Sea Team unite…
What They Say
Jeff and the Voltron Force find themselves in a very different world from when they started. Their arch-enemy, Hazar, has been imprisoned by Drule High Command. The remaining Drule forces are split in a civil war, and their home planet is about to explode! Hawkins and the Galaxy Alliance try to negotiate as Voltron is slammed with attack after attack from the desperate Drules. Their mission is to rescue the Drule people and save them from self destruction. But how can the Voltron force save the day while under fire from the very civilization they are struggling to save?
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 sea-blue cardboard case features a nicely rendered image of Cric’s submarine that becomes the main linkage for the Aqua Fighter and Voltron’s torso. The back of the box features Cric in his full Space Explorer uniform with a silhouetted image of the Sea Team’s Aqua Fighter.
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 Sea Team. Folded, the disc holder features a nicely rendered group image of the Sea Team members. This candid image does a good job of reflecting each team member’s personalities. There obviously was some thought put into this image as was with the previous collections. On the back side is an image of Hazar, who is holding out his hand as if to reach to Cric, who is on the other side. Obviously this is a gesture at Hazar’s attempts toward peace between the Galaxy Alliance and the Drule Empire. As with the previous collections, an image of Cric in front of a silhouetted image of the Aqua 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.
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 Cric’s submarine 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 are pretty much nonexistent in this collection. You have a smattering of previews on the last disc and that’s it. Overall, this is pretty disappointing. I was hoping that there would be some extras here as the second collection was pretty much lacking.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
All good things must come to an end, just like Voltron did nearly 25 years ago. The final collection brings about mixed emotions for me as it was a lot of fun to revisit an old friend, but it revealed that Voltron wasn’t quite as awesome as it used to be. Don’t get me wrong, Voltron is a classic that will forever hold a place in my heart as one of my all time favorite shows. As you get older, you tend to notice the small things that you don’t necessarily see as kid. And as a reviewer, you become a bit more critical of things as well.
The last collection left us with a lot of seesaw battles between the Galaxy Alliance and the Drule Empire. Heavy losses were suffered on both sides. The Galaxy Alliance, still trying to extend the olive branch of peace, continually has its hand bitten by the conniving Drule military. A few members of the Drule military, along with Hazar and his sister Dorma, are trying their best to put a stop to the constant fighting and bickering. This sentiment is resonated with the people of Drule who are now living below the surface of the planet. Planet Drule is on the brink of destruction as its inner planetary core is about to erupt.
The Explorer and the Voltron Force are making their way toward the Drule homeworld. This is not an easy task as Commander Kezor orders his forces to stop the Galaxy Alliance’s movements. Like the last two collections, we witness the typical Drule attacks where everyone defies Commander Hazar’s leadership in attempt to take on the Voltron force. It makes you wonder why Hazar has any leadership within the Drule Empire. But, if you know how Voltron was adapted from Kikou Kantai Dairugger XV, then you won’t have any trouble deciphering why the script writers for Voltron did what they did. This will make things be very interesting to compare when Kikou Kantai Dairugger XV comes out this next year. It also makes you wonder what happened to all of those Drule commanders who kind of just disappeared like Quark and Nerok.
Space battles aplenty along with some great Voltron finishing moves will keep you interested and cheering on those blazing sword finish moves. However, you will find that there is little character development other than what you will find at the conclusion of the series. On a high note, you will find that the series ends with a satisfying conclusion, unlike the Lion Voltron series.
As expected, the final episodes of the series culminate with Commander Kezor and his lackeys running with their tails between their legs as the Galaxy Alliance comes to the aid of the Drule homeworld. The Drule military, having thrown everything at the Galaxy Alliance, leave the citizens of the Drule homeworld with nothing in which to safely evacuate. The Drule resistance and Commander Hazar formulate a plan with Commander Hawkins to evacuate. The evacuation effort does not go without complications as the planet starts to implode from within. As the Explorer pulls away, Planet Drule’s demise is absolute as a long destruction sequence takes place. With the evacuee’s safely aboard, the Galaxy Alliance begins to travel to an unsettled planet. This planet will become a new home for the new Planet Drules.
Reflecting upon this series, I have found a new appreciation for Vehicle Voltron. Lion Voltron will forever hold its place as the more popular and should rightfully so. However, the story found in Vehicle Voltron appeals to me more now than it did as a kid. Yes, there are plot holes, voiceover errors, repeating loops of animation, too many characters, and awkward role switches in this series. To focus on them is not necessary as this is a piece of anime history that should be preserved as-is. To fully appreciate this series, one should pair it up with Kikou Kantai Dairugger XV when it comes out. I am sure that Kikou Kantai Dairugger XV will reveal why it was modified for a stringent viewing population with more stringent television rules back in the hey days of the early 1980’s.
The final collection for Vehicle Voltron ends on a positive note. A storyline that culminates with a proper and satisfying ending is the strength of this series. Errors aside, Vehicle Voltron is still an enjoyable series to watch, even though it can be a bit dull and repetitive. A stroll down memory lane makes you appreciate how far anime has come from its earlier stints in the United States. I for one am appreciative to be able to review all of the Voltron collections. With their flaws I still feel a bit like a kid again as I watched those combining sequences and those great blazing sword finish moves. Revisiting my animated hero’s from the past was a blast. And revisiting those child-like experiences once more makes life all the more richer! As always, nostalgically recommended!
English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Hitachi 62VS69 62" UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080i