Any child of the 80’s worth their salt remembers the 1981 anime hit Beast King GoLion making it’s way to America as the heavily edited Voltron: Defender of the Universe. While it was a completely different series compared to the violent source material, it was and still is a childhood classic for those who grew up with it. Decades later, different studios have tried (and failed horribly) to rekindle and recapture the magic that made the show so special, until now. Dreamworks and Netflix have assembled some of the best talent out there to bring us the Voltron: Legendary Defender series that is quite possibly the best modern take on the show, as well as being one of the best new series out there.
With executive producer Joaquim Dos Santos (The Legend of Korra, Avatar: The Last Airbender) and co-executive producer Lauren Montgomery (The Legend of Korra) leading the way, fans of the shows they’ve worked on already knew this Voltron adaptation was going to be great. With all eleven episodes being available on Netflix (it’s really like having thirteen as the first three are combined into a mini-movie of sorts), anyone with the service can see what these lions are roaring about. To make a long story short and to not spoil anything, Voltron: Legendary Defender follows the adventures of five young people named Shiro (Josh Keaton), Keith (The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun), Lance (Adventure Time’s Jeremy Shada), Pidge (Bex Taylor-Klaus), and Hunk (Tyler Labine) who happen to meet and get caught up in an alien invasion on Earth. As they try to get away, they come across the Blue Lion which opens for Lance to pilot which in turn warps all of them to the castle of lions in another part of the galaxy.
It’s here they meet Princess Allura (Kimberly Brooks) and her advisor Coran (Rhys Darby) who have just awoken from being in stasis pods for ten thousand years. All of them soon realize the aliens called the Galra, are being lead by King Zarkon (Neil Kaplan) with his sorceress Haggar (Cree Summer) and are after five mystical, robot lions that can form Voltron, the ultimate weapon in defending the universe. It’s up to our heroes to find the other lions so that they combine and fight the Galra along with any other evil that threatens the galaxy. But it will take a lot of work and effort, especially since the group doesn’t have the best teamwork and some of them have their own personal demons they’ll have to work through.
As with anyone who grew up with the original show, I was a little skeptical on this take at first, but it won me over not long after watching it. I really love the cast of characters, especially Lance being voiced by Jeremy Shada, as he brings the same kind of wacky humor he does for Finn on Adventure Time, but on a more self-centered level. Lance, Hunk and Pidge together make for some fun viewing as the three of them usually make the comedy portion of the series while Keith and Shiro are more on the serious side. Another plus of the show is how it juggles the action, drama, and comedy pretty well, which again comes as no surprise for the team who headed the Avatar and Korra shows. Old school fans will notice a few changes here, such as the addition of Shiro, Keith not being the leader, and the lions, Voltron, and the giant enemies they face are CG animated instead of traditional animation among other things, but they’ll warm up to it in no time.
If you’re a child of the 80’s like me and have been on the fence about looking into Voltron: Legendary Defender, I can assure you it’s well worth watching. And if you’re just looking for a fun, animated series to watch on Netflix, you can’t go wrong with this one. A funny but awesome cast of characters, great stories and action, and the ability to juggle all of it make this a show worth roaring to your friends and family about.