Written by Nick Jones
Dropping onto Netflix like a present Father Christmas found lurking in the bottom of his sleigh, it’s season 2 of Voltron: Legendary Defender!
Season 1 was released midway through last year, and offered a streamlined take on the classic anime formula of five (ish) friends using super powerful robots to take on an alien menace lead by someone with a name that you’d probably decide not to mention if trying to sell the show to your friends (it’s Zarkon – his father was a Zarkon, his grandfather was a Zarkon…), with pretty much every episode featuring the same full animation of the five robot lions combining into a larger humanoid robot. I try to think of it as vintage. The show comes from two of the people who brought us Legend of Korra, which is one of the finest pieces of animation to have ever come out of the USA, and something which I could happily write about for far longer than this review should be in total. Although we are currently spoiled with shows like Adventure Time and Steven Universe blurring the comedy/drama border, it’s almost refreshing to have one which, for all the comedy involved, definitely starts out from the dramatic side. Like those shows, it can also be enjoyed on several levels simultaneously, making it a good option to watch with the (hopefully not too) little ones.
The end of season one left our heroes in a bit of a bind, as they ran from Zarkon after discovering he was the original pilot (or Paladin) of the Black Lion, and were then hit by space magic while travelling through warp and duly fell out of the back of the spaceship/flying castle which is their base.
The new season picks up just after the last one ended, and initially deals with reuniting the team. The first episode sees Keith and Shiro stranded on a barren planet, with a race against time as Keith rushes to save a wounded Shiro from some particularly hostile local fauna. The groundwork for where the season (and the show in general) is going begins to be laid at this point, with Shiro attempting to prepare Keith for the burden of leadership in case he should ever be unable to lead the team. Meanwhile, Pidge is able to use her genius to build a Macguffin which can be used to unite them all.
Mid-season episodes lean closer to the structure of the first season, travelling through space, meeting interesting and useful people and attempting to protect them from Zarkon’s forces. Spice is added by the discovery of a rebel group within the Galra (Zarkon’s race/forces) who are opposed to Zarkon, and by a storyline reminiscent of the Battlestar Galactica remake’s first season episode “33”, in which Zarkon is able to continually track the Paladins across space, giving them no chance to recover from a previous engagement.
Towards the end of the season things start to come together for our team, and there are some callbacks to earlier in this and the previous season as a plan is hatched to get rid of Zarkon once and for all. Needless to say, it doesn’t go completely smoothly, and we find ourselves with another cliffhanger, this time oddly reminiscent of a minor plot point from Neon Genesis Evangelion, leading into the hopefully soon to be forthcoming third season.
Overall, I found this to be another highly entertaining season. It successfully built on the groundwork laid by season one, offering enough additions to the mythology whilst keeping some mysteries yet to be resolved. The voice acting is top notch, and a special mention has to be made of Rhys Darby’s turn as Coran, who acts as a kind of Alfred figure to the Paladins, providing sage advice when needed.
Nick’s rating: 9/10 – recommended