Transformers: Super-God Masterforce
Transformers: Super-God Masterforce (トランスフォーマー 超神マスターフォース Toransufōmā: Chōjin Masutāfōsu) is a Japanese Transformers line of toys and anime series that ran from April 12, 1988 to March 7, 1989 for 42 episodes. On July 3, 2006 the series was released on DVD in the UK, and it was aired on AnimeCentral in the UK a few years later. In 2008, Madman Entertainment released the series on DVD in Australia in Region 4, PAL format. On May 1, 2012, the series was released on DVD in the US.
The core concept of Masterforce begins with the human beings themselves rising up to fight and defend their home, rather than the alien Transformers doing it for them. Going hand-in-hand with this idea, the Japanese incarnations of the Autobot Pretenders actually shrink down to pass for normal human beings, whose emotions and strengths they value and wish to safeguard. The Decepticon Pretenders tend to remain being large monsters, unless they battle in their robot forms. Later on children and adults would be recruited to become Headmaster Juniors for both the Autobots and Decepticons but as the story progressed the story focuses more on the Godmasters (released as Powermasters in the West) and they became the more powerful Transformers on the show. The Godmasters themselves are human beings with the ability to merge with their Transtectors (robot bodies). Most of the Godmasters would be adults with the exception of Clouder who is about the same age as the Junior Headmasters. Other characters would later appear including Black Zarak who would later merge with the Decepticons leader; Devil Z for the final battle and for the Autobots comes Grand Maximus who has a Pretender guise and is Fortress Maximus' younger brother. Also the Firecons make a brief appearance in one episode and a robot who transforms into a gun (similar to G1 Megatron) was given to Cancer of the Headmaster Junior Decepticons as a gift from Lady Mega. His name was Browning (or BM in the dub). The Decepticons also had the Targetmaster Seacons under their command, but like the Pretenders, they were sentient robots and didn't require humans to operate them. The Autobots would also gain the help of another sentient robot called Sixknight (Or as he is known outside Japan; Quickswitch), who appeared on Earth as a travelling warrior who wanted to challenge Ginrai (who is the Godmaster of the body of Optimus Prime) to a battle, but soon decided for himself to fight for the Autobots cause. The story basically tells the efforts of the heroic Autobot forces as they protect the Earth from the Decepticons. Only this time round, human characters played a more important role than in other Transformers series.
With the conclusion of the US Transformers cartoon series in 1987, Japan produced their first exclusive anime series, Transformers: The Headmasters, to replace the fourth and final US season and to carry out the story concepts begun in The Transformers: The Movie and carried on through the third season, using the existing cast and adding the eponymous Headmasters into the mix. With the completion of the series, the evil Decepticons had finally been forced off Earth, and the stage was set for the beginning of Super-God Masterforce.
Although nominally occurring in the same continuity as the previous Transformers series, there was a very obvious effort on head writer Masumi Kaneda's part to make Masterforce a "fresh start" as a mecha story, introducing an entirely new cast of characters from scratch, rather than using any of the previous ones. To this end, although the toys are mostly the same in both Japan and the West (barring some different color schemes), the characters which they represent are vastly different—most prominently, Powermaster Optimus Prime's counterpart is Ginrai, a human trucker who combines with a transtector (a non-sentient Transformer body, a concept lifted from Headmasters) to become a Transformer himself, the same applies to the other Powermasters' counterparts; the Godmasters. The Pretender figures released during that year were the same but in Masterforce the Autobot pretenders disguise themselves regular sized humans that can wear normal clothing instead of being giant humans wearing armor as they were in contemporary Marvel comics.
The attempt to start things afresh with Masterforce does give rise to some continuity quirks, however, such as Earth technology being portrayed as contemporary, rather than futuristic as in 2010 and Headmasters, and some characters being totally unaware of what Transformers are, even though they have been public figures for over two decades. Similarly, the show never supplied the viewer with the full backstory - within the main 42 episodes of the series, important aspects such as what the true villain, Devil Z is or who BlackZarak is are never explained. Even the timeframe of the show was never revealed, with the series taking place an indeterminate amount of time after Headmasters. Most of these facts would all be revealed later in made-for-video clip shows and other media, including a Special Secrets episode where both Goh and Grand Maximus would explain and reveal several pieces of trivia about the show.