(#MechaMarch2023) Armored Fleet Dairugger XV

A Second Voltron Series and Localization Stuff

Yeah, this series immediately followed Beast King Go Lion which became Lion Voltron in the United States. Dairugger was localized in the west as Vehicle Voltron and it didn’t do as well as the original ratings wise. The two original anime series are not even connected to each other in any way besides having the same mechanical designer. Yoshida Harada is the only reason why Lion Voltron and Dairugger look similar. Something which World Events Productions were pretty lucky to have in order to create their anthology series of Voltron. There were supposed to be three anime used, but after Dairugger/Vehicle Voltron, more Lion Voltron was produced. 

So what changes did World Events Productions do to Dairugger to sanitize it for American audiences? This is something that I had to research because I’m not going to watch a Dairugger and then Vehicle Voltron episode back to back. That would be insanity. Name changes are kind of obvious like how Captain Asimov was changed to Newley. Same with taking or editing out so many scenes of blood and death. A lot of the fates of these characters were changed, like how Teles (Hazar in Vehicle Voltron) didn’t die. Apparently a lot of time line changes and script changes to make it seems like the Rugger Guard (spaceship) visited different planets every episode. It really does feel like a mess when all of that is mentioned. 

Dairugger’s Story

In the far future, Humanity is prospering. Not only has Earth aligned itself with two other different alien civilizations of Mira and Sala. So what does humanity want to do? To Expand. The gigantic ship the Rugger Guard and its surrounding fleet are sent on a mission to make a star map of the milky way. That means exploring every single planet and seeing if they are habitable for human life and whether or not other smaller and/or lower level civilizations are already occupying them. The only problem is another alien race, the Galveston Empire, shows up at every turn and they are very, very Xenophobic and warlike. Their planet is also dying. 

In general, that is the story of Dairugger. The many political complications between the Rugger Guard and the Galveston empire. It’s not so easy because every encounter is different. Some early episodes are that the Galveston empire does something to destroy the fleet from Earth and then the Rugger Guard calls on its super robot, the Dairugger, to save the day. Otherwise, there are entire mini arcs concerning the complicated politics of deciding whether or not a planet should be handed over to the very war like Galveston. It is so interesting to see how political talks start to fall into action and eventually war as Galveston’s pride leads to their collapse. 

Large Cast and Star Trek Comparisons

I think the main problem that I’ve seen from people jumping into Dairugger is that the cast is huge. Especially when it comes to the combining robot that has fifteen parts instead of the usual three to five units and people. Real Robot Shows have larger casts compared to super robot casts where you usually have the doctor who built the robot and then a small number of pilots to face one enemy a week and their robot. Some of them might be recurring. Dairugger’s first episode doesn’t focus on any person because it’s very Star Trek-like with its cast going about their usual duties when exploring a planet. You know, the usual testing the conditions of each planet and checking them on an ever growing map. Like I said, this is apart of the plot

The Dairugger is formed by three teams of five forming together to form the most powerful mecha in the universe, the Dairugger. The sea team or Keets team is led by Miranda Keets who is from the planet Mira and has a good sense of perception about what is going on. The ground team or Walter Team is led by Walter Jack and he is like a stereotypical American. Last, there is Aki, leader of the Aki or sky team. He is very japanese looking and is, in my opinion, the focus character for the Dairugger show on the Earth side. Each person has four people working under them that follow their orders. Sometimes these characters have their own little episodes. Other times, they completely disappear from the show besides their figure being there. 

Aki is the human character with the largest arc in the story and I can’t help but say that he is just ok. It takes a few episodes to show that the show is focusing around Aki and the rest of the cast stay mostly the same throughout the show with some small changes and/or just getting to know them a little better. For instance, the leaders Ise and Asimov are great and idealistic commanders who want to seek peace with Galveston despite how many times talks have failed. Them going to war with Galveston does make the show more instance and interesting, but it is still Star Trek like with each member of the Earth Forces doing their jobs and not getting too emotional over anything. Even the small bit of tension from the Earth Elites in one scene doesn’t mean much until the Earth was bombed by Galveston. The Earth is just too reasonable. 

Galveston/Admiral Teles is More Interesting

The constantly recurring villains, Galveston, are so much more interesting than the rest of the cast. A lot of that comes from the inner conflict of that empire. Especially since it is on the way to collapse. Planet Galveston is dying, civilians are rioting on the streets, and so seeing that sense of motivation and duty of saving their civilization being presented in different ways is a great motivating factor for the whole show to function. Some admirals will let go of their pride and try to find a planet for all of their people to live on. Other admirals genuinely don’t care and would rather fight Earth while searching for a planet being second on their list. A very far second. It is such a fun pressure vessel to watch while it slowly bursts and leaks more and more overtime.

