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Transformers Japanese Collection: Headmasters (1987)

Ikuya Sawaki , Hideyuki Hori , Katsutoshi Sasaki  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

List Price: $29.93
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Transformers Japanese Collection: Headmasters + Transformers Japanese Collection: Super-God Masterforce + Transformers Japanese Collection: Victory
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Product Details

  • Actors: Ikuya Sawaki, Hideyuki Hori, Banjo Ginga
  • Directors: Katsutoshi Sasaki
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Animated, Box set, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Shout! Factory
  • DVD Release Date: July 5, 2011
  • Run Time: 780 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004UFE2XM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,452 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Transformers Japanese Collection: Headmasters" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

In 1987, the toy company Takara and the Toei studio began producing an alternate version of the popular product-based Transformers series featuring characters and story lines geared to the Japanese market. For decades, American mecha fans could only watch Headmasters in dim conversions from other formats and/or bootleg copies. Shout Factory is releasing the series for the first time in the United States. During this first season, the familiar Autobots and Decepticons are replaced by a new corps of robots who turn into tanks, helicopters, and other mechanical devices designed to please the core audience of elementary-school boys. However, the basic components of the story line remain the same: friendships are forged, battles are fought, allegiances shift, threats appear, situations grow dire, and good robots triumph over bad ones. For viewers who grew up on the original Transformers, Headmasters offers an enticing blend of nostalgia and new adventures. However, anyone who lacks those childhood memories may wonder what all the excitement is about. The animation is extremely limited, the Japanese voice actors chew the painted scenery endlessly, and the direction repeats many of the clichés of '80s Saturday morning kidvid. (Instead of creating transitions between scenes, the directors simply cut to a spinning logo, as their counterparts at Hanna-Barbera and Filmation did.) The designs of the robots, including the central cadre of Fortress Maximus, Brain Storm, Chromedome, Hardhead, and Highbrow, lack the dynamic sophistication of Yoshiyuki Tomino's Gundam, which debuted in 1979. When Transformers premiered, children's advocates and parents' groups denounced it as a thinly disguised commercial, created to sell toys to boys. Those boys have grown up, and men who want to revisit that part of their childhood will revel in the struggles of Fortress Maximus and his fellow warriors against their evil counterparts. (Not rated; suitable for ages 6 and older: cartoon robot vs. robot violence) --Charles Solomon

(1. Four Warriors from Outer Space, 2. The Mystery of Planet Master, 3. Behold the Birth of Double Prime, 4. The Autobot Cassette Operation, 5. Rebellion on Planet Beast, 6. Approach of the Demon Meteorite, 7. The Four-Million-Year-Old Veil of Mystery, 8. Terror of the Six Shadows, 9. Planet Cybertron Is in Grave Danger, Part 1, 10. Planet Cybertron Is in Grave Danger, Part 2, 11. Zarak--The Shadow Emperor, 12. The Dormant Volcano Mysteriously Erupts, 13. Head On, Fortress Maximus! 14. Explosion on Mars! Maximus Is in Danger! 15. Explosion on Mars! Scorponok Appears! 16. Return of the Immortal Emperor, 17. SOS from Planet Sandra, 18. Daniel Faces his Biggest Crisis Ever, 19. Fight to the Death on Planet Beehive, 20. Battle for Defense of the False Planet, 21. Find Scorponok's Weak Spot, 22. Head Formation of Friendship, 23. Mystery of the Space Pirate Ship, 24. The Death of Ultra Magnus, 25. The Emperor of Destruction Vanishes on an Iceberg, 26. I Risk My Life for Earth, 27. The Miracle Warriors--The Target Masters, Part 1, 28. The Miracle Warriors--The Target Masters, Part 2, 29. The Master Is in Danger, 30. The Zarak Shield Turns the Tide, 31. Operation: Destroy the Decepticons, 32. My Friend, Sixshot! 33. Duel on the Asteroid, 34. The Final Showdown on Earth, Part 1, 35. The Final Showdown on Earth, Part 2)

Product Description

A year has passed since the events of Sunbow’s third season, and the war between Convoy’s (a/k/a Optimus Prime) Cybertrons and the Destrons has finally come to its conclusion. Peace once again reigns supreme over the galaxy: but the game quickly changes with the emergence of a new breed of Transformers . . . the Headmasters!

Now you can finally watch the rarely seen Japanese series that’s had Transformers and anime fans talking for over 20 years! Includes the original Japanese audio with brand-new English subtitles!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved It, But Your Mileage May Vary July 18, 2011
Format:DVD
Transformers: Headmasters is the first of a loose "trilogy" of Japanese-exclusive Transformers cartoons produced after the demise of the American "G1" cartoon. I was introduced to this show (and its successors, Transformers: Masterforce and Transformers: Victory) by way of badly-converted (PAL-to-NTSC) VHS bootlegs and an English dub by way of Singapore. I was able to get into Masterforce and Victory, since the characters were mostly "all-new" and had few, if any, connections to the original series, but I could never get more than five or six episodes into Headmasters because of the glaringly horrible way they dealt with the names (Blurr is called "Wally," Blaster is called "Billy," Spike is "Sparkle," the Matrix of Leadership is called "The Power Pack," etc.). It was laughingly bad and still a subject of much derision today (there's a line in Masterforce about "going to headQUARters to have some keBABS" that still makes me chuckle years later).

