterwards, the purpose of the episode becomes clear: To make the Autobots hate one another. No really. Red Alert starts berating Hot Shot for having some fun, who then starts chewing out Red Alert for doing his work like he's supposed to, which sparks an argument between the two, which catches Optimus's attention, who basically gives both of them an intimidating "Shut up or I'll make you shut up!" look at both of them. Such a great family, aren't they?

I mean, okay, other series have had the good guys butting heads with each other, but in those, there was a sense of charm and endearment to it. Rattrap being a sarcastic smart aleck bouncing off Dinobot's no-nonsense personality helped the two feel like brothers. Same can be said with Bumblebee, Bulkhead, Prowl, and Ratchet all not getting along in Animated. In both cases, each series's Optimus had to act as a mediator between everyone to help hold them all together. Here, though, the Autobots are all business and their jabs at each other feel a lot more mean-spirited and harsh, especially Optimus's silencing them here instead of trying to help sort out the others' problems.

In other words, Hot Shot's a jerk, Red Alert's a jerk, Optimus is King, and we're supposed to like these guys. Huzzah. :|

Meanwhile, at the Hall of Doom, er I mean Decepticon base, the Cons insult Starscream behind his back, Starscream sticks out his sword behind their backs, and Megatron yells at them in front of their backs. Y-yay?

To the Antarctic we go to look for anothOMG YOU GUYS LOOK! Penguins! Kawaii! :grin: Oh yeah, time to hunt a Mini-Con.

We get to see Optimus's trailer's base mode for the first time and it's alright. Big, spacious, armed for Mini-Con use. I'll buy it.

Of course, Optimus has some malfunction that Red Alert has to fix, which makes Hot Shot insult him some more. Jerk. He leaves with Carlos.

When the Decepticons arrive, there's actually a neat bit of animation with the iceberg they warp to sinking a bit to one side due to their sudden arrival on it weighing it down. Nice. ;)

At one point, Hot Shot and Starscream engage each other not too far from the Mini-Con panel in the crevice. During this point, there's a shot of the Decepticons not too far away from Starscream and Hot Shot, who then proceed to move towards the direction of the Mini-Con (i.e. - the direction of Starscream and Hot Shot). Then there's a shot of the Autobots who also appear to be a few feet away from the two and move towards them as well. However, when the scene switches back to the two engaged in battle, the background in all directions shows zero signs of either faction being either nearby or heading their way at all. Uh, what? :?

There's also a point where Starscream tells Hot Shot and Carlos to look behind them, at which Carlos has become a brown-haired Caucasian, and refers to Hot Shot as "Hot Rod". Again.

Oh, and Hot Shot nearly has Carlos killed by throwing him out of his vehicle mode over the side of a cliff to let him fall to his death down into a deep abyss... until Jolt goes to catch him.

When the others finally come to help both combatants, Megatron manages to take Hot Shot hostage, but Red Alert saves him with the power of magic toy gimmicks. He fires the disc launcher in his chest to produce an energy disc that... has a will of its own... maneuvering in physically impossible directions to perform an attack that defies all meanings of logic and sense.

To sell toys, I guess. :P

After Starscream nearly sends the kids plummeting to their doom, Red Alert's energy ring proves to be even more magical by catching them all. A ring made of pure energy catches three human beings. Without burning them to a crisp. Or harming them with its radiation. At all.

To sell toys, right? :P

And just as Starscream gets the Mini-Con, it's swiped away by... um... a tiny ship? Was that supposed to be Red Alert's claw thingy? Why was it drawn like that when it's meant to be a grappling claw (as it was shown as in the episode earlier)?

Back at the base, we see why this seemingly filler episode isn't so much filler after all: The Mini-Con panel is Jetstorm's. Thus begins the next chapter of the first story arc, foreshadowed by this episode's conclusion.

I get what they were trying for with this one. A Character-driven episode that focuses on Red Alert and why we should care about him, as well as Hot Shot learning to respect the guy. However, thanks to the script, we instead get a mean-spirited episode that makes everyone sound like they hate each other. Even at the end when Hot Shot seems to have learned his lesson and thanks Red Alert for saving him, Red Alert still gives him the cold shoulder. Jerk is as jerk does.

Re: I'm re-watching Armada

PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2013 8:06 pm
by Sabrblade
Episode 6 -

The first episode to actually be called a filler... sort of.

Should have been called "Forest" considering where they are isn't a jungle.

Truth be told, the story for this one wasn't "bad", just "boring". A Mini-Con's detected in a forest, both teams go after it, Rad lectures about the environment Captain Planet style, both sides confront each other, a fire ensues during the fight, the Autobots stop fighting to put out the fire, the Cons go find the Mini-Con, the Bots catch up to fight them, and Starscream seizes the Mini-Con for himself. The whole thing just felt... predictable, with the pro-environmental message feeling forced in just make Smokey Bear happy.

I mean really, the fire is the Autobots' biggest concern, and it's only through plot convenience that the Decepticons take long enough to find the Mini-Con for Autobots to put out the fire and have enough time to catch up to them.

