Welcome back to your daily cartoon on Car JoeMez! Before we get started, remember to check out the weekly podcast The Car JoeMez Podcast on iTunes, Soundcloud and other outlets where podcasts are gotten. Remember to like, subscribe and leave some positive reviews to help us build that listener base so we can keep doing fun little things like cartoon reviews and other projects. Like karate in the garage.
Now that the business is out of the way, we’re doing something a bit different today. Still a cartoon, but a much more modern one that what we’ve been watching. Last year, Netflix revived the Voltron franchise with a brand new series produced by DreamWorks. Voltron: Defender of the Universe was a huge deal when I was a kid. I remember having toys and RC robots, but when I think back, I don’t remember much of the actual show.
I do, however, remember being an angst-filled teen when Mighty Morphin Power Rangers came out and I was the douche yelling to anybody who would listen that it was just a Voltron rip-off. I was the kind of teen that would probably boo John Cena because I thought it was cool. Spoiler: it’s not cool and John Cena is the best.
I have legitimately never seen an episode of this new incarnation so this will be a brand new viewing through fair and balanced eyes. I’m actually looking forward to this. All episodes seem to be the normal 22-23 minutes except for the premiere which has a run time of 68 minutes. What that means is that this review will probably get a little lengthy. And seeing as how most of my reviews run around 1,200 words for a 22 minute episode, this has every possibility to get out of control. But if I’m going to watch a show I’ve never seen, why not start at the beginning and seeing if it’s worth continuing.
Now that we’ve burned over 300 words just introducing this, let’s get to the cartoon!
Voltron: Legendary Defender: S.1, E.1: “The Rise of Voltron”
Originally Released: June 10, 2016
Three space explorers are on an expedition to one of Pluto’s moons trying to find evidence of intergalactic life when they are attacked and captured by the evil Galra empire. The three are referred to as “primitive scientists” and are thrown into the Galra’s prisons.
We cut to one year later where three students (Lance, Hunk and Pidge) at Galaxy Garrison – a school to train space pilots and engineers – completely bomb a simulator rescue mission. Lance, the pilot, is reprimanded and told that he’s only in the class because a better pilot was kicked out of the program which opened a spot for him.
After curfew, Lance decides to build some team camaraderie by sneaking out with Hunk and Pidge. Pidge, however, is found outside with some fancy computer equipment scanning the airwaves trying to find messages and information having to do with the lost space exploration crew from a year ago.
While they’re out there, an alien spacecraft comes hurtling down and crashes. The school’s security immediately cordons it off and it turns out that the person on board is Shiro, one of the lost explorers. He is talking about alien invasions and that they’re in great danger, but everybody just thinks he’s crazy.
The three kids are trying to figure out a way to run down and rescue Shiro who is apparently a famous explorer when another kid is shown causing a distraction and sneaking in to do the same. This turns out to be Keith who Lance considers his rival and is the pilot who dropped out of the Garrison that opened a spot for Lance.
Together, the four kids rescue Shiro and escape. Shiro struggles to remember the details of the past year, but Keith fills him in on some energy source he’s been studying. The word “Voltron”keeps coming up in Shiro’s head and Pidge’s research and they all agree that it’s a weapon they need to find before the Galra does.
This is a good time to take a Zack Morris timeout.
OK, so Shiro is this renown space guy and, basically, he gets kidnapped by four kids and he’s all just, “Whoa, thanks for saving my bacon back there”??? If I was Shiro, I’d be like, “Where the fuck are your parents?” or “Why aren’t you in school?” or even better, “Where the white women at?”
But whatever. Nobody cares about what I would do.
OK. Time in.
They new fivesome goes to a cave that Keith’s been finding at the heart of the energy source he’s been tracking.There’s carvings of lions on all the walls, but when Lance presses his hand against them, they activate. A tunnel opens that drags the group to the bowels of the cave and it’s there that they find their first lion.
The blue lion basically goes on auto pilot and heads into space where it is immediately met by an alien ship. The same alien ship that captured Shiro a year ago. The aliens chase the lion until a mysterious wormhole opens and takes the lion in then closes before the aliens can continue following.
The lion leads them to planet Altea which nobody knows of and touches down at a castle. The cautiously scan the castle until finding a control room where they are met by Princes Allura and Coran, her royal adviser, who have been in suspended animation for 10,000 years. Allura tells the story of how her father, King Alfor and his kingdom, was overtaken by Emperor Zarkon and the Galra. To keep the power of Voltron out of Zarkon’s hands, Alfor had hidden the five lions that form Voltron all around the solar system.
OK, despite some early convenience and silliness, I’m fucking with this now.
The group immediately concludes that Zarkon will come know that he knows the blue lion has been unearthed. Allura says that the lion picks its pilot. Kind of like how the wand picks the wizard in Harry Potter. Despite not having met any of the rest of the lions, Allura basically assigns a lion to each of our new heroes. Lance keeps the blue, Pidge gets green, Hunk yellow, Keith red and Shiro the leader will get black. The group splits and goes hunting for the other lions since Allura had what amounts to lion lo-jack installed in her brain by her father before he was killed.
To save time, the crew finds the green and yellow lions easy enough, but the red lion is being held on a Galra ship. Obviously, our gang heads to said ship to free the red lion, but things become more complex when Pidge reveals that his father and brother were also on the expedition with Shiro a year ago and could still be held captive on the ship.
Keith is able to take control of the red lion while Shiro and Pidge free whatever prisoners they can find, but no sign of Pidge’s father or brother. This seems like something that will play out for a while. On the bright side, gaining control of the red lion now allows them to gain access to the black lion which is held locked in Princess Allura’s castle until all of the other lions could be found.
With control of all the lions, our palladins try to form Voltron to thwart the attacks on Altea by the Galra. There’s just one problem: they have no fucking idea how to do so. Just when it looks as if their inexperience will cost them everything, Shiro gives an inspirational speech and the lions take control to form the ultimate weapon: Voltron, defender of the universe.
With the power of Voltron unleashed, the palladins are able to destroy the Galra and send them packing. While a great victory, this is just the beginning of a great war to be had. Many more action-packed adventures are to come.
I’m often critical of newer style animation because I think it looks too computer-generated, but this show walks a nice line with its smooth animation and coloring. The overall look and feel of this production were terrific and I was happy to see that.
As for the story, I’m really, really impressed. OK sure, near the beginning when they’re setting things up, some meetings or moments are just too convenient, but they don’t bog down or draw anything away from where we’re going. It’s silly, it happens and we move on and forget about it.
By the time we meet Princess Allura on Altea, I was completely invested in the show and – while I took for granted that they’d eventually form Voltron and win the day – still had a feeling of tenseness as things were looking bleak for our heroes.
All in all, I absolutely loved this debut episode for the updated series and will definitely be watching the rest of it as my busy, busy schedule allows. Like I said earlier, this is a Netflix series and there’s actually two seasons available now for your viewing enjoyment.
If you were a fan of the original, I see no reason that you wouldn’t be into this re-make and if you’ve got youngsters who are unfamiliar with the previous iterations or maybe even are unfamiliar yourself, this was a definite score for a first episode. Go check it out and have some fun like I did.