The Original, Unedited Form of Voltron
Maybe this is a generational thing because Voltron has only been known by its netflix series recently, but Voltron is the american edited form of Beast King Go Lion. A company called World Events Production asked Toei for that one show with the Lion mecha and the result was the series that we got today. You know with all the actual violence and death edited out as much as possible for American audiences. Maybe not as widely known or as watched as it used to be now, but a lot of fans show a lot of nostalgia and thought. This was where a lot of people who started their anime watching career here and that’s great.
The problem with this to me is that I watched Go Lion in 2022. I do not have a lot of nice or pleasant thoughts about this show at all. No seriously, I didn’t end up liking it because there wasn’t a lot of good thought behind the show besides the five lions forming together to form GoLion at the end of an episode to fight the next Death Black or Mecha Black Beastman. I really should save up a lot of those thoughts for later on in this review, but a lot of my sense of feeling for this show is leaking out and I can’t stop it. I was really happy when I got to the end and got to watch something else. That’s not how you want to feel leaving a show that you watched for 52 episodes.
The Story of GoLion
GoLion’s story really shows you the potential that the show had. Taking place in the far past of 1999, the Earth was completely destroyed by a Thermonuclear War. Five human pilots who left Earth to explore space, Akira Kogane in red, Takashi Shirogane in black, Isamu Kurogane in blue, Tsuyoshi Seido in orange, and Hiroshi Suzushi in green, are picked up the the Galra empire, run by Emperor Daibazaal, to be slaves. They would either fight to the death like the other slaves OR be boiled down into stew to be eaten by the Galra. Or they would be if they didn’t escape and end up escaping.
Crash landing on the planet called Altea, the five eventually are recruited by the last remaining members of the Altean royalty party on a dead planet, of which Princess Fala is the only true royalty, to fight Galra in the form of GoLion. So begins the many quests of the five fighting against the Galra empire whose forces are sent over by Daibazaal’s head scientist and magician Honerva as the next Beastman is sent over to cause havoc. Something happens to one of the pilots in the beginning so Fala takes over as a pilot, and Daibazaal’s son Sincline appears to lead charges eventually. There isn’t a lot of variation.
Lots of Ideas and That’s About it
When people in the western side of the anime sphere talk about episodic anime, they probably think of this series. Mainly because it was one of the first giant robot series to appear in the west. The thing is that most older series, even episodic ones because a lot of them were due to how tv was back then, at least had some sense of momentum. Like you can feel that something was being accomplished or pushed forward every week due to the protagonists’ actions against the villain. I can’t say that is true here. GoLion sticks close to its formula so much that each episode, besides maybe 6 or 7, could be moved around easily besides certain ideas and you wouldn’t know about that.
It also feels like GoLion has ideas it wants to play with, but eventually drops them to play with the next idea that it will soon forget. There are almost endless cycle like this. No one changes. Kogane is always a kind and savvy leader and that’s it. Kurogane is always known as moody and he sticks with that trait. Tsuyoshi is the hothead of the group and that’s always who he was. Hiroshi is the shorty that plays or acts to kids and he is always like that. Sincline is a coward, Daizabaal judges Sincline harshly, Honerva tries to keep the two in balance. No character, besides in some really specific moments, ever changes from the beginning of the show to the end and I hate that. Even if there were changes, the non-linearity of the show hurts it.
One of the interesting ideas that I kind of liked seeing being explored is Fala taking the seat of a lion earlier on in the show. It feels like it could be exploring a look at royalty and tradition as the true royals never did any work before while Fala has to fight now to support the remaining people on Altea in order to survive or they would all die. Plus something to do with her sense of femininity taking the seat when everyone else piloting was male. There was something interesting about that, but GoLion stops worrying about that around episode 5, besides an episode in the 10’s and later on when Fala took the piloting seat of the head lion once.
I could keep going on this and I am going to, because there were so many moments and ideas that needed to be mentioned. One of these was when GoLion finally gained a new ability by listening to Fala’s father whose consciousness is still inside GoLion. Around the middle, he speaks again, mentioning how GoLion hasn’t uncovered all of its abilities yet. So basically we get that episode about GoLion getting that ability, they start using it more to end fights but stop at some points, and Fala’s father never talks again. This feels like something that the Netflix Voltron kind of picked up on and did something more with it because of how prominent it is in that show. Yeah, go watch that one instead of this.
When GoLion Did Get Interesting
Here is the thing, it did. There were some smattering of moments and ideas that really caught my attention or at least made it interesting in the beginning. For me, the starting moments of GoLion were phenomenally interesting despite being dark. For instance, the show just brushing over Earth’s WW3 is something I haven’t seen a lot of shows do. It happened, just get over it. I also love the weird sense of darkness that the Galra has. Those nobles just eating their victims for food. Haven’t seen that much before either . Same with a middle episode where Daibazaal has to consume virgin blood to stay alive (even if it was dropped). There was mysticism.
Also considering that Altea is barely explored. You don’t get to meet a lot of people on Altea besides the ones that never show up again or end up as victims in Galra’s plots to destroy the castle that GoLion is staying in right now, before they die to give the show tension. Though, the idea of GoLion as the knight to protect them as civilians get into the castle are interesting but far in between. But when the show focuses on people and politics from other planets as they all join together to fight Galra united. Or just landing on different planets and soaking in their environments and their people for a little bit. It means those episodes are a bit more distinctive from each other in a pool of stuff that just feels the same for me.
Also a highlight to my favorite two episode arc. The one where Honeverva used her powers to get a comet to slowly move onto Altea in order to destroy it. This is the one time where an episode didn’t end when GoLion destroyed it. Mainly because the gravity of that spacial body completely flattened it onto the surface of it. So it requires a lot of work from GoLion’s allies to help them fight it off and eventually destroy it. It’s the kind of episode that will be on my mind for forever even if I didn’t like this show that much. At least I left with something.
Finally Going To Stop Talking About GoLion
Visually, GoLion looks really good. (Which is a shame for literally everything else.) The great character designs are distinctive and full of personality and I feel like the people writing this anime thought it would help carry the show a bit more than it did. Kind of wrong honestly. The mechanical animation was really good though. There are so many good bits of animation for GoLion and the individual lions because they have so much kinetic and excellent movement. The fights are a lot like Voltes V, but much cleaner and nicer to look at. But well, I just want Voltes V.
So yeah, I am just going to end this post here. I really, really don’t know what else to say. I didn’t like the show. I don’t usually mind episodic shows, but this one was too bland and annoying to actually deserve any attention or thought. It felt like a brain dead show that had a brain wake up every once in a while but it just didn’t ever fully form for it to have weight. This is one that I think nostalgia just takes over for too many people because it was one of the only giant robot shows back then. So yeah really,It’s bad. I don’t recommend it. Just watch 7 seasons of Voltron: Legendary Defender and ignore the 8th season. You don’t need that one anyway.