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Is Voltron: Legendary Defender Worth Watching?

Voltron: Legendary Defender

The final season of Dreamworks’ Voltron: Legendary Defender dropped on 14th December 2018. Originally launching on Netflix in 2016, this re-boot of the 80s sci-fi adventure cartoon captured the hearts of both new and old fans alike. With a fluid animation style similar to Avatar: The Last Airbender and with a phenomenal voice actor cast, it’s no wonder that this show garnered so much attention across the internet.

I have been following the series since it began. There are, however, plenty of other people who have not seen it, and may be curious as to whether it is worth watching. Now that the final season has dropped, and I have had some time to think it over, I want to take a retrospective look at the series. The highs, the lows, the strange filler episodes, all to answer the one question on any new watcher’s mind: Is Voltron worth watching?

This will be a spoiler-free retrospective. As such, I will not highlight the details of any specific plot twists, character reveals, or significant moments. Instead, I’m going to take a look at the series as a whole—the animation, consistency of plot, and characters—and share whether the show as a whole is worth watching.

So, with all of that said and done, let’s get started.

The Animation

Let’s be honest: Despite being wonderfully goofy, the original Voltron from the 80s didn’t have good animation. Wide-eyed stares, static movement, lip flaps that the English voice actors clearly struggled with; while it may have been a marvel back in the day, there are now animations on YouTube that do a better job of coming to life.

Voltron: Legendary Defender (screenshot 2)

Voltron on Netflix, however, does not have this issue.

Voltron: Legendary Defender (screenshot)

The animation is smooth, action packed, and in some cases truly beautiful. While the character designs pay homage to the original, they have been updated to make for highly emotive expressions and action. There is a very “anime” style tone to the animation—particularly due to the comedic moments—but not only does it not veer too far into that tone, but the elements that it does take from anime elevate the animation to a new level.

The sci-fi landscapes, creatures, races and spaceships that are explored in Voltron are something lifted out of Cowboy Bebop and Space Dandy. Colourful and interesting, with unique character designs, no two races or planets feel the same. Which, in a show that travels to the furthest reaches of the universe, is definitely crucial to its success.

Voltron: Legendary Defender (screenshot 3)

The only thing I would say is that Voltron itself, along with the lions, are animated in CGI rather than 2D animation. This took me a little while to get used to when I first started watching, and in some cases can look rather clunky compared to the other scenes. That being said, when the space battles start, the animation does not let you down.

The Characters

This one element is almost everyone’s favourite part of the show. The main characters of Voltron—Keith, Lance, Hunk, Pidge, Shiro, Allura and Koran—are the most enjoyable part of the series. Their character arcs, not only as individuals but as a team, take this show to a whole new level when compared to similar sci-fi adventures.

Voltron: Legendary Defender (screenshot 4)

The show puts an emphasis on the importance of teamwork. It is crucial for the team to not only be strong on their own, but to use their unique talents to help each other. And unlike other shows of its kind—think Power Rangers or the original Voltron—this show explores the difficulties that come with teamwork.

Each of the characters grows throughout the journey. The biggest attraction to me was watching the characters change into the heroes the universe needs them to be. Their struggles, fears, hopes and shortcomings really humanises the show, which is important in the face of giant aliens and intergalactic war lords.

Voltron: Legendary Defender (screenshot 5)

The Voltron team is the heart of the show and even at the end of the series, I was rooting for all of them to succeed. Side characters may come and go—some funny, some memorable, some frightening—it’s the central cast that makes this show incredibly enjoyable. They are the heart that is needed in any sci-fi story; the human element that we can all relate to, no matter how alien the show may become.

Plot

As I said, this will be a spoiler free review, so I will make this brief.

The best way I can describe the plot of Voltron is it’s like a valley. The series starts off with a bang, with our unlikely heroes uncovering the lions of Voltron and being thrown into an intergalactic rebellion. New planets, new races, and the occasional hilarious filler episode gives the show a high stakes plot, without making the audience feel constantly overwhelmed. It isn’t all space explosions and fighting robots—in fact, some of the scenes in the earlier seasons are incredibly profound and emotional.

Voltron: Legendary Defender (screenshot 6)

However, the middle of the show loses a bit of this momentum. Much more time is given to character building, rather than advancing the plot. In addition—due to Netflix dividing one full season into two—the pacing of the show can begin to drag in some areas. Plus, aside from the final season, the filler episodes in the latter half of the series become more and more ridiculous, and though this is funny to watch, they don’t really fit with the overall narrative and can be quite distracting.

Voltron: Legendary Defender (screenshot 8)

That being said, there is no time where the plot goes completely off the rails. Plus, now that the entire show is available, you can just watch the whole show from beginning to end, making it much easier to deal with the slight pacing issues. And best of all, the final season of the show shoots right back up, to deliver a fantastic conclusion.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Voltron has a compelling narrative that, while sometimes losing its footing, holds itself as one of the strongest space adventures I have watched in a long time. It knows just when to be funny, and when to be serious—it doesn’t shy away from deeper character moments, nor the complexities of war. While it is by no means a perfect plot, Voltron is a show that I recommend watching from beginning to end. If you’re a fan of sci-fi, adventure narratives, or even the original show, I think Voltron: Legendary Defender is definitely worth your time.

Voltron: Legendary Defender (screenshot 7)
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3 Comments

  1. Absolutely loved this series. Thanks for the write up!

  2. Me, my wife, my kids—we loved it from beginning to end. We all had different favorite characters (I’m Team Lance all the way… and maybe a little bit of rooting for Haggar.). And you’re right, the characters were amazingly well written. An excellent lesson in character development for any writer.

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