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Voltron is a joint-venture between Japanese and American animated television series adaptation of two different Japanese anime series (Beast King GoLion and Armored Fleet Dairugger XV), produced as a joint venture between World Events Productions and Toei Animation. The series, which aired in syndication from September 10, 1984 to November 18, 1985, was titled Voltron: Defender of the Universe.
The original series was created by Peter Keefe in 1983 using material he had licensed from the Japanese cartoons Beast King GoLion and Armored Fleet Dairugger XV, rewriting the scripts with reduced violence and the removal of Japanese cultural and location references. The series was an immediate hit in the United States, topping the syndication market for children's programs in the mid-1980s.
Voltron: The Third Dimension, a sequel to the original series, was made in the 1990s using computer generated imagery (CGI) techniques. The series was dubbed into English and edited by the North American television production and distribution company World Events Productions. Distribution rights to all shows are now under ownership of Sony Pictures Television.
Lion Force Voltron (Voltron of the Far Universe)
The first season was based on the 1981 series Beast King GoLion (百獣王ゴライオン Hyakujūō Goraion?), which featured a team of five 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 storyline 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)
The second season was based on Armored Fleet Dairugger XV (機甲艦隊 ダイラガーXV Kikō Kantai Dairagā Fifutīn?), with the storyline considerably changed. 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 fifteen 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 fifteen vehicles combine to form the mighty Voltron. This Voltron in the toyline was referred to as Voltron I (also called the Vehicle Team), due to it being closer to Earth than the more popular Voltron III (or Lion Force Voltron).
In the Devil's Due comic series, Vehicle Voltron was created due to the Galaxy Garrison reverse-engineering the original Voltron after abducting it from Arus under orders from a Drule spy.[volume & issue needed] The machine was named "V-15" within the comics, and was first deployed after Voltron to recapture until they received new orders to support it.[volume & issue needed] Unlike the animated series, which depicted the two Voltron Forces as being longstanding friends, (as shown in an episode at the end of the Lion Force run and in the "Fleet of Doom" special, which brought both Voltrons together), the Devil's Due comic showed Keith and Jeff as having an antagonistic relationship with one another, particularly with regard to Voltron's accidental "sneak attack" on Vehicle Voltron during the robots' first battle together.[volume & issue needed]
Gladiator Voltron (Voltron of the Middle Universe)
The proposed "Voltron II" episodes (so called because they took place in the "Middle Universe") were to have been based on Lightspeed Electroid Albegas (光速電神アルベガス Kōsoku Denjin Arubegasu?). Although Albegas toys were marketed in the United States under the "Voltron II" name, the series was never actually aired there. Due to the extreme popularity of the Lion Voltron and lack of popularity of the Vehicle Voltron series, World Events Productions eventually elected against another alternate Voltron, and plans to adapt Albegas were aborted.
- Voltron: Fleet of Doom television special (1986). In 1986, World Events hired Toei Animation to produce a one-off crossover television special, which mixed in GoLion and Dairugger XV footage with new animation. The special was made for the international market and has not been released in Japan.
- Voltron: The Third Dimension animated series (1998). After some initial interest, a computer-generated series was released in 1998, set five years after the end of the original Lion Voltron series. The series was met with a mixed response, due to various changes, such as the revamped looks of the Lion Voltron and Prince Lotor. The series served as a sequel to the Lion Voltron series; amongst the tools used to bridge the gap between the two series 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 live-action movie. In July 2005, producer Mark Gordon (Grey's Anatomy, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) announced plans to create a live-action film adaptation of the Voltron franchise in collaboration with producers Pharrell Williams, Mark Costa, and Frank Oelman. Pharrell Williams was also reported to compose the musical score the film. The project's development was funded by Jim Young's Animus Films. In December 2006, screenwriter Enzo Marra 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. However, producer Peter Keefe, through his World Events Production Company, was fighting a legal battle with Toei Company Ltd. over the movie rights as of November of that year. The Voltron movie may be distributed by Paramount Pictures.
