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The Autobots and the Decepticons are going at it again, but this time the two factions are fighting over little transformers called the Mini-Cons. These Transformers gives their masters a massive power boost either to defend or destroy. And, again this battle is on Earth. Written by
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I would compare Transformers Armada to one of the most painfully boring up-hill theme park rides in the world. However, as it crawls its way past its halfway mark, things start looking up. The show finally finds its footing and picks up pace with a steady increase in quality in all aspects, until it plows its way headlong into an epic and satisfying climax.
Transformers Armada is essentially like two different shows or seasons(and that is how it is so conveniently presented in the DVD release). The first "season" which comprises of episodes 1 to 26 is, in my humble opinion, a complete waste of time.
The story never had any build up and instead plodded along like some sickly hippopotamus. Its core concept of the minicons was a blatant rip-off of pokemon, a silly underhanded strategy just to get kids to buy more toys. None of the episodes ever came close to the writing level of the original or Beast Wars and Beast Machines; the stories are shallow and juvenile.
The animation too is a huge disappointment. Very stiff and with minimal character movements, there is an abundant usage of scrolling or repeating backgrounds, still shots of characters sliding across the screen, and dialog which involves only animating mouths while the rest of the screen remains absolutely still. The only well animated shots are the stock transformation and some combat footage that are repeated in nearly every other episode.
The human character designs are a step away from your typical anime designs of cutesy faces and large reflective eyes, sporting a more western cartoon look but with still some anime aesthetics thrown in. On the other hand, the designs for the robots are really mixed. Compared to the human-form designs in the original, the stylized organic designs of Beast Wars/Machines and the sleek edged ones in "Robots in Disguise", the designs here seem overly bulky and utterly clunky. Optimus Prime, Megatron and Starscream look great, but the rest of the cast range from looking weird(Demolishor, Red Alert) to just plain silly(Hot Shot).
Couple all those factors with yawn inducing monologues, overly frequent exposition, dull uninspired acting(though a few actors like Gary Chalk and David Kaye who play Optimus and Megatron respectively, make the most with what they are given) and a constant re-iteration of plot points(sometimes many times within a single episode) and you get one of the worst Transformers viewing experiences ever.
In The second season, especially from the introduction Wheeljack and anything after episode 30, the writers apparently got their act together and started writing proper Transformers stories. Character development is taken up a notch with the introduction of Starscream's reason for his wavering loyalty. It gives a lot more dimension to the character other than just wanting to usurp Megatron for his own selfish gains and actually allows us to care a lot more for this character. His character arc is possibly one of the more heart wrenching ones second only to Dinobot's in Beast Wars. We get some nice emotionally charged episodes from here on with "Past"(32), "Sacrifice"(33), "Crisis"(39) and "Cramp"(48) as some really shining examples.
The voice acting too improves dramatically, though the script changed little. The actors have finally settled into their roles and the level of emotional range slowly returns to that same high quality last seen in Beast Machines.
The plots involving collecting minicons take a backstage to a greater sweeping epic involving a returning villain last seen in the 1986 Transformers movie. Gone are the juvenile story lines and themes, replaced with more mature themes like the conflict of purpose, philosophy of war, honor and many others that are more commonly seen in shows targeting a young adult demographic and not for children. This new, more mature style of storytelling, with its emotionally charged moments and more intense dialog are accentuated with a greatly improved quality of animation. There are still some inconsistencies and the painfully drawn out monologues are still present, but thankfully they are few and far in between.
To make an overall fair assessment of Transformers Armada, I would give season 2 a 9/10 for its excellent build up to the climax, emotional character development and vast improvement over the course of the series. However, season one would only merit a 2/10 from me for its horrible scripting, bland animation and unprofessional writing.
Together, Transformers Armada comes to 5.5/10. round it up to 6. The improvements later in the show came a little too late. By that time, Transformers Armada had already alienated many viewers and enraged the fanbase.
Personally i recommend just watching the first two episodes of season 1 and then skipping to the second season DVD set.
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