And now, after constantly being put down for not having his own Mini-Con, Starscream finally acquires Swindle. But, what doesn't make sense is that, previously, Megatron repeatedly berated Starscream for having not yet gotten his own Mini-Con, and kept telling Starscream that he would to get his own on his own. In this episode, however, Starscream is finally doing what Megatron told him to do by actively making an effort to get his own Mini-Con, which Megatron is bothered by as though he wanted Starscream to not listen to what he told him before. Do you just hate Starscream, Megatron?

What? That's a perfectly valid question considering this Starscream hasn't made any coup attempts or had any desires to overthrow this version of Megatron. So, it's more like Megatron loves belittling his own troops for ill good reason.

And the episode ends with Optimus reassuring us that putting out the fire was the right thing to do, the power is yours, knowing is half the battle, and all those other after-school PSA messages. Ted Turner would be proud.

Re: I'm re-watching Armada

PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2013 8:26 pm
by Wing Saber
Sabrblade wrote:Demolishor gets Blackout after Megatron just gives it to him, yet Megatron tells Starscream that he has to find his own Mini-Con. Favoritism much, Megatron? Or is it just plain spite?

Sabrblade wrote:previously, Megatron repeatedly berated Starscream for having not yet gotten his own Mini-Con, and kept telling Starscream that he would to get his own on his own. In this episode, however, Starscream is finally doing what Megatron told him to do by actively making an effort to get his own Mini-Con, which Megatron is bothered by as though he wanted Starscream to not listen to what he told him before. Do you just hate Starscream, Megatron?

What? That's a perfectly valid question considering this Starscream hasn't made any coup attempts or had any desires to overthrow this version of Megatron.

This is something that's actually a really well developed character trait. Starscream's like Megatron's child (metaphorically) who no matter what he does and how hard he tries, he's always a dissapointment to Megatron.

Re: I'm re-watching Armada

PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2013 8:28 pm
by Sabrblade
Wing Saber wrote:This is something that's actually a really well developed character trait. Starscream's like Megatron's child (metaphorically) who no matter what he does and how hard he tries, he's always a dissapointment to Megatron.
Still makes Megatron look like an abusive parent. That's the point. Megs keeps putting himself in a bad light.

Re: I'm re-watching Armada

PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:04 pm
by Sabrblade
Episode 7 -

:o :o :o :shock:

Thank you, Armada.

Thank you.

You've finally gotten an episode script that isn't completely unbearable. Oh, it's still bad. Very much so. But, only a tolerable level now.

Either that or I'm getting used to the low quality. :oops:

Aaaaaanyway, we get some more foreshadowing with Jetstorm's still dormant panel puzzling the kids, which is then replaced by Hot Shot tricking the boys into picking up a wrench far too heavy for them to lift. Guess they're no Spike Witwicky who can pick up a whole Autobot rifle with his bare hands. :P

Hot Shot does some fancy gunslinging with the wrench, and up of the moon, Demolishor bumbles around making Megatron treat him like dirt.

The boys get bored (understandably) and decide to sneak off to a science carnival (those exist? Well, okay, Griffin Rock can do it, so I'll buy it) with High Wire and Suresh-I mean Grindor. Yeah, the dreaded name swap. :roll:

However, Sparkplug, Jolt, and Longarm, having overheard them, are not far behind them. I actually like this bit of them acting on their own since I feel that the show really missed an opportunity of giving individual personalities to the Mini-Cons. It's one of the reasons I really liked the Dreamwave Armada comics. Sparkplug felt like the protagonist to that series, with Jolt and Longarm being his supporting cast companions. Here, though, they mostly relegated to the background. but with this episode, they get to enjoy life on their own... albeit, with some restriction, since they spend a lot of time in this episode running from Billy and Fred.

Speaking of not-Bulk and not-Skull, the two finally felt like they had a presence in this show. Their side-plot of them trying to catch the Mini-Cons and ultimately being saved by Hot Shot was the dose of humorous endearment that this show had been seriously lacking. Oh, don't get me wrong, the two of them are still moronic dorks, but seeing them in comedic peril and being terrified of Hot Shot was amusing in all the right ways.

And it's very ironic in that these two were meant to be written out of the show at some point, yet only happened to stick around till the very end by accident. That strikes me more as load of baloney since, well, how do you "accidentally forget to exclude a character"? Doesn't the whole idea of including a character involve making the effort to put the character into the work? Writing and recording their lines, etc.? If they instead did write the characters out by accident, that would make sense. But to accidentally not write them out just makes little, if any, real sense.

Anyway, the only real downsides to this episode were the Sureshock/Grindor confusion, Starscream calling Swindle "Grid", Alexis being her typical stuck up snobby self, and, surprisingly, the ending scene. The episode ending with Rad and Carlos apologizing to the Autobots for their carelessness would have been a fine way to end it. However, there was one more scene that just felt tacked on at the last minute, with a different look, tone, and feel--as though it was made by a different animator--from the rest of the episode. In this scene, there's more foreshadowing to the Star Saber with a quick glimpse at all three Air Defense Team members, plus the sword itself. And it's accompanied by another dumb Rad narration telling us what's plain as day onscreen. It also gives the episode a bit of a cliffhanger-y feel, which is also dumb considering next episode is just an unrelated filler. :roll: