Land Team unite…
What They Say
Space may be the final frontier, but it will also be the final resting place for the Voltron force if they're not careful. Caught up in a civil war they do not understand, Jeff and the team are under attack from all sides. Hazar is removed from command and put on trial for treason by the Drule Empire, paving the way for Marshal Keyzor to take over the fleet. Now Commander Hawkens and the crew of the Explorer are forced to deal with the full power of the Drules, now led by their old enemy Nerok. Stretched to their limits, members of the Voltron Force keep getting injured, and Voltron itself is so badly damaged they can no longer form the super robot. But this is all a feint for the Druel Empire's most dangerous plan yet: all out war on planet Earth and the Galaxy Alliance!
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. The other added perk to this series is that Peter Cullen, the narrator for both Voltron series, plays as Commander James Hawkins.
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 that was used for the lion collections. As with any restored footage this old, 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. One will also notice that there is quite a bit of recycled footage of both Voltron and the Explorer. This was done in order to make the Kikou Kantai Dairugger XV footage fit into the Voltron story.
As stated in the previous review, the cardboard packaging for this collection is not as impressive as the tin lion collections. However, it that is not to saying that the packaging for this collection is not good, it’s just not as impressive. The yellow cardboard case features a nicely rendered image of the yellow All-Terrain Space Vehicles piloted by Marvin who forms the left foot of Voltron. The back of the box features Cliff in his full Space Explorer uniform with a silhouetted image of the Land Team’s Turbo Terrain Fighter. I am torn with the image selection here as Cliff’s vehicle is not shown on the front cover. His vehicle actually makes up part of Voltron’s torso and is not quite as attractive as a vehicle.
As with all previous Voltron collections, a folded cardboard disc holder is used to keep the discs secure in the box (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. Despite the cardboard, one can obviously tell that the packaging design was a priority in this release in how it represents the Land Team. Folded, the disc holder features a nicely rendered group image of the Land Team members. This is candid image does a good job of reflecting each team member’s personalities. There obviously was some thought put into this image. On the back side is an image of Nerok, one of the Drule baddies that is featured in this collection of episodes. An image of Cliff in front of a silhouetted image of the Land Team Turbo Terrain Fighter is also found inside the cardboard fold-out. Again, as with the previous Voltron cases, this is one impressive package design that will please any Voltron fan. Last, but not least, is the booklet with the episode summaries, which is also a nice touch.
Clean and simple, the main menus for each of the three discs are based on the Land Team theme. The disc menu uses the same image of Marvin’s All-Terrain Space Vehicle as the main menu background. The Voltron theme music loops in the background while the main menu is displayed. The menu options are along the right side of the screen and there were no transition delays switching between menus. The scene access submenu contains an image of the Air Team members on the left side of the screen while screen caps of the chapters are vertically arranged on the right. As with the main menu, a looping musical theme plays while the submenus are displayed.
The extras in this collection are really lacking. The only extra worth making note of is the full Kikou Kantai Dairugger XV episode 11: A Temporary Truce. This was a great teaser for things to come with those of us who are anxiously awaiting the Kikou Kantai Dairugger XV collection that is coming. This will definitely give you an eye opener to what Kikou Kantai Dairugger XV looks like. However, this episode was in the last collection, which means you have to switch discs and collections to compare it the Voltron version. The other downside to this is that this episode does not contain a lot of action sequences nor is there any action scenes involving Dairugger fully assembled. I think there could have been a better preview choice to insert here.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
The second collection of the three Vehicle Voltron collections is here. The plots and subplots that take place can make your head whirl or give you a headache in trying to figure out what is really going on. Being able to re-experience my all-time favorite childhood series has been a blast and watching Voltron has allowed me to revisit those first geeking-out moments. However, innocence is bliss, and innocence is what one needs to fall back to when watching this collection of Voltron.
