One of the great yet unappreciated perks of being a parent to small children is that you get to watch cartoons.
Note I said “get to”, although in fact it is more like “have to”, there is little choice. Especially since small children have this weird repetitive grindy streak in the part of their brains that watches TV and movies – when they find one they like, they want to play it on endless loop. Endlessly. I think I could have made my daughter perfectly happy by putting Beauty and the Beast on permanent repeat until she was six.
When my kids were little the cartoon choices were pretty grim. Almost entirely made up of long commercials, like My Pretty Pony or Transformers or (shudder) the Care Bears. Who needs a plot when one can instead sell millions of toys? But now and again something magical would slip through.
Anime before anime was really it’s own genre, the Voltron cartoon didn’t sell anything, instead telling a story. A repetitive story, true, with certain similar beats that would be hit every episode, but nonetheless one that featured a plot that progressed through a multi-episode story arc. Pretty sophisticated for children’s fare.
And it had giant robots. Not cheesy ones like the Transformers (or worse, the Transformers ripoff Go-Bots) but detailed, semi-realistic giant robots. Awesome giant robots.
There were two of them actually, one that was composed of five smaller lion robots, and another that was formed of about fifteen variously-shaped vehicles. The Lion Team Voltron is the one that most resonated with popular culture, and is even referenced in DDO (The Chronoscope – “I’ll form the head”).
My favorite was the Vehicle Team Voltron. It was even more realistic. And made up of a variety of vehicles, which seemed like the way I would design a giant robot if I was ever to become a giant-robot-designer.
Maybe this helps explain why I am excited about the fact that Netflix bought the rights to the Voltron story and is creating an all-new series that will debut June 10th. There’s a trailer; it looks to have the same anime-based style and sensibilities of the original. Here, check for yourself:
Now that I am an adult in full, without the necessary filter of parenting small children, it seems glaringly obvious that this is a kid’s show. Something that I normally have neither the time nor desire to consume. But of course it is a kid’s show, it always was. And I loved it anyway.
Sometimes, a kid’s view is exactly what one needs. If it hadn’t been for kids, I might not have seen Toy Story. But because I had seen Toy Story, I knew to see The Incredibles. And Up! And Inside Out. Which were all amazing! Kid’s movies or not.
And now I get to be excited about the return of a cartoon. And I am.
Voltron Defender of the Universe. All episodes will be available at once on June 10.
Guess where I will be?
🙂 😀 🙂