Japanese Transformers & Beyond (Brave/Yuusha Saga & Eldran)

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TezukaSensei
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Japanese Transformers & Beyond (Brave/Yuusha Saga & Eldran)

Post by TezukaSensei » Mon Jun 03, 2019 3:00 pm

(It's awesome to see a page for the Brave/Yuusha series | https://www.mahq.net/animation/brave/brave.htm | However, there is some information missing and/or incorrect. To help with this section of MAHQ, I am providing an overview of this section of mecha anime history.)

To properly cover this subject we have to also talk about the Transformers franchise, and how it was steered into a direction wholly independent of the American side of this partnership. The Transformers was born as a partnership between american toy company Hasbro and Japanese toy company Takara. The animated series was released in both Japan and the west with a couple nuances between the second and third seasons. This is when the Transformers movie was released. While it would eventually be released in Japan, this would not happen in time for season 3--which was released in Japan as a separate series called Transformers 2010. To remedy this problem and introduce Japanese audiences to the new characters featured in season 3, a Japan exclusive OVA was created called Scramble City. This only exists in subtitled form. It was included in the movie's 20th anniversary DVD in the west, however the producers of the DVD were unable to secure the rights to the audio track for the OVA, so it only included a commentary track. Australia based media company Madman released the Transformers movie on bluray for the first time for the west exclusively in PAL regions ; this release included Scramble City complete with its original audio track and english subtitles.

At this point I need to clarify a recurring issue with licensing of Japanese Transformers animation. This material was produced by Japanese studio Toei, who have been notorious over the years for not being very cooperative with western anime distributors. This is why the american DVD did not include the japanese audio for Scramble City. A second problem is that Hasbro, (the American side of the partnership behind Transformers), prefers to not have anything to do with any of the Japan exclusive content. We'll discuss this further later in this overview.

At the conclusion of Transformers season 3, the popularity of the franchise in the west had been declining. This resulted in the short season 4, (a 3 episode miniseries), known as Rebirth. This would be the conclusion of the original Transformers series in the west, leaving the franchise dormant for a number of years. This was not the case over in Japan, where the state of Transformers was very different. Mecha was much more popular in Japan, Transformers included, and this popularity also lasted much longer. Japanese partner Takara had no interest in ending the Transformer series, so it would continue exclusively in Japan for four more series:
  • Transformers Headmasters
  • Transformers Super God Master Force
  • Transformers Victory
  • Transformers Zone (Truncated to only an OVA, the series would continue to its conclusion in the form of manga.)
For a long time these titles were unavailable to the western world, due to Hasbro not wanting anything to do with them. Within the last 10 years these series have finally been released on DVD in the west. Headmasters and Victory were dubbed in english by an english speaking tv network based in asia. This resulted in an extremly poor quality dub that I highly encourage potential viewers to avoid. The region 1 DVDs by Shout Factory only include the three main series, and without the horrible english dub. Madman's region 4 PAL DVDs include everything--all series, including the Zone OVA and it's manga (accesses as DVD-ROM content via your computer), and the horrible english dubs that even Madman encourages you to NOT watch.

Now we come to the part that MAHQ has already touched on. By the end of the 1980s, Transformers declined in popularity even in Japan and came to a complete end for a while. However, mecha was still very much in demand. Thus, Takara sought to fill this void by striking a deal with iconic mecha anime studio Sunrise. This produced the Brave/Yuusha saga. Here are ALL the titles in this franchise:
  • 1990 - Brave Exkaiser (Yuusha Exkaiser)
  • 1991 - Brave of the Sun Fighbird (also translated as Fyvard sometimes) (Taiyou no Yuusha Fighbird)
  • 1992 - Brave Fighter of Legend Da-Garn (Densetsu no Yuusha Da-garn)
  • 1993 - Brave Express Might Gaine (Yuusha Tokyuu Might Gaine)
  • 1994 - Brave Police J-Decker (Yuusha Keisatsu J-Decker)
  • 1995 - Brave of Gold Goldran (Ougon Yuusha Goldran)
  • 1996 - Brave Command Dagwon (Yuusha Shirei Dagwon)
  • 1997 - King of Braves GaoGaiGar (Yuusha-Ou GaoGaiGar)
  • 1999 - Betterman (A spinoff of GaoGaiGar)
There was another title planned called The Saint of Braves Baan Gaan, however this title ended up as a video game with the anime series never produced. GaoGaiGar did receive a direct OVA follow up. In 2000, one more series--a spiritual successor to Brave/Yuusha was released: Gear Fighter Dendoh Of all these, only GaoGaiGar and its spinoff Betterman were released in the west. Betterman was fully english dubbed and aired on TechTV/G4. GaoGaiGar was only english dubbed for the first 25 episodes; Media Blasters, the company releasing the DVDs, eventually decided to release the remainder of the series with subtitles only.

There's also another franchise we have to talk about: The Eldran Saga. This was started by another Japanese toy company: Tomy. Takara and Tomy would eventually merge into one company. Eldran served the same purpose as the Brave/Yuusha saga, although for a slightly younger audience. Here are the titles:
  • 1991 Zettai Muteki Raijin-Oh
  • 1992 Genki Bakuhatsu Ganbaruger
  • 1993 Nekketsu Saikyō Go-Saurer
  • 1994 Kanzen Shouri Daiteioh (OVA only)
The Eldran series all shared the character Eldran, the ancient warrior of light, who bestows transforming pilot-able robots to teams of children. None of these titles have ever been released in the west.

That mostly concludes this chapter in mecha anime history, but for the sake of completion I should note that by this time interest in Transformers worldwide had returned thanks to Beast Wars. Once again there were a few Japanese exclusive titles, which have yet to see any release in the west. Here are the titles:
  • 1998 Transformers Beast Wars II
  • 1999 Tranformers Beast Wars Neo
These were essentially produced to fill in gaps in the Beast Wars release schedule, due to the differences in how content is broadcast in Japan vs the west. After this the partnership returned to how it worked originally with the same Transformers content being released in both Japan and the west. There are a few other Japan exclusive nuance bits to come out since, but much of that need not be discussed here.

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