And I’ll form the head!! Black lion is in position to complete the fifth and final position of Voltron DVD’s.
What They Say
Keith, Lance, Hunk, Pidge and Princess Alura have finally launched a successful assault on Planet Doom and destroyed King Zarkon's arsenal. In response, Zarkon calls upon all his evil allies in the empire. The undefeated warrior Stride is bound to answer this call by an ancient oath, even though he is an honorable man.
The most dangerous new arrival is Queen Merla, who is as cruel as she is beautiful. With her psychic powers and strategic talent, the Voltron Force's only hope is to convince her to switch sides.
Meanwhile, Galaxy Garrison prepares a massive counterstrike against the Druel Empire with the help of all the Alliance planets. Zarkon and his new allies stage a raid on their headquarters during the Alliance meeting, forcing Voltron into a life or death struggle with Galaxy Garrison as the backdrop!
Contains episodes 60-72.
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 black tin with the face of Keith’s Black 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. Again packaging design was a priority in this release in how it follows the theme of Keith, the Black Lion, along with Queen Merla. 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 Black Lion. The disc menu has a newly drawn image of the Black 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.
As stated in my review of the earlier collections, I was spoiled with the Blue Lion’s extras. The following collections haven’t quite stood up as well. This is also evident in this collection’s extras. For this collection, disc three contains only two full episodes as opposed to the six episodes on the previous discs. First on the extras list is the deleted scenes that were not used from Toei. These scenes were specific to season 3 only. Nothing special, the video just shows the deleted scenes with some looping Voltron music.
Next on the list is a set of previews for Go-Lion and Vehicle Voltron. If you are a fan, then this will make a nice teaser for what’s to come especially if you are waiting for some classic Vehicle Voltron goodness. A history of World Events Productions (WEP) is also included, which gives you a nice intro to the company and how they hit it big with Voltron. A lost episode of Voltron is also included in the extras list. This episode is nothing special as most of season three could be considered as lost. The story continuity just doesn’t mesh well beyond the second season and you’ll see why in the content section of this review.
Rounding out the extras is a preview of Eagle One Media’s video comic of Voltron. A voice-over slide show of the comic Voltron: Revelations looks like a promising story arc that has been well received by fans. If this doesn’t hook you on looking for some more Voltron goodness, then nothing will. Eagle One Media also has another series Voltron: Paradise Lost.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
Like many, Black Lion and Keith were my favorites from Voltron. It’s kind of sad to see that the best of what the Lion Voltron series has to offer has come and passed by. In my last review (Red Lion), the main story arc finished after the second season or episode 52. All episodes beyond episode 52 were created here in the US. Season three’s content is a culmination of new animation that World Events contracted from Toei along with footage from Armored Fleet Dairugger XV (aka. Vehicle Voltron).
The content at best 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. The only saving grace to this collection is the inclusion of the evil Queen Merla from the Drule Empire. This looks to be another attempt to tie the Vehicle Voltron series with Lion Voltron.
Merla was never used in Go-Lion and was created by Toei per WEP’s request. There are glimpses of brilliance in her character when you imagine what could have been. I think some of the comics that have been recently created expound on that. In all, watching the Queen Merla episodes are really the only shinning gems in this collection.
The episode that introduces Merla is one of the strongest of season three in that it introduces her and Stride. Stride is a Tiger Fighter who has a winged lion that surpasses the Voltron lions in strength and ability. The design of the tiger fighter is a pretty cool concept. Stride’s father formerly fought with King Alfor and was part of the astro-knights. He fights for honor, but soon realizes that his honor has been betrayed by the Doomies.
Merla is downright deceiving and is a perfect match for Lotor. Her form of malevolence is almost too perfect, and her cunning devices outdo Lotor in this collection of stand-alone episodes. She plays everyone, including Lotor, like a fine tuned instrument of wickedness. It’s too bad a spanning story arc could not have been created for her. She is definitely one the most neglected characters of the series that could have been used to make some great story telling.
The Black Lion volume of the Voltron Collection concludes the Lion Voltron saga. It was great to revisit the days of long ago where my childhood worshipped the ground that Keith and the gang walked on. As an adult it is great to revisit what I longed to see again. As a fan, it makes me happy to see that WEP did such an awesome job of putting this collection together. For fans of the series, Black Lion will conclude a fantastic job of wrapping up the Lion Voltron series into a very nice keepsake collection. For Voltron newbs, be aware that this was the granddaddy that paved the way for some of today’s most popular anime. Its age and weaker storyline is evident, especially in this final collection. Nevertheless, Voltron will always have its place in American anime history regardless of how strong or weak it is content-wise. So, here’s looking to the upcoming Vehicle Voltron collection… Let’s Go Voltron Force!!
English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Hitachi 62VS69 62" UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, Samsung BDP-1000 Blu-ray Player with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.