As the Leo Alliance forms and more planets declare to break away from Galra, the situation reaches critical mass.
What They Say:
Kogane, Princess Fala, and the rest of the GoLion team have finally repelled Prince Sincline and the oppressive forces of the Galra Empire. In the heated battle, they managed to capture an enormous energy cannon capable of firing at a planet half a solar system away. Under the direction of Raible and Fala, the former slave planets of Galra come together to support GoLion. The hatch a daring plan, to attack the evil empire’s home planet and put an end to its tyranny once and for all. Raible uses the energy cannon to destroy the protective barrier around planet Galra, while the GoLion team launches a frontal attack and Shirogane’s brother Sho leads a rebel force into the castle! But Sincline has already taken over the empire, and turned King Diabazaal into the most powerful Super Beastman ever. He’s even developed a superwepon that will paralyze GoLion, a cannon that shoots slave-filled missiles! To save the lives of the remaining slaves, Kogane and the others may be forced to abandon GoLion.
What We Say:
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 sixteen episodes spread across 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.
Thankfully, unlike the second set, there are no issues with titles being flagged incorrectly as anamorphic.
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 Ryou set against the dark red background of stars where the Mechabeastman Galra is looming against Galra itself. It’s the best of the covers overall I think as it’s simply appealing with the way it expresses itself, both in color and emotion because of Ryou. 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)
With the last sixteen episodes, spread strangely in a 6/6/4 format on these three discs, Beast King Golion has come to a close at long last. And like many shows of this day, it ends rather anticlimactically before it fades to black and we no longer have to see the transformation sequence anymore. After fifty two long episodes, Golion has finished the job and is now immortalized as a deity in a way where the people of Altea, and the galaxy, can come and pay their respects for the peace that it has brought.
Not unlike the bulk of the previous two sets, a lot of what we see in these last episodes of Beast King Golion is predictable. The first two discs are made up of rather standard single episode stories where events are neatly wrapped up as the Galra Empire comes up with a wacky plan, a new Mecha Beastman to use or some planet that it needs to increase its stranglehold on. The predictability of the show works well in a weekly format, especially some nearly thirty years ago, but when take in collected form like this in 2008, its flaws are all the more apparent. Forgiving that, you still have to deal with other age related issues in its camp factor and insane leaps of logic.
And yes, you even have to deal with an entire episode revolving around the space mice and their attempts at training in order to be valuable in the battle. This includes Shorty building a mice-sized mice-styled version of Golion for them to race around and fly in. I’ve detested the mice since the beginning and having an episode devoted to them was almost beyond numbing. The fact that the mice even wear colored uniforms, and one of the mice is pink, just had me shaking my head the entire time. And the way they’re taken so seriously pushes it even further. It’s certainly Saturday morning cute and all, but it feels very out of place in a show that has a good bit of swearing, bodies being torn apart and other kinds of violence.
That said, there is some rather good material in comparison overall. The storyline that I enjoyed the most, which began as a two parter, introduced Shirogane’s younger brother Ryou. While Ryou’s brother died quite awhile ago in the series, it turns out that Ryou himself was captured some time ago from Earth and has been held prisoner on Galra. He escaped awhile ago and has been hiding out as he plots his revenge. This times out nicely to when Princess Amue finds herself about to be executed and he’s able to save her and establish communications with Altea. Ryou turns into something of a rebel leader, though he’s forgotten for a few episodes, and there’s the amusing awkward potential of a relationship with Amue as she intends to be just as much of a fighter as he is. The pairing is quite a lot of fun and brings something new and plausible into the show that I thought worked nicely.
As the show moves towards its finale, it does something that I do rather enjoy about anime in general and particularly series from this age. Lots and lots of death. The body count grows rather well during the final arc where Raible’s son is discovered to be alive after all of these years and it coincides with the last big plan by both the Emperor and Sincline to end things once and for all. The little power plays that have been going on aren’t exactly complex but it’s fun to watch it play out as Sincline works to take over while the Emperor is becoming furious over the growing number of systems slipping from his grasp. As the show turns more into a serial storyline, events move pretty fast as the newly formed Leo Alliance works to push back against Galra and figure out a way through the energy barrier that surrounds Galra.
With a handful of episodes left, everyone puts their all into it the fight and do what they have to in order to ensure a brighter future. This means that a lot of people on both sides fall victim to the grim reaper, sometimes in a spectacularly bloody fashion. The revelations come quickly in some scenes and with the addition of characters such as Ryou and Amue it gets rather crowded at times. The way that the show whittles through a number of characters is fun since you never know who is actually going to survive. They did kill off one of the Golion pilots early on after all, so almost anyone is expendable at this point. When the serial aspect of the story starts, this is what makes it all the more engaging as the secondary characters start falling as a prelude to the bigger ones that must fall.
Beast King Golion was something of a challenge to get through, but that didn’t surprise me. I was never a fan of Voltron when it was out as a child and I haven’t been watching the DVD editions since I wanted to see the original. This set overall ends on a better note because it works through some larger stories as it focuses on closing out the show and plays more as a serial towards the final five or six episodes. That gives it greater weight, but that still can’t overcome the age related camp factor of giant lions combining into a robot that is the guardian of the universe. With awful looking costumes, comical looking lion mecha and characters that do the stupidest things at the worst time, it’s often a comedy of errors in its own way. But it is also something that defined an age for anime fans when there was little out there and it was unlike most anything else that was on TV in the US when it came over in Voltron form. So finally getting to see a clean uncut edition of the series in its original form is a very positive thing. It’s simply not for me.
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.