Voltron is a series of animated television programs, the first of which was titled Voltron: Defender of the Universe. There has since been a second series, made in the 1990s using CGI techniques. The 1980s Voltron series was based on two vaguely-related Japanese anime series GoLion and Dairugger XV (both originally produced by Toei Animation & Bandai. The anime was later dubbed into English and edited by the North American television production and distribution company World Events Productions. The adaptation was not a straight dub, however--as much violence as possible was removed from the original Japanese series.
Lion Force Voltron (Voltron of the Far Universe)
The first episodes were based on the 1981 series , and they featured a team of five (six when later Princess Allura replaced Sven) young pilots
commanding five robot lions
, which could be combined to form Voltron. In this undefined future era, the Voltron Force was in charge of protecting the planet
Arus (ruled by Princess Allura) from the evil King Zarkon (from planet Doom), his son Lotor, and the witch Haggar, who would create huge Robeasts to terrorize the people of Arus. Despite being the first of the two robots to appear on American television, the "GoLion" version of Voltron was regarded as "Voltron III
" within the toyline because, within the original planned "three-Voltron" continuity, Arus was the furthest setting from Earth's side of the universe ("Voltron I
" being intended for the Near Universe, and "Voltron II
" for the Middle Universe).
Vehicle Voltron (Voltron of the Near Universe)
Later episodes were based on the 1982 series , and they changed the storyline considerably. In this iteration of Voltron, the Galaxy Alliance's home planets have become overcrowded, and a fleet of explorers has been sent to search for new planets to colonize. Along the way, they attract the attention of the evil Drule Empire, long engaged in an ongoing war against the Alliance, and the Drules proceed to interfere in the mission of the explorers and the colonists. Since the Voltron of Planet Arus was too far away to help the explorers, a totally new Voltron is constructed to battle the Drule threat.
This Voltron team consisted of 15 members, who were divided into three teams of five, known respectively as the Land, Sea, and Air Teams. Each team was specialized in gathering data or fighting in their area of expertise. Each team could also combine their vehicles into a bigger machine, with each combined vehicle differing amongst the three teams. These fighters were:
- The Aqua Fighter (Sea Team)
- The Turbo Terrain Fighter (Land Team)
- The Strato Fighter (Air Team)
When necessary, all 15 vehicles combine to form the mighty Voltron. This Voltron in the toyline was referred to as Voltron I (also called the Vehicle Team), possibly due to it being closer to Earth than the more popular Voltron III (or Lion Force Voltron).
According to the backstory provided by World Events Productions, the Vehicle Voltron was constructed after consultations by the Galaxy Alliance with Planet Arus's King Alfor before his death, with the new Voltron's designs retrofitted in part from the original, much older, Lion Voltron schematics. However, in the continuity of the recent comic by Image and Devil's Due Publishing, the Vehicle Voltron came about through the capture and study of the original Voltron on Arus by forces from Earth itself. Thus, while machines cannot truly be cloned, this new Voltron could be considered an imperfect clone of the original Lion Voltron. The machine was referred to in one issue as V-15, and was actually attacked by the Lion Voltron in order to repair itself. Unlike the animated series, which only had two crossovers with the Lion Force (once at the end of the Lion Force run, and the other in the "Fleet of Doom" special, which brought both Voltrons together), and which depicted the two Voltron Forces as being longstanding friends, the comics showed Keith and Jeff as having an antagonistic relationship with one another, particularly with regard to the Lion Voltron's supposed "sneak attack" on the Vehicle Voltron.
- Voltron: Fleet of Doom — In 1986, World Events had Toei Animation produce some additional footage to create this crossover television special, which had entirely new animation, containing very little recycled GoLion and Dairugger footage. Made for the international markets, this special has not been released in Japan.
- Voltron: The Third Dimension — After some initial interest, a computer-generated series was released in 1998 (set five years after the end of the original Lion Voltron series) to a mixed response, because of its departure from the original Lion Voltron's anime look, as well as some character changes (such as the physical appearance of Prince Lotor, now voiced by Tim Curry, taking over the role originally voiced by Lennie Weinrib). It served as a sequel to the Lion Voltron series, and among the tools used to bridge the gap was an official starmap as designed by Shannon Muir, and finalized in partnership with World Events Productions. After Voltron: The Third Dimension, World Events Productions went back to the drawing board to develop a more traditionally animated series, in an attempt to recapture the spirit of the original.
