Despite being the "main" Japanese Transformers franchise for 2006, the storyline of Kiss Players, crafted by Yūki Ōshima, was not rendered in animation. Instead, it was related through two separate media—story drama segments on a Japanese radio show, and a monthly manga in Dengeki Daioh magazine. Additionally, several chapters of the 15 Go! Go! mini-comics published in Dengeki Hobby magazine featured tie-ins to the Kiss Players story.
In December 2006, Kiss Players transitioned into its second phase, Kiss Players Position.
The Kiss Players segment began airing on the Japanese radio show "Lyrian Moe-tchao" on April 3, 2006 in Japan and ran for 38 episodes. Each weekly installment of the show featured a one to three-minute story narrated by one of the voice actresses who played the three main characters in the series. In the first week of October, the format was revised, and the entire half-hour show became "Transformers Kiss Play: Transformers News Center." Now broadcasting at an earlier time, but still starring the same trio of voice actresses, the show included a brief introduction explaining Transformers to new listeners, a "Tell Me Please! Transformers News Center" section during which Takaratomy employees or related professionals discussed Transformers news with the voice actresses, and a section in which the actresses ad-libbed dialogue based on reader-submitted scenarios.
The radio plays were collected on CDs included with the Kiss Players toys, which also included special bonus episodes. Most notably, after the first-year story ended with a cliffhanger (and the first episode ever to feature all three voice actresses) in the third week of December 2006, the bonus episode included with the Autorooper X Atari toy set released to stores the following week brought the tale to a close.
The second-year story ran for a further 13 episodes in the early months of 2007. A self-contained adventure taking place during the second-year story was performed live by the voice actresses at Tokyo Toy Festival on March 18, 2007. Yūki Ōshima created over 30 new pieces of color artwork that were displayed to illustrate the story over the course of the performance.
The Kiss Players manga, written and drawn by Ōshima began publication in the August 2006 edition of Dengeki Daioh magazine and ran for three monthly 16-page installments.
|Kiss Players issues|
Oshima's other contribution to Transformers at the time, the 1-page 15 Go! Go! comic published in Dengeki Hobby magazine, also featured several tie-ins to the Kiss Players story. These primarily served to introduce readers to the Kiss Players story and characters when the line was launched, and then later, to summarize the final few radio dramas when both series were drawing to a close. 15 Go! Go! also featured the first part of a story in which Starscream's ghost possessed Atari (which was continued in the radio drama), and in the second year, notably incorporated the further adventures of Glit, Sundor and Rosanna, the Kiss Play Position cassette trio, who were rather confusingly dropped from the radio storyline in its second week and never mentioned again.
Aside from all of this, booklets included with toys and on-package bios and text also helped to fill in several of the important background and setting details of the storyline that were not explicitly laid out in any of the story media.
- Marissa Faireborn (voiced by Lyrian)
- Shaoshao Li (v. Yui Kano)
- Atari Hitotonari (v. Satomi Akesaka)
- Optimus Prime (v. Tesshō Genda)
- Legion (v. Hirofumi Tanaka)
- Hot Rod (v. Ryōtarō Okiayu)
- Autrooper Ne-04 (v. Keiji Hirai)
- Rosanna (v. Lyrian)
- Sundor (v. Satomi Akesaka)
- Glit (v. Yui Kano)
- Angela (v. Lyrian)
- Star Dust (v. Satomi Akesaka)
- Zangetsu (v. Yui Kano)
Following the events of Unicron's attack in 2005, in which Galvatron was hurled into space by Rodimus Prime, the Decepticon leader crash-landed on Earth, his impact utterly devastating Tokyo. This horrific event shattered Transformer-human relations, and the government agency known as the Earth Defense Command was formed, led by Commander Hitoshizuku Amaō, who had been driven to her fervent hatred of Transformers by the death of her daughter in the catastrophe. With its headquarters established in Galvatron's impact crater, the EDC set about its assigned task of ridding the Earth of Transformers. To accomplish this, the EDC constructed a fleet of its own man-made Transformers known as Autroopers, reverse-engineered from the remains of Galvatron himself. With the Autroopers' added power and the establishment of an anti-electron field around the Earth, they succeeded in forcing all remaining Transformers to flee the planet. Horrified at what his defeat of Galvatron had wrought, new Autobot leader Rodimus returned the Matrix to Ultra Magnus, and became Hot Rod once again.
