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Sunday, 3 January 2010

Voltron Collection 1 (DVD-2007)

While I'm definitely a fan of 80s cartoons (having been a kid throughout that glorious decade of mental TV shows), I was always more a Transformers person than Voltron. I was always aware of it, but the series never seemed to get all that much attention here in the UK. I had a couple of the figures bought for me as a child by relatives, but only recently have I actually sat and watched any of it to any great extent.

This three disc collection was on special offer at three quid for the metal case version, and it seemed like a good idea to fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge of the cartoons that shaped the geekery that I love so much today. I love the story behind the creation of Voltron, namely that it was stitched together from two different cartoons from Japan and then stories and scripts were formed around the footage that was cut together.

As a writer myself I can't help but feel sorry for the people who had to try and work these separate pieces of animation together into a coherent story (or indeed the editors snipping it all into one). despite the limitations of scope they had to work with, a pretty good job was done by all accounts.

Voltron, for those of you unfamiliar with the character and the story, is about a bunch of young pilots who each helm a robotic Lion in an unending battle with a (very generic) alien bad guy and his armies. When in the most dire of trouble, those five robotic lions can combine to form one giant robot- Voltron. Erm, that's about it.

The show is fun, but even as far as the oddest 80s cartoons go it's not great. Don't get me wrong- it looks brilliant- it's the stories and the voice acting where the show falls apart. A ton of work went into putting these collections together. Five volumes were made, each of them containing new versions of the original episodes and a bunch of extras.

This first volume contains over six hours of cartoons along with a trailer, production sketches, archive footage and a merchandise trailer. The booklet supplied with the set tells you all about the mammoth task of putting this much loved series back together.

As the original prints of the episodes were long gone, the people behind this set completely rebuilt each episode from the two shows that Voltron was created from. Now that is some serious grind going on there.

It has paid dividends, as the visuals are fantastic, but in being colour corrected and recreated, it has brought to light the shortcomings of the show, and you really can tell how disjointed it is. Ah, to view it through the eyes of a kid again. I would have loved this as a boy, and while I can see why it was influential, it ain't Transformers. Heck, it's barely at the level of Ulysses 31. Looks cool though. A fun watch with your brain disengaged.

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