You may recall that last week I made a review of the first episode of “Voltron: Legendary Defender” made by Dreamworks Animation and distributes as one of Netflix Original Series.
Now i will make a full review of the series and my final thoughts on it.
Bottom line: I greatly enjoyed it and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the original Voltron or The Legend of Korra. It is well worth your time.
Now, for those who would enjoy a more in depth look, I shall begin with a spoiler-free opinion of the series before going into spoilers.
Putting aside the first episode, that is one hour long, the season consist of ten half-hour episodes. Episodes 3-5 and 6-8 form a sort of story-arc focusing on the characters of Pidge and Hunk, respectively.
This being said, the continuity between episodes, while very strong; with previous episodes often foreshadow things that are going to happen in the following episode; doesn’t have each episode starting where the previous one left. There are quite a few stand-alone episodes that, nevertheless, still add to the overall narrative of the season. Episode 2 for example, while mostly about the team having to learn to form Voltron at will, still has certain moments that become important in later episodes, one of them being the addition of the castle’s training room.
The humor is very funny. It’s that same kind of humor that was everywhere in “The Last Airbender“, that combination of verbal humor and very expressive faces is here and as good as in it’s spiritual predecessors. The character of Lance, in particular, is very prone to this, with people already calling him the “Sokka” of the show, which I must agree is a reasonable view. He has that same role of comic relief while at the same time, when given the opportunity, shows a bigger depth than being simply “the Funny Guy”. Coran also shares the role of comic relief with Lance, with a good chunk of the humor with him comes from the confusion he causes to the human characters because of difference in customs (There is one point in the series in which Coran and Pidge try to define what is faster, a Second or a Tic).
Now, I mentioned that, when given a chance, Lance shows bigger depth than simply being “The Funny Guy”. The problem is that he and the character of Keith (Your typical “Loner” character) are, for the most part, out of the focus for almost the enitre season. They do get some cool moments here and there but, for the most part, they don’t really get a lot of spotlight.
To a lesser extent, this also happens with the characters of Shiro and Allura, both of whom don’t get a lot of focus until the very last episodes. We do get plenty of moments throughout the season in which Shiro gets to show his leadership skills, but his biggest moment before the last few epiosdes may be the end scene of Episode 3.
Allura at least gets a number of shining moments that happen thoughout the series.
The action, like in the first episode, is really good. During an early interview done shortly after the official announcement of the series, the producers described that, instead of having the characters constantly forming the eponymous Voltron, they wanted to give the pilots more out-of-robot action as well as giving more focus to the individual Lions. The reason being that they wanted that, anytime the characters needed to form Voltorn, it felt like a big deal. The show indeed follow on this words and really pays off.
Because the action is not limited to Voltorn fighting a Monster of the Week, the action is much more diverse and engaging and the fighting choreography was also good. I didn’t feel like the action was becoming dull or formulaic.
The animation has that western anime-style from “Legend of Korra” that makes it look nique. It is easy to confuse with Anime but, at the same time, once you know this style, you recognize it immediatly. the CGI Lions look beautiful. They felt like massive, powerful machines and Voltron just looks impressive. I would dare say it is one of the best Giant robot designs of the entire decade.
The enemies Voltron himself fight, on the other hand, not so much. Don’t get me wrong, the fights were great, but i still felt that the CGI used for the giant monsters was a little too conspicuous.
Speaking of the enemies, The Galra Empire are great villains. The designs look intimidating as all hell and Zarkand has an aura of menace that, as we learn, iswell deserved. The show does a great job in building how powerful they are.
Starting this point, there will be spoilers.
If you want to watch the show unspoiled, please stop right now.
Pidge is a Girl in this version. It is revealed at the end of episode three and she gets a story-arc focused on her where we learn her backstory. This change, alongside maybe Allura being more ALien like than in the original series, is quite possible the biggest departure from the original series.
I really liked Pidge’s character in the series, she quickly grew on me as my favorite character and I did not see the twist coming, even though it was obvious in hindsight. What makes her character special, though, is how plenty of her dialogue and interests would usually go to a male character. This is not to say she is not a Tomboy, because she is not, but rather that she is able to act and interact with the characters in a way female characters don’t often get. Her armor, for example, is a fantastic example of female characters wearing armor, there is no hint of the pervasive tendency of creators to make the armor look more feminine, which often involves the incredibly inpractical and infamous breastplate. There is nothing like that here.
Another great thing is that her being a girl gives the show some much needed diversity of gender. Had she been a boy, the show would have a 1-6 Girl:Boy ratio. and while 2-5 is not much better, it is still an improvement.
Another thing about Pidge is that, once she tells the team the truth, they are all very accepting of her and no one starts treating her any different. This brings me to what, i feel, is the biggest theme in the series: Fully respecting and accepting those around you.
The heroes trust each other. Throughout the series, there is not a moment in which it feels like the characters don’t trust or like each other. There is a certain respect for each character’s agency and privacy. When Shiro is rescued, he doesn’t feel the need of doubting the rest of the team. He acknowledge immediatly their skill and fully respects them as teammates. Likewise, when Keith gets angry at Pidge when she declares she wants to leave the team to focus on the search for her missing family, Shiro is quick to jump to Pidge’s defense and telling Keith to respect her decision. Then he politely asks Pidge to reconsider her decision but respecting it nevertheless.
When characters voice their concerns, this aren’t dismissed and, instead, we see the rest of the cast trying to address them. They also feel like a time in combat, too. They follow orders, they have tactics, they work together, etc.
Another recurring theme in the series seems to be the heroes slowly learning to unlock Voltron’s true potential. It is implied that, while they are able to control, they have yet to tap beyond the surface, and we do see the characters slowly discovering new abilities their lions have. It’s an interesting idea that, while Voltron has it’s full power, the heroes don’t even know how powerful Voltron truly is. Zarkand in particular; and likely from experience, considering later reveals; makes a point to not underestimate the “True Power of Voltron”, often refering to it as something to be feared. It is interesting to see a villain that is shown to be very powerful, yet fully recognizes the heroes as a threat to be taken seriously.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed Voltron. what slows it down is the fact half of the cast doesn’t get a lot of focus. Most of the series only hinting to depth yet to be epxlored.
There are also times in which it feels like characters reveal new abilities as the plot needs them. Pidge in particular feels inconsisten on wether she is able to operate alien tech or not. Allura’s strenght is only revealed in the penultimate episode, even though it could have been useful before.
Speaking of Allura, while I feel she was an overall cool character, I must say I feel the last episode of the season reduced her character to a Damsel in Distress.
Hopefully, if Netflix does renew a new season of Voltron ,this problems are addressed and improved upon.
Because what this series dow well, does really well.