Voltron: Defender of the Universe Set 4 (of 8) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, November 01, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, September 25, 2007
What They Say
A series of unnatural earth tremors frightens the Space Mice into action. Rather than running or hiding, they begin to train like soldiers, and fight a pitched battle against the Blue Cat. To back them up, Pidge builds them their very own robot vehicle, a flying mouse. Before they have a successful flight, Voltron is trapped by a powerful underground Robeast. It's up to the Space Mice to launch a rescue mission!
Contains episodes 46-59.
Form arms, and body!, the red lion takes its position in the fourth series of Voltron DVD’s.
For this viewing session, we listened to the English only dub of Voltron. The stereo mix for this series is nicely expansive as it makes good use of directionality throughout the program both for action and dialogue effects. The sound effects may be a bit dated, but the sound quality is excellent. The transfer to Dolby 5.1 sounds great due to the fact that Voltron was the first American TV program to ever be recorded in stereo. The dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback on either language track.
Originally airing back in 1982, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. With this show being nearly 24 years old, the transfer for it looks great. The digital remastering of the video footage closely resembles the care taken in the Robotech Remastered: Extended Editions and the newly released Gatchaman Collector’s Editions. However, there is some graininess to the video that causes some of the solid color areas to look a distorted. This is only noticeable when sitting about three feet away on my 62" widescreen LCD screen and is often the case with older animated TV series. When viewing from a nine foot distance, the video footage looks pretty smooth. There are some minor areas of print deterioration and scratches, but are minor. As in the first collection, it was noticed that some video sequences would appear where a character’s clothing, vehicle, or the background did not match or stay consistent, which is typical for many older anime series.
The original footage from Go-Lion, the original source anime, provided World Events with enough video footage to take Voltron into a second season. The series culminates with the defeat of Zarkon and his cronies. With Voltron being so popular, World Events contracted some of the original Japanese animators to create more footage to carry the Lion team into a third season. Unfortunately, the quality in video footage takes a big hit as the shading and color quality does not match up. For example, Pidge’s uniform and green lion often look like they are black. Coran’s outfit looks a lot different, even his hair coloring looks different. There are some definite flaws in this collection that are almost down right inexcusable. The discolorations and even uncolored sections of Voltron are very evident. The video quality is downright sloppy. Voltron definitely deserves a remastering as is evident in this collection.
The three discs that accompany this collection are contained in a red tin with the face of Lance’s Red Lion. A folded cardboard disc holder is used to keep the discs secure in the tin (atypical packaging of most multi-volume anime collections). An episode guide is also provided that gives a short synopsis of each episode along with its original air dates. A brief summary of how Voltron was restoration is also included in the episode guide. Again packaging design was a priority in this release in how it follows the theme of Lance, the Red Lion, along with Sven and new baddie, Cossack from the planet Drule. Even the space mice make an appearance with their new Space Explorer outfits. Again, as with the previous lion cases, this is one of the most impressive DVD packages that this reviewer has had the privileged of reviewing. It is an impressively designed tin; the images are sharp and the metallic background immediately draws the eye to it.
Clean and simple, the main menus for each of the three discs are based on the Red Lion. The disc menu has a newly drawn image of the Red Lion and screen capture of some of the main characters. The Voltron theme music loops in the background while the main menu is displayed. The menu options are along the bottom left side of the screen and there were no transition delays switching between menus. The submenus contain a modern rendition of on the left side of the screen Voltron with screen caps of the chapters vertically arranged on the right. As with the main menu, a looping musical theme plays while the submenus are displayed.
