Saturday, April 30, 2016

Thoughts on Robots in Disguise thus far

Hey! It's been awhile since I talked about Robots in Disguise, huh? Honestly, looking back at my old posts, it's just a small bit embarrassing how much I was getting into analyzing everything. But hey, I acknowledge that I am an overanalyzing geek.
I was planning to review the series one episode at a time, but then I realized how complicated that would be. Then I was planning on reviewing the Season 1 finale, but that didn't get far. And now that Season 2 is already out, and with the series finale racing towards me at an alarmingly fast rate, I'm at a bit of a loss. I guess the most I can do is give my thoughts on the series thus far, from the story, to the characters, to the villains, to (potentially) the animation and action. Anyway, where should I start…

The story of Robots in Disguise is nothing too big, and villains are 'pretty cool' at best and 'boring' at worst. Compared to Prime, I'm afraid Robots in Disguise doesn't hold much weight. I don't think it has anything to do with the fact that it has a different atmosphere compared to Prime, because honestly, I see it almost as a seperate entity from TFPrime. But even when not comparing it to Prime, Robots in Disguise is just 'all right'. However, that does not stop me from LOVING THIS SHOW TO DEATH.

If there is one thing that makes Robots in Disguise really good (in my opinion) it has to be the characters. Now, to get this out of the way, I've seen some people complain that the characters of RiD are boring archetypes. Regardless of whether or not that is true, that doesn't stop me from saying, again, a lot of what makes Robots in Disguise good (in my opinion) comes from the characters.

I don't know, I'm just in love with the way they interact. Strongarm and Sideswipe bicker like middle-schoolers, Grimlock is that brutally strong softie whom everyone can't help but enjoy the company of, Fixit is kind of quirky and odd, but everyone likes him regardless, and Bumblebee is pretty much the stressed out big brother who really needs everyone to just get along because that would make his job a whole lot easier. I really enjoy the character's designs (dayum, 'Bee, puberty did a number on you), and I could gush about how much I love Strongarm as a female character.

I'm not usually too big a fan of female characters, even in Transformers. I mentioned (in a roundabout away) in my first Top 5 TFP characters post (I have to get back on that don't I?) that I wasn't that big a fan of Arcee. I enjoy her backstory and her depth in character, but overall, I just didn't like her compared to the other characters, largely due to how broody she was. Here, however, Strogarm has got to be one of my most favorite characters in the show, and my most favorite female transformer EVER. Heck, maybe even one of my most favorite female characters in cartoons.

Strongarm doesn't exactly fall into the 'by the book cadet' category. She's tenacious, relies heavily on structure, and is ridiculously well-versed in her rule book to be sure. But she's also curious, easily fascinated, a bit of an insecure perfectionist, and maybe a bit self righteous. She's even rebellious in her own way, even if she's unlikely to aknowledge such a trait. Also, yeah, I absolutely love Strongarm's design. I FINALLY FEEL LIKE I COULD POTENTIALLY COSPLAY A FEMALE TRANSFORMER!

Now about the villains. Of course we will get the occasional one-time villain. With a show like RiD, where the plot is centered around capturing a bunch of different Decepticons, it's kind of inevitable. And for what it's worth, some of these one-time 'Cons are actually pretty interesting and/or funny. I think that my favorite one-timers I've seen thus far may be Ped from Can You Dig It? and Vertebreak from Some Body, Any Body.

When I first saw Ped, he came off as a surprisingly large and formidable villain. And then he talked. And I just could not take him seriously anymore, which may or may not have been the point. The guy just cracked me up from then on, and I wish that he would show up in later episodes.

Vertebreak on the other hand… Hm, well I just found him creepy. When I first saw him, I got a bit of a shiver up my spine. I really enjoy mad scientist characters, and of course this creepy snake-bot-thing fits the bill perfectly. I was honestly a bit surprised that this character didn't show up in later episodes, because let's face it, he would probably be useful to Steeljaw's cause. I guess Hasbro didn't make a big, expensive toy for him to advertise.

Now about Steeljaw. Hot dang, this guy is so masterfully charismatic and manipulative, and I love it! He has an air about him that you KNOW you can't trust, but you can't help but admire anyway. The way he so easily manipulates both Autobots and Decepticons alike with his gentle, apologetic, Every-bot act, is almost hypnotizing. Dude, not even Animated Megatron was this skilled at manipulation! Of course, he can't retain his peaceful countenance forever… My sister made this really good comparison of Steeljaw to Ultron from Avengers: Age of Ultron. He's charismatic and almost funny, but he has these moments of unbridled rage that often manage to catch everyone off guard, and makes the viewer remember 'Oh, yeah. This guy is super dangerous.'
I don't know how to express how much enjoy Steeljaw as a villain. He's charismatic, he's a backstabber, and he's an amazing liar. I just don't think he's being used to his full potential, which is truly unfortunate. There are a LOT of awesome arcs and/or story lines one could make with this villain!

