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As the first part of Netflix's anime-esque animated series Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy, Siege, looks to tell one of the first stories of Autobots and Decepticons, fans of the long-running and nostalgia-fueled franchise might be wondering how this new take on the classic origin story came about. Cybertron and the battle over the Allspark has come a long way since the '80s movie — and the visuals have followed suit.
Optimus Prime (Jake Foushee) and Megatron (Jason Marnocha) are on opposite sides of this devestating civil war between the vehicular beings, looking to settle their score before heading to Earth in the series' second chapter, Earthrise. The third, Kingdom, looks to bring back a little Beast Wars flavor to the proceedings.
Transformers: War for Cybertron showrunner F.J. DeSanto (Transformers: Titans Return, Transformers: Power of the Primes) spoke with SYFY WIRE about the series' take on the early Transformers story and gave a little context for the three exclusive and gorgeous pieces of concept art SYFY WIRE can debut below:
First is a shot of Wheeljack and Bumblebee scavenging on a deserted space bridge. "That's actually the concept art for the opening of the entire series," DeSanto said. "It's a direct homage the writer came up with to [Generation 1]. G1 opens with those two scavenging for Energon. The big twist here is that they don't know each other at this point."
Next, the epic Sea of Rust on the cusp of a "pivotal moment" in the season. "The Autobots need to get some place to acquire something and the problem is that the thing they want is in the Sea of Rust," DeSanto said. "We needed to make that intimidating, something visually really cool, and dangerous."
"Cybertron is a different planet. It doesn't have to have the physics of Earth. We can have some fun with it," DeSanto said. "It can be this constant whirlwind of tornadoes and various different weather-related events."
Finally, an image depicting a Decepticon arena: "The arena, which this is just a small piece of, is a key location in the entire series," DeSanto said. "We decided that the Decepticon headquarters would be set here. We built a very multipurpose location: there's interiors like a conference room, a control center, jail cells."
"You can see in the background, he's addressing the troops," DeSanto said. "It's like a dictator addressing his people — you see the flags in the background. We wanted this to be a real show of power from Megatron. What you'll find throughout is that Megatron grew up in the gladatorial pits. He came to power fighting in these gladatorial pits. The idea was that he decided, during this war, to make his base of operations the location where he rose to power."
These all show off a new cyberpunk, 3DCG artistic style thanks to Polygon Pictures and Rooster Teeth (where the show moved after starting its life at Machinima). "We looked at things like [Generation 1], how do we pay homage to that visually? We looked at Bumblebee, the opening scene of Bumblebee, to get the tone of Cybertron - the flavor of it," DeSanto said, "I come from anime fandom — I loved Macross, Yamato, Gatchaman as a kid, so references like that would often come up in conversation with the team in Japan."
"It's rare that I get to make a Captain Harlock reference," DeSanto said. "That'll make sense in the second season." That'd be Earthrise and yes, we'd better see some space pirates. The third, Kingdom, is still under lock and key. "What I'm excited about is that we knew from the very beginning, almost two years ago, that Kingdom was going to be the third chapter," DeSanto said. "We spent a lot of time developing the trilogy as a whole, so what I'm excited about is people trying to figure out how we get to Kingdom. Siege to Earthrise to Kingdom: it's three chapters of a trilogy, but they're distinctly different even though they tell one large story."
But for now, fans need to settle with the trilogy's first entry. The first season, Siege, takes place during the "last day of the Cybertronian Civil War," over six episodes, DeSanto explains, leaving plenty of the war unexplored for future Transformers storytellers while drilling down into a highly specfic moment in Transformers history. For those wanting to know more about the plot and where the trilogy goes from here, DeSanto has one piece of advice: "Follow the toys."
Transformers: War for Cybertron - Siege, which also stars Linsay Rousseau, Joe Zieja, Edward Bosco, and Sophia Isabella, hits Netflix on July 30.