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DVD Review

Voltron: Defenders of the Universe
Collection 1 - Blue Lion


Starring (voice): Akira Kamiya, Kazuhiko Inoue and Kousei Tomita
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £29.99
Certificate: U
Available 02 June 2008

From days of long ago, from uncharted regions of the universe, comes a legend, the legend of Voltron, defender of the universe. Voltron was a mighty robot, loved by good, feared by evil, and as the legend grew peace settled across the galaxy. On planet Earth a galaxy alliance was formed that maintained peace throughout the universe until a new terrifying menace threatened the galaxy. Voltron was needed once more. This is the story of the super force of space explorers, specially trained and sent by the alliance to bring back Voltron Defender of the universe...

Voltron will best be remembered as an eighties Saturday morning show, beloved of those that watched it. From my recollections of watching the series, I’m pretty sure that this box set represents the edited and sanitised American version of the show. The scripts are exceedingly cheesy, with some truly awful dialogue, and some of the worst voice acting I’ve heard in a long time. That said, this sort of over the top delivery was not out of place in the eighties, the show is after all a product of its time.

Voltron: Defenders of the Universe: Collection 1 - Blue Lion is released as a three disc DVD set covering episodes one through fifteen.

The first four half-hour episodes detail the genesis of the show. Five space explorers arrive at the planet of Arus only to be captured by the forces of Zarkon and taken to his home planet of Doom. Escaping captivity they make their way to the planet Arus in the hope of resurrecting Voltron. In the dilapidated Castle of the Lions they meet the princess Allura and the last survivor of her court, Coran, who tells them that in his last confrontation Voltron was split into five pieces and scattered across the planet, but with the use of the five keys Voltron can be reunited. The only problem is is that one of the keys is missing. With certain inevitability the space explorers find not only the missing pieces but also the missing key, completing their quest to reunite Voltron.

In episode five the series settles down into what would be its normal format of Zarkon sending his forces out only to be defeated by Voltron.

Disc one does have a few extras, the original trailer (1 min, 13 sec); a sixteen second look at Voltron merchandising; archive footage (1 min, 29 sec featurette which is just a bunch of people reminiscing about their love of Voltron plus some of the original adverts for the toys, some production sketches and some character profiles).

Disc two, which has no extras, contains episode six to ten and takes up the story with the rebuilding of planet Arus. But, lets be honest here, apart from some thin ongoing story, the show quickly settles down into fight of the week. With the loss of Sven, the princess decides that she should pilot the blue lion in defence of her people.

Disc Three contains episodes eleven to fifteen the storyline remains thin; some animated sequences are reused ad infinitum to the point of boredom.

The 4:3 picture looks soft and fuzzy, with noticeable artefacts and even the occasional print damage. The print exhibits a certain amount of judder at times. That said the show looks remarkably good for its age.

Revisiting your youth, with such nostalgic shows, can be a tricky thing. This sort of walk down memory lane either fills you with a warm fuzzy glow, or your memory of the show is at such odds with what you're looking at that you worry that Korsakov's psychosis has finally kicked in. I remember a particularly unpleasant experience of re-watching The Tomorrow People that still makes me shudder.

Compared to a modern anime the show is simplistic and relatively crude. Still, if it brings back memories of your youth, you might get a real kick out of the show.


Charles Packer

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