Beast King GoLion Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C-

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: C
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 34.99
  • Running time: 396
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Beast King GoLion

Beast King GoLion Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     June 12, 2008
Release Date: May 27, 2008

Beast King GoLion Vol. #1
© Media Blasters

What They Say
From days of long ago... from uncharted regions of the universe... comes a legend... The legend of Golion, the original Japanese show that started it all in the world of Voltron. The five pilots may look the same, but their names and the events that occur are galaxies apart from the series you think you know. Were people evacuated safely? Do robots die? And what really happened to a certain main character?

Revisit the Voltron series as you've never experienced it before, and see what really happened in this newly restored and uncut version.

Contains episodes 1-18.

The Review!
Captured by the Garla Empire, five young men must fight using the ultimate weapon - five combinable robotic lions. Thank god for the eighties.

Best King Golion is a slightly odd beast in that realistically, it can't be dubbed, mostly because it's been morphed into the Voltron property for so long. While some shows can get it done, like Macross, this one isn't getting that treatment. But just getting this in its uncut original form is a big enough coup that fans of the show likely aren't going to complain. The Japanese mix is listed as stereo done at 192kbps, but with its age it's really just a mono mix that's given a slightly fuller feeling. There isn't anything that really stands out here but it's pretty clean and clear for its age and is really problem free. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of this release.

Originally airing in Japan in 1981, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Considering its age and that there are six episodes on each of the three discs, I didn't have high expectations for the show. In general, this isn't something that's really bad nor is it really good, but rather just emblematic of its time and source. The authoring done for this runs with a rather average bitrate with only a few peaks here and there but the material doesn't really need a lot more either. Colors look decent and things are fairly solid throughout, but because of some of the grain there's noise in the backgrounds and some of the solid colors at times. Aliasing creeps in a fair bit, generally with background pieces, and there are a few spots of noticeable cross coloration throughout as well. The source material also has a fair bit of nicks and scratches to it but these are pretty minor in general and spread across quite a few episodes.

Media Blasters has a certain love for the kind of packaging used here, which we saw with their Tekkaman Blade collection as well. The hardcover digipak is done with its artwork sideways where it has a good serious image of the Golion above the planet Altea with the five swirling lights heading towards the planet. There's a lot of shadows and a good bit of menace to it and it works well to paint this as a serious show. I'm still not hugely keen on sideways covers but it fits with this piece rather well. The back cover is done traditionally with an action piece as its background artwork while also providing a selection of shots from the show along the right. The single paragraph summary works well enough in explaining the origins of the show and its US adaptation while also touching on what the show is actually about. Production credits and a technical grid round things out along the bottom of the cover. In a really nice move, there is a brief "In Memory" of piece on the back cover dedicated to Steve Pearl. This is also done at the end of one of the volumes as well which I thought was really touching and the perfect release to do it with. No inserts are included with this release but there are a pair of nice pieces of artwork associated with the reverse side. The main problem I continue to come back to with this kind of package though is the lack of a way to latch it and keep it closed.

Beast King Golion doesn't really do anything too special with its menus but it does take the artwork used for the cover and shows it to us in its original form, which is a bit weaker and not quite as vibrant and intense. The visual of the Golion above Altea looks pretty nice but the colors are a bit washed out and it just lacks a certain oomph that you get from the front cover. The navigation is very simple - and I'm surprised they even included a setup submenu - with just the options to play and check out scenes otherwise. There's a music loop playing over it with the vocals from the opening sequence as well. With only one language on here, our players' presets were pretty much useless.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I was never part of the Voltron generation. When the show first aired, I had seen a handful at best of the episodes but it never resonated with me. That part of fandom was never anything I had any connection to, though I was certainly pleased when it got a top tier release on DVD from Media Blasters and even more so because they intended to go back to the original show and let fans see that. After their work with Tekkaman Blade, I had a fair idea of what to expect from the releases and they've really mirrored that in just about every way.

Fifty two episodes long, Beast King Golion debuted in early 1981 and played heavily into the standard sentai formula with what it was doing. This set brings out the first eighteen episodes of the series and runs through quite a few familiar plot points. Taking place in some near future of sorts, we're introduced to five young men who are astronauts apparently and were captured some time ago by the evil Galra Empire. They've been put in slave holding cells for quite awhile now and they're just waiting for the right chance to escape and figure out what to do. The Galra Empire, led by Emperor Daibazaal, is crushing all opposition within the Great Dark Nebula and Earth is just one more of those worlds. But Earth figures little into the story, at least for now, as the lives of these five young men end up elsewhere.

