In this day and age where the gap in animé and manga releases from the U.S. To the U.K. Has come down to mere months its hard to believe that we have missed out on so many titles which for many older US fans were their gateways into animé – Voltron being such an example.
Originally aired in Japan in 1981, and then translated and broadcast in America in 1984, its not until a staggering 14 years later that we in the UK finally get the chance to see what the fuss was all about as Manga Entertainment release this series in a series of 4 disc box sets [a format familiar to fans of Bleach and Naruto].
But first, a warning – The series that we are getting is from an era where, like Robotech, the license holders felt the “need” to edit, delete and basically make it more acceptable for children – a fact confirmed by the lucrative toy and merchandise ranges released at the same time as the series.
The plot [if you can call it that – i swear this makes He-man look intellectually challenging] Follows the adventures of Keith [hot blooded hero no# 225], Sven [winner of Worst Swedish accent awards 20 years running], Lance [dark, brooding sasuke wannabe], Pidge [ gravity defying midget – trust me this guy must be on steroids or something], and hunk [ which as the name Might not suggest, is the muscles of the party] the top members of the Galaxy Alliance [which does not bode well for the galaxy] as, after being captured by King Zarkon, ruler of planet Doom [no seriously thats the name, they even put the name up in captions whenever we see his castle] they escape and, as fate [and the script] would have it, they wind up on the wartorn planet of Arus where, after meeting princess Alura [who seems to spend lot of th time on screen either looking vacuous, or getting into situations requiring the other members of the team to help her – go sexual equality] , discover the ancient lion robots that, when combined together, transforms into Voltron, defender of the Universe [even though from the initial 3 discs that make up this box set they always seem to take place on planet].
The plotline for the series from the initial discs Boils down to a similar format –
*King Zarkon’s pet witch Haggar creates a monster, which she sends to Arus, along with long suffering Commander Cossack, and a large attack force.
*The Voltron force attack with just the seperate lion robots and, and a struggle, get the monster on the ropes – where upon Commander Cossack fires a beam at the monster, transforming it into a larger version of itself.
*Voltron team get their collected asses handed to themselves, whereupon keith calls the team to combine to create Voltron, where upon he produces a sword and destroys the monster.
*At this point, rather than support the monster or even attack them there and then Cossack and his massive force turn tail and fly away.
Basically if you’ve ever even watched one episode of any Power Rangers series then you’ve basically got the average plotline of this series. Add to this the fact that for the sake of plot progression common sense and at times characters intelligence is sacrificed on a regular basis – i know this was made for kids but this was bordering on the ridiculous!
Okay i hear you say, but theres got to be some saving graces – like the extras for example.
[sigh] the extras….
I have to ask a question of Manga Entertainment – what makes you think a short display of the original linework for the characters and the Voltron mecha, a collection of grainy, low quality video recordings of displays of the Voltron toys and an equally low quality recording from some American news report about some American Voltron fans being taken by plane to Disneyland Florida [with some woman cosplaying as princess Alura], and a US TV trailer of the series [which,
if you put together all the video footage totals up to less than 5 minutes of footage] constitutes as extras?
Frankly, even with the defense that its an older anime series with the triple problems of not only being a heavily edited and dumbed down show that was targeted at kids, But having to date no release of Golion [the original series that it was edited from] and also having no Uk fanbase when it first came out in the 80’s , and Frankly i cant see how Manga Entertainment expects anyone to buy this first Volume, let alone the rest of the series [imagine trying to sell danger mouse in the US].
Frankly this release smells of either a contractual requirement between Manga and Madman entertainment, or someone in the licensing office was smoking something….
All in all if your a really hardcore fan of Mecha shows or power rangers, or are interesting in see what early anime series were released in the US in the 80’s, then by all means buy this series – Anyone expecting an original Japanese dub track or any clue as to the original series though will be best to avoid this series, in which case i would suggest sticking with frankly much superior [and non butchered] series like Raxephon, or any of the Mobile suit Gundam series.
Until next time, be grateful for what you get next time you grumble about the dub track ….
At least you can switch it off!