Here we have a 1980s classic Transformers manga collection of three stories available for the first time in English. All written by the original author for the G1 series Transformer comic in Japan. The three stories, “Fight! Super Robot Life-Form Transformers”, “The Story of the Super Robot Life-Forms: The Star Transformers”, and “The Great Transformers War” tell us all about the origins of the autobots, decepticons, and how they face off with each other, on planet Earth. Despite these stories being written in the 1980s they do not feel dated, and could easily be enjoyed by children nowadays. 

Each story is quite short and often features full page images, or battle scenes that involve a lot of action words and not a lot of genuine dialogue. The plot of each of these tales is very shallow and unfortunately, don’t expect to see the unique personalities that you may be familiar with from more recent Transformers television shows, or movies. Bumblebee isn’t driving around making joke after joke. Instead the robots are all serious about fighting each other. These stories take place in and around Japan, instead of America, and feature the human character, Kenji. A Japanese boy who is made into an honorary autobot as he helps fight the bad guys too. A lot of silly sounding “curse you’s” are thrown in, making it a fairly repetitive line throughout. Overall, the stories would be better enjoyed by younger audiences who aren’t looking for as much depth, and instead can enjoy the artwork and action. 

Illustrator Magami, also known as the dynamic artist, did a wonderful job of creating action filled and exciting panels. These read from right to left, in typical manga fashion. Characters have expressive faces with typical manga style of large eyes and loud emotions. Action verbs explode out of panels. The book’s artwork starts off with a few glossy color pages explaining the basic background of who the transformers are, and ends with a large section of glossy pages featuring a mix of color and black and white images called Illustration Works. This features all kinds of magazine artwork from the mid to late 1980s. The three stories found in between this, are all in matte black and white. There are many scenes of the robots fighting each other, so do expect to see the transformer’s guns out, shooting bullets, airplanes getting shot down, etc. However it isn’t excessive, it is not gruesome, and it doesn’t contain anything more than what you would see on the animated television show or anime movie. 

This is a well-done translation of the original Transformers manga produced in 1986 by Japan. The stories are silly, and shallow with beautifully done detailed artwork. This series is recommended for readers aged 12-17 but I would recommend it for the youngest of that age range only. The entire series is already out, so if you purchase this one I would recommend completing this Transformers: The Manga series by buying volumes two and three.

Transformers: The Manga Vol. 1
By Masumi Kaneda
Art by Ban Magami
ISBN: 9781974710560
VIZ Media LLC, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: 12-17
Series ISBNS and Order

Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11), Teen (13-16), Tween (10-13)
Creator Highlights: Japanese
Related to…: Classic to Comic

  • Kendra

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    Kendra Perkins has worked at libraries in Canada, the U.A.E., China and South Korea where she has been everything from Founding Head Librarian to volunteer. She was Ambassador of China for the International Librarians Network, and she was elected to be Coordinator for the Shanghai Librarians Network (SLN), which is a community of almost 100 library professionals from more than 20 schools. She has completed her ALA accredited Masters in Library and Information Studies program at the University of Alberta. She has traveled to over 90 countries, learned to speak basic Mandarin Chinese along the way and kept up with too many graphic novel series to keep count. She has led workshops, created webinars and done library consultations in fun places like Italy and Hong Kong. She has been a guest blogger for multiple technology and education related websites and is a published book reviewer for Urban Family magazine. Find out more at her website, which she should update more frequently:

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