As 2006 settled in, Earth had been rendered completely devoid of Transformers, and the rebuilding of Tokyo was underway. However, Galvatron's impact was revealed to have had a much greater effect than anyone could have predicted—the blast caused by his impact had scattered his Unicron-empowered cells throughout the planet's atmosphere. When they came into contact with other animals and objects, from marine life to cars, they fused with them, becoming one of many monstrous creatures referred to as Legion. This catastrophe also created the means to defend the world against the Legion, however—when Galvatron's cells came into contact with human beings, they also become able to fuse with other entities containing his cells by kissing them. With their Autroopers being the perfect candidates for this "ParasiTech" fusion process, the EDC began recruiting and training these "Kiss Players" as combat squads to battle the Legion.
Some time after the death of her parents in a Legion attack, Atari Hitotonari found herself pursued by one of the monstrous creatures. EDC operative Shaoshao Li came to her rescue, but the time-limit of her fusion with her Autrooper, Ne-04, expired and she was ejected from her partner, unconscious. Atari discovered that she was a Kiss Player when she kissed Shaoshao's Autrooper (to the delight of squad commander Hitoshizuku Amaō, who had long known of the girl's potential) and fused with it, defeating the Legion.
Atari was subsequently drafted into EDC Tokyo Autrooper squad, where she was routinely terrorized by her sociopathic teammate, Ringo Chikuma, but managed to make friends with Kayu Michikusa. Atari was clearly not suited to EDC life, getting carsick, being embarrassed by the Kiss Fusion, and accidentally swallowing a Legion and having to have her Autrooper shrink down and venture inside her body to remove it. Her most significant escapade during this time was when she was possessed by Starscream's ghost, who had her seek out Doctor Arkeville in order to have the scientist create him a new body, only for it to be almost immediately destroyed by the EDC's Autroopers.
Following his death in 2005, the legacy of Optimus Prime became something of a rallying point for those disgruntled with the government's anti-Transformer movement. An anti-EDC commando force established itself; among its members was Marissa Faireborn, the daughter of soldier Dashiell Faireborn and a childhood friend of Shaoshao Li, who was once rescued by and often played with Prime when she was a child. When the EDC decided to move Prime's body from America to Tokyo, Marissa and her commando squad staged a violent ambush on the transport vehicles in an attempt to liberate the Autobot commander's remains. The whole affair, however, turned out to be a trap when Prime's body was revealed to be a decoy concealing an Autrooper unit piloted by Ringo, who gunned down the whole team, save Marissa herself. Realizing that she had been duped, Marissa turned her attention to a familiar container trailer in the convoy, which concealed the real Prime's body. As an out-of-control Autrooper attempted a ParasiTech fusion with Prime's body, Marissa discovered that she too was a Kiss Player when, in giving her childhood friend a farewell kiss, she found herself merging with an unexpectedly resurrected Prime, complete with a new body formed from the Autrooper and his own remains. Prime and Marissa went on the run from the EDC, with Prime reluctant to allow Marissa to enter any of their battles. To placate her, he would often allow her to visit beaches under the cover of night, so that she could indulge her passion for surfing. On one such trip, however, the pair were attacked by a Legion that had fused with an octopus. In the course of their adventures and battles, Marissa met Atari, and she and Prime saved her life several times.