Now as far a Steeljaw's pack goes… Well, I think that they were a lot more interesting in their own episodes. All together, well, some of them are kind of boring. I feel like Underbite had the potential to be a really entertaining 'Con, but when apart of Steeljaw's pack he really doesn't say much at all. Fracture had the potential to be a very ruthless 'Con, but after his debut episode he really doesnt live up to such potential. Thunderhoof has been and remains one of my favorite recurring Decepticons, but I don't think he always lives up to his potential as a freakin' crime lord. I guess anyone would be cowed by Steeljaw's claws, and sure Thunderhoof occasionally complains about his position as a lackey, but like the others, I don't feel like he's being used to his full potential. Clampdown was already a gutless character, and honestly I don't care enough about him to even find him boring, so I could take him or leave him.

In season 2 we are introduced to a slew of new villainous 'Cons, most notably: Scorponok, Glowstrike, and Saberhorn. And yet again I feel like these three aren't (or weren't in Scorponok's case) being used to their full potential.

Saberhorn's debut episode gave him an amazingly entertaining personality. He's a swordsbot with a theatric flair, and a gentlebot pirate with a vocabulary and fighting skills to match. Also, he's smart enough to stick around to make sure that an opponent is properly killed by a deathtrap, as opposed to just leaving him to his own devices. However, after his debut episode, Saberhorn has been seen in a total of two other episodes, and he does hardly anything in either. And with the series finale closing in, I doubt that we'll get to see much more of Saberhorn before he gets his aft handed to him. Which is too bad, because again, I really enjoyed Saberhorn's almost outlandish personality and I wanted to see more of his potential as a villain. But I guess when your show is reaching its end before its time, you have to focus more on wrapping up the story than on developing characters.

As for Scorponok and Glowstrike… I almost couldn't care less about them. Scorponok shows up in two episodes, doing next to nothing in the first and getting captured and incarcerated in the second. We find out almost nothing about him. He's an intolerant bruiser who hates it when he's questioned. That's about it. Glowstrike on the other hand, I can't make up my mind about her. Like with Scorponok, we knows almost NOTHING about her, and she hardly has a definitive personality. Which is really, really too bad, because female villains are my favorite and I really wish that she would DO MORE. Again, like with Saberhorn, I don't think that the approaching series finale will leave enough time for her to live up to her potential, or even create some kind of PERSONALITY.

The animation is typically well done. Nothing AMAZING, but well done. A lot of the backgrounds and environments are also well done, and it's interesting to see CGI characters in a handdrawn environment. There are some scenes that clearly combine 2D animation with CGI animation, and it can be GORGEOUS to look at. The main example, possibly only example as I can't think of many others, would be Bumblebee's nightmare from Even Robots Have Nightmares (shown above). I found the flaming Optimus thing to be almost artistically animated, and I LOVED it.

The action is also pretty good, though again nothing amazing. I do enjoy the amount of melee combat shown in the show, preferring such action to gunfights. There are a few times/episodes in which the action is slow and boring, and the animation seems stilted. One example is season 2 episode Cover Me. I don't know, the entire thing was rather slow paced, and I'm not sure if it was the writing or the animation that made it so. Other than that though, the action and animation are pretty well done.

So, yeah. I wasn't looking to make much of a well-structured point here. All I wanted to say was, is Robots in Disguise 2015 a great show? No. I wouldn't even say it's a good show. However, does that mean you can't enjoy it for what it is, in spite of its flaws? No, of course not. I enjoy this show, even if I am disappointed with the direction season 2 is taking - though I do understand why it's taking such a direction, but that's a talk for another time.
So to the people who seriously dislike this show: all right, I understand. I get that this show has flaws, and it's ok if you dislike this show due to these flaws. However, if you would please be polite to the people who DO like this show. Seriously, it can be kind of crushing for some people to see something that they enjoy getting bashed on. With all this said, let's rev up and roll out 'til all are one.

[Check out this absolutely lovely Bee Team Team Prime 2.0 fanart by fulcrumisthebomb on Tumblr (found via kisachi-tf on Tumblr)]