I admit I was spoiled with the Blue Lion’s extras as they were great. However, the other collections haven’t quite stood up as well. This is also evident in this collection’s extras. As with the previous collections, disc three contains only three full episodes as opposed to the six episodes on the previous discs. First on the extras list is the voice actor interviews, which is my favorite. It was cool to see the voice actors and hear them discuss their take on Voltron and its place in American anime fandom. One of the best moments with the voice actors was their opinions about the characters they voiced. Michael Bell has a very humorous plot for Lance and Voltron that… well you’ll have to watch it yourself. Other extras included are the season three featurette that was used to promote the third season of Voltron. The Man on the Street video was kind of fun as people were randomly interviewed about Voltron trivia. This varies from singing the Voltron theme song to naming the main characters. It’s amazing how people still remember it. Rounding out the extras is a character gallery.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
Ah, the memories… The first two discs of this collection parallel the original Go-Lion anime up to episode 52. Leaving off from the last collection, things are starting to heat up as Lotor, Zarkon, and Hagar continue to aggressively pursue the destruction of Voltron. Their antics are getting downright serious as they make plots on sabotaging planetary meetings and infiltrating Galaxy Garrison’s weak points. Desperation is evident as the Doomites are losing their cool. Voltron keeps thwarting Lotor and Zarkon’s evil plots. A falling out of sorts ensues with several changes in power over Planet Doom as Zarkon and Lotor are at each other’s throats. Lotor gains temporary rule over Doom at one point while Zarkon attempts to defeat Voltron himself as he assumes the form of a robeast. Hagar, of course, sides with whoever she feels has the upper hand. A final showdown with the Doomies ensues as the entire Voltron force along with the Castle of Lions, now transformed into a starship, take the fight to Planet Doom. Of course Sven and Romelle join the fight too. Episode 52 could end the Voltron story as it stands, but wait… there’s more.
Season three’s content, which is a culmination of new animation that World Events contracted along with footage from Armored Fleet Dairugger XV (aka. Vehicle Voltron) is somewhat choppy and sub par to the original story. Here, it is evident that a lot of content splicing took place as there are a lot of inconsistencies in video quality. New footage is mixed with old footage and it shows. These new episodes continue the Voltron saga by slowly inserting minor plots that will eventually play a major role in Vehicle Voltron. The Drule Empire, which is where most of Galaxy Garrison’s focus is based, makes Zarkon and Lotor look weak. Vehicle Voltron, of course, is protecting the other side of the universe from the Drule Empire’s pursuit of galactic conquest.
A new character is introduced, or should I say lacky. Cossack “The Terrible” is a Drule warlord who makes an attempt to take over Planet Pollux. Impressed with his abilities, the Doomies offer a position of power for him. This position earns him the right as the new whipping boy of Zarkon and Lotor when their plots against Voltron fail. In essence, Cossack becomes the new Yurak, the lacky general who was turned into a robeast and destroyed by Voltron in season 1.
The remaining episodes in this collection try to make a loose connection with the Vehicle Voltron story line. As a kid, I thought this was an awesome story of epic proportions as the two series became closely aligned. The Drule Empire, Planet Doom, Galaxy Garrison, the Voltron buddies, and of course the two Voltron’s had great appeal. As an added bonus, we get some more character development especially, Hunk. It’s nice to get a more in-depth view of the secondary characters.
It is at this point, one begins to see the flaws that make the third season not mesh together so well. The next major plot is not clearly defined as there are too many stand alone episodes. There will be more Zarkon, Hagar, and Lotor for sure. However, there is not a clearly defined plan nor is there anything leading up to the next big story arc.
The Red Lion volume of the Voltron Collection brings the original Go-Lion anime to an end with the defeat of Planet Doom. A series of stand-alone episodes follow, making an attempt to continue the story with previously existing footage mixed in with new footage. Connections are made with the Vehicle Voltron story line and their battle against the Drule Empire. This was a decent attempt to connect two unrelated anime series, as was done with the Robotech saga, but the flaws are numerous. Mixed feelings about this collection will definitely surface. However, the latter episodes of this collection will disappoint those who are not willing to accept the pioneering efforts that allow us to enjoy anime as it is here in America today. Still recommended! Let’s Go Voltron Force!!!
English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
Hitachi 62VS69 62" UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, XBOX 360 DVD player, XBOX 360 HDMI Cable with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: C-
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Media Blasters
Running time: 375
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Voltron: Defender of the Universe