Shaoshao, meanwhile, had disappeared from EDC service after her failure to save Atari during the earlier battle with the Legion, spirited away to a hidden facility beneath the EDC headquarters. There, she was to become part of a twisted experiment involving dismembering Legion corpses, only to be saved from a chewey fate when Hot Rod arrived on Earth as part of his mission of redemption. Crashing into the EDC Headquarters, Hot Rod was immediately attacked by the imprisoned Legions, which attempted to fuse with him. Before the anti-electron field could fully disable the Autobot, Shaoshao kissed him and, like Prime, he was reformatted into a new body complete with the Legions' Galvatron cells. Like Marissa and Optimus Prime, the pair soon found themselves on the run from the EDC's forces, but unlike that pair, Shaoshao did not get along particularly well with Hot Rod. This, it turned out, was due to her own dislike of Transformers, due to her belief that Marissa and her friendship had ended when Optimus Prime had taken Mariss away from her. She swore to use Hot Rod's power to defeat Prime and win her friend back, and trained Hot Rod in the martial arts to this end.
Plagued by destructive impulses caused by the Galvatron cells within his body, Optimus Prime took control of a swarm of Legion units and led them in an attack on the EDC headquarters. Hacking their way through the Autroopers that opposed them, Marissa and Prime found their attentions diverted by Hot Rod and Shaoshao, who engaged them in battle. As Hot Rod accused Prime of being an impostor (since the real deal was supposed to be dead), Atari fights back her inhibitions and bonds with her Autrooper, successfully managing to turn back the attacking force.
In the wake of this, frivolity became the order of the day, as Shaoshao sulked about Optimus Prime and talked up Hot Rod's skills and weapons, accompanying him on a fishing trip to Tokyo Bay Bridge, where they battled Legions. Marissa lost her underwear and Shaoshao got her hands on it (yeeeeah), and both girls began to reflect on their own pasts, and the histories of their Transformer partners. As Prime and Hot Rod began to suffer violent, Megatron-filled nightmares caused by their Galvatron-cell-infused bodies, Shaoshao witnessed the ghostly figure of a young girl riding on the shoulder of a Legion.
Atari, meanwhile, continued to suffer the whimsical cruelties of Ringo, and could get no help on the matter from Kayu. Angered by her friend's apparent lack of concern, Atari broke a promise to her out of spite. Later, when she sought out her friend to apologize, Atari discovered that Kayu had suffered under Ringo the same way she now was, and that Kayu was now gone, supposedly transferred to another squad within the EDC. Some time later, however, Kayu's Autrooper ran berserk in the EDC headquarters, and Ringo mercilessly gunned it down despite Atari's pleas. Atari's mind went blank, and her own Autrooper went on a rampage, seriously injuring or perhaps even killing Ringo.
Ultimately, Marissa and Prime initiated another attack upon the EDC, clashing once more with Shaoshao and Hot Rod. This time, the foursome were able to settle their differences, and proceeded to team up with Atari to investigate the sinister goings-on beneath the public facade of the EDC which had become increasing apparent during their adventures. Venturing through the "Spiral Vagina" into the "Genital System" facility hidden deep in the basement of the EDC headquarters, they destroyed the anti-electron field, and then discovered that much of the misfortune that had befallen them was the result of a twisted plan by Commander Amaō, who had been experimenting with Galvatron's corpse, Kiss Players and Legions in an attempt to resurrect her daughter. Amaō's daughter's soul had been infused into the Legions along with their Galvatron cells, and Amaō sought to resurrect her in the body of a Kiss Player, having selected Atari for the process. Amaō's plan was foiled when all of the Legions and Autroopers fused with Galvatron, bringing all his cells together and reconstituting his body. His cells were also extracted from the Kiss Players' partners; consequently, Hot Rod and Optimus Prime reverted to their original forms, with Prime returning to his state of death. Galvatron's body was blasted back into space, where it would eventually crash-land on the planet Thrull.
