One of the 1980's most popular animated heroes is back in Netflix's Voltron: Legendary Defender. The reboot sees the return of the famous five lions, in a drama that is one part Guardians of the Galaxy and one part Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
But unlike other 80's cartoon franchises that have been reintroduced over the years, Voltron depends more on the actual story than the main event fights themselves. In other words, Michael Bay has nothing to do with Voltron.
This series is bringing a new perspective to old characters, and it's giving a fresh take to a story that was aimed at kids the first time around. This time Voltron's themes have more to do with what it means to be a hero, and how five normal people handle the responsibility that's been handed to them.
It's essentially a Marvel Comics move, and one that works for this show.
The characters themselves are fleshed out as the series goes on, and the bulk of the episodes focuses on them as individuals. Shiro, Keith, Lance, Pidge and Hunk are the pilots, or Paladins, with Shiro being an updated version of Sven from the original Voltron: Defender of the Universe.
Princess Allura is back, as is Coran. Planet Arus is the backdrop once again, as the team fights to protect the world from the forces of King Zarkon. The story flows extremely smoothly, the dialogue is well written, and the animation is sharp.
This is the Voltron that fans of the show wanted back in the day, and now they have it.
The best part of this show is the voice acting, which is pitch perfect in nearly every instance. Steve Yeun from The Walking Dead is Keith, and he brings an abundance of humanity to the character. Jeremy Shada, instantly recognizable as Finn from Adventure Time, is Lance. His youth gives an edge to the Top Gun pilot aspect of the character.
Renowned voice actor Josh Keaton takes the lead as Shiro, while Bex-Taylor Klaus gives compelling emotion to Pidge. Tyler Labine lends his sense of comedic timing to Hunk, making the character more of a loveable comedian than an overgrown clown.
Actress and voice actor Kimberly Brooks is very believable as the firm, yet sensitive, Allura, while Rhys Darby is in hilarious top form as Coran. The combination of all these talents is the real success story with Voltron, as the life and energy behind their performances is undeniable.
The characters and the story are what drives this show. This is not just about giant robots fighting each other in outer space, this the classic tale of good versus evil told with interesting characters and fluid storylines.
It's not often that a reboot of this nature gets recognition as outperforming the original, but that must be the statement this time. Voltron: Legendary Defender is the project that fans of the original could never imagine, as it not only respects the source material, it improves on it in every area that counts.
This is another home run for Netflix, and it's a definite win for Voltron fans everywhere. With any luck, this series will perhaps increase the likelihood that a live-action Voltron will hit the big screen at some point.
If that happens, then the forces behind it would do well to use this new show as its top point of reference. This is how Voltron should be, and this is how it should be in every medium.