- Voltron Force animated series (2010). This is a new animated series that will premiere on Nicktoons this season. The series follows the exploits of a group of five young cadets brought together under trying circumstances to form a newly appointed Voltron Lion Squad dubbed the "Voltron Force". Voltron Force is a World Events Production in conjunction with Kick Start Production.
In Australia, DVDs of all episodes of Voltron were 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.. Finally, a 24-disc boxset subtitled The Lion and Vehicle Force Complete Collection was released on June 24, 2009.
Prior to the release of the boxed sets, a promotional DVD was released for Voltron. It is packed in a threefold glossy cardboard folder. The folder features full-color artwork and text about the then-upcoming release of Voltron on DVD. The disk has an image of Voltron, and is labeled for promotional use only. It features the first episode ("Castle of Lions - Part 1"), and several promos for other series.
In Region 1, Voltron was released on DVD in its original broadcast form by New York–based distributor Media Blasters in five volumes between September 2006 and December 2007. The volumes contain approximately fifteen episodes each, along with special features such as 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.
World Events Productions Ltc. confirmed that many copies of Voltron Volume 6 in Region 1 suffer from a manufacturing defect. The defect causes the disks to "grind", shake or freeze when played in DVD players. The manufacturer, Media Blasters, shipped replacements, but many of the replacements suffered from the same problem. The defect could be seen on many of the disks as a "water mark" on the back side of the disk.
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 released Fleet of Doom on July 28, 2009 as a full retail release. A Blu-ray version will be released on September 28, 2010.
According to TVShowsOnDVD.com, Voltron: The Third Dimension will be released on DVD sometime during Fall of 2010.
Media Blasters also released the two Japanese shows that made up Voltron — Hundred Beast King 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, Volume 2 on August 12, 2008, and Volume 3 on November 25, 2008. GoLion was re-released as a complete chronology set with all 52 episodes on April 13, 2010. The first Dairugger XV DVD collection was released on February 23, 2010, the second Dairugger XV collection was released on May 25, 2010  and the third and final collection will be released on September 28, 2010.
Minisodes of the first twenty episodes of the first season can be streamed for free online on Crackle. As of January 2010, 45 episodes of Voltron: Defender of the Universe have been released on Hulu as part of a fan appreciation promotion.
|Lion Force Voltron Collection 1||September 22, 2004||Black Lion||September 26, 2006||Blue Lion|
|Lion Force Voltron Collection 2||November 19, 2004||Red Lion||December 19, 2006||Yellow Lion|
|Lion Force Voltron Collection 3||February 23, 2005||Green Lion||May 8, 2007||Green Lion|
|Lion Force Voltron Collection 4||April 13, 2005||Blue Lion||September 25, 2007||Red Lion|
|Lion Force Voltron Collection 5||July 20, 2005||Yellow Lion||December 11, 2007||Black Lion|
|Vehicle Force Voltron Collection 1||August 31, 2005||December 23, 2008||Air Team|
|Vehicle Force Voltron Collection 2||October 19, 2005||March 24, 2009||Land Team|
|Vehicle Force Voltron Collection 3||December 7, 2005||July 21, 2009||Sea Team|
|Fleet Of Doom||July 28, 2009||Team-Up|
In 2002, comic book publisher Devil's Due announced it had acquired the rights to publish Voltron comic books. Devil's Due, through Image Comics, published a five issue mini-series (preceded by a #0 issue from Dreamwave) which featured the Lion Voltron incarnation of the character and rebooted the property. This was then followed by an ongoing series self-published by Devil's Due, which was placed on hiatus in 2005 after the eleventh issue, due to poor sales.
Devil's Due announced in January 2008 that the five-issue mini-series, the eleven issues of the ongoing series, and the #0 issue would be collected into a Voltron Omnibus trade paperback that would also include the unpublished twelfth issue of the ongoing series that would wrap up all the storylines.
