Ninja Day 2013: Scene by Scene: That Transformers episode with the female robot ninja
Today is Ninja Day, my friends. I celebrate it every year. It’s one of my passions. So, in the spirit of the scene by scene movie reviews I did for Revenge of the Ninja and Ninja III: The Domination, today I’m going to do a scene by scene review of the Transformers episode “Enter the Nightbird”. You know, the one with the female robot ninja.
This is Season 2, episode 6. Here are the opening titles and title card.
In the beginning of the episode, we see the Autobots installing new sensor pads on their floors. Wheeljack tests them by saying, “Look how they react to metal”, he touches the surface and then the sensor pad lights up. So the Autobots are putting metal detecting sensor pads in their headquarters? METAL DETECTING SENSOR PADS IN A HEADQUARTERS FILLED WITH ROBOTS. That makes sense.
This is Dr Fujiyama, “the famous scientist” (all the explanation we are given). He calls the Autobots because he needs their help guarding his newest invention, an advanced form of robot. Optimus Prime is talking to Fujiyama on a standard two way video communicator you see in TV shows and cartoons all the time. However, they way it’s drawn, it looks like that’s a window and Fujiyama is in the next room.
What is Fujiyama’s secret robot? Fujiyama introduces it as “The world’s first female ninja robot”. He actually says that. Not sure why the sex needs to be addressed since it is, you know, a f**king robot. And maybe in this universe a MALE ninja robot has already been created.
This is the moment in the cartoon in which Optimus Prime awesomely says, “What is a ninja?” Prime, you’re adorable. Jazz actually explains it to him. Not one of the human characters.
During the Q&A, this guy stands up and asks, “Why build a robot ninja, doctor?” He is then promptly escorted from the premises and beaten amongst the head and shoulders with heavy clubs.
Here’s the full pan up of the ninja robot. Thought this was a cool shot. The robot is christened Nightbird. The Autobots are here to protect Nightbird from being stolen by the Decepticons. How the Decepticons know about this robot or why they would even care when their own robotics are light years ahead of anything even in this robot is never really explained. But it is a ninja, so, I can’t blame them for wanting it.
Fujiyama actually says, “This robot is not meant for battle or assassination.” Notice the two sai blades on each arm gauntlet and the nunchuks in the robot’s right hand. This robot is only on display in “demo” mode and it’s armed to the teeth. Later on, we’ll see lots more weapons hidden within the robotic body like throwing stars and saw blades. Not sure what this robot was “meant for”, but it sure wasn’t afternoon tea with the knitting guild.
In what should be a surprise to no one, the Decepticons attack and try to steal the robot ninja.
The Decepticons pull a ballsy move by lasering off the top of the auditorium’s dome and air lifting the robot out of the hole in the roof. Well played, Megatron.
The Decepticons take Nightbird to their secret base. Their gigantic, purple, secret, rock fortress in the shape of the Decepticon badge in the middle of a rocky valley. Megatron was never very subtle. Before entering, Megatron describes this base as “temporary”. It’s a temporary base? What is the permanent base going to look like?
Megatron has Nightbird reprogrammed to steal something called the “world energy chip” from the Autobots. Does this chip power the world or does it just use something called “world energy”? It’s never really explained either way.
Here among the wasted remains of the auditorium Prime is apologizing for not doing the job the Autobots were brought there to do. Dr Fujiyama says that “it could not have been forseen.” Except that you did forsee it, Fujiyama, you called the Autobots to prevent it. And they didn’t.
Here the reprogrammed Nightbird begins her stealthy infiltration of the Autobot base.
Walking along the hallways, Nightbird stumbles upon the metal detecting panels installed by Wheeljack in the beginning of the episode. In order to avoid the panels she activates what I assume are magnetic pads on her boots and walks on the ceiling over the panels. She then lands with kitten-like agility on the other side. So, I guess the “metal detecting panels” only work if metal actually touches them. Which makes them almost worthless. What the hell, Wheeljack?! Get your sh*t together, man!
Nightbird is discovered during her theft (no thanks to those damn metal detecting pads!) and unleashes elongating saw blades from her hands which she then THROWS at the Autobots. Yeah, this robot wasn’t built for battle. Who the f**k are you kidding, Fujiyama?!
While being chased out of the Autobot base, Nightbird is hit with Optimus Prime’s stun ray. She plays dead to lure the Autobots into thinking they have her and she suddenly leaps up, opens a hatch in her hip that unleashes like A MILLION throwing stars and then hurls them at the group of Autobots. They duck and cover and then Nightbird whips out a lightsaber. A LIGHTSABER. I know it’s a lightsaber because the sound effect is unquestionably the hum of an active lightsaber from the movie Star Wars. Who was this robot NOT supposed to be battling again, Dr Fujiyama?!
While Optimus is giving a speech to the other Autobots about not harming the ninja robot, said ninja robot opens a keg of whoop ass.
Her work here being done, Nightbird twirls her blade and leaps out of sight over a cliff.
The Autobots follow by also leaping from the ground up to the high cliff.
In what can only be described as a hilarious visual joke, the Autobot Cliffjumper is actually the only one who can’t make the jump. Get it? The robot named Cliffjumper can’t “jump a cliff”. Ha ha.
While running from the Autobots Nightbird reaches a cliff she can’t jump, so she activates her magnetic boots and climbs the cliff face. Wait, wha-?! I don’t think magnetism works like that.
Nightbird is trapped. Prowl fires a rocket at the ninjabot. She catches the rocket IN HER HAND without it exploding. Cliffjumper then fires his “glass gas”, whatever that is, but Nightbird jumps over the fiery blast and throws the rocket BACK AT THE AUTOBOTS.
The thrown rocket lands directly into Cliffjumpers “glass gas” cannon and plugs it up. The Autobots are getting schooled, son.
Of course Megatron and the Decepticons are watching the whole Nightbird vs Autobots battle somehow. Not sure where all the video cameras are setup in the damn desert. Megatron makes some off hand remark about replacing Starscream with Nightbird. Starscream gets pissed and straight up cold cocks Megatron in the mouth.
Megatron puts Starscream in an energy prison and takes the other Decepticons to meet up with Nightbird. Skywarp and Thundercracker transform into planes and fly out. Then everyone else who isn’t a plane also flys out. So every one of the Decepticons can fly whether you transform into a plane or not. Where is the advantage in transforming into a plane? What are you actually bringing to the table?
While trapped in the energy cage, Starscream fires a tiny missile over to the main computer console which delicately pushes the button to turn off the cage. Megatron may want to test these things out before he actually uses them. And maybe move that energy cage a little further away from the main computer console that controls the entire “temporary secret base”.
Here’s an awesome shot of Nightbird ninja kicking Optimus in the face.
Starscream shows up while everyone is battling and shoots Nightbird, literally and figuratively, in the back. Somehow, this puts her down for good even though Prime shot her in the chest with a blast earlier in the episode and Nightbird ninja laughed at him. Anyway, Nightbird is returned to Fujiyama and put back in stasis. OR IS SHE?!
She is. Nightbird never returns to the series. Which is a shame because she’s AWESOME and the later seasons of the show could have used her.
So that’s the female ninja robot episode of The Transformers. One of my absolute favorites. It’s so good, as you can see.