Rabid Voltron fans…form feet and legs!

voltron1Voltron returns on Netflix and who ever thought this anime/cartoon/nostalgia trip could be so awesome?  Netflix released 13 episodes of their new Voltron series a while back and I recently got to watch episode numero uno.  The first episode definitely felt like Voltron, except longer, with better animation, and a more modern feel.  

The clumsy Japanese animations spliced together to make a US cartoon are now gone in this new Voltron series.  Instead, brand new animations combine standard anime and 3-D animation, which seems to work.  It’s a style improved over the quality of animation seen in the Robotech: Shadow Chronicles movie and some of the other 3-D animation I’ve seen.  It works.

voltron5The first episode sets things up for season one and it does a good job.  I like all the characters, which I found very surprising.  The humor works like a charm, which again, I found surprising.  I think I was expecting more ham-fisted slapstick humor, but the writers went in the other direction and used dialogue based jokes and situational humor to lighten the mood.  All of it is great.  Hunk is the best at this, with Rhys Darby thrown in for a little more humor as Coran.  Darby isn’t successful all the time, but Hunk’s dialogue is better and he’s a good character.  The interaction between Lance, Hunk and Pidge is the heart of the episode.

I can see people of all ages liking this series.   I think mostly it works as a nostalgia trip, because a lot of things aren’t fleshed out in the first episode.  Why Hunk, Lance, and Pidge are all in a military academy is never answered.  What they are fighting is never answered.  There’s plenty more unanswered questions, like who is Zarkan?  That seems like a big one.  Yeah, he’s a bad guy, I get it, but we’re just thrown into the action most of the time and that’s all there is to it.  Also, the first episode sets up a lot of stuff that will probably be addressed later in the series, so there is that.  It’s just sorta confusing to only touch on these things, like Pidge’s brother or Shiro’s amnesia.

voltron4A lot of rabid fans hate the changes made in the new Voltron series, but I didn’t mind them.  Much.  There are a couple of things that didn’t make sense or stood out as kind stupid though, like why does the Black Lion have wings?  I didn’t like the design.  Also, Keith has very little to do and has no character.  He’s even told to stay in base at one point to wait for a sign from Allura, who is given more screentime as a result.  Earth is ditched in the opening and the characters are on another planet.  I’m guessing they will be planet jumping this season as they rescue people.  Lastly, the evil is even more one-dimensional than in the original series, and has less style, so that’s kinda disappointing.  There’s no monsters unleashed to attack Voltron in the first episode.  Too bad.

Overall, this is a quality episode despite a few nitpicks.  It’s not even that stuff that needs work, because you can have that stuff and be successful, but the first episode really feels long, almost like a movie.  This is not a Saturday morning cartoon.  Maybe they could tighten up the pace or shorten the runtime of the episodes.  Also, Lance got a strong start, then his character disappears for long sections of the first episode.  Frankly, I could would watch a show starring only Lance, Pidge, and Hunk, because the other characters have no character, development which will probably happen throughout the season, so I guess I need to be patient.  Can a nostalgia trip be sustained over 13 episodes?  I guess I’ll have to find out!