- Voltron: Defender of the Universe — Producer Mark Gordon (Grey's Anatomy, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) is developing a Voltron movie. In July 2005, producer Mark Gordon announced a collaboration with producer Pharrell Williams as well as producers Mark Costa and Frank Oelman to make a live-action film adaptation of the franchise. Pharrell Williams was also reported to score the film. The project's development was funded by Jim Young's Animus Films. In December 2006, screenwriter Justin Marks was announced to have completed a script for Gordon. In August 2007, the production entity New Regency entered negotiations with Mark Gordon Co. to adapt Voltron. Interest in the property heightened after the box office success of Transformers, another film involving robots. Marks's script was described as "a post-apocalyptic tale set in New York City... [in which] five ragtag survivors of an alien attack band together and end up piloting the five lion-shaped robots that combine and form the massive sword-wielding Voltron that helps battle Earth's invaders." On August 18, 2008, Relativity Media entered negotiations with New Regency to finance and produce the film, though on a more moderate budget, utilizing cost-saving CGI techniques such as those used in 300. Max Makowski is set to direct. As of the end of August 2008, the title had been set for "Voltron: Defender of the Universe".
- Interactive Voltron Series — A new animated series originally slated to be released in the fall of 2005, it was set to be produced by Kickstart Productions, with Tom Pugsley and Greg Kline writing the episodes. It has yet to debut, as 2005 has passed.
In Australia, DVDs of all episodes of Voltron
have been released by Madman Entertainment
. The original series was released in five volumes between August 2004 and July 2005, under the name "Voltron: Defender of the Universe
". Each box is in the color and style of one of the lions. Another three volumes of "Vehicle Force Voltron
" were released between August and December 2005. Additionally a "Best of" 2-DVD set was released in November 2006 featuring five episodes from each series.
In Region 1, Voltron is being released on DVD in its original broadcast form by New York–based distributor Media Blasters. Lion Force Voltron was released in 5 volumes between September 2006 and December 2007. The volumes contain about 15 episodes each, along with special features such as documentaries featuring interviews with producer and director Franklin Cofod, and various others involved in the original and current productions. The first volume of Vehicle Force Voltron was scheduled for release on September 30, 2008 as Volume 6.
Additionally, the Fleet of Doom special was released on DVD early in 2007, as an online Voltron.com exclusive. Fleet of Doom was a special crossover film where the Vehicle and Lion Voltrons joined forces to defeat the "Fleet of Doom" (Galra and Drule Empires). The special was originally released in 1986, but was never released in Japan.
Media Blasters also plans to release the two Japanese shows that made up Voltron — Hundred Beast King FiveLion (GoLion), and Armored Fleet Dairugger XV — each in their original, unedited Japanese form, with English subtitles. Volume 1 of Golion was released on May 27, 2008, and Volume 2 was released on August 12, 2008. Release dates for Dairugger XV and the remaining GoLion episodes have not yet been announced.
|| Region 1|
| Region 4|
| Volume 1, Lion Force (Blue Lion cover)
|| September 26, 2006
|| April 13, 2005 |
| Volume 2, Lion Force (Yellow Lion cover)
|| December 19, 2006
|| July 20, 2005 |
| Volume 3, Lion Force (Green Lion cover)
|| May 8, 2007
|| February 23, 2005 |
| Volume 4, Lion Force (Red Lion cover)
|| September 25, 2007
|| November 19, 2004 |
| Volume 5, Lion Force (Black Lion cover)
|| December 11, 2007
|| September 22, 2004 |
| Volume 6, Vehicle Force (Air Team cover)
|| September 30, 2008
| Volume 7, Vehicle Force (Sea Team cover)
|| December 23, 2008
| Volume 8, Vehicle Force (Land Team cover)
|| TBA, 2009
In 1985, Modern Comics, an imprint of Charlton Comics
, produced a three-issue mini-series based on the Lion Voltron television show.
