When I was nine, Voltron was my secret guardian. He went to school with me and towered over the bullies who picked on me in the lunch room and the demanding teacher who screamed more often than she spoke. At home, he stayed close all night while my parents yelled and threw things at each other. Of course, no one could see him but me.
I remember the first time I saw Voltron: Defender of the Universe. It was early morning, before the sun came up. My father was passed out on the couch, and I had about an hour before I had to make the school bus. My siblings were still in bed, and I relish that hour because it was the only time I got to watch anything that I wanted to see on television.
The intro started with its pan shots of space, and the Lions glowing like five colored comments. I was immediately hooked. I was a sucker for space shows of any kind, loved robots, and had a special affinity for lions.
The animation was gorgeous. I’d never seen anime before. I was in love with Keith and Allura by equal measure, but Voltron was something else. Voltron was a power unlike anything I’d imagined.
(Keith/Allura fanvid by littlemiss76 on youtube.)
My teacher was out sick that day, and from then on I was convinced that Voltron was magic. If I watched Voltron in the morning, I would survive the day. I would be able to cope with whatever menace my classroom bullies thought up; I could handle the teacher’s screaming, and I was reasonably sure that I’d be safe at night when my parents started fighting.
I think the formulaic episode plots helped cement Voltron in my mind as something safe and dependable. Voltron represented a world where not only did the good guys win, but the good guys won the same way every time. It also showed me a world where people could accomplish amazing things by working together, and that lesson stayed with me. I’m always looking to bring cooperation and unity into the environments where I work. Mostly, though, Voltron just couldn’t be beat. He was safe. He had the power to protect me.
I’m not sure how old I was when I finally understood that Voltron had no influence in the real world.. Probably much older than I should have been. Hell, maybe I’m still convinced Voltron is real. Maybe that’s why I have tuned into the sequels when normally I wouldn’t have given them a chance beyond the first couple of episodes.
Voltron: the Third Dimension is panned now for it’s CGI, and I had a hard time watching it if I thought too much about the visuals. Mostly I focused on the familiarity of the characters’ voices. Keith, Allura, and Lance were all voiced by their original actors. I can’t imagine sitting through The Third Dimension if it was any other franchise, but I did for Voltron.
Voltron Force put me off at first, but I ended up liking it quite a bit when all was said and done. I wish it hadn’t ended so abruptly.
I was torn when I heard that Voltron was getting a reboot. I know that Dreamworks has a repuation for producing quality animation, and the Legend of Korra team certainly has a good track record. Still, this was Voltron.
Did it really need to be rebooted at all? I know lots of adult fans who say their children enjoy DotU. Voltron Force had a following of young fans. Was there a point to reinventing it? I’ve seen more than enough lousy reboots with no soul, and I didn’t want to see that happen to Volton.
The teaser trailers and interview segments convinced me to give it a chance, but what sold me on Voltron: Legendary Defender was my own memory. I knew that, somewhere, there was a nine-year-old as enthralled by Legendary Defender as I was with Defender of the Universe 30-odd years ago. And I knew that kid wouldn’t have responded the same way to the old show, simply because it’s written for a different generation of kids with entirely different expectations.
I’m happy to see Voltron back on the air (figuratively anyway.) I’m happy that it’s new, exciting, and able to reach a whole new generation of kids. I’m happy to share, and I’m glad to see so many fans giving the show a chance.
I’m excited for season 2 and I hope I’ll continue to be impressed–but even if not, Voltron is already a legend on the playground.