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Jun
23

Defending Voltron’s Legacy

voltron-netflix

Netflix is quickly becoming a very serious contender with their ever-growing list of Original Netflix-exclusive programming, one of the most recent additions being a sweeeet reboot of a beloved childhood classic, Voltron – Legacy Defender. I had the pleasure of blasting through all 11 action packed episodes last week when it was released, and now I would like to share my thoughts with you.

Reboots are a tricky thing to pull off successfully. You need to excite and draw in the new generation without alienating and boring the existing fanbase. This is something that I feel Netflix/Dreamworks pulled off very well.
Voltron was introduced to the world back in 1984,  adapted from the Japanese anime television series Beast King GoLion. The first run ran from 84′ to 85′ with a one-off television special in 86′. 1998 saw a 3D computer-generated reboot, which looked awful, and another forgettable attempt at a reboot in 2011, which although an improvement on the 1998 run was still too stylized and the 3D animation was just not right.

pastvoltrons

It would seem like nothing was going to replace the original.
Mind you the comicbooks and such were doing a pretty great job… but we are talking TV here.

Voltron_3_cover

Fast forward to  early 2016. Netflix announces that it will team up with Dreamworks Animation and release a Voltron series.
PHi4XDvoudb6lk_2_lAt this point I can’t remember when I last heard the word Voltron, so the idea of Netflix taking a swing at the franchise didn’t do much for me.
I had already left Voltron buried in the past along with He-Man and Thundercats. Sure there have been attempts at recreating the classics but they just always fells short, so why would I think this one would be any different?
But as time went on, and trailers and such started to pop up, the excitement definitely grew.
Fortunately when the show finally dropped I found myself in a bittersweet situation that allowed me to inhale the show in one sitting.
No regrets.

So, I don’t really remember the show from way back in the day.
I remember the toys. I remember it being awesome. But do I remember names and storyline? Nope.
So, in that sense I don’t have much to compare it to, which would of course affect my experience, there isn’t a huge bias towards the past. But anyways…

The show is composed of 11 episodes, the first one is about an hour long and it plays out like a movie. Combined with the fact that this is Netflix and there are no commercials, the whole thing is one smooth ride of awesomeness.

Its hard to explain but the show definitely feeds off nostalgia, The style is obviously not the same as the 1984 series but it has enough similarities that you can pick up on it. The animation is smooth and clean, stylized just enough to make it fit the modern anime-esque shows such as Legend of Korra and Young Justice.
The series opens up with a little bit of back story with a mission to one of Pluto’s moons that goes terribly wrong due to mysterious aliens! (suspense!) We then move ahead a year with 3 young cadets as they struggle through a mission simulation. These are not experienced astronaut explorers. Just some awkward teens trying to prove something… the rest of the crew are added in shortly after.

NEdIqKlSROmChi_1_b

Right away I was pulled in, even before seeing the awesome giant mecha that is Voltron I was having a good time with the great humor and action-packed animation. There is such a heavy feeling of “Hey I know theses guys from somewhere!” when hanging out with our protagonists.
Maybe I knew the  voice actors from other shows like Avatar or YJ? After researching, maybe not, but they are voices you have heard before! Jeremy Shada (Adventure Time’s Finn), Steven Yeun (uhh Walking Dead!!) and Tyler Labine (Breaker High haha) to name a few.

The character personalities and team dynamic DO however bear very close (maybe too much) resemblance to the Legend of Korra crew.
I’m not saying its a bad thing, but makes things a little bit predictable. You can tell there was a recipe being followed here.

legend-of-korra

Maybe thats the trick to making this reboot work? Taking on a “If its not broke, don’t fix it” attitude.
So much of the show feels classic but new at the same time. Its new, but not.
Of course there are changes but nothing huge. It was played very close to the reference material. If this was a movie based on a comicbook it would result in some really happy nerds. So I think its fair to assume that it will hit some high scores in the hearts of Voltron fans of all ages.

palladinsz

But do the Lions look cool?
That’s probably the second most important question to consider. It doesn’t matter how well written the show is if the Mechas are redesigned into unrecognizable rubbish, fortunately that is not the case here. The Lions, and Mr.Voltron himself are a perfect balance between old and new. The design is undeniably Voltron but modern and sleek! It really gives one hope for future reboots of other classics… but lets not go crazy.

lions

meow, meow, meow, meow

Overall the show is a WIN.
The only complaint I have is that I want more. More alien races, more adventures, more battles! I have no doubt that we will be seeing a second season, they would be fools not to. The show is fun and upbeat, action-packed with just enough drama to keep the older viewers from rolling their eyes. I really enjoyed it.
Do I feel an urge to dig up and watch episodes of the original run? No not really. While I’m sure the original show was pure gold back in the day , I think its better off left in the past. No need to tarnish hazy memories of magical Lion robot things when the latest incarnation does such a great job of filling that void.

Netflix’ Voltron – Legacy Defender lives up to the hype and to its name, defending Voltron’s legacy for a new generation!

And here are some nerd beats for the occassion.

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