"Cyberverse" Episode 1 "Fractured: Part 1" Cartoon Review
Title: "Fractured: Part 1"
Air Date: August 27, 2018 (via Cartoon Network's web site and app)
Official Synopsis: Windblade discovers Bumblebee in the desert on his own.
"Cyberverse" represents a whole new storyline that takes inspiration from previous continuities but stands on its own (read: it is not a continuation of "Robots in Disguise" or "Rescue Bots"). Appropriately the episode begins with us meeting this universe's Bumblebee who is out for a joyride on Earth. When he tried to make a particularly wide canyon jump, he is distracted by the image of Windblade and misses the other side!
This introduction is a good one as it shows us this Bumblebee takes some qualities from previous incarnations (most notably the one from "Prime"). He is brave but perhaps a bit immature and willing to take risks. It also gives us a good sense of the animation style, which looks similar in tone to shows like "Rescue Bots" and "My Little Pony". The designs are clean, the movements are slick and I like the bright color palette.
Bumblebee lucks out as Windblade catches him and help him get back on solid ground. She is relived to see him and starts to ask questions - which he cannot answer. When he asks her why she is on Earth, we see a flashback to Cybertron showing Optimus Prime leaving on The Ark to find the Allspark. Eventually, the Decepticons followed, believing the Allspark is on Earth! Windblade followed hoping to beat the Decepticons to the Allspark. In a flashback, we see Perceptor activating the Space Bridge to send Windblade to Earth, but the Space Bridge malfunctioned shortly after so it was a one way trip.
The flashbacks to Cybertron are my favorite part of this episode. It is the part with the most "G1" inspired elements including the design of The Ark and the need for the Autobots to chase a MacGuffin in space (in the G1 cartoon it was finding energy, here it is the Allspark). A lot is said very quickly, but it is also interesting to note that in this continuity (like so many others) it sounds like the Decepticons were winning the war on Cybertron before they left. IDW Publishing comic book fans will be pleased at the inclusion of a targeting monocle over one of Perceptor's eyes.
As Windblade and Bumblebee continue to converse, it quickly becomes apparent that something is wrong with Bumblebee. He cannot speak (even though Windblade remembers Ratchet fixing his voice box) and he does not remember details such as Windblade's name or where the other Autobots are. Unfortunately, before they can continue their conversation Thundercracker swoops in and sends Windblade crashing to the ground with a kick!
This part is perhaps where the divide between older and younger fans appreciating this show will come in. If you come into this show with a blank slate, or perhaps mainly experiencing the Transformers entertainment brand through the live action movies, the "Bumblebee talking through TV and radio clips" shtick will seem perfectly normal.
However, long time fans remember a Bumblebee that had no such issue, then a Bumblebee in the films who eventually got his voice back (only to have it forgotten for some reason, something this cartoon nods to) and they also remember "Transformers Prime" where Bumblebee went through an entire arc of having a damaged voice box and then eventually talking (most notably in 2015's "Robots in Disguise"). Having seen this aspect of the character play out in two different continuities makes this seem repetitive.
My primary concern is not so much the "method" of communication for Bumblebee (which I confess, is kind of played out at this point in my view) but more his behavior. I can understand memories such as who Windblade is being damaged, but his behavior seems odd. I speculate the writers are trying to show us that without some of his memories, he has reverted to a somewhat immature state, but this is not 100% clear either way. Has this Bumblebee always been like this? Is he just acting like a hyperactive, immature Autobot because of his memory issues? It is a tough call so early in the game.
This part of the episode gives us a good amount of back and forth dialogue between Bumblebee and Windblade. Jeremy Levy is trying his best, playing radio and TV clips with all the enthusiasm he can muster. Sophia Isabella is good as Windblade who winds up going between happy to befuddled during the course of the episode.
Overall, this episode is a fun start to the show. Coming in at a little over five minutes long, this show is definitely geared towards a modern audience that is used to absorbing entertainment in short chunks rather than a long narrative. Personally I had to watch this a few times and clear my mind of expectations before I was able to enjoy it. How much you enjoy it will largely depend on how much fiction "baggage" you carry over from previous Transformers shows and movies.
Continue on to read my review of Episode 2!