“From days of long ago. From uncharted regions of the universe. Comes a legend. The legend of Voltron.”
With those words, originally spoken by famed voice-actor Peter Cullen (best known as Transformers’ original Optimus Prime), a generation of American children were introduced to the the Anime subgenre of “combination mecha” and the world of Voltron: Defender of The Universe. A unique fusion of medieval-fantasy, futuristic spaceopera, and an animated take on the Super Sentai genre, Voltron captured the imaginations of viewers and became a longstanding cult-classic with both Anime fans and 80s kids in general — despite a limited number of available episodes and ultra low-budget localization, which led to multiple (U.S. produced) reboots and talks of a movie spanning decades of fandom.
Now, Netflix and Dreamworks Animation are teaming up to give send the Voltron Force back into space, announcing a new series and providing fans a glimpse of what’s to come with a new teaser poster.
Although the poster comes via Nerdist, no details have yet been provided about what form the new series will take. Previous reboots such as 1998’s Voltron: The Third Dimension framed itself as a sequel to the continuity of the original series with the original characters, while 2011’s Voltron Force followed new characters recruited as proteges to the original team. Neither series lasted very long. The Dreamworks series, rumored for awhile now, has been presumed to be a new retelling of the original story, but no official confirmation exists. The version of the titular giant robot partially visible in the teaser poster appears to resemble the classic Lion Force or “Far Universe” incarnation from the original series.
The original Voltron was said to have been an accident of history: Small-time U.S. based distributor World Events Productions was attempting to import a Japanese anime series called Mirai Robo Daltanious, which featured a giant robot with the emblem of a golden lion’s face on its chest as the hero, but a mistake of translation when requesting more episodes instead led their Japanese partner-company Toei to send them copies of Beast King GoLion, which featured five human-piloted, color-coded robot lions who combined into a single larger humanoid robot. World Events decided they much preferred GoLion, and proceeded to re-edit and dub the episodes into English to create the first season of Voltron: Defender of The Universe. The series proved so enormously popular with U.S. audiences that Toei produced a second season’s worth of episodes, even though GoLion had originally only run for one.
Further episodes were created by substantially re-dubbing a second unrelated series, Dairugger XV, to claim that its 15-vehicle combiner-robot was a Near-Earth (“Vehicle Force”) counterpart to Voltron, with an original animated feature produced for the U.S. only bringing the two officially together. A third season was planned to feature a “Gladiator Voltron” created from episodes of Kōsoku Denjin Arubegasu (a.k.a. Lightspeed Electroid Albegas), but those plans were scrapped before they were officially completed. The unique design aesthetic and sprawling episode-to-episode continuity, common for anime but unfamiliar to U.S. audiences of the early ’80s, enraptured young viewers.
A live-action film has been talked about for years, but has continuously stalled despite renewed interest each time a new Transformers movie is set to be released. At one point, many Internet fans became convinced that the secrecy-shrouded film Cloverfield was actually a Voltron movie in disguise because of a mis-heard dialogue snippet from the trailers. Whereas the original series involved a group of space-explorers from Earth sent to a medieval-esque planet to find and activate the legendary Lions to restore Voltron as a weapon against an intergalactic tyrant, most early word about a proposed feature film purported to have seen the setting move to contemporary or near-future Earth. All rights to produce a live-action Voltron feature currently rest with Relativity Media, a troubled studio that recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a new arrangement with actor Kevin Spacey as its chairman — no word yet on whether or not the new Spacey regime still plans to let Voltron form his Blazing Sword on the big screen anytime soon.
Screen Rant will bring you more details on Voltron: Legendary Defender as they are made available.