REVIEW: ‘Transformers: The Manga,’ Vol. 2

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Transformers: The Manga

First serialized in Japan’s TV Magazine, Transformers:  The Manga Vol. 2 brings us three classic stories from the ‘80s Generation 1 (G1) era of Transformers. This volume collects two story arcs, “The Headmasters” and “Super-God Masterforce,” along with a one-shot story “The Decisive Battle of Planet Beast!”. Published by VIZ Media, written by Masumi Kaneda, and illustrated by Ban Magami, this is the first time these stories have been officially translated into English.

In the original G1 series, the long drawn out civil war between the Decepticons and the Autobots was brought to Earth with the crash of the Ark, an Autobot spaceship. The Earth’s populace is caught in the middle of a battle between giants as the Autobots fight for coexistence with humans while the Decepticons fight for power and control over human resources. The stories included in Transformers: The Manga Vol. 2 continue to flesh out this overarching story.

Since this series is a reprint, be aware it was originally created in the ‘80s and expect all the dialogue and the art to follow trends from that decade. Although not as apparent when depicting the Transformers themselves, the art depicting the people is very typical of ‘80s anime and manga. Think Ranma 1/2 where the characters sported very round faces, large eyes, and bubbly hair. Although not all anime from this time period followed these trends, if you generally aren’t appreciative of ’80s or ‘90s anime styles, you probably won’t enjoy the art.

The dialogue is also relatively simplistic and begins to grate on your nerves after a while. This manga falls into the rut of constantly telling the reader what is going to happen via the profuse use of dialogue bubbles rather than just showing it. But this was a pretty typical trend for ‘80s cartoons and even anime. So it’s hard to critique this manga for being a product of its time. Beyond whether you favor this sort of art style or not, the lines are clean, and the panels flow from one to the next smoothly.

Transformers: The Manga

Given that this manga is based on the G1 series, it does a good job of emulating the dialogue and story very well. But, because of this emulation, all the typical critiques about the G1 series applies to this manga as well. There is not a lot of character development or even personality present. The Autobots are whittled down to happy-go-lucky ‘bots that give each other compliments continuously while the Decepticons are sneering meanies that are only around to cause mayhem. This black and white portrayal of the two Cybertronian factions isn’t far from their original representation in the G1 series. But, more recent Transformers media has come far from its ‘80s roots. If you’re expecting intricate storylines or character development you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

Although I do have a fondness for the G1 series, because that is where it all started and I wouldn’t have amazing Transformers comics to read without it, I would never rewatch the series as an adult. If you find nostalgia in the G1 series, you will probably enjoy Transformers: The Manga Vol. 2. Unfortunately, I am not part of the audience that finds this series worthwhile.

Transformers: The Manga Vol. 2 is available now at bookstores and online.

Transformers: The Manga Vol. 2
2

TL;DR

If you find nostalgia in the G1 series, you will probably enjoy Transformers: The Manga Vol. 2. However, I am not part of the audience that finds this series worthwhile.