Transformers: The Japanese Collection – Headmasters DVD Review

Just the other week I was fortunate to receive a copy of the Transformers: The Japanese Collection – Headmasters DVD set from Shout! Factory.  I’ve spent a good bit of time watching the series, and I want to share my impressions of the series and DVDs, which are set to be released July 5th.

The Headmasters series is the first real divergence point of US vs. Japanese Transformers.  In the US; the Headmasters were unveiled in the 3 episode arc “Rebirth” which composes the entire 4th (and final) season of the US G1 continuity.  In Japan, the Headmasters series continues the storylines set in G1 and kicks off a trilogy of Japanese-only series.  This release from Shout! Factory is the first release of this material in North America.  This set presents all 35 episodes of the Headmasters series on 4 subtitled DVDs.

  • Picture and sound quality – Overall the quality of the picture and audio is typical of any 80’s cartoon.  While generally clear and high-quality the colors don’t pop off the screen.  It’s a bit tougher for me to judge the audio track – as there is only a Japanese language track…but the background music is clear and the series seems to have a pretty good mix.  If you’ve watched any of Shout! Factory’s Transformers or GI Joe DVDs, the quality is on par with those.
  • Comparison to StarTV Dub – If you are among the fans who have viewed all of some of the Headmasters series through a bootleged recording of the english dub shown in Singapore you might be wondering how this DVD release stacks up.  The short answer is – it doesn’t.  Shout! Factory’s DVD release will have you tossing your bootleg out.  What is not preserved is the english dub itself, meaning the novelty of Blaster being ‘Billy” and Spike being ‘Sparkle’ is gone.  But for a clear image and more coherent plot; novelty is easily sacrificed.
  • Bonus Features – This is one area where the set is a little slim.  The sole bonus feature on this set is an art gallery which features uncolored line art of the key Headmasters characters. The special features could have been beefed up a bit by adding a few commercials perhaps…or even a special feature addressing some of the quirks of the StarTV dub.

In summary The Transformers – Headmasters DVD set from Shout! Factory is a great opportunity for fans who thought G1 ended with the end of the American series.  While the tone and presentation of the storyline changes a bit to better accomodate a Japanese audience (more slapstick comedy, some significance personality shifts for several characters) – the overall story is still engaging and provides depth and character development to characters hardly explored in American Transformers mythos.

The Transformers: The Japanese Collection –  Headmasters is set to be released in a few days on July 5th.  Amazon has the set up for pre-order now (for under $20), or pick it up after Tuesday wherever you like to grab your DVDs.  The set has a suggested price of $29.93 – which is a good price for this set.


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About the Author: MattG