Musing: Size Matters Not in the Transformers Universe

When I was growing up, one of the most popular TV shows on was Transformers. No not the Michael Bay reincarnations of recent years, I’m talking about the first generation Transformers from the 1980s and 90s.

*Note: This clip shows a “typical” battle scenario between the Autobots and the Decepticons

The good stuff. Yes I said it, the original Transformers is the best – no Michael Bay sh*t here. So why am I bringing this up? Well, ask any boy (and maybe a few girls) who grew up in the 90s and they’ll tell you how great the show was. As one in a long line of kids’ TV shows in the 90s, Transformers defined a generation whenever it came on – usually during the Saturday morning or after school time brackets. Along with a few other shows this one was the main reason why I got up early during the week (for the early morning slots) and they actually were the source of many of my views of the world. Transformers, as well as its cousins Beast Wars: Transformers for example dealt with many “adult” subjects that kids would have never seen until their teens. I remember specifically an episode that had a “disabled” robot (alluding to how people with disabilities are viewed in society), religion, race, hierarchy within a group, and even romance.

Which leads me to one the lessons that I took away from the show: Size matters not in a fight.

Well okay, size does matter. But when you’re a seven year old boy, being big and strong was a common dream – an aspiration shared by many of peers. Through the years of watching Transformers, there were many differences between the Autobots and the Decepticons; ideology, team work, view on humans, etc. Among these however one has stood out and survived with me till this day.

Many of the Autobots were small – small cars, vehicles, “civilian” machines while the Decepticons were often big – military weapons, high powered machines in general. Basically the Decepticons had these things going for them:

  1. Size – most of them tower over Optimus Prime (the tallest of all the Autobots)
  2. Strength – again, most of the Decepticons are military vehicles with obvious firepower. Cars don’t do well versus F-15 Eagles.
  3. Strength in numbers – Throughout the series and you see this in all Transformers spin-offs, the Autobots and their equivalents were always outnumbered at least 2-to-1.
  4. Firepower – See “Strength”.
  5. Intelligence-gathering, which included infiltration, espionage, black ops, etc. – Decepticons have no problem killing people and each other (in particular Megatron) to achieve their evil plans.

…and I thought: “With all these things, why are the Decepticons always losing?” and “If you have the biggest guns, biggest ‘bots, and biggest firepower, doesn’t that automatically give you an edge over your adversaries?”. Typical TV plot stories aside, I thought then that something was really amist. After a few years (and after going to college), I realized something: The Autobots had something that despite all the advantages that the evil Decepticons had: it was their intelligence and teamwork.

Holy Jesus; like a lot of my realizations then and now, it slowly creeped up to me until it came knocking like a girl trying to get my attention. Of course it was their intelligence and teamwork! How else were those “puny” Autobots going to go up against guys that could rip them apart in a hand to hand combat!

I know this isn't Generation 2, but it's still a badass picture.

Looking back, I realized that this observation will – and is at the moment – a guiding point where I could concentrate any of my future endeavors on. With martial arts being an interest of mine, I have come to realize that perhaps watching Transformers while as a child was a good thing in more ways than one. I guess that explains one of the unconscious reasons why I came to Aikido.

The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba O’Sensei was only 5′, so through his physical example, he has proven that shortness can be overcome. Other than that, realizing that Optimus Prime is the single most righteous, honorable badass in their galaxy is always a morale boaster!

Martially, does size matter? Yes – or at least I want to believe it. But as the Autobots have proven, all you need is courage and honor on your side and you can defeat the evil Decepticons of your life!

Having the ability to transform into the machines of your choice and having laser pistols are always a plus! Till next time.


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