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

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A+
  • Menus Rating: A
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 39.95
  • 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 Set 1

By Bryce Coulter     September 13, 2006
Release Date: September 26, 2006

Voltron: Defender of the Universe Set 1
© Media Blasters

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, Keith, 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. As King Zarkon, an evil warlord, rains down destruction across the universe, our heroes form Voltron at the last moment, and begin a new war against his cruel empire.

This release has been remastered, includes a new 5.1 surround sound English track, and is packaged in a collectors' tin.

Contains episodes 1-15 on 3 discs.

The Review!
It's finally here, one of most coveted and longest awaited anime classics makes its remastered debut on DVD.

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.

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 distorted. This is only noticeable when sitting about three feet away from 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 they are minor. Occasionally 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. For a show that is nearly twenty-four years old this is an awesome release for such a fan favorite. Watching the extras on how Voltron was created and remastered will give the viewer a greater appreciation of the undertaking that was made to redevelop the video footage from scratch.

The three discs that accompany this collection are contained in a blue tin with the face of Princess Allura's blue 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 remastered is also included in the episode guide. It is apparent that packaging design was a priority in this release in how it follows the theme of Princess Allura, the blue lion, and the characters close to her. Overall, 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 Blue Lion. The disc menu has a newly drawn image of the Blue 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 Voltron on the left side of the screen 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. (On a side note, the music looping in the submenus is the theme associated with King Zarkon and the Planet Doom. At the conclusion of the loop you get to hear the shrill scream of Haggar's cat followed by the roar of the Voltron Lions, which can be a lot of fun if you have a cat around the house!!)

The extras in this collection are packed with some great features. Disc three contains only three full episodes as opposed to the six episodes contained on each of the previous discs. This alone, gives you an idea as to how much extra stuff is piled onto the third disc. For starters, there are two pilot episodes of the very first Voltron episode, which gives the viewer an insight into what Voltron looked like in its early renditions. One of the most interesting aspects of the disc is the interview with the producers and creators of Voltron. A half hour segment explains how Voltron came to be and what it took to make this animated classic possible. I guess I am naïve, but it's amazing to see how much marketing was pumped into the initial launch of Voltron. From toys, books, clothes, etc... it is no wonder why Voltron along, with many others (i.e. GI-Joe, Transformers, etc...) became instant hits with those who grew up in the 80's. There is also a short clip on the remastering endeavor taken to remaster Voltron. To round out the extras, the humorous parody of "You Got Served" as seen in the episode "You Got Robo Served" on Cartoon Network's Robot Chicken is available for your viewing pleasure.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
Many an afternoon of my youth was spent watching shows like Robotech, Transformers, and Battle of the Planets when Voltron initially aired on US TV. I, along with many others, was instantly hooked on the series and never missed a chance to watch it as it re-aired on various channels over the years. In recent years, many classic anime series have been released on DVD allowing us fans to relive our youth with our favorite childhood shows. I, along with many Voltron fans began to wonder if Voltron would ever be released on DVD. Our long wait is finally over. So, nearly twenty-four years later, I now have in my possession Media Blasters first remastered collection of the series. Having only recently seen Voltron on Cartoon Network years ago, I was more than eager to see how Voltron stood up against my nostalgic memories of the show. I was also curious to see how Voltron stood up against the recently remastered versions of Robotech and Gatchaman.

For those not familiar with the story, the Lion Voltron saga is a tale of five space explorers who are sent by the Galaxy Alliance to travel to Planet Arus and uncover the secret of the missing Voltron robot. Keith, Lance, Sven, Hunk and Pidge arrive just in time to see Arus being completely devastated by the evil forces of King Zarkon. With Voltron out of the picture, King Zarkon is virtually unstoppable as he conquers planets while making the inhabitants of those planets his slaves. Acknowledging the plight of the people of Arus, the space explorers engage in battle with Zarkon's general, Yurak, only to be captured and thrown into the dungeons on Planet Doom.

While in captivity, Keith and the space explorers begin to ascertain the condition of the captives on Planet Doom. Vowing to eventually return to free the slaves, the space explorers escape from Planet Doom to begin searching for a way to revive Voltron. They soon discover the legendary Castle of Lions where Voltron is rumored to reside. There, they meet Princess Allura, who declares them to be the planet's new guardians known as the Voltron Force. Together, they begin to unravel the mystery of Voltron's disappearance and try to learn how to revive the mighty robot.

The back story of Voltron begins as Coran, one of kingdom advisors, explains the demise of the mighty Voltron. Voltron's demise occurred when Haggar, King Zarkon's evil witch, lured Voltron into following a beautiful image of a disguised Haggar. Captivated by her beautiful appearance, Haggar cursed Voltron by splitting him into five individual pieces. These five pieces assumed the form of five mechanical lions that are scattered throughout the kingdom on Planet Arus. In order to operate the lions, the Voltron Force must locate the keys that activate them. With guidance from the ghost of King Alfor, they find four of the five keys needed to form Voltron. A new attack from planet Doom forces the Voltron Force to go into battle with just four of the five lions. Keith and the team soon uncover the key to the Black Lion, just as King Zarkon releases a Robeast in attempt to destroy the Voltron force. Together, they are able to form Voltron and form the Blazing Sword (And everyone that knows anything about Voltron knows that it is GAME OVER when the Blazing Sword appears)

Now that Voltron is restored, the rebuilding of Planet Arus begins as the people return to their normal lives after having to live in seclusion from Zarkon's attacks. Zarkon, with the help of Haggar and Yurak, devise a plan to cripple the Voltron Force. While giving out food and supplies to the people of Arus, Haggar isolates Sven from the others and mortally wounds him. Without Sven to pilot the Blue Lion, the Voltron Force must face Zarkon's new Robeast without the ability to form Voltron. Determined to help her kingdom, no matter what the cost, Princess Allura attempts to pilot the Blue Lion when her childhood Nanny is caught in a raid by King Zarkon. With Sven unable to pilot the Blue Lion, Allura continues to assert herself as a member of the team and eventually earns their respect as a capable pilot for the Blue Lion.

As with many anime series, the cunning plots of the arch villain are always continuously thwarted by the good guys. At the conclusion of this volume we get to see every Voltron fan's favorite villain, Prince Lotor, makes his appearance. Lotor assumes Yurak's position as leader of Zarkon's military forces. Yurak becomes the scapegoat for King Zarkon's failures at attempting to defeat Voltron and is transformed into a robeast. Without saying much, Yurak is destined to meet the tip of Voltron's Blazing Sword. Lotor's first encounter with Voltron leads to a blind infatuation with the capturing of Princess Allura. In future episodes we'll begin to see how his infatuation with capturing Princess Allura as a prize conflicts with his father Zarkon's thirst for galactic conquest.

Even after twenty-four years, this series can easily draw me back into it. The storyline at times can be a bit campy, especially with the space mice and simple story line, but it has lost none of its appeal. Perhaps I'm too nostalgic, but I still strongly recommend this story.

In Summary:
Media Blasters and World Events have taken the classic Voltron series and polished it up nicely for the next generation of anime fans. It looks and sounds better than it did when it first released; even though the dialogue is still a bit cheesy, the core of the series still shines through and holds up well to many new anime series out there today. With all the footage restored, you owe it yourself to check out the series that helped make anime what it is in US today. Go Voltron Force!!!

English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Original Pilot: The Voltron Trilogy,Staff Interviews, Making of the DVDs, Episode Synopses with Original Air Dates

Review Equipment
Hitachi 62VS69 62" UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, XBOX 360 DVD player, XBOX 360 Component HDAV Cable with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.


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