Voltron, in the comic book series published by Devil's Due, was originally a unified machine intelligence, since it was created by sorcerers and scientists, therefore having hands and feet making him look like a knight. Voltron was tricked by Haggar into landing on a black comet with nearly the gravitational attraction of a singularity. This comet was either a reference to, or actually was, the Omega Comet from the anime, which had identical properties, and which appeared in the TV show. Voltron was then attacked by Haggar, and somehow blown into five pieces. They became the five "lions." (Much of this was presented in the "History of Voltron" back-up stories written by Mark Waid, which were ended early due to the cancellation of the series.)
Lion Voltron recently was temporarily revived in print through a hit comic book series from Devil's Due Publishing, under the imprint of Image Comics. After a five-issue mini-series (with a preview issue #0 from Dreamwave), Devil's Due Publishing began to self-publish Voltron as Vol. 2 of the series. The series lasted another eleven issues, as well as two trade paperbacks collecting Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 Issues #1-5. The line was placed on hiatus in 2005, due to poor sales and lack of public interest. At this time, Devil's Due does still retain the rights to publish comics using the likeness of Voltron.
A recent announcement from Devil's Due reveals that every issue of their two series will be collected into an Omnibus book to be released in January 2008. This volume will also contain the first printing of the 12th and final issue of the series, which will bring all storylines to a close.
A Legend Forged
In July, 2008, a new 5 issue mini-series was released by Devil's Due. This series continues, in some ways, where the previous series left off. This series will further explore the origin of Lion Voltron, from 1,2000 years in the past to the future.
Changes from the Japanese version
Though airing in syndication, which offered other anime shows such as Robotech greater freedom to deal with subject matter such as death that were off-limits in most network children's programming, WEP's adaptation of Voltron was heavily edited to conform to the more strict standards of American television
, as well as the standard name change of characters and concepts in Golion.
- Both shows begin with the five pilots as pilots sent by the Galaxy Alliance, whose space-exploration mission takes them to a planet devastated by war. In Voltron, the pilots arrive on Arus, and are captured and taken to Planet Doom. They then escape and return to Arus, and become the pilots of the robot lions and Voltron. In GoLion, the initial scenes are actually of Earth, as the pilots have returned from their mission in the year 1999 to find that the entire population of Earth has been killed in a nuclear war. They are then captured and taken to Planet Galra, where the plot proceeds similarly.
- Zarkon's soldiers were referred to as robots as opposed to alien soldiers. Also, crews of space ships that were destroyed were often either said to have been evacuated prior or referred to as robot-ships in order to lessen the impact of their deaths.
- It was a goddess, not Haggar, that split up GoLion due to his arrogance (GoLion is supposedly sentient, although this was subtly discarded in the series).
- Shots of shooting/explicit torture (e.g., whipping) prisoners/civilians/slaves, and some shots of corpses were removed.
- Voltron 's "Queen Merla" arc never existed in the original Japanese run, and was created by Toei at the request of World Events Productions. The Japanese GoLion series ended with the destruction of the giant Daibarzaal (Zarkon) Beast Fighter, which killed him.
- Manabu (Jeff) has a serious relationship with Haruka (Lisa).
- Chip was never Pidge's brother.
- All the Galaxy Alliance officers a given episode focused on were killed, unless it was explicitly shown they survived (i.e., they are in succeeding episodes); likewise, this is also the condition for Drule officers and leaders.
- The Voltron series starts with the Drules and the Galaxy Alliance having tense relations, with the Drules attacking the Explorer, on the grounds it violated their space. In the Japanese series, both powers were unaware of each other, and there was no overcrowding within the Alliance; the Explorer is merely an exploratory vessel, and the Drules are stretching their power, not looking for a new world. It is by fate that they meet, and that Dairugger XV is given a new mission.
- Emperor Zeppo was killed in Dairugger XV. Also, Hazar died a martyr's death, and his body destroyed along with the Drule homeworld.
- Original Story: Saburo Hatte
- Director: Kazushi Nomura, Kazuyuki Okaseko, Hiroshi Sasagawa, Katsuhiko Taguchi
- Scenarists: Ryo Nakahara, Masaaki Sakurai, Susumu Takahisa
- Music: Asei Kobayashi
- Theme Song Performance (Golion): Ichirou Mizuki (OP- Tatakae! Goraion, ED- Gonin de Hitotsu)
- Production: Toei Animation Co., Ltd. / Toei Advertising Co. Ltd (credited as "Toei Agency")