Transformers Animated: Lots of BotCon Info!

So we’ve all seen the promo artwork for the upcoming “Transformers: Animated” television series. And I suppose the initial reaction was to be expected. People reacted this way when the designs for Transformers 2007 were released, people reacted this way when the designs and premise for Beast Wars were released in 1998, and I’m sure people reacted this way back when ideas like the Headmasters and the Pretenders were released back in 1989. But before you condemn the art design to the bowels of the Pit, try and consider other Cartoon Network shows such as Clone Wars, Samurai Jack and Teen Titans. All had simplistic character designs which looked silly in static promotional artwork, yet worked wonderfully in motion. And with a studio like Mook DLE providing the animation (you might recognize them as the studio behind X-Men Evolution, Eureka Seven and the good episodes of Swat Kats), the animation is at least guaranteed to be beautiful from a technical standpoint.

Now on to the news…

Several bits of info were released last weekend at the official Transformers convention known as BotCon. David Kaye even announced several members of the show’s cast.

*Optimus Prime, Grimlock, Lugnut: David Kaye

*Bumblebee: Bumper Robinson

*Bulkhead: Bill Fagerbakke

*Prowl, Ultra Magnus: Jeff Glen Bennett

*Arcee: Susan Blu (also the voice director)

*Blackarachnia: Cree Summer

*Jazz: Phil Lamarr

*Megatron, Shockwave, Ratchet: Corey Burton

*Starscream, a Constructicon: Tom Kenny

*A garbage truck (possibly a Junkion): Weird Al Yankovich

*Sari (human friend): Tara Strong

*Blurr: John Moschitta Jr.

As far as American cartoon voice actors go, this is an all-star cast. Some of you more hardcore Generation 1 Transformers fans might recognize a few role reprisals in there. Corey Burton played Shockwave (as well as Spike and Sunstreaker) in the original series and is now back not only for Shockwave, but Megatron as well. Susan Blu voiced Arcee back in the day and also voice directed for Beast Wars and Beast Machines and is one of the BEST voice directors in the industry. John Moschitta Jr., considered the fastest-talker in the world, voiced Blurr back in the 80’s. And there’s David Kaye, who voiced Megatron during Beast Wars and the Unicron Trilogy (Armada, Energon and Cybertron) and, bizarrely, is now taking on the role of Optimus Prime. And then you’ve also got Weird Al as a guest character, a garbage truck Transformer who might be a Junkion. In the world of Transformers, Weird Al is best remembered for providing the Junkion’s theme song from Transformers the Movie, “Dare to be Stupid”.

And the news does not end there. Lots of little tidbits were dropped throughout the convention.

*The show will be set in Detroit in the future. Yes, the Autobots will at times be fighting human villains, but more often than not the human villains will be associated with the Decepticons in some capacity and the Decepticons-themselves WILL play a large role in the series.

*The Autobots will each have their own special “super power”. Think back to the Generation 1 cartoon and how Hound could create holograms or Mirage could turn invisible. It will be handled like that.

*There will be a smaller core cast of Autobots and Decepticons, but special characters will return every now and then. Sari, their human friend, will be portrayed less like the bossy human kid that tells super advanced alien robots what to do, and more like their planetary guide.

*The structure of the show will be pretty much the anti-thesis of how the Japanese handle Transformers animation. The Japanese typically handle Transformers cartoons in a “Dragonball Z” or “Naruto” sort of way. By that, I mean, they take 20 episodes-worth of plot and stretch it out to fit 52, with each episode leading directly into the next with lots of filler and at least five minutes of stock footage transformations per episode. Transformers: Animated will be the opposite of that. Each episode will be a self contained adventure (aside from the three-part opening miniseries and any other multi-part story arcs), but each episode will gradually forward the overall story arc of the season. Think of how Justice League Unlimited was handled. Each episode had a beginning, a middle and an end and could be watched islolated from the rest of the series, but each episode had elements which developed the story toward its eventual climax.

There were lots of other scraps of news released during BotCon (most of which are in those links), but I felt that the ones I highlighted might best put some of your minds at ease. Transformers has always been a franchise about change, both figuratively and literally. While asthetic designs may alter from time to time (Generation 1, Generation 2, Beast Wars, Transformers 2007), one thing has always stayed the same: two races of Robots beating the mortal crap out of each other. Transformers: Animated is just the next installment in that tradition.

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