Voltron: Legendary Defender [Netflix]

Tetra Seleno

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Continuing their recent trend of rebooting / reviving cultural properties from the '80s and '90s, last week Netflix launched the latest revival of the Voltron franchise -- Voltron: Legendary Defender.

Unlike previous attempts to revive the franchise (i.e., Voltron: The 3rd Dimension, Voltron Force), the Netflix series is a straight-up reboot rather than a loose sequel to the classic series. Best of all, some of the creative personnel involved with it are alumni of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, which shows in the art style and animation.

I finished watching the first season last night. As a Mass Effect fan, I dig the aesthetic and music in the new series. The animation is pretty gorgeous. The voice acting is top notch, featuring Josh Keaton (The Spectacular Spider-Man), Jeremy Shada (Adventure Time), and Kimberly Brooks (Mass Effect). I really like the reboot's modernization of Lance, Hunk, Pidge, and Allura, although I've seen too many giant mecha anime to be impressed by what the reboot is doing with Keith's character.

I also really liked how serialized the season was. It was a relief to see that the team did not have to form Voltron in every episode (it's a pretty long transformation sequence).

One final note worth mentioning is that Digimon alumnus Neil Kaplan (Hawkmon, Lord Bagra) voices the reboot's version of Zarkon.

Anyone else take the time to watch this series yet? Share what you think in comments below!
 

Sabrblade

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Arguably the first and only Voltron cartoon to be universally good on nearly every front. Writing, acting, storytelling, directing, animation, music, action, drama, comedy, violence, development (what little we got out of 11-13 episodes of a still-incomplete story)... all of them really knocked it out of the ballpark.
 

MarcFBR

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Honestly, I found the thing largely terrible.

The characters had pretty lousy personalities, which often shifted.

The show makes various choices to do things for no reason other than 'well Go-Lion did them!' when Go-Lion is pretty terrible.

The handful of interesting things the show does are all thrown out or ignored once it's done with them.


The pace, for a serialized show, is HORRIBLE. Especially when you realize not much really happens storywise in season 1.


I'm glad people are enjoying it, but I found it pretty terrible and rather superficial in it's attempt to tell a serialized story. And I'm not pleased with the shitty marketing that keeps trying to say it's not a reboot, it's a 're-imagining' or about how 'this is the Voltron show you REMEMBER from being a kid.' Or trying to call Voltron fans 'Brotrons'


I found it from almost top to bottom junk, minus most of the voice acting. At my absolute nicest I'd give it a C+.
 

Sabrblade

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And I'm not pleased with the shitty marketing that keeps trying to say it's not a reboot, it's a 're-imagining' or about how 'this is the Voltron show you REMEMBER from being a kid.' Or trying to call Voltron fans 'Brotrons'
...I am so glad I somehow (inadvertently) managed to completely miss all of that marketing because all of that sounds completely awful.
 

MarcFBR

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And I'm not pleased with the shitty marketing that keeps trying to say it's not a reboot, it's a 're-imagining' or about how 'this is the Voltron show you REMEMBER from being a kid.' Or trying to call Voltron fans 'Brotrons'
...I am so glad I somehow (inadvertently) managed to completely miss all of that marketing because all of that sounds completely awful.
When I first saw images and designs things looked good.

Then I saw clips and it seemed 'fine'

Then interviews with the higher ups working on the show started and reading them made me go "I'm not sure these people want to make a Voltron series... but maybe I'm just misunderstanding them."


Then I saw the show (and even discussed it with a friend) and just hated it.

The voicework is by and large good.
There is no real issues with the animation (although the shading feels sort of flatter than you'd normally go with for this type of thing.)


But the actual writing and plot I just found utterly horrible.


The best thing I can say about it... It's better than the official Voltron comic where Zarkon used to work for Obama and he built Voltron.
 

Tetra Seleno

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The best thing I can say about it... It's better than the official Voltron comic where Zarkon used to work for Obama and he built Voltron.
lol what. I need to see this comic.

Marc, I definitely agree with you that the new series has some major pacing issues. The insertion of breather episodes like "Taking Flight" or "Crystal Venom" felt really out of place in relation to what the story arc or objective was at the moment. To elaborate more, those episodes felt like the writers decided they needed to use all the tropes involved with those plots at some point during the first season, just because why not?

I didn't hate it though. When you're talking about writing, are you referring specifically to things like dialogue, or is that term inclusive of other characterization, pacing, and conflict tropes / devices that are happening backstage?
 

MarcFBR

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I didn't hate it though. When you're talking about writing, are you referring specifically to things like dialogue, or is that term inclusive of other characterization, pacing, and conflict tropes / devices that are happening backstage?
Various bits.

Dialogue often GRINDS TO A HALT for Lance to make a joke, be a skeeve, or for Hunk to comment on something.

Characterization at times swaps around a bit. Lance seems to have 3 or 4 different characterizations that pop up almost at random. They can't decide if Keith is loyal but hotheaded, or rebellious. Allura they seem to bounce around on what her personality actually is in such a way that it's hard to get an actual handle on how she's acting and why (they say it's an act in one episode, but other episodes don't seem to agree with this.)

I'm not directly commenting on the 'big' spoilery thing for one character because some people might not have seen. But if you erased out the reveal elements in the first episode, it's never brought up or mentioned again in any fashion despite being a rather interesting character change for the new series. But they just handwave it off and it's never mentioned again.

The first launch scene was kind of screwed up so they could screw around with Hunk multiple times.

