[Throwback Thursdays] Hyakujuu-Ou GoLion (Voltron) Review & Characters – COMBINE!!!


hyakujuu ou golion  voltron wallpaper

COMBINE!!!

  • Episodes : 52
  • Genre : Mech, Sci-Fi, Space Opera, Action, Fantasy
  • Airing Date : March 1981 – February 1982
  • Producers : Toei, TV Tokyo

Hyakujuu-Ou GoLion Preview / Plot (No Spoilers)

It is the year 1999, the Earth has been destroyed by World War III and the only remaining survivors are five young men who return from a space expedition only to be captured by the evil forces of the Galra Empire. Thankfully, they escape to find their way to planet Altea, home to five separate lion mechs that combine to make the unrivaled mystic mech, GoLion. Now, the GoLion mech is the only thing capable of standing up to the Galra Empire and their army of Beastmen.

hyakujuu ou golion wallpaper

Who does Hyakujuu-Ou GoLion cater to?

This is certainly for those who grew up watching Voltron back in the 1980s. This is the series in its original Japanese form. If you are a purist like me and feel like you have never seen an anime until you’ve seen it in its original Japanese, this is the perfect anime for you. This is also for those who love Hokuto no Ken since it is in some ways a post-apocalyptic series that has a lot of violence.

What's so appealing about this piece of work.

Well, this isn’t your daddy’s anime. Forget what you know about Voltron when getting into this series. It doesn’t mean jack squat! When you watch GoLion, you are getting something entirely new. Beyond its violent content which could never reach western airwaves, it tells a completely different story with totally different characterizations.

Hyakujuu-Ou GoLion Intro

Hyakujuu-Ou GoLion Main Characters List

Kogane Akira

hyakuju ou golion akira kogane

Voice Actor : Inoue Kazuhiko

Appropriately nicknamed Chief, Kogane is the leader of the GoLion team and the pilot of the black lion. Just like in Super Sentai/Power Rangers TV shows, he wears a red pilot suit to indicate he is the leader. He is strong willed and always demonstrates quality leadership skills, but will also have issues with his teammates on occasion.

Princess Faala

hyakuju ou golion princess faala

Voice Actor :Ukai Rumiko

After the death of her father, she is the ruler of the Planer Altea at just the age of 16. Then upon the death of Shirogane Takashi, she assumes the role as the pilot of the blue lion. At first, she exhibits doubt and hesitation with her duties as a pilot but after some more experience and support, she becomes a valuable ally in battle. Due to her resemblance to Sincline’s mother, he wants to claim her as his woman.

Emperor Daibazaal

Emperor Daibazaal golion voltron

Voice Actor : Tomita Kousei

The cruel ruler of the Galra Empire whose only goal, universal domination. His empire consists of numerous inter-galactic civilizations and uses the remaining survivors as slave labor. He is a brutal dictator who goes as far as slaughtering his own allies when the GoLion crew interrupts his birthday party. He does not tolerate failure and whenever he faces it, he will blames others including his own son, Sincline.

Prince Sincline

hyakujuu ou golion sincline

Voice Actor :Kamiya Akira

As Emperor Daibazaal’s son with a concubine from Planet Altea, Sincline is still recognized as the prince and the legitimate heir to the Galra Empire. He is a brilliant and calculating tactician, but also exhibits his father’s short temper and is willing to kill his own people at little to no provocation. Despite his behavior, when in battle he is more honorable than his father. Due to Princess Faala’s resemblance to his mother (who was killed by Daibazaal), he wishes to claim her as his wife.


Contains Spoilers

Hyakujuu-Ou GoLion Review

Voltron is merely the surface of what GoLion has to offer. GoLion is violent, dark, and gritty, but still manages to keep qualities that make it funny and kid friendly (by Japanese standards). There are disturbing portrayals of torture and slavery in a very clear and direct manner, and it is truly displays how difficult the war between Planet Altea and the Galra Empire truly is by giving the audience the slaughtering of innocents.

The pacing is average in conjunction to a mech series and there are some other usual superficial qualities that are present with the characterizations of the cast. For example, Princess Faala (or Alura in Voltron) for awhile does suffer from a complex of whether or not she can live up to the expectations of the team after she becomes the blue lion pilot, which will be further elaborated in the three events section.

No matter how many times you’ve seen Voltron, when you get to see GoLion in its original form, you truly feel like you’re watching it for the very first time and it will simply amaze you with what you never see in the western adaptation and just makes the series really fresh.

While watching Voltron throughout my childhood, I was amazed by its concept of a space medieval world in an intergalactic war, but with a mystical mech. The only animes I’ve seen to do something in this nature are Escaflowne and Aura Battler Dunbine, though they are significantly different in their own ways.

The design of GoLion is also still captivating to me with its simple but amazing articulation with the individual mechs, and how they can also form this humanoid giant robot. Of course we would see this concept again in Power Rangers or as they call it in Japan, Super Sentai. I know that the director Taguchi Katsuhiko was also a director for GoRanger, the original Super Sentai, which was a little over 10 years before GoLion. Granted it looks blocky when combined, but its colorfulness, its face and how each robot has its own weapon when formed gives it a very unique personality and presence.

