On March 24, 2017, Netflix released the first season of Voltron 84 — a re-packaging of twelve episodes of Voltron: Defender of the Universe, the television series that introduced Voltron to the universe in 1984. Episodes of Defender of the Universe have been re-packaged before — in the mid-1990s, as The New Adventures of Voltron — and episodes are still available online through outlets such as YouTube and Amazon Video. The ubiquity of Netflix, and the popularity of the Netflix-exclusive series Voltron: Legendary Defender, make Voltron 84 uniquely positioned to introduce new Voltron fans to the original series, and to re-introduce old-school fans to the series.
Each episode of Voltron 84 is introduced by one of the creative talents behind Voltron: Legendary Defender, giving more “cred” to the original series in the eyes of fans who were introduced to the Voltron phenomenon through Voltron: Legendary Defender.
Unfortunately Voltron 84 has a few, minor hiccups. This article is an attempt to explain them in hopes of maximizing viewers’ enjoyment of the series.
Voltron 84‘s episodes were numbered based on the Voltron: Legendary Defender production roles of the people who introduced each episode. For example, Season 1, Episodes 1 and 2, are introduced by Lauren Montgomery and Joaquim Dos Santos, respectively, both of whom are executive producers and showrunners of Voltron: Legendary Defender. Season 1, Episode 12, is introduced by Chris Palmer, one of the directors of Voltron: Legendary Defender.
The episode numbers are perfectly reasonable to a viewer who wants to sample select episodes of the original series.
Because the sequence of Voltron 84‘s episode numbers is inconsistent with the narrative sequence of Voltron: Defender of the Universe — and Beast King Golion, the anime series from which these episodes of Defender of the Universe were adapted — a viewer who wants to experience the original series in narrative sequence might find the numbering of the Voltron 84 episodes… confusing. Voltron: Defender of the Universe isn’t as serialized as Voltron: Legendary Defender is, but its first several episodes and last several episodes are very much serialized.
(It turns out that many of the less serialized “middle” episodes of Voltron: Defender of the Universe originally aired out of sequence with respect to the narrative sequence of the Beast King Golion episodes; however, this presents no significant continuity issues.)
Apparently Lion Force episodes 3 and 5 from Voltron: Defender of the Universe aren’t favorites of the Voltron: Legendary Defender creators who are featured in Voltron 84. That’s fine, unless a viewer wants to watch the entire origin story.
Below is my recommended sequence for watching Season 1 of Voltron 84. I’ve added links to official YouTube videos of Episodes 3 and 5, so that viewers can watch Voltron’s origin story “gap-free.”
|Voltron 84 Episode #|
|1||Space Explorers Captured||1||7|
|2||Escape to Another Planet||1||3|
|3||A Ghost and Four Lions||NA; YouTube video|
|4||The Missing Key||1||6|
|5||Princess Joins Up||N/A; YouTube video|
|6||The Right Arm of Voltron||1||8|
|7||The Lion Has New Claws||1||4|
|8||The Stolen Lion||1||2|
|10||Secret of the White Lion||1||9|
|13||The Witch Gets a Facelift||1||10|
|15||Give Me Your Princess||1||12|
|28||The Treasure of Planet Tyrus||1||11|
|30||The Sleeping Princess||1||1|
|35||Doom Boycotts the Space Olympics||1||5|
Before I began to watch Voltron 84, it was pointed out to me by fellow Voltron fan SGB that the Voltron 84 episodes have an odd stuttering effect in the video. Camera movements and the overall animation seem “jerky” rather than smooth. At first I thought this might be due to issues with (1) upconverting Voltron: Defender of the Universe, which was edited for the mid-2000s DVD releases in standard defintion, to Netflix’s high definition, and (2) issues with possibly resampling the videos from the NTSC standard of 29.97 frames per second down to a more film-like standard of 24 frames per second. Having said that, I’m no expert in video resampling or conversion, so the cause might be something else entirely.
Inconsistent Audio Speed
SGB also pointed out to me that the audio track of Voltron 84 Season 1, Episodes 3 and 12 (Voltron: Defender of the Universe Episodes 2 and 15, respectively) seem to speed up, slow down, and even skip in places. This is most noticable during portions of episodes consisting of mostly music and no dialogue. The cause of the inconsistent timing of the audio might also be the cause of the stuttered video.
SGB’s recollection of the shots and dialogue of each Voltron: Defender of the Universe episode greatly exceeds my own. As a result he noticed this issue, and I did not. Voltron 84 Season 1, Episode 3 (featuring Voltron: Defender of the Universe Episode 2) has been trimmed in places. Partial lines of dialogue and some shots are missing when compared to the Voltron: Defender of the Universe DVD release. So far I’ve watched only three episodes of Voltron 84, and I didn’t notice the trims myself, so hopefully all cuts were minor. I am curious about why the episode was trimmed.
It’s great to see Voltron: Defender of the Universe on Netflix. I’m excited that newer Voltron fans can watch the original show for the first time, and that old-school fans can “taste it again for the first time.” Unfortunately the odd issues with Voltron 84 do hinder the viewing experience somewhat. I hope the second season of Voltron 84, if one is made, will be free of these issues, so that Voltron: Defender of the Universe can be enjoyed as much as possible.
Special thanks to SGB for inspiring this article. Check out SGB’s website!