Lobster Quadrille Anime Review: Beast King Golion

Title: Beast King Golion, aka: Voltron: Defender of the Universe

Genre: Mech/Fantasy

Studio: Toei/ WEP (dubbed version)

Distributor: Media Blasters, also streams on http://www.crunchyroll.com and Youtube.

No. of episodes: 52

Summary: According to legend, a sentient being called Golion was transformed into five robot lions.  Now, in the future, five refugees have escaped from the Galra Empire’s space prison and crash-landed on the planet Altea. There, they discover the legendary robot lions and use them to defeat the Galra Empire.

Review: Beast King Golion is probably one of Japan’s most famous anime exports–we know it as Voltron. Voltron was actually the first anime I ever watched, but at the time I was unaware that the show was even Japanese.  So, when I learned that Crunchyroll had the original, unedited version, I had to see it.

So, is it worth it?  Well….I have reservations, even though I did enjoy it.  The characterization is so flat, that it’s difficult to really care about the cast. You have your courageous leader; your hot-headed big guy; your teen genius; your smart-aleck; you get the idea.  The villains are also just as stereotypical.  The Galra emperor Daibazzal is really not that different from Roman emperors. His son, Sincline, is only more interesting because he’s flashier and keeps attempting to usurp his father.

Another problem is that the show is repetitive. After our heroes succeed in reuniting Golion, every episode always has a mech battle that Golion usually wins, usually after weakening it enough for its finishing move.  This pattern is fine when you’re a kid, but now that I’m an adult, it actually got kind of boring.

Music/Score: I was really surprised by how cheesy the music was. It really didn’t fit what was happening, and I didn’t much care for it.

Sub/Dub: You’re better off with the original version.  Voltron was edited for American TV, cutting out much of the violence and rewriting the entire plot.  Some episodes were so problematic that World Event Productions (WEP) didn’t even bother to translate them.

Related Media: Golion never really caught on in Japan, so there was no manga.  Here in America, however, there was a short-lived small press comic book.

When WEP ran out of Golion episodes, they took another Toei mech title, Dairugger XV, and tried to pass it off as a sequel to Voltron.   Because this version had vehicles rather than lions, it’s often nicknamed “Vehicle Voltron.”  In 1998, WEP made its own sequel to Voltron using CG and called it Voltron: The Third Dimension.  Sprite also ran an ad campaign in the 90’s as well, using rappers as pilots.  There is also a new series as of June 2011 on Nickelodeon, and talk of a live-action movie.

Violence: 7/10 If you grew up with our version, you will be surprised at the violence.  Many innocents are brutally murdered or vaporized by Galra soldiers if they rebel.

Language: 2/10 Just a few curse words here and there, nothing above PG-level

Sexuality: 1/10 Sincline has a harem.  SPOILER: In the second to last episode, we learn that Daibazzal raped an Altean woman, resulting in Sincline’s birth.

Religious Material: (2/10) According to the pilot episode, Golion became a robot when it challenged the “goddess of space”. Also, the Galra empire has a witch working for them, who even has a cat for a familiar. However, she isn’t that different from the witches we see in fairy tales.

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