Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Robo Force: The Revenge of Nazgar (Part the First)

(Or, Further Proof That I Have Discarded Any Semblance of Sanity.)

It's probably clear by now that I like silly obscure things. (Don't worry-I'm not likely to do anything on Dinosaucers, anyway.) One of the most obscure things I can think of is Robo Force.

My memories of Robo Force come primarily from a total of three toys that I owned (they're still around, most likely) and a couple of Find Your Fate style storybooks with beautiful painted illustrations.

There was more, although not much more: A one-shot animated television special, which is so weird it took me at least a full minute to remember not to call it an "episode" or a "series."

For some reason (preparing for the possibility of additional segments?), it was subtitled "The Revenge of Nazgar," which is an odd title since none of the toys were named that (the leader of the villainous robots, for reference, is Hun-Dred, which is both terrible and awesome).

That's neither here nor there, though-the opening segment of the single half-hour episode THING has no mention of the titular Nazgar.

We start overlooking a futuristic dwelling... thing.

I'll note that I quite like the aesthetic and design work of this series stuff pretty well.

It's worth noting that Flint Dille, one of the G1 Transformers cartoon's major writers, called this his "first robot cartoon."

Also, I feel sorry for this guy.

Anyway, the future-y house is being stealthily approached by guys in stealthy clothes...

...and armed with absurdly brightly colored rifles.

And... well...

A gang of rather silly-looking robots. (The one with the grey head, "Vulgar" [yes, really], is among the ones I still own somewhere.)

Inside, the inhabitant of the house is building himself a robot with a propeller on its head (Coptor or something) that looks astonishingly familiar.

Coincidence? I THINK NOT!!

...but it actually apparently totally is, though I'll get to a proper explanation of that later.

The sneaky robots and a few of the ninjas come bursting in, busting down the door.

These robots are Cruel (the purple one), Hun-Dred (the one with the light gray head), Enemy (who looks like a box and is described by his toy packaging as "THE DICTATOR" even though there's no sign he's supposed to have a leadership role), and Vulgar (the drill-nosed one with a dark gray head). It's worth noting, though, that only Hun-Dred will be named in dialogue.

Coptor tries to defend the guy who just built him, but he gets hit in the head really hard.

It presumably hurts pretty bad (assuming he can feel pain), as he gets embedded in a wall.

I'll note here that one of the things this series cartoon does really well is sell the violence. That is to say, damage is generally depicted in fairly consistent ways. I actually find the action scenes in this to be smarter, sharper, and more effective than the ones in Dille's Transformers work.

And yes, I just praised a cartoon for having effective depictions of violence. Granted, it's just about all robot-on-robot...

The evil robots want to capture the scientist guy. He doesn't want to be captured, so he resists, but they threaten his young son one floor up, so he concedes to being captured.


The guy who was transferring this to a digital version from an ancient cassette tape... had to adjust the tracking.

The bad robots take off in their flying saucer just as the tracking is resolved and the kid sees that his dad has been kidnapped.

What's interesting to note here is that, counting the intro sequence, the cartoon up to this point has taken only about three minutes.

It needs to be fast, seeing as how they've only got half an hour counting commercials, but it's very efficient in a way one doesn't see often. Even the opening scene of Robotix is sluggish by comparison.

Here's the crazy thing: In the scene transition, another ten years pass.

In this lonely half hour, more time passes than in the first two seasons of G1 Transformers.

And that is why I enjoyed watching it.

Honestly, though? I think it actually gets better.

-Signing off.

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