Voltron is an interesting property. It began in Japan as Beast King Golion, an anime that ran from 1981-1982. The show was dark and featured torture, murder, slavery, and genocide in addition to the usual monster-fighting heroics.It wasn’t a ratings beast (pardon the pun) in its native country, and in 1984 the animation from the show was licensed by World Events Productions – along with another anime, Armored Fleet Dairugger XV – and then both shows were edited into the series Western fans know as Voltron: Defender of the Universe. Confused yet?
I never watched much Voltron. I tried to do so recently – it’s available on streaming via Netflix – and found it pretty unwatchable (just as I did when I tried to revisit Gaiking – so much yelling!). However, I did watch the first couple of episodes of Beast King Golion, which is available via streaming on Crunchyroll.com, and found it a more mature, interesting show; but what’s really fascinating is how it was changed for the U.S. market. For example, at the beginning of Beast King Golion, Earth and most everyone on it has been destroyed in a nuclear war; in Voltron, the scenes showing the devastated Earth are referred to as a different planet, and reference is made to the planet having been “evacuated” before the holocaust.
My only childhood memories of the property is owning the 6″ Matchbox diecast figure. But that was enough to get me to pick up last year’s SDCC exclusive from Mattel, Blazing Sword Voltron. Its appeal lay mostly in the fact that it was only 6″ tall and super-articulated, and it sat unopened in my closet for more than half a year. But when I finally opened it, I was impressed.