Kiss Players Position
With the deactivation of the anti-electron field, Ultra Magnus and the "Cassette Players"—Sundor, Rosanna and Glit, a trio of Mini-Cassettes that performed as a singing group, came to Earth in 2007 to reestablish peace with humanity. Marissa, Shaoshao and Atari joined the Cassette Players, and the group became known as the "Kiss Players", who performed to promote human-Transformer relations and good will. As they sang at the Robots in Disguise Fortress Maximus stop of their world tour, the human trio were approached by Angela, Star Dust and Zangetsu, the mysterious Sparkbots, who instructed the girls to kiss them. When Marissa, Atari and Shaoshao complied, the Sparkbots whisked them off through time and space aboard Fortress Maximus, leaving the Cassettrons behind (to go on to have unrelated adventures with Teletraan 15).
Marissa, Atari and Shaoshao reappeared in America over twenty years earlier to witness Optimus Prime's famous battle with Megatron atop Sherman Dam. Invisible to that time period's natives, Marissa was directed by Angela to kiss Prime; when she did so, a portion of what the Sparkbots told her was the Allspark emerged from within Prime. This, the Sparkbots explained, was the Kiss Players' new mission: to gather all the fragments of the Allspark from Autobot leaders throughout time and space.
After a visit to 2010, where Shaoshao retrieved a fragment from Rodimus Prime, the team visited 2011, but arrived in the year a little too early and wound up stranded on the planet Quintessa, where even their inherent cuteness could not save them from being sentenced to the Sharkticon pit by the last of the Quintessons. Thankfully, they were saved by Optimus Prime and Goldbug, and fled back into the timestream, with the Quintessons sucked in behind them and trapped in the rift. Moving a little further forward into 2011, they arrived at their proper time and place, allowing Atari to obtain another Allspark fragment from Generation One Fortress Maximus. Marissa proceeded to acquire another piece from Ginrai, and the girls progressively hit up Star Saber, Dai Atlas and Star Convoy for more.
It was when the girls turned their attention to Beast Warriors, going from one end of the timestream to the other to acquire fragments from Optimus Primal, Lio Convoy and Big Convoy, that things started getting strange. Soon, a mysterious, giant golden hand began to appear at the moment of Allspark emergence and steal the fragments away. After Shaoshao's attempt at getting a fragment from Robots in Disguise Optimus Prime was foiled by this set of disembodied digits, the Kiss Players pursued the hand through time aboard Fortress Maximus, only to have their spaceship strike the "Wall of Time," scattering the trio across dimensions. Fortress Maximus crash-landed on the planet Master several million years ago, while the three girls were blasted into the Unicron Trilogy universe and met Vector Prime. The giant golden hand soon reappeared and rescued them, bringing them back to their native universe. It was revealed that the hand belonged to the Transformer deity Primus, and that the Sparkbots were, in fact, servants of Unicron that had been manipulating the Kiss Players since the beginning—in fact, they were the ones responsible for causing Galvatron to crash on Earth, and the so-called "Allspark" fragments they had instructed the Kiss Players to gather were in truth the scattered pieces of Unicron's lifeforce. Fleeing to prehistoric Earth, the Sparkbots succeed in resurrecting their master, but Unicron was defeated by Primus, and his lifeforce was sealed away within the planet along with the Sparkbots. Completing the circle, Primus created Fortress Maximus to serve as the guardian of Unicron's lifeforce, and the Kiss Players were returned to their own time.
- Kiss Players is notable—if headache-inducing—for consolidating several previously discrete Transformers continuities into one. Timelines officially published with its products incorporated not only Generation One events, but also those of other time-and-space-bending Japanese G1 spin-offs, Robot Masters, Binaltech and Binaltech Asterisk.
- Most notably of all, Kiss Players appears to have been the first affirmation of the recent retcon that Takara has been propagating in several official timelines—that Robots in Disguise (or Car Robots, to be precise) is part of the Japanese Generation One continuity. The storyline links the Robots in Disguise Fortress Maximus to the Japanese incarnation of Generation One Fortress Maximus, offers an actual origin for Robots in Disguise Fortress Maximus that links him to the story of Beast Wars II, and explains why Unicron's lifeforce was sealed within Earth in that series.