Although I missed the first coming of Voltron by a decade, the Defender of the Universe was not stuck in the ‘80s. Mecha mania rocked the entertainment industry for years afterward. World Events Productions proved children’s programming deserved more attention, challenging the formulation of bland alphabet beats recited by vacuous characters. Their collaboration with Toei Animation set a standard that paved the way for future imports. Transformers and that Super Sentai adaptation may never have reached North America, if not for Voltron’s popularity. And unlike its live-action counterparts, that are best seen through shielded eyes with a forgiving temperament, the show has aged reasonably well. Older Japanese animation has an inexplicable quality beyond nostalgia’s veneer.
Voltron: From Days of Long Ago, written by Brian Smith and edited by Traci Todd, celebrates the show’s thirtieth anniversary. Everyone’s favorite robot looms over the cover, rendered in dramatic grayscale beneath the silvery embossed logotype. It’s a good-looking book. The collection epitomizes geekery and was clearly created with diehard fans in mind. Just sentences into Jeremy Corray’s foreword, it’s apparent a lot of love was put into this project.
"The collection epitomizes geekery and was clearly created with diehard fans in mind. Just sentences into Jeremy Corray’s foreword, it’s apparent a lot of love was put into this project."
Composed in two parts, the origin and the lore, the book includes everything from a visual chronology to a definitive guide to every Robeast-of-the-week. The expertly designed spreads are a joy to read. In my mind, the term “coffee table book” is a glaring misnomer. This is the kind of book best read sprawled out, belly first on the living room carpet. If your inner collector simply can’t fathom voluntarily entering page-denting environments, pick up two copies: one for the shelf and one for the bathtub.
Documentaries and behind-the-scenes specials dominate my most-watched categories on Netflix. It’s not uncommon for me to sit tight for an hour-long “Making Of” minutes after finishing a film. This generation’s desire for transparency cuts both ways. In the case of dissecting a favorite cartoon, I welcome the analysis. And for these reasons, I prefer the first half of this tribute. My only complaint is that I wish there was more of it. Titling the first chapter “Mom and Pop Robot Shop” is ingenious.
"The inside covers, decorated with notes from Voltron devotees, read like an old yearbook filled with the sincerest messages. Pieces of faux tape and sticker graphics only enhance the effect."
Brian Smith’s well-written exposition paints a clear picture of the time, and former WEP CEO Ted Koplar’s unwavering determination. Dedicating an entire chapter to the unforgettable toys, complete with full-page photos, solidifies the focus of the target audience. The inside covers, decorated with notes from Voltron devotees, read like an old yearbook filled with the sincerest messages. Pieces of faux tape and sticker graphics only enhance the effect. Perhaps my favorite part of the entire book is Clare Grant’s (Founder of Team Unicorn) childhood love letter to Voltron, written in teal crayon and signed with a dozen hearts.
"The book’s contributors amassed an enormous amount of content that fully rounds off the universe, granting Voltron both scope and depth."
The bulk of From Days of Long Ago describes the legend behind Voltron with a historian’s level of detail. The Galaxy Alliance Archives present everything you could ever want to know about the precise assembly of Voltron, down to the exact weight of individual components. The section includes in-depth character profiles for the original pilots as well as the Voltron Force cadets. Voltron’s villains are granted equal, if not greater, page real-estate. Part two concludes with Vehicle Voltron and spends time explaining its unique specifications and weaponry. The epilogue concludes on a high note. Jacob Chabot’s brilliant full-color comic perfectly introduces the new series, Voltron Force.
The book’s contributors amassed an enormous amount of content that fully rounds off the universe, granting Voltron both scope and depth. I can easily see this anniversary release retailing for twice the price. At $29.99, From Days of Long Ago is a steal. It’s a big, gorgeous book that any fan will appreciate.
Review by: Ameenah Salamunic | Published by: VIZ Media's Perfect Square