Even if you’re just a casual fan, you should check out “Voltron: From Days of Long Ago: A Thirtieth Anniversary Celebration,” a loving look at one of the more enduring 80s cartoon and toy franchises.
Writers Marc Morrell, Joshua Bernard and Brian Smith explore the history of the franchise from its origins as three Japanese animated series World Events Productions purchased with the goal of getting the shows syndicated and broadcast throughout the U.S.
Among the more interesting tidbits was the original name conceived for the show (Klystron), the show was the second stereo audio show after “The Tonight Show” and the lengths to which head writer Jameson Brewer ensured the American dialogue matched the Japanese animation exactly.
The book offers a solid biography on the main characters and their allies, going so in depth as to include the Space Mice’s Space Mouse Fighter. Interesting fact: the Red Lion is actually three feet taller than its fellow Voltron arm partner Green Lion and Pidge, who most of us assumed was a teenager, was in fact 24.
One of the more fun segments rolls out all of Voltron’s weapons from the Shooting Star, Lion Lariats, Atomic Emblem, and an explanation for the casual fans as to why Voltron waited so long in a fight to form the coup de grâce weapon — the Blazing Sword.
Fans will also enjoy the chapter detailing the army of 76 Robeasts the original Voltron Force defeated as well as the 51 Robeasts encountered by the modern team complete with mini bios and abilities chart in a Pokemon like arrangement.
The artwork makes use of both the classic 80s cartoon designs and the modern updates from the most recent 2011 series. An especially helpful portion illustrates the various benefits and looks of the modern Voltron where the center lion isn’t always the traditional black lion.
One tiny gripe: we still don’t get any insight as to why the Voltron Force was not all color coded with their respective Lion. It was always a bit puzzling why Keith, the Black Lion pilot, wore a red outfit while Lance, who wore blue, piloted the Red Lion.
While the majority of the book is devoted to the more popular Lion Force, the 15-member Vehicle Voltron Force gets a little love and attention as well. Bonus points to anyone who can name all 15 members of the Air, Land and Sea Teams.
As an anniversary celebration, this is a happy reflection on the license so there’s not a lot of insight on that gap from the show’s mid-80s heyday to its 1998 revival and the still in limbo status of a potential live-action movie. If anything, the book serves as a perfect guide for screenwriters looking for a way to approach the license.
The book features an epilogue with a comic book advancing the plot lines from the 2011 animated series that serves as a reminder that there are still plenty of stories and adventures for Voltron yet to be told.