In July 2008, a new five issue mini-series was released by Devil's Due, which picked up where the ongoing series left off. This series further explored the origins of Lion Voltron's creation, from 12,000 years in the past to the present day. The mini-series showed Voltron existing as a single construct created by sorcerers and scientists, resembling a knight. During its' battle with the first Drule Empire, Voltron was tricked by Haggar into landing on a black comet with the gravitational attraction of a singularity. Voltron was then attacked by Haggar, and blown into five pieces. However, the intervention of a sorcerer resulted in the five pieces becoming the five lions as they descended onto Arus.
The oroiginal five issue mini-series was adapted as the 2007 motion comic Voltron: Defenders of the Universe - REVELATIONS. Its sequel, Voltron: Defenders of the Universe - PARADISE LOST, adapted the first storyarc of the ongoing series, introducing the V-15 and its pilots.
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 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 the goddess of the universe, not Haggar, that split up GoLion due to his arrogance (GoLion is supposedly sentient, although this was subtly discarded in the Voltron series where the robot was said to be the creation of King Alfor and his scientists).
- Shots of torture and atrocities inflicted by the alien conquerors on their slaves (such as a "contest" where alien soldiers would be rewarded according to how many prisoners they would have managed to decapitate in a given time) and some shots of corpses were removed.
- In Voltron, Sven was severely injured by Haggar and sent to a space hospital. In GoLion, Takashi Shirogane was killed by Honerva and buried outside the castle.
- In one episode, the Princess befriends a bear-like creature which is subsequently captured and converted into a Beast Fighter/Robeast. In GoLion, GoLion kills the Beast Fighter, while in Voltron, Voltron releases the creature from its Robeast state, rendering it in a deep sleep.
- In GoLion, Hys (Nanny in Voltron) is fatally shot in the heart while protecting Raible (Coran in Voltron).
- 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.
- In Voltron 's episode 20, the planet the heroes visit is Pidge's homeworld. However, in the original GoLion version, the planet is actually the war-torn Earth.
- In the original GoLion series, Syncline (Lotor) is biracial. His mother was of the planet Altea (Arus). Also in the original GoLion, Honerva (Haggar) is hinted to be secretly Daibazaal's (Zarkon's) mother. Syncline's obsession with Falra (Allura) is due to her resemblance to his mother (murdered by Daibazaal when she refused to marry him) and is generally an Oedipus complex. In Voltron, none of these are mentioned or suggested and Lotor's obsession with Allura is written as simply infatuation.
- Zarkon (Daibazaal), Haggar (Honerva), and Lotor (Syncline) all die at the end of the GoLion series, while they survive the Voltron series.
- Lotor (Syncline) is portrayed in the GoLion series as being cruel, brutal and insane, killing many of his officers, and ultimately killing Haggar (Honerva) at the end of the GoLion series.
- Most deaths of characters in some episodes are cut or changed to where they have survived in some way.
- Manabu (Jeff) has a serious relationship with Haruka (Lisa).
- Chip was never Pidge's brother.
- All of the Galaxy Alliance officers that were focused on in a given episode 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 was destroyed along with the Drule homeworld.
- Newley is ranked admiral in Dairugger XV and Hawkins is ranked as Captain. In Voltron, their ranks are changed to captain and commander respectively resulting in the oddity of an officer of commander rank giving orders to a captain (assuming the naval system of ranking). Originally, Newley was the highest ranking commanding officer of the Explorer with Hawkins as his first officer. Their dialogue was rewritten in Voltron to give the appearance of Hawkins outranking Newley, although the animation and dialogue usually reflect their original ranks.
- 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")
A variety of action figures and other toys have been created over the years. Plans for a Monsterpocalypse Voltron-themed expansion have been announced.
In December 2009, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment announced the first ever Voltron video game would be released on mobile phones in the US, including the iPhone. The game would have 30 levels and 6 acts, isometric gameplay and gamers will command robot lions to traverse the galaxy and take on King Zarkon’s evil droid armies.
|This section has an unclear citation style. (August 2010)|
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- Official website
- Voltron: Defender of the Universe at the Internet Movie Database
- Voltron (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Voltron at TV.com
- Voltron: Defender of the Universe at YouTube
- Voltron at crackle.com
- Voltron mobile phone video game announcement ad Gamers Daily News