Which makes it sad for me to say that the most straight man of the Galveston forces, Admiral Teles, is the main character of the show. He is a man of honor that could reason with the Earth forces because he himself never lied or betrayed them. It’s too bad that he and Captain Drake are the only people like this. The rest of the Galveston forces are complete scum and will betray Teles and Drake at the slightest whim. Sometimes, admirals will just send out their spaceships and giant robot attackers to take out the Earth Fleet or perform some sort of scheme to try and get rid of the Dairugger under the original guise of peace and Teles even says “it’s fine” because he’s demotivated or he will make a huge sacrificial move to push peace forward and end with nothing. 

So yes, seeing that complete failure and every single force falling apart and the stakes increasing, whether involving Admiral Teles as he get placed by in control of the Galveston survey time, is sent home, is sent back into a command position after the last one died, and then thrown in prison shows the entire arc of the anime. The poor guy with morals is thrown into so many different and bad places and nothing is his fault. The citizens have to murder the elite Galveston commanders and politicians that don’t care for them in order to actually get saved from their planet falling apart. Teles is still not as interesting as a character other than being a moral center of Galveston, but the story and execution are so good honestly. Between the two sides of this story with its lacking characters, Dairugger’s story is incredible. 

Older Show Problems

I think the worst thing Dairugger has going for it is its age. The story is incredible with lots of good intrigue and sci-fi elements. But I think the fact that it was weekly television for an entire year weighs down on how effective it is. Either the show telegraphs itself a bit too much by having these one off planets with doomed civilizations on them or there is a lot of repetition. The same terrible admirals show up all the time to make the worst and most panicky decisions or they are killed off and replaced by admirals that do the same things. Or I could mention the Planet 5 arc being incredible but then when it happens again, it’s merely good. I think this show would have greatly benefited from being only two cour or 24-26 episodes long. Other than that, I don’t have many problems. The women on the show are treated pretty well even if they aren’t as important to the show as a whole. I say that because most males aren’t important either. 

A lot of repetition plays into the problems of the visuals of the shows too. There is already a lot of stock footage in the show as it is with how the ships move, how the Dairugger fights with its special abilities and transformation sequences, and so on. Even the planets look almost the same from each other to the point where everything could have taken place on the same planet with some minor modifications. All of those stemming from the problems that this is an older show that has to have an episode out for syndication every week. But a lot of those things are generally cool. The robot combinations and combat situations are cool. Same with spaceships that you don’t see as often as you would think. The character designs themselves are great even if they are simple for a show that has tons and tons of characters. Probably easy to animate, but each to be expressive and cool at the same time. 

It’s really easy for me to say that I really liked this show. I loved it at the moment and when I pull back from it a bit more and more, it’s not as good as when I first saw it. I mean, a lot of those repetitions and other details don’t click for me as much as it did if some scenes or arcs were not repeated as often as they were. But this is not a show that should be binged. I really don’t think any older shows should be binged watched in general because they were built for weekly consumption anyway. But regardless of that, this is a very me show. I love space exploration combined with giant robots and spaceship combat. Basically catnip for me. Out of the whole Voltron trilogy that I randomly did for Mecha March, Daltanious is the top, but this is second easily. 

6 comments

  1. So let’s see… You talked about the Inner System Lion Voltron. You talked about the Outer System Car Voltron… Now you just need to research the long lost Middle System Voltron few have ever seen. According to my info I had decades ago there was three Voltrons. The Lions, the Cars, and the little know Middle Solar System one. If anyone can post about that Id be greatly appreciative.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks. I figured. It’s rare. Hmm… Then again if I knew the third season of Star Blazers was only aired in Hawaii decades ago I would have taped it. I didn’t back then vecause, well, it felt like it was recycling the first season and it was kinda boring to younger me.

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  2. I was part of “the Voltron generation,” but by some accident of fate specifics of “Vehicle Voltron” seemed to stick in my mind where little more of “Lion Voltron” (the Voltron that doesn’t need its specifier quite as much, anyway) than its general rituals did. Of course, a certain amount of the sticky specifics amounted to dialogue along the lines of “They just blew up another robot supply ship!” As young as I was at the time, and at the real risk of “shaping memories the way I now want them to be,” I think I might have become a little suspicious. Robotech wound up rather more compelling for me, but that’s another story…

    When Golion and Dairugger were released on DVD over here I did seek them out (as I’d sought out Macross, Mospeada, and Southern Cross before). I’m not altogether intimidated by lengthy older episodic anime series and did find Dairugger interesting, but I can see the point of your judgements. Beyond the familiar questions of the character development of “fifteen pilots,” I’m very tempted to note how nondescript about half of Dairugger’s pieces look. Sometimes it feels like cheating for the pieces to combine into three bigger vehicles so quickly and so often, and sometimes I can tell myself that makes the mechanics a little more interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wouldn’t say that its an intimidating of Dairugger being so long because I enjoyed the show quite a bit. It does get a bit repetitive at times though and that is what I have to mention about it. Especially since so many of those episodes have some cool bits of arcs that give it such a good bit of momentum.

      Like

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