"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: Defender Of The Universe" was an animated series (originally called Go Lion!) produced by World Events Productions and animated by Toei (who also did Sailor Moon and G.I. Joe), and was released in the United States in 1984.

At the start of the series, the legendary robot Voltron has been broken apart by the witch Haggar into five separate pieces, each one a robot lion. With Voltron out of the way, the evil King Zarkon is slowly taking over the universe by means of his mutated Robeasts. The Galaxy Alliance on Earth sends out a group of space explorers (Keith, Lance, Pidge, Hunk, and Sven) to find Voltron and vanquish Zarkon.

After some tough times (including being captured by Zarkon's Doom Squad), the explorers land on Planet Arus, the home world of Voltron. At the Castle Of Lions they meet up with Coran the hyperactive diplomat, some pink and blue space mice, and of course, the beautiful Princess Allura. In the tomb of King Alfor they find the key to reviving Voltron, and set off to find each of the hidden lions - blue in the castle's lake, yellow in the desert, green in a large tree stump in the forest, red in the lava pool of a nearby volcano, and black inside the lion statue outside the castle.

In no time at all this newly assembled Voltron Force is trained in using Voltron. The lions prefer to fight separately, but when they start getting trashed by some Robeast, Keith gathers the team together for the stock footage that everyone is waiting for...

Ready To Form Voltron!
Activate Interlock!
Dynatherms Connected!
Infracells Up!
Megathrusters Are Go!
Let's Go Voltron Force!

At this point, it's all over. Voltron toys with the Robeast for a while, using lion head attacks and various energy weapons, but in the end, Voltron always forms that blazing sword and dices the Robeast to pieces. It doesn't matter that you've seen it fifty times already. Every Voltron ending is a classic.

You've got to hand it to Zarkon, though. He's crafty, and he doesn't give up, despite the bungling of his underlings. He's got Haggar, the witch, and her stupid blue cat. Then there's Lotor, Prince Of Doom, son of Zarkon, who even now plots against his father. There's Yurak, the fleet commander who was mutated into a Robeast, was killed by Voltron, and then somehow returned in later episodes, and Merla, the Queen of Darkness, who eventually saw the light and joined the side of good.

The Voltron series was one of the first cartoons in America that actually had a sequential storyline. Case in point: Sven, pilot of the blue lion, mysteriously disappears during one episode (he was apparently thrown in the Pit Of Skulls, but that's another matter entirely). The next episodes focus on Princess Allura learning to pilot the blue lion, and before long she's a member of the team. Only in one of the final episodes, when Voltron takes it to Zarkon on Planet Doom, does Sven reappear.

Voltron also had some of the best voice talent of the time:

There were at least two Voltron series, one with fifteen ships (five aircraft, five seacraft, and five landcraft) that formed a separate Voltron robot, and there was at least one crossover where the two Voltrons fought together. Voltron was also released as the same episodes with souped up computer graphics (ala Transformers: Next Generation)
There was also a lesser known "Vehicle Voltron". This was a Voltron made up of 15 vehicles that would come together much like the five lions. The show had a plot about the overpopulated Galaxy Alliance vs. the rival Drule (Druuhl?) empire (which was also seeking new planets for conquest.) Supposedly this series had a deeper, less formulaic plot than the lion version (one lion gets hurt; lions get butt kicked by Robeast, missing lion shows up, lions form Voltron, Voltron gets butt kicked, Voltron forms sword and slices through Robeast) but most kids didn't get to see much of this series, this noder included.

There are some hints within the new series that the Vehicle Voltron was built based on plans or ideas of the Lion Voltron. Despite this (and presumably based more on design of the toys rather than the cartoon) Vehicle Voltron is often referred to as "Voltron I" and Lion Voltron as "Voltron III" (An even more obscure Voltron is "Voltron II" or Gladiator Voltron, where three humanoid robots combine into one 6 armed warrior.)

There was one special two-part episode "Fleet of Doom" where Lion Voltron and Vehicle Voltron fought side by side.

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