The first of eight volumes of Voltron: Defender of the Universe arrives on DVD in the US on September 23. Each three DVD set is expected to contain about 15 episodes and as many extras as can be squeezed onto the discs.
Voltron: Defender of the Universe hit US airwaves in 1984 and quickly became the top-rated children’s cartoon, beating out He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Transformers, and GI Joe.
The opening of each episode featured Voltron’s backstory and served as an overview of the series:
From days of long ago, from uncharted regions of the universe, comes a legend, the legend of Voltron: Defender of the Universe–a mighty robot, loved by good, feared by evil.
As Voltron’s legend grew, peace settled across the galaxy.
On planet Earth, a galaxy alliance was formed. Together with the good planets of the solar system, they maintained peace throughout the universe, until a new horrible menace threatened the galaxy. Voltron was needed once more.
This is the story of the super force of space explorers, specially trained and sent by the Alliance to bring back Voltron: Defender of the Universe.
Voltron‘s first season focused on the “Lion Force” described above and consisted of 52 episodes. While adapted into a kid’s show for the US, the first season of Voltron actually originated as a Japanese anime aimed at adults. Arriving on DVD in 2007 as a separate release from Voltron, the original, unedited Japanese version of Hundred Beast King Golion, with the addition of English subtitles, will be released in the US for the first time.
The second season of Voltron was devoted to the “Vehicle Force” Voltron and also ran for 52 episodes. Like the Lion Force, the Vehicle Force was adapted from a Japanese anime series. Armored Fleet Dairugger XV was actually a completely separate series in Japan, but for the US it was adapted into another version of Voltron.
The original, unedited Japanese version of Armored Fleet Dairugger XV will also be released on DVD in 2007.
While the Lion Force consisted of five robot-lion spacecraft and their pilots, the Vehicle Force consisted of three teams of five vehicles each: Air, Land, and Sea. The Vehicle Force failed to achieve the popularity of its predecessor.
Plans for a “Gladiator Force” Voltron, adapted from the Light Speed Electric God Albegas anime, were scrapped due to the lukewarm response to the Vehicle Force.
Since all of the Golion episodes had already been mined, twenty new episodes of the Americanized version of the Lion Force were commissioned for the third and final season of the series. The Lion Force and Vehicle Force Voltrons later teamed up for a television movie special, Voltron: The Fleet of Doom.
The Americanized version of the Lion Force Voltron returned again for the short-lived Voltron: The Third Dimension series in 1998.
A Voltron movie is tentatively planned for theatrical release in 2008.