It has been a week since this series was released on Netflix, and I could not have been happier to sit down at dawn on Sunday morning to binge-watch all 11 episodes.
This is my First Impression of Voltron: Legendary Defender. It is spoiler free, as I merely express what I liked best in general, and why I think you should watch this series. Starting next week, as an exercise, I will be embarking on a per-episode review.
I had high expectations by the mere fact that Joaquim Dos Santos and Laura Montgomery, two of the minds behind Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra is in as executive producer, and most (if not all) of the creative team behind the two well-loved series are in for this reboot of Voltron: Defenders of the Universe.
Granted, I do not remember much of what I have seen when I was a kid. All I remember was that Keith had the distinction of being my first fictional crush, closely followed by Jeff from Voltron: Vehicle Force. However, I do fondly remember cheering for Team Voltron every episode, and it was a joy to have the Paladins come together to “Form Voltron!” and form whatever weapon they need to save the day!
I came in both with minimal expectations, yet high hopes — and I was not disappointed!
Dos Santos, in interviews, mentioned that Voltron: Legendary Defender (hereby abbreviated to “V:LG”) had to pass the “squint test”, and as far as I was concerned, it did — very successfully! While I do not have a clear memory of Lance, I do remember Keith and his mullet, Pidge and his glasses, Hunk and his appetite, and Princess Allura and her no-nonsense elegance. Sven was also vague in my memory (until I learned that he actually died — as far as the jigsaw puzzle of a series I watched back in the 80’s was concerted), so seeing Shiro (and oh SHIRO *hearteyes emoji*) was refreshing. I recognized the characters that I have known and loved, and yet, I have enough space in my mind and heart to welcome these reincarnations.
With all of the series available nowadays, I cannot feasibly watch all of them, specially if I find halfway through that it may not be worth my time; and so I have come to what I call a “three-episode test”: the first three episodes should give me a solid idea of what’s going on, and something to sink my teeth into (ie. give me a reason to watch an entire season).
It was therefore a good move by V:LG to have the pilot run at a robust 1 hour and 20 minutes — longer than three episodes combined. It was enough for us to get to know the main cast, and to give us a reason to care about them and what they’re all about.
What I love best about this latest treatment is that it did not try to pick up from what the English-language audience have been exposed to in 1984, or try to just give it a fancy makeover; it also did not try to take the original Japanese series and give it a face lift. This is a labor of love, and you know that this show is made by fans, for fans.
It took the main plot points of the old series, married it with the best out of nostalgia, and packaged it with sleek and smooth animation and abundant energy. There is enough of visual throwback to let you know that you are watching Voltron, there is enough of the visual and writing style to let you know that you are in the good hands of the people behind Avatar and Korra. And yet, it looks and feels fresh enough not to alienate a new audience.
What I also love about V:LG is that it is presented as a complete arc. We are no longer stuck with the Baddie Of The Week formula. When Voltron is formed, it is A Big Deal, and it matters to the plot and the growth of the team. Not all challenges are overcome by the giant robot (ie. brute force, or just military cunning), but by each character facing their personal fears and apprehensions towards working as a team.
My only gripe about the series (gasp!) is that…
I NEED MORE. I did say we have a complete arc, but saying that it is leaving room for more is the understatement of the year.
Just to let y’all know, I cried at the end of the pilot. I very sorely needed a story where characters overcome their personal challenges, and grow to hurdle obstacles bigger than themselves as a team, and V:LG delivered everything, wrapped in beautiful, solid animation.
All in all, I am very happy that a well-loved series is in good hands, and I am excited to see more of how the story unravels, and how each character evolves on their own and as a team. I highly recommend this to anyone who appreciates a solid story with characters set on a journey we can still relate to, despite the fantastical sci-fi setting — then again, the fantasy sci-fi aspect might as well be cherry on an otherwise fabulous cake! If you loved Korra, you will love Voltron: Legendary Defender. This definitely warrants a rewatch and when the future seasons come out, I am sure they are worth the wait.
I’m sorry for the two-week absence! I was down with a bad cough, but I have now sufficiently recovered! Regular Tuesday posts and Faithful Fridays resume this week. 😀