Much like the bulk of the first set once it got past the introductions, Beast King Golion is all about the repetition.
What They Say
A mighty robot, loved by good, feared by evil... Its home of Altea continues to be the one glimmering light in the darkness that is the Galra Empire's tyranny. Despite Daibazaal, Honerva, and Sincline's constant attacks and traps, the heroic team of five always seems to come out ahead. And no matter how many Deathblack Beast men are sent to face them, Golion is always ready for battle with the Jyuohken blazing in hand.
Golion is the original Japanese show cut to create the 80's cartoon classic VOLTRON.
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.
There is an interesting issue with this particular set unlike the first. One Disc 4, the last episode on it is mis-flagged and will display as an anamorphic widescreen episode on certain setups, such as our PS3. Disc 5 is without issue while Disc 6 has two episodes that have this flag set improperly. The show certainly looks pretty funky when stretched out like this but at least it wasn’t done in a crop and reframe like a certain other older show.
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 features Chief and Sincline going at it against a star filled background, something that doesn’t actually happen within the show itself. It’s a good looking cover with some muted colors that keeps it from looking to awful or garish. 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 as well as a technical grid round things out along the bottom of the cover. No inserts are included with this release but there is a decent piece 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 two fighting looks pretty solid 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)
Unlike the first set of eighteen episodes, there isn’t exactly a whole lot of things to say about this particular set of episodes. The opening set provided plenty of discussion with the basics of the series, the origins and layout of the story and the way it had fun by killing off one of the characters and introducing the main action villain of it all. Once that was done however, Beast King Golion keeps true to its nature and proceeds to run through a number of episodes with no serious impact. The gang all gets closer together as time goes on, but beyond that there’s little that really changes.
That said, there are a few interesting bits here and there that worked rather well in establishing things. The first is that the human crew of the Golion decides that it’s time to head back to Earth to see what’s going on there when they detect something fishy on the long range monitors. To their surprise, the world has been engulfed in the flames of a nuclear war which has left it barren and empty. It is somewhat amusing to see them strolling around in an environment like this considering what happened, but it does serve to reinforce to them that they have to make their lives on Altea and with its people there. Though amusingly enough, they all seem to be interested in only the Princess even though there are likely a number of very willing women left on the planet after all that’s happened.
The other part that’s interesting, and a bit amusing, is Sincline’s stalker tendencies when it comes to the lovely Princess Fala. Sincline’s interest in her has some deep rooted aspects to it that are slowly becoming a bit more obvious as Honerva thinks to herself that it can never be revealed. The fact that Sincline has never seen his mother and that he’s juxtaposing the visions of Fala with her certainly give plenty of blatant pause. Sincline’s desire for Fala has him doing all manner of silly things in an attempt to capture her and he even manages it several times to one degree or another. His drive for it is given some pause during these episodes as his father is getting a bit impatient with him over it and insists that he forget her, going so far as to arrange a marriage with someone else.
Beyond that, the bulk of the show revolves around various little issues that take place either on Altea or some other world that Galra is conquering. They go in a rather predictable fashion and lead to various kinds of Beastmen being generated and sent off to fight against the Golion. Some are more interesting than others and some are a bit more character driven. One in particular featuers a Meduse that was turned into a Beastman who was actually a mother on her home planet. She takes to Shorty when he gets injured and becomes all motherly with him and starts to defend him against everyone else. It’s cute and simple but adds a nice facet in comparison to the other mindless violence driven Beastmen that are trotted out throughout the series.
One new piece that’s introduced into this set is a step up for the Beastmen as Honvera has helped to create Mechablack Beastmen, or basically mecha Beastmen. These are pretty comical at times since they’re blocky looking and very archaic, especially in comparison to the Golion which at least is colorful and has some natural movement to it because of the lion aspect. They get trotted out here and there throughout the second half of the set but they don’t seem to do much better in general. In fact, all they really do is encourage the team to work harder and better together so they can overcome the new challenges. Nothing like inspiring your enemy to become more than he already is…
Beast King Golion is most definitely a product of its time, and that at times can make it a difficult show to watch. It’s very episodic and the whole point is to provide a quick bit of entertainment on a weekly basis with little overall impact. That’s not a bad thing but it creates so many bad situations to watch that it can be difficult. When you have Sincline desperately trying to gain power and being unable to do so because he can’t defeat Golion, it’s impossible to figure out why he doesn’t kill any of the pilots when he actually has them in hand. “Aha, I’ve got your captured Shorty. Now I’ll strap you to this bomb that will go off in awhile while I go storm the castle…” It’s part and parcel of the time period but it’s also why these kinds of shows can be so difficult to get through a lot of the time.
Beast King Golion isn’t bad, but much like the first set it’s simply not something that I can connect with. It’s definitely something that fans of Voltron will want to be all over and to see how it was originally presented and Media Blasters has done a bang-up job with it – outside of the widescreen flagging issue on this set. Nothing really changes in this set overall but there are some mild moments spread throughout that helps to set the stage a bit better, such as the core cast of the good guys realizing that they’re stuck with Altea while Sincline has to deal with the ambitions he has to take over from his father. It’s very simple, very blunt and without any finesse, but it is a product of its time and reflects what many shows were like back then. It’s interesting in its own way, but at the same time so many episodes feel like we’re just killing time.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
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.