Binge 'N' Purge - Machine Robo: The Revenge of Cronos (Part 2)
Before you read any further, check out our original review here!
Don’t get me wrong, I stand by my earlier review. In fact, it gets worse before it gets better.
Longtime viewers of the site, both of you, will wonder why on earth am I looking at this again. Well, as it turns out, the good folks at Discotek have got their mitts on the entire series and just happened to catch me in a GoBots mood again. So, is this an instance of insanity, making the same mistake hoping for different results, an instance where I was drunk, there was Amazon and the rest was history or, maybe, that perhaps the series managed to pick itself up and march to a decent conclusion? Let’s find out as we take another look at Machine Robo: The Revenge of Cronos.
The defender of the fabled Hyribead, Kirai Stol, has died. Seeing this opening, Gades and his army move on Chronos, seeking the promise of the object’s fabled ability to grant immoratlity. Stol’s students, including his son Rom, are forced to track down the Hyribead in order to protect it…taking them all over Cronos, encountering countless denizens of the planet, both those that have sided with his clan as well as those that have sided with the invaders. Who will reach the Hyribead first???
Like I opened with, I stand by my initial review. The first half of this series is a complete and total slog. Following Wolf Crests from city to city, location to location, a few GoBot/Machine Robo cameos outside of the main cast…in a 47 episode series, the first 20 or so episodes feel so terribly formulaic that it’s hard to plow through.
I don’t know nor care enough to do the research to find out whether or not the creators were fans of The Wizard of Oz, but what I can tell you is that by the time our heroes make their way to the Emerald City, filled with a wide array of Machine Robos that do indeed end up joining the cast, the series picks up big time! Now we have quests for actual tangible items! Now we have Machine Robos we recognize maintaining regular appearances, like Cy-Kill, Leader -1, Tank, Spay-C, Crasher, so on and so forth! [Using the American GoBot names here for convenience. – Ed.] We see the Power Suits come into play, albeit with a different, tank based, middle component! And while it is such a pain to get to this point, it’s kinda worth it, especially if you’re a GoBots fan. The main reason I say this is because when I made it to this point in the series, dammit, I needed to start hunting down old GoBots again. I’m constantly hitting refresh to see if there’s any new news about Action Toys’ Machine Robo line. And yeah, I even want freaking Rock Lords. ROCK LORDS!!! Agree or disagree, given that the point of any 80s cartoon, be it here or abroad, was to sell toys, you can see that Machine Robo finally wore me down. [Oh, forgot to mention Tom Scioli’s awesome GoBots miniseries for IDW, hunt that down too! – Ed.]
Even in this second half though, some of the tropes of the first half linger. Like the “This is what people call ____!” and “You don’t deserve to know my name!” even though by this point, EVERYONE knows his name! I dunno, after a while it does wear you down and in some ways becomes a parody of itself. I even found myself chuckling at it from time to time all the while thinking ‘here we go again!’. One thing worth pointing out that finally gets omitted by the second half is that Rom finally excepts that the whole point of Blade Dragon is to get it’s butt kicked…so he just skips that step all together, opting to go straight to Vikung-Fu. It’s the sort of thing that you wish other, more high-profile anime of the time would’ve caught on to. Think about it, having the Lion Force in Voltron accept the fact that the actual lions themselves are just gonna get their butts kicked, might as well just go right to Voltron. Yes, you can make the argument that it does take away from the supposed drama, but I do have to admit, what it sacrifices there it makes up for in trying to sell me toys…and as I’ve already said, it’s working. I mean…goddamn Rock Lords!
But is it really worth it? Is it worth it to sit through half the series, 20 or so episodes, spinning its wheels only to find its direction? It almost feels like it isn’t, but that’s going to depend on you. I mean, in the show’s defense, when you finally get to it, it really is fun to see these GoBots acting so differently from what we’d come to know from the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons. It’s also worth noting that we do see these Machine Robo get personalities in the second half where it almost feels like the ensemble Transformers was. Still, for some viewers, these improvements are just gonna come too little too late. As I move closer and closer toward the end of the series, I almost feel like it was all worth it…but I can VERY EASILY see how many viewers won’t be able to. That being said, it does fall squarely in the wheelhouse of 80s cartoons, proving to be an odd mix of He-Man (holding aloft a sword to become a mightier version all the while spewing the moral of the day) and Transformers (transforming robots, duh!) yet still existing solely to sell you toys.
Ultimately, the series cannot overcome its slow start, no matter how hard it tries whether it’s personalities for the supporting cast or new toys and play-patterns introduced. For that, I have to top out my review at a Plain Cat. There’s some good stuff in the second half, but slogging through the first half might be too big an ask for many viewers.