Rise Up!! Pretenders is the first episode of Transformers: Super-God Masterforce. It first aired in Japan on April 12, 1988 on Nippon TV.
The sudden reappearance of the Decepticons on Earth forces the long-hidden Autobot Pretenders to drop their human disguises and rejoin the fight.
Off the coast of Canada, aboard a luxury cruise liner, the captain of the vessel entertains his passengers with a song as he steers through the night. Down on the deck, a pair of newlyweds are on their honeymoon, with the husband filming his wife against the moonlight on a video camera... when suddenly, from the ocean depths, two monstrous creatures appear! A flying, bipedal bat-monster slaughters the captain, while a fish-like humanoid pulls the girl into the freezing waters. This pair are Blood and Gilmer, Decepticon Pretenders, who terrorize the crew and summon mechanical fish-beasts known as Gulfs to destroy the engine room. As the ship sinks amidst explosions, the pair cackle evilly, knowing that this will flush out the one they seek... the one known as "Metalhawk".
Far away from this scene of destruction, the following day, in Japan, scientist Professor Gō and his partner Hawk are watching Gō's son, Shūta, play in a school soccer match. Afterwards, the pair are returning to Gō's laboratory when Hawk receives a communication from a friend that he has not seen in some time, Diver, who informs him of the Decepticon attack on the cruise liner. The tape from the husband's video camera was recovered, and Diver has had the footage forwarded to Gō's laboratory for Hawk to see; Hawk immediately recognises the two Decepticons, and he and Professor Gō realize that the time they have feared and planned for has come to pass - after being gone from Earth for so long, the Decepticons have at last returned! Just then, Shūta arrives at the lab, and his father asks him to leave the room as he and Hawk talk, but Hawk decides that Shūta should also be made aware of the situation. Shūta, however, is less than convinced when Hawk reveals his secret - he is not from Earth.
Night settles in as Hawk explains the full story to Shūta. He is Metalhawk, one of a group of Autobot Pretenders, who have the power to transform into human beings. They came to Earth during the Neolithic era when they pursued a group of Decepticons into the Solar system, and their damaged ships crashed on the planet. Unable to return home, they used their powers to adopt the forms of human beings, to safeguard the burgeoning mankind against the Decepticons, who took on monstrous forms to terrorize them. Hawk and his fellow Pretenders defeated the Decepticons and sealed them away in remote locations around the Earth... but now, they're back!
Hawk's statement is punctuated by an explosion somewhere else in the world, as another of the Decepticons' monstrous Seacons, Tentakil, destroys an oilfield and the human military helicopters that attack it. The Decepticon attack continues into the next day, as the third Decepticon Pretender, Dauros, directs a Tentakil in an attack on a Japanese city. Blood soon arrives, making fun of Dauros for "playing leader" - Dauros retort that Blood's actions are too weak, but Gilmer arrives to break up the fight before it can begin. A news report of the attack reaches Hawk, who is moved to action. With a cry of "Suit On!" he dons his battle armor, and then, to Shūta's shock, reveals his true form - his human features dissolve, and his body expands and enlarges, transforming into a giant golden robot. Metalhawk transforms into jet mode, and sends out the call for the other Pretenders to rally - Diver, an marine biologist at an Ocean Research Center in California, plunges into the ocean and becomes a submarine; Lander, a womanizing geologist, is interrupted in the middle of a date in New York, leaving his lady-friend dazed as he becomes a vehicle that speeds through the city streets, out-racing police; and the fourth member, Phoenix, lifts off from an airstrip into stormy skies as a jet.
Metalhawk arrives in the city, and the Pretenders hold back from attacking him to see how Tentakil fares. As they battle, Shūta arrives on the scene on his motorcycle, and cheers Metalhawk on as he pummels the Seacon. However, the boy is seized from behind by a second Tentakil, causing Metalhawk to be distracted long enough to be blasted out of the sky by his opponent. Metalhawk strikes back with his Titanium Saber, deflecting laser blasts and slashing the first Tentakil to bits, but as he turns on the second, the Decepticon Pretenders take action, transforming into their robot modes. Metalhawk demands to know how they escaped their prisons, but they simply attack him; he is badly outnumbered until Phoenix arrives to save his skin. Blood and Phoenix dogfight in their jet modes as Diver and Lander charge into view, and Lander tackles Dauros. Gilmer stays Metalhawk's hand by aiming his blaster at Shūta, but Diver sneaks up behind him and brings him down, freeing Metalhawk to save Shūta. With their Seacon servants defeated, the Decepticons flee.
As the sun begins to set, the Pretenders tell Shūta the rest of their story. When they first encountered humans, all those thousands of years ago, all they saw was small, frail beings - but when they discovered their ability to feel love, their compassion for others, and their indomitable courage, they were so shocked to find these qualities in such beings that they too decided to become humans. Taught by mankind that strength alone is not enough, the Autobot Pretenders have vowed to protect the Earth against the threat of the Decepticons!
In the episode
English dub changes
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
- Despite occurring an undetermined number of years after The Headmasters, Super-God Masterforce - as is its wont - willfully ignored the futuristic setting and technology depicted throughout that series and the third season of the The Transformers cartoon, in favor of presenting a world that basically corresponded to the present-day at the time (1988). This continues throughout the entire series.
- The newlywed woman is listed as "madonna" in the episode's credits. This, of course, has nothing to do with the singer or the Virgin Mary, but rather goes back to the word's origin as a medieval Italian word for an important woman. The Japanese have adopted the word to refer to cute girls - Masterforce character Minerva will even be referred to as a "little Autobot madonna" by Gilmer in a future episode.
- The Super-God Masterforce opening sequence is not afraid of offering up a few spoilers for what's to come in the series - depicted are Hydra and Buster, who won't appear for another seven episodes; Ginrai (who won't appear for nine episodes); King Poseidon (another fourteen episodes!); and Lightfoot (another fifteen episodes!!). And these are not one- or two-second-long fleeting glimpses of the characters, as is common with Western cartoon openings, but extended, detailed action sequences, which even reveal the characters' names through on-screen English text! The closing sequence is no better, featuring all six Headmaster Juniors.
- Likewise, the commercial bumpers also showcase several characters who have yet to appear - in addition to Metalhawk and Blood, the first set of bumpers featured in the series depict Shūta, King Poseidon and Ginrai.
- The Autobots and Decepticons all departed from the Earth at the end of The Headmasters.
- The above summary makes a few specific notes about the occupations and locations of the human-mode Autobot Pretenders that are casually revealed as the series progresses, that have all been listed here for simplicity's sake. Note the distinct "sea-land-air" theme running through the group's names, jobs and alternate modes - Diver is an underwater vehicle and works with sea animals; Lander is a ground vehicle and works as a geologist; and Phoenix is an aircraft... whose job is not actually explicitly revealed, but his attire, and his intro scene in this episode, suggest he works at an airport or an Air Force base. The trend is also continued with the Decepticon Pretenders, with the flying Blood, who becomes a jet; the aquatic Gilmer, who transforms into a submarine; and Dauros, who transforms into a tank that can tunnel underground. Even the fights in this episode are paired off in this manner - Phoenix vs. Blood, Lander vs. Dauros and Diver vs. Gilmer.
- The Metrodome R2 DVD release of this episode features an audio commentary by Chris McFeely.