Through a bit of classic cunning, the men end up escaping to a nearby planet called Altea which had been completely conquered some fifteen years earlier. Daibazaal had pacified the world by killing the majority of its inhabitants and letting it fall to ruin. Unbeknownst to him however was that the Princess of a particular kingdom was born at the time and she escaped notice. Now Princess Fala has decided that the five men who have crash landed on her home world are the saviors of Altea. They'll be the men that will pilot the legendary Golion, five giant robotic lions that can combine together. The legend goes that Golion was so strong as to challenge the gods themselves in the past and has suffered for its foolishness every since. Her belief is that they'll be able to master the Golion and save Altea while also beating back the Galra Empire.

Beast King Golion is a product of its time and that's one where the stories are really episodic and there are huge leaps of faith that must be taken. When dealing with a nebula conquering empire, you have to wonder how they can have so much trouble with a group of five people sitting inside a castle on one planet. They do make the point that the Golion's were something that Daibazaal couldn't destroy fifteen years earlier, but really, if you want to win, how difficult would it be to just ruin the planet completely, especially with the way Daibazaal has run his empire so far. It's these kinds of plot problems that drive me nuts but are part and parcel of many shows from this particular generation. Suspension of disbelief can happen with a lot of things, but with no nostalgia towards Voltron, Beast King Golion is a fair bit more difficult to swallow.

Credit where credit is due though in that the creators realized that this isn't something that's terribly deep and rather filled with archetypes. While our five intrepid heroes from Earth are all personable in their own ways, they really are little more than archetypes. This is made plainly apparent when their names are barely ever used and they're called more by their personalities. You have Chief, Moody, Quiet, Hotehead and Shorty. Even more amusing is that when Princess Fala becomes more involved, she just takes on Princess among the group while only those who serve her address her by her actual name. It's cute and campy in its own way, but it also really just highlights more of what makes the show so difficult to get into in that nobody is really anybody.

The five pilots talk at times about being astronauts which is what got them caught up in the Galra web at first, but beyond that there is practically nothing about any of their pasts or who they are during these first eighteen episodes. The closest we really get is when Shorty talks about his ninja heritage. That explains why he's wearing a bright green suit with a blue scarf. How could you not ignore him and avert your eyes? Princess Fala gets some nice background material as she takes more of an active role in things, but there are some hilarious nods towards Disney movies as her best friends while growing up in the abandoned castle with just one servant is a family of oversized mice that she can understand. She also has something of a father figure complex going on as she only talks about him and not her mother. These kinds of little moments help her stand out from the rest of the team, but it's just comical at times and doesn't help all that much since it just points out the plot holes even more.

Being such an old show, over twenty five years as of this writing, there isn't a lot to expect from the animation. My introduction to anime came not long after this so I'm certainly familiar with it and have a certain love for it. I've grown to appreciate older shows like Gatchman as well, so it's not really a "I hate old looking anime" kind of mentality. There isn't anything bad about how Golion looks as it's very much a product of its time, but it's simply not something that's appealing in general because I'm really not much of a sentai fan in general. The simplistic outfits - with completely horrid helmets - are amusing at best and just ugly in general. The Golion itself is something that I've always laughed at, even as a Transformers fan no less. It's one of the reasons that even more recent shows like Gaogaigar are hard to digest. Toss in some bad continuity problems with changing outfits between scene changes and it's all something that fits into the class average to low budget piece that gets the job done and would certainly fascinate the kids of the time.

In Summary:
I am beyond happy that this show has at long last been released in an uncut form at a great price with a lot of episodes so that fans of it can soak it up and enjoy it. Media Blasters has done a solid job with this overall and anyone who has wanted to grab it should feel that they can without any problems at all. Beast King Golion is a difficult show for me to watch because at its core it's an uninteresting show that requires far too much suspension of disbelief to really work well. There are fun moments to be found throughout and a lot of interesting designs, but there is so much going on that's just impossible to ignore in regards to, well, bad science and such that it drives me up a wall. Some shows are easier to manage this with than others, but with its age, colorful uniforms and amusing lion robots, Beast King Golion has me more in a mocking mood than anything else.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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