‘Voltron: Legendary Defender’ Netflix Original Review
I had never seen an episode of any of Voltron’s previous incarnations prior to taking part in Netflix’s big reboot of the beloved ’80s show. I came into this reboot a regular Voltron newbie. I am certain I missed references, in-jokes, callbacks, and homages to the original run, but my lack of background did not hurt my enjoyment of what is a very fun series.
Voltron: Legendary Defender is easy to look at, easy to follow and acts as a space opera just entry-level enough that it will certainly amuse a young crowd and provide a solid stepping stone into the broader world of science fiction. If for no other reason than that, the reboot is a resounding success.
Fans of Legend of Korra and Avatar: Last Airbender will feel right at home with the series. Korra and Avatar producer Tim Hedrick takes up much of the writing duties. While the show won’t fill the Korra or Clone Wars gap in the world of animated kid shows, this first season run sets up a rich and vibrant world. There is depth to explore and characters to grow.
Wonderful voice acting from Tyler Labine (Tucker and Dale vs. Evil), Kimberly Brooks (Mass Effect), Jeremy Shada (Adventure Time), Josh Keaton (Green Lantern: The Animated Series), Bex Taylor-Klaus (Arrow), and The Walking Dead’s own Steven Yeun, keeps the emotion of the adventure alive. For as pretty as the art is, the acting is also top notch and each voice-over artist brings their character to life.
Stories are safe and tested, but when you put a giant fighting robot into any plot line things are automatically five thousand times more entertaining. They center around issues like teamwork, friendship, defeating ancient enemies; stuff that kids will face in their day to day. My only qualm is that at first you’ll be upset by an all-male pilot cast. The central female character is in the “brilliant princess, last of her kind” role; a role that is, thankfully, abundant now. It would have been nice to start the series with a female piloting one of the wicked awesome robo-lions. The show is decidedly directed at a young male audience and my sons need to see that girls can be warrior pilots of robo-lions too. Representation directly affects how they play at school or at home, and a little help from cartoons would be greatly appreciated. Eventually the gender balance scales a bit and has a storyline of “be true to yourself and others will understand.”
Characters are largely built around familiar molds. Piloting the yellow robot lion is Hunk, the gentle giant tank. In the green lion, Pidge, the loner computer whiz. In the black lion, Shiro, the mysterious older one who has to bring his team together. In the blue lion, Lance who needs to keep his ego in check. In the red lion, Keith, owner of a temper which will cause the team some big trouble in this little galaxy. The design of the central team is familiar and will help young viewers grasp the show. Before long these viewers will be battling each other on playgrounds for who gets to be the “Red Lion” or the “Blue Lion,” not unlike the “I’m the Red Ranger,” shouting matches of my youth.
Ultimately, the show is one that can be enjoyed by parents and kids alike, and even better; together. There are not too many shows my sons want to watch on Saturday mornings that I will remain awake through. Voltron: Legendary Defender has a nice balance that will have new fans, young and old, wanting to see season two.