Shout! Factory's official U.S. release of these cartoons is a blessing by comparison. Not only do the subtitles reflect the "correct" names for the characters, but they opt to use the American names of the characters (Optimus Prime, Kup, Cerebros, Autobots, Decepticons) vs. the Japanese (Convoy, Char, Fortress, Cybertrons, Destrons). It is easier to get into the story when you're not thinking "Did they really just call him 'SPARKLE'?!?" The "Japanese with English Subtitles" may turn off the casual viewer, but it's really the only way to watch the show, as the only "legitimate" English dub track is absolutely abominable in it's badness.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Japanified August 11, 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I have to rate this release as a 5-Star for several reasons:

1. The great price and for the fact that it's not a bootleg.
2. If this is the 'weakest' series of the Japanese "trilogy", then I hope Shout Factory releases the other two sets (Headmasters; Super God Masterforce; Victory), the storytelling and action is excellent.
3. Even for an 80's 'toon, and not remastered from its original film, it has held up brilliantly; much moreso than the U.S. counterparts in my opinion.
4. It doesn't belittle: adult wars - check; actual robot destruction/dismemberment and 'game over' - check; extremely mild language (I wouldn't even consider it profanity) - check.

It's basically what you wanted to see as a kid. I was hesitant to watch the release at first. It sat on my player for over a month. Not because it's a Japanese release and has no English Dubs -- I watch all of my anime with Subs, but because it's from the 80's. Don't get me wrong; I'm crazy about TF G1, mainly the 1st and 2nd seasons. After re-watching the 3rd and 4th seasons; good grief those did not age well -- the U.S. storytelling for the later seasons is mediocre; some plots and animation made my eyes roll. It was actually painful to watch; especially the distant planets and the attention focused moreso on the annoying characters (aliens and humans) rather than the robots.

The later U.S. releases remind me of the new live-action films. Love everything about the robots; highly dislike the annoying human characters (although the 1st movie still remains the most watchable). However, I don't mind a re-telling. I don't mind liberties. I enjoy a little shake-up.

The detail and animation of the Japanese "Rebirth" story, to me, is hands above the 4th season of the U.S.
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41 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fanfare has its privileges... April 23, 2011
Format:DVD
At long last, after nearly two decades of having to suffer through overpriced bootlegs and imports, the U.S. 'Transformers' fan base finally gets a proper release of the Japanese series!

As any online summary will tell you, the Japanese 'Headmasters' ignores the 'Rebirth' mini-series and follows its own take following the events of 'The Return of Optimus Prime' (or Convoy, as he is called in the Japanese series). Parents of younger 'Transformers' fans may want to be aware that the tone of the series is a tad darker than the U.S. episodes mainly due to character deaths throughout the series (a certain character sacrifices himself AGAIN), and by U.S. standards, there is a substantial amount of profanity. (NOTE: At the time of this review, I was going by the Japanese and Australian releases, which did feature said profanity in the English subtitles. Apparently, Shout Factory/Hasbro made sure that these were not in the U.S. release.)

My major gripe with 'Headmasters' is that in general, the writing is very weak and often seems as if it is trying too hard to mimic the previous U.S. 'Generation One' (G1) series. Even the 'lip syncing' of the characters in early episodes seems as if it is trying to reproduce that of the original English language shows. Keep in mind that anime of the late 80s was not being marketed as heavily to the western world as it is today. In that respect, 'Headmasters' curiously comes off as if it were in some ways a half-serious parody of the U.S. shows (such as 'G.I. JOE' and 'Transformers') for which Japanese animation studios had been contracted. (The subsequent series, 'Super God Masterforce' and 'Victory', are stronger for taking their own direction.)

Some characterizations are extremely inconsistent to the original series.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Japanese language, english sutitles, still transformer goodness.
Published 18 hours ago by Ray D Fincham Jr
2.0 out of 5 stars Anyone used to quality subtitling will be disappointed. Thin
Anyone used to quality subtitling will be disappointed. Thin, white, barely-outlined subtitle font combined with poor timing and questionable translation lead to frustration. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Matt
3.0 out of 5 stars Would be better with multilingual options.
The subtitles are a bit distracting from the on-screen action - they couldn't make a dubbed version in English (and maybe other languages too)? Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jesse Michael Martin
2.0 out of 5 stars It's Really Bad
A lot of people said that the original Transformers cartoons were nothing more than toy commercials. Read more
Published 2 months ago by G. Kirkpatrick
5.0 out of 5 stars great dvd for collection
big fan of the cartoon. this is the japanese set to get. english subtitle only, no dub
Published 3 months ago by Ervin
5.0 out of 5 stars Head On! Headmasters is awesome!
I've been wanting to see this for ages and I finally picked it up recently and although the cheesy "Head On! Read more
Published 4 months ago by ReonPremente
5.0 out of 5 stars Some continuity issues
As a stand alone work I loved it, but as an avid Transformers fan this series failed to continue seamlessly from the end of the 4th Season's last episode. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Kevin Watkins
4.0 out of 5 stars I like it but they could have used the UK dubbing...
I like it but they it really needs dubbing to truly enjoy it. The UK version was dubbed so they could have used that audio track but chose against it for some insane reason.
Published 8 months ago by C. Meacham
5.0 out of 5 stars Transformers Japanese Collection: Headmasters
Amazon once again delivers. Nothing to bring back childhood memories. I will recommend this to anyone who loves a classic cartoon.
Published 12 months ago by Sp33dFr3@k
3.0 out of 5 stars The first & least of the Japanese Transformers trilogy.
First off, let me say that any Transfan is still going want to at least check this out. How much they'll enjoy depends on them, but I'm sure they'll find some good episodes here. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Patrick Correa
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English dubbing or subbing?
I haven't seen any of the Japanese headmasters episodes...so this will be all new to me.
Jun 25, 2011 by Christopher Borchardt |  See all 4 posts
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