Guess who’s back? Back again? Voltron back, tell a — well, just who do you need to tell anyways? Last month (June 10th) saw Netflix drop another hot new original series onto all of our waiting smart devices, the animated reboot of 1984’s Voltron: Defender of the Universe.
For those who didn’t grow up on late night Cartoon Network, Voltron was an American re-editing of a Japanese anime called Beast King GoLion (minus the ‘Go’ and that’s a pretty metal name!) and later a second separate series Armored Fleet Dairugger XV. That is to say, like many of our childhood favorites, Voltron wasn’t quite really Voltron. It was a cobbled together Frankenstein monster, and while it may have been rad, it was always cobbled together.
Changing that is Dreamworks Animation from the crew behind fan favorite Avatar: the Last Airbender. They’ve built a new lion bot from top to bottom (well, maybe not that new either) and here is the result: 13 episodes of animated giant robot vs giant monster sci-fi spectacle.
This is heavily a remake of that original Voltron series. The mech we see is the one composed of the five lionships. The enemy is Evil Lord Zarkon and the crew defend the planet Arus and it’s Princess, Allura, as well as the galaxy from the Galra menace. Lots of jargon, to be sure. Voltron has the flare that most sci-fi properties seem to have lately, that of fantasy terms for all things. The heroes are Paladins, the evil empire has druids for magicks, etc. It is reminiscent of the Destiny games in this way.
To boil it down, there are some really cool things in here I can’t help but enjoy. While the robot Voltron does get formed in the first arc, it is not utilized every episode in a climactic battle. Instead we have smaller, character building episodes with the team learning to work together, to train and think alike, and through friendship and yada yada yada. Yes. It is very much that type of show. But go figure, it’s for kids.
While I like the time the show takes with it, I do feel it is a retread of things we’ve seen handled better elsewhere. Indeed of the five main heroes (not counting the Princess or Royal Advisor Rhys Darby – who really steals the show) only one of their stories is interesting.
Pidge, the pilot of the Green Lion is searching after their lost brother and father and it is only halfway through the series that it is revealed Pidge is actually a girl who disguised herself as a boy to enlist. Other than that we have Fat Guy, Brash Guy, Other Brash Guy, and Mysterious Leader Guy with Robot Arm, though he does have a bit of an arc. Robot arms are decidedly cool though!
Other hits in this show are the number of episodes we see with the pilots outside of their ships, helping people on the ground evade or defeat Galra forces, or exploring space. I don’t know what it is, you’d think if the show was built around a robot fight you’d want to see more of it, but in doing so sparingly they are able to keep those moments special.
The final episode also drops a surprising twist into the mix and sets up Season Two with a big cliffhanger.