Several weeks ago we reported
that Transformers: The Headmasters - The Japanese Collection
is coming to North America on DVD this July 5th
, a 4-disc set with the entire run of Japan's 1987 continuation of the "G1" Transformers
story. If sales are strong enough, it's expected to be followed up in the future with planned releases of Transformers: Chôjin Master Force
(Japan, 1988) and Transformers: Victory
(Japan, 1989)...all part of what Shout! Factory is labeling "The Japanese Collection
," but which are known elsewhere around the globe as the "Takara Transformers
In our previous report mentioned above, we passed along that the Headmasters
release would definitely have the original Japanese audio track (presented in Stereo), with English subtitles. We also said in that write-up how it was unclear just then whether or not there would also be an English-language "dub" soundtrack included as well. This has been the most-asked question about the title, and it seems that for some of you the question of whether or not to pre-order this set hinges on the answer. Although Shout! Factory has yet to make it official via a press release, the answer posted to the studio's own message boards yesterday by the title's DVD producer is that English dubs will NOT be included on Headmasters
. Nor, presumably, would they be available on the (hopefully) eventual Master Force
DVD releases from Shout!, for the same reasons provided.
What are those reasons? Well, first of all it was explained early on in the discussion at Shout!'s message board that the studio itself couldn't afford the budget for a new dub, a HUGE finacial investment (tens of thousands of dollars) due to the cost of scripting, studio time, voice actors (even were they to get some so-called "no-name" union actors it would not be cheap; getting the "name" actors from the original show, who fans would obviously prefer to be used, are likely to cost *quite* a bit more), post-production, etc.; the projected price of doing such a new soundtrack is simply out of reach for this type of DVD release.
Longtime fans of these productions will be quick to say, "well...what about fan-made English dubs, or overseas-made English dubs? they already exist!" Shout! is obviously aware of these, and tried working with the property-owners at Hasbro to include one of them on the Headmasters
release. However, this is clearly an "easier said than done" situation: every one of the "fan dubs" use a cast and a script that were NOT approved by Hasbro, and so they don't know how good or bad each of these are, or if there is some objectionable/offensive content, or even if the translation from Japanese to English was done correctly. In some cases fans who have heard some of the dubs say things like "the dub was so bad, it's good for a laugh" (definitely not a reaction Hasbro wants on an officially licensed DVD release!) and "that dub got the name of this beloved Autobot or Decepticon character wrong!" (again, not a way Hasbro would want their property represented). Plus they would have to go back to the creators of those dubs (no matter who they might be) and get clearance to use them! Now, a form of an English-language dub may have been included on the overseas Takara Transformers
DVD releases, but in those cases Hasbro didn't have creative control of that, and so they don't apparently want to use them now. So, as Shout!'s DVD producer has said on Twitter
, Hasbro has decided against letting SF include any of the existing English dubs on their releases. He indicated there, and made it clear on SF's official message board, that he really wanted the option of an English soundtrack on these DVDs, but that it just wasn't going to happen.
That's the situation as we know it, based on publicly-available comments (on Twitter and Shout!'s official message board
) from the studio's DVD producer, Brian Ward. The folks at the Factory haven't made any formal statement regarding this, so they may have a different take on things than our interpretation. Whatever the bottom-line reasons, however, it's becoming clear that there will be no English-language soundtrack on Transformers: The Headmasters - The Japanese Collection
, or on its follow-up releases for Master Force
(assuming sales of Headmasters
are good enough to warrant the follow-ups, of course). If something changes, we'll certainly let you know, so stay tuned!