Hyakujuu-Ou GoLion (Voltron) wallpaper

I am also fond of the style of the character design. It is of course typical 80s anime and after learning what anime is for the first time, when you go back to watching Voltron, you immediately recognize it as anime which people didn’t know until 15 years ago. The villains such as the Emperor Daibazaal or King Zarkon, were frightening and intimidating, and Prince Lotor or Prince Sincline’s design complimented his mixed heritage with not having wrinkly or scaly skin. So the character design is tolerable and very distinctive with its concept, and with awesome monster designs and fast paced battles.

I’m sure we all remember the opening theme of Voltron, which used trumpets in a fan fare manner to give it some epic dignity, which I didn’t mind, but it was kind of repetitive in the use of the show, but GoLion shares this same flaw in relation to their music. With the Japanese version, you got some Japanese disco (disco was still stayin’ alive in Japan in the 1980s) and the lions when combining after a certain amount of episodes even have their own image songs.

I felt they over used the blue lion and the black lion songs way too much, and I think the other lions deserve as much time to have their own songs featured. The opening theme sung by Mizuki Ichiro, offers a campy and fun atmosphere, but still expresses the true nature to the goals of GoLion and the team. The ending theme is also pretty preachy about how we all come from different backgrounds, but we all go down the same road.

The seiyuu cast consists of many great names in anime, some that qualify as legends. Inoue Kazuhiko, the voice of Kakashi from Naruto, plays Kogane, who you may remember as Keith. He sounds gruffy, but he’s convincing as both a teenager and as a commanding leader, and doesn’t have that laid back approach that he has with Kakashi. And both Takashi and Ryou Shirogane, is played by Nakao Ryuusei, who you may know as the voice of Freeza in DBZ, and I thought he brought Takashi’s quiet, but outspoken and opinionated nature to life, as well as the rash nature of Ryou.

Another DBZ alumnus, Nozawa Masako, the voice of Gokuu, is the voice of Suzuishi (or Pidge), who I thought was appropriately chosen, and also does an excellent job as the voice of Honerva the witch, by sounding very evil and cunning. And Sincline is played by Kamiya Akira, the voice of Kenshiro from Hokuto no Ken, comes across as sadistic and crazy as well as charismatic.

If I was to associate his portrayal with something along the mainstream, I’d say imagine the portrayal of Garlic, Jr. from DBZ, and you got Sincline. I personally think this is Kamiya’s best performance yet, and I always thought he did better playing villains. So the Japanese version also truly captures the characters in a performance that reflect its fun and dark nature.

1. The Origin of GoLion

hyakujuu ou golion Highlight 1

Prior to being a robot that can be piloted, GoLion was originally a sentient God that loved to fight. However, due to its original arrogance, GoLion tried to challenge the Goddess of Universe to a duel but was easily defeated. To teach GoLion humility, the Goddess separated him to five mechs and seals him on the planet Altea.

2. The Violence

hyakujuu ou golion Highlight 2

The violence is of course shocking to those familiar with Voltron, which we could never see. When the he Garla soldiers are killed in Voltron, the Americanization just called them robots, while in fact they were organic beings in GoLion. What’s also disturbing is that you’ll see massacres of women and children by getting chopped in half. Not even Hokuto no Ken could get away with that in their anime adaptation when it happened all the time in the original manga.

3. The Death of the Shirogane Brothers

hyakuju ou golion Highlight 3

Despite Sven (America’s favorite Sweedish anime character) being put on the injured list in Voltron, he died fighting Honerva (who you may know as Haggar in Voltron) in GoLion. This aspect serves as one of the biggest distinguishing factors between Voltron and its original Japanese counterpart.

What is also entirely cut out from the western release is Shirogane’s funeral. Later on, his younger brother Ryo, (though he is re-written as Sven in Voltron) comes back to support the team and at the end of the series, sacrifices his life to kill Prince Sincline.


After watching GoLion, it is difficult to bring myself to take Voltron seriously. It’s just every time I watch Voltron, I laugh my head off over the changes and edits, and the cheesy accents they gave Hys and Shirogane. It’s not out of outrage or spite, but because I now know this anime for what it really is and it’s just unbelievable what the edits are in a very comedic sense.

Just like how in the old DBZ dub, they had this “Send you to the next dimension” mumbo jumbo. As a matter of fact, I can’t call the product Voltron as anime anymore just like with Speed Racer. It was just taken from its original source material and became integrated to American culture, because Voltron is an icon in that respect as well as Speed Racer, and not as anime. And I can’t see them as anime icons.

If you want to see them as icons of anime, see GoLion and Mach Go Go Go instead. To me, the difference between GoLion and Voltron is like picking between the red pill and the blue pill in the Matrix. And after watching GoLion, Voltron truly loses its novelty and value.

I guess if I never saw Voltron to begin with, I wouldn’t have found my way to GoLion, not out of assumption of what it was going to really be like, but out of curiosity without knowing what to expect. The only thing I could guess were that the names were changed and probably so were some elements of the story, and GoLion just answered my expectations just beyond my superficial ones. And if you really want to see this, please buy the DVDs.

Justin

Writer

Author: Justin "ParaParaJMo" Moriarty

Hello, I am originally from the states and have lived in Japan since 2009. Though I watched Robotech and Voltron as a child, I officially became an anime fan in 1994 through Dragon Ball Z during a trip to the Philippines. In addition to anime, I also love tokusatsu, video games, music, and martial arts. よろしくお願いします

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