You will find that there are some real gems in this collection, especially when the Drules take the fighting right to the heart of Galaxy Garrison. Some of the stand alone episodes are so-so and typically involve the investigation of a planet with a Drule trap. However, the visual glitches are prevalent in this collection. I’m not sure what direction the team that remastered and cleaned up this collection took (remaster for broadcast authenticity or for cleanup). This confusion is from some voiceovers during the assembly of Voltron and the three fighters that don’t match up well at all. In fact you will often hear the team leader call out for the assembly of a particular unit while the video shows the wrong unit assembly. There are a few other visual glitches as well as footage repetition time and time again. I assume the reused footage is there to remove the violent scenes, but they are a bit too much. It will be interesting to compare this series to Dairugger when it comes out.
In this collection, we find the Voltron Force and the Explorer on the run from the Drules, yet again. The common theme here, as always, is that Galaxy Garrison just can’t send enough supplies and support to help out the expedition. Oh, and there are planets to explore, but many of them have already been claimed by the Drules. Another common theme involves armada after armada of Drule ships continuing to fail in stopping the Explorer and Voltron. The repair of the Explorer is also a common theme that often revisited. Thankfully, Voltron is more dependable than the Explorer.
The first few episodes take on a different spin as the Drules take the war to main Galaxy Garrison space station. This presents a new experience for Voltron as the team cannot aid the space station. Frustration sets in with Jeff as he and Commander Hawkins have to watch the results unfold as they are too far away to render aid. The battles scenes are some of the best yet in the entire Voltron saga as the Drules lay waste to the Galaxy Garrison ships and the space station. After sacking the space station, the Drules head to Earth to destroy Galaxy Garrison headquarters. A counterattack is launched by the Galaxy Garrison forces along with the Explorer on a Drule Robeast factory where the ultimate sacrifice is made by Colonel Carver to save Voltron and the Explorer. Of course, the episode concludes with a statement that he safely escaped while crashing his ship in an obvious suicide run. The tears streaming down Jeff’s face tell another story.
Keeping up with the Galaxy Garrison command is pretty easy. You know that Space Marshall Graham and Commander Steele are in charge. Captain Newly is gunning to take the fight to the Drules while keeping his eye out on his former command, the Explorer. Colonel Cross is another Galaxy Garrison leader who like Colonel Carver who is trying to provide aid and support for the Voltron Force.
Keeping up with the Drules is a whole new ballgame, and it’s a bit hard. Commander Hazar is virtually non-existent until the latter part of the collection as he has been demoted and sent to command a Drule outpost on the outer rim of the Drule Empire along with his sister, Dorma. Hazar’s only loyal captain is Mongo, who eventually is exiled (or killed). Captain Nerok is all about kissing-up to whoever is in charge and throwing everything at the Galaxy Alliance. This is all supported by Hazar’s replacement, Commander Kezor. Kezor starts out as a brilliant tactician, but begins to lose grace because of the enormous losses from the battles against the Galaxy Alliance.
Little character development occurs in this collection. We learn more about Hazar and Dorma’s relationship and their quest for forming some kind of peace with the Galaxy Alliance. We also learn more about Chip’s relationship with Pidge, who pilots the Green Lion on planet Arus for the Lion Voltron team. There are other snippets scattered throughout the episodes that help you to further identify with some of the other Voltron team members. All the same, as I’ve stated before, the biggest weakness of the series lies in the huge cast, it’s really hard to identify with them.
The second Vehicle Voltron set takes the fight to the heart of the Galaxy Alliance. With Voltron so far away, the Galaxy Alliance has to fend for itself that provides some intense space battles. Without Voltron, the Galaxy Alliance must make sacrifices to push the Drules back. The Drule leadership is under duress as their failed attempts to destroy the Galaxy Alliance and Voltron takes its toll. With Commander Hazar in exile, one has to wonder when he is going to make a move at regaining his command and end the fighting. Technical glitches and reused footage aside, this collection will satisfy the nostalgically enthused fan from the 80’s. However, the series may be just a bit too choppy and outdated for the younger fan. As always, nostalgically recommended!
English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Previews for GoLion and Dairugger, Interviews with Crew
Hitachi 62VS69 62" UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080i