I fully admitted that when I watched the first season of Voltron: Legendary Defender, it was my first time ever watching a Voltron cartoon. I knew who Voltron was loosely, but I didn’t know the characters or worlds. All that being said, I loved the first season, and when Season 02 came out, I was eager to watch that as well. Thankfully, the season is just as good as the original. However, it doesn’t really improve upon it.
WARNING: Some Spoilers Ahead!
After being separated at the end of Season 01, the Paladins of Voltron have to use their wits and survival skills in order to get back together. And they do. In fact, the opening episodes are dedicated to this. In fact, multiple times in this season, the team is divided so individual goals can be met. This was very impressive to me, as it allowed for more personal moments and personal struggles. An early one with Allura facing certain doom, but refusing to give up was very touching.
Once the Paladins are reunited, the team sets back on their journey to get rid of Emperor Zarkon, which is no easy task early on, as Zarkon has a secret that makes outrunning him very difficult. Mainly, he still has his connection to the Black Lion that Shiro now pilots. This leads to not only some epic confrontations, but an AMAZING mind battle between Zarkon, Shiro, and the Black Lion.
But, that’s where things go south for Zarkon. In Season 01, he was very much a menacing villain, and then we found out he was the original Black Paladin of Voltron. But in Season 02, he’s now obsessed with getting the Black Lion, for no apparent reason. After he loses his connection to the Black Lion, he refuses to stop looking for it. This is odd, because he’s gone millennia without having it, and now all of a sudden he wants it back? The villains are easily one of the weakest parts of Voltron, and though Hag’gar came off a little better, the other generals and “villainous” characters were either too simple or too over the top. In the course of one season, we meet a Bane ripoff and Paul Blart Mall Cop. I kid you not.
Thankfully, most of the main cast come off better. Shiro, Keith, Pidge, Hunk come out the best, as they each have to deal with their own struggles and imperfections all for the sake of getting stronger and helping out the team. Shiro and Keith got the most time though. As Keith learned some interesting things about his heritage, while Shiro had his leadership skills tested more times than naught. Even Pidge and Hunk had some great chances to shine. Ironically, Lance only had like one episode dedicated to himself, and though he was cool (like only Lance can be), he didn’t really grow this season.
Which brings me to Allura. Who was a standout in Season 01. She’s still the very strong character I loved in Season 01, but there are some inconsistencies here in Season 02. Mainly, a revelation causes her to basically hate one of the Paladins. While this is understandable on the surface, the fact that she’s known this Paladin for some time, even spending quality time with them in a previous episode in this season, the hate is really strong. It creates some very odd, and downright obnoxious scenes, all for the sake of a “touching” scene that should’ve happened 30 seconds after the reveal was made. Thankfully, an ending episode save brings her back to my good graces, but it’s still a standout when I consider what was bad about this season.
Which…brings me to…Caran. Look, comedy is a beautiful thing, and I laughed a lot in Voltron Season 02.However, there is such a thing as too much quality, and I truly believe that this season went over that line. Caran was a big reason for this. Between his narrating a battle scene, getting a case of the “slipperies”, his overcomplicated explanations, and more, he’s just way too annoying. Which is sad, because he does have the potential to be a great character. And in the right doses, such as in a particular scene in the first episode of the season, that comedy is golden. But, when you realize that Hunk, Lance, and a late addition character are all comedic foils too, there’s just way too much comedy.
The other big problem is the format. I truly believe that Voltron: Legendary Defender is a beautiful Saturday morning cartoon. The problem, though, is that it’s not that. Because many of those cartoons have long seasons that they can plan out full arcs in. Whereas Voltron has 13 episodes. Because of that, there’s not a lot of room to maneuver, and a single misstep can bring down a season. Sadly, this season had a few of those.
I noted in my Season 01 review that there was an episode that was “beyond pointless”. Well, Season 02 has that again. Admittedly, there is an actual point, but I find it hard to believe that the makers of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra couldn’t think of a better way to get something…instead of going to a space mall. What’s worse, that episode had one of my favorite storylines in the season via Shiro, who didn’t go with them to the mall. So you have both a great episode and a terrible episode, all in one.
Plus, multiple episodes, just like in Season 01, fell into the “Deus Ex Machina” category of storytelling. Or as I call it now, “Deus Ex Voltron”. Meaning, just when you think all is lost, more times than not, Voltron pulls something out of its arsenal that the team didn’t know about before, and thus they save the day with it. At this point, there better not be any more hidden weapons on Voltron, because this is getting old.
The other problem is that though they stated in advance what the plan was for the season essentially, in taking out Zarkon, we all knew it wasn’t going to happen. Or more accurately, someone else would come in to take the role of Emperor should Zarkon fall. After all, the show is too popular to end after two seasons. And while the ending episodes were epic, they again ended on a cliffhanger, two of them, that were very sudden, and perfectly played into stereotype.
Now, before I end this review, I must give props to Studio Mir. These were the people who drew Avatar and Korra, and in this season they easily outdid what they drew in Season 01. From underwater worlds, to a forest that is anything but natural, and the ending episode space battles were beautifully rendered from start to finish. Now if only we didn’t have to see Voltron transform as much…
Look, I know I said some bad things about Season 02, and I stand by them, as that’s how I feel. However, this was still a good season, with plenty of twists, and plenty of fun to be had. Is it perfect? No. Is it better than last season? No, not really. But, that doesn’t mean it’s bad, I’d take Voltron over many cartoons out there today.
So, here’s hoping for a Season 03 that’s even more epic, and one that comes soon! Why? Because: “We need Voltron!”