And of course... the number of times things just 'happen' with no explanation, or no suggestion of them prior (a handful of times it felt like parts of scenes were removed.) As a more obvious one... unless I missed it... how did Shiro get to the black lion in the last episode to help Keith? It's possible I missed some dialogue or something that explained it, but it seemed like in 5 seconds Shiro jumped across that entire space station, and got outside, and launched the lion... all without Keith or Zarkon noticing.



I just found the writing half baked. It felt like some extra passes on the script were skipped.


And that's not even the fact that honestly... I just found most of it boring.
 

wildwing64

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I dig giant robots. I also dig a certain live action series that is endlessly compared to the old version of this. So I might check this out, assuming it's available on UK Netflix as there's no nostalgic audience for Voltron here to begin with.
 
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Tsurugi

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Should be on the UK Netflix, since I saw a trailer for it on the Irish one before the series premiered.
I've seen the first few episodes, and from what I saw, I liked it. I haven't seen it all, but on the subject of stuff that's brought up and not mentioned again, keep in mind it's only the first season, how do we know said stuff's not going to be used for setup/addressed in the 2nd season? Short answer, obviously, we don't know. We also don't know if it'll be picked up for one either(unless there was some announcement I'm unaware of), so for now all we can do is wait.
 

Unknown Neo

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Oh yeah. I saw this. It was alright. I sort of missed the combining phrase but it's still better then 3rd Dimension. And better then Force, but the problem with that is if you're going to replace more then one, replace all of them. I did like the form changes though.
 

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Should be on the UK Netflix, since I saw a trailer for it on the Irish one before the series premiered.
I've seen the first few episodes, and from what I saw, I liked it. I haven't seen it all, but on the subject of stuff that's brought up and not mentioned again, keep in mind it's only the first season, how do we know said stuff's not going to be used for setup/addressed in the 2nd season? Short answer, obviously, we don't know. We also don't know if it'll be picked up for one either(unless there was some announcement I'm unaware of), so for now all we can do is wait.
Because it's an entire season.

Whether stuff shows up in the 'future' or not, you never know what may happen to production, nor does the production crew (even if they were guaranteed a season 2, stuff could always change that.)

If a single season can't stand alone, then there is an issue in the writing.

It isn't like season 1 moved things along while suggesting or showing 'more'

Season 1 ended in the middle of the plot it setup for season 1. It's plotted poorly.
 

Tsurugi

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Okay, fair enough. Makes me wonder if this series had 26 episodes planned for the 1st season, but could only produce half that. Stupid as it sounds, that's what it seems like to me from what you're saying.
 

MarcFBR

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Okay, fair enough. Makes me wonder if this series had 26 episodes planned for the 1st season, but could only produce half that. Stupid as it sounds, that's what it seems like to me from what you're saying.
It very well may have.

But you gotta judge what's on the screen.

And season 1 ends without telling you much of anything. In a show advertised as a serial, to end a season with no real details you didn't have in episode 3 or 4, just isn't acceptable storytelling.
 

Tsurugi

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Sorry if it's too late to revive this thread, but with Season 2 released a few months back and a supposedly confirmed 3rd season on the way, I felt there's room for more discussion. So to anyone who's seen Season 2, what are your thoughts? Did it clear up all loose ends from season 1? Was it better or worse than the previous season in your eyes? Leave your thoughts and let's get this discussion going.
 

MarcFBR

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It's always alright to bump when there is something relevant to discuss.


They've sort of retroactively declared it season 2...

Originally it was declared season 1 would have 2 halves, with a short break inbetween, and later they just made it season 2 (so it appears from here forward they are producing every 'production' season as 2 short seasons?)

It was actually info from the New York Toy Fair from Playmates as I recall (they are doing the toys for Legendary Defender.)


4 more of the short seasons are coming (6 total.) Netflix has committed thru 78 episodes. Of course, they could always end up ordering more also.


I feel like season 2 didn't really fix the shortcomings I had with it in general to be honest.

I keep watching it because I WANT to like it, but overall I find it C-grade at best.


Oddly, despite me 'not' really loving it, I do recommend it.


Anyone still with it beyond me and Tsurugi?
 

Tetra Seleno

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Thanks for reviving the thread, Tsurugi! I'm about.... halfway through the second season? I think I just finished the Blade of Marmora episode and then the next episode when Hunk and Keith are trapped in the space monster?

I'm not progressing through the season at the same clip as I did the first because I feel more cognizant of a lot of the criticisms that Marc has spoken of in this series. I mean, the episodes where they're trying to figure out how Zarkon keeps finding them felt like dragging out that plot line unnecessarily.

I keep getting distracted by The People vs. O.J. Simpson and Orange is the New Black, but I can make finishing the season a priority to have more discussion.
 

wildwing64

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I once slogged through the first four episodes of the original Voltron. To be blunt: I hated it.

More recently I saw the hour long first episode of Legendary Defender. I definitely spotted some nods to the 80's incarnation but overall, it was much more enjoyable. Not quite to the point where I wanted to watch more of it, but with it getting this much of a positive response I might check it out some more.
 

CoDL

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I've finished season two and I really enjoy it. I have never seen the original so there's no nostalgia or anything for me to compare it to so I'm probably not going to be super critical of it for that. I do agree with Tetra about the "how does Zarkon keep finding us?" episodes were a little dragged out.
 

Tsurugi

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Anyone else catch all the anime references for their disguises in the Space Mall episode? I caught the obvious ones like Tai's goggles on Lance, Saiyan armour on Keith, Kamina glasses on Pidge, and Hunk wearing Casey Jones-like hockey gear, but I don't think that's all of them.
 
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