Voltron: Defender of the Universe Collection 1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Manga UK
  • MSRP: £29.99
  • Running time: 375
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Voltron: Defender of the Universe

Voltron: Defender of the Universe Collection 1

By Bryan Morton     May 09, 2008
Release Date: June 02, 2008


Voltron: Defender of the Universe Collection 1
© Manga UK


What They Say
From days of long ago from uncharted regions of the universe comes a legend. The legend of Voltron: Defender of the Universe! A mighty robot loved by good feared by evil. A force of space explorers - Kieth, Lance, Hunk, Pidge and Sven - are sent to find the last princess of planet Arus, Allura, and the keys to Voltron. Together they find the five robot lions that make up the legendary robot. King Zarkon an evil warlord rains down destruction across the universe. But our heroes form Voltron at the last moment and begin a new war against his cruel empire.


The Review!
Hoo boy. They say you can never go back...

Audio:
Not much of a choice here - English or bust, and it's presented in a fairly decent 2.0 mix. Thanks to the restoration process that the series was put through before this release, it's clean, clear and without problems. The dub itself isn't exactly a stellar example of its art, but it's serviceable.

Video:
For a show as old as Voltron (26 years), the video quality here is simply impressive - there's been real care and attention lavished on the show during its restoration, and the results are clear to see. There's very little of the degradation that you'd expect, with only some graininess and the occasional nick or scratch to detract from the end results. That doesn't help the general animation quality, of course, which is very much a creature of its time, but there's very little here you could complain about.

Packaging:
No packaging was provided with our review copy.

Menu:
The menu is a simple screen, with a grey background and slowly-moving headshots of Keith. The closing theme tune plays throughout, and options for Play All, Episode Selection and Extras. Simple but effective.

Extras:
Not a huge amount here - the original TV trailer for the series, a short clip showing some of the merchandise that was available at the time (the show was all about promoting the models, of course), an archive clip of and 80's news article about the show, and some production sketches and character profiles.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
I'd like to introduce you to a good friend of mine, who's going to help me review Voltron. He's someone who's very well-acquainted with the show - in fact, he thinks it's the best thing on TV. He's, well, me - only 20 years younger, and living in a country where there's only one TV channel, which only broadcasts in black & white. Some of us had to wait until we were 35 to see what colours those lions were. For ease of reference, Bryan "the younger" will speak in italics, while old & decrepit me will speak in normal text. But first, a quick introduction to the show:

On approach to Planet Arus, the band of space explorers led by Captain Keith witness the planet being attacked by the forces of the evil King Zarkon. Investigating the aftermath, Keith's ship is attacked by one of Zarkon's ships - forced to eject, they're captured and transported to Planet Doom, Zarkon's home base, to become part of his slave army. Forced to take part in one of Zarkon's fighting tournaments, they're able to escape from his clutches and, looking to thwart Zarkon's plan for universal domination, they head out in search of the legendary fighting robot Voltron. Legend has it that the machines that make up the robot can be found in the Castle of Lions, but if they're to stand any chance of reaching the Castle the team have to travel through hostile territory - traumatised by Zarkon's attack, the planet's residents are no longer trusting of any visitors. Arriving at the castle, they're met by Princess Allura, who offers to help them retrieve Voltron in exchange for their help in defending their planet - and so the new Voltron Force is born. The five components of Voltron were scattered across the planet with Zarkon first attacked - to revive Voltron, they'll need to recover the pieces...

Where to start. Voltron is like nothing I've ever seen on TV before - sure, I watch all the latest cartoons (Inspector Gadget and Dangermouse used to be my favourites, until now), but since Voltron came on there's really nothing else I want to watch. There's just so much about it that different from the other stuff I used to watch - for starters, there's the story, that carries on each episode instead of starting again. You know how all episodes of He-Man really turn out the same way? Voltron doesn't do that. It's a great idea - even if it means that missing an episode kinda leaves you wondering what you missed. The robots are also cool - the way the five of them join together (I love the animation for that) and become one huge robot is the best part of each episode! I know Challenge of the Gobots does something like that, but it just doesn't look as good. Voltron's different, and cool, and does things that other cartoons don't - how can you not like it?!

Ah, the innocence of youth. I vaguely remember Voltron, and all the good memories that went along with watching it - they're locked up inside me with my inner child, who's still busy enjoying the experience. All of that made me jump on the chance of watching the show again now that it's finally getting a proper UK release.

But you need to go into it with a certain frame of mind, by putting away your adult sensibilities and making sure that you watch it like a little kid, with all your nitpicking sensibilities switched off - Bryan, aged 15, still loves the show after all these years, and in some ways he was looking out through my eyes through this set and enjoying every minute of it. Bryan, aged 35, is a different kettle of fish, though. I'm older, I see things now that I didn't then, and having seen a frankly scary amount of both anime and other science-fiction in the meantime, I've got a much more jaded attitude to pretty much anything that goes into my DVD player - and looking through those eyes, Voltron initially didn't pass muster. Some of it's the little things (during the joining sequence, you get the four lions giving their roar before Voltron stands back nice and rigid, as if to say "look, kids! This is what the toy looks like! Go buy it now!!"), but there are also more fundamental things - taking off the rose-tinted glasses, Voltron is a hugely cheesy show, with a story that's very simplistic by the standards of more recent shows and really full of holes.

Really? I hadn't noticed - I was too busy just enjoying the battles and seeing Zarkon's dumb sidekicks get whipped again.

There's that - and if you sit down in a particular frame of mind (sinking a few pints seems to do it) there's still plenty to take from the nostalgia value of the experience. I just got caught watching most of the set when I wasn't in the right frame of mind for it, and that spoiled the experience. Coming back to the final episodes a week later though, in a different mood and more juvenile frame of mind, was a different - and far more enjoyable - experience. You just have to put the rose-tinted glasses aside and enjoy the show for what it is - not the greatest thing ever made, no matter what your memories may tell you, but a simple show that's nothing but mindless fun.

In summary:
What you get out of Voltron depends a lot on what you think you're sitting down to watch. For best results, put away all your preconceptions and memories from so long ago, as it'll never live up to them. Just sit down, switch off, and enjoy what really is entertainment from another time - and if you can do that, there's plenty of fun to be had. If you can't, then be prepared for disappointment.

Features
English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Original Trailer,Merchandise Clip,Archive Footage,Production Sketches,Character Profiles

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

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