A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this 1980s anime series features plenty of cartoon violence -- including explosions, aircraft crashes, robotic electrocution, and extensive falls -- little of which results in visible/obvious injury and most of which is relatively benign. Characters always resort to using force against their enemies (who want to round up and enslave unsuspecting victims, turning them into a battalion of warriors). There's plenty of mutual respect and cooperation within the Voltron force, and although the lone female character is slightly overemotional at times, she's an integral part of the team's success.
What's the story?
In the ongoing battle between good and evil, the fate of peace in the universe rests with VOLTRON, a giant shape-changing robot manned by the dedicated warriors of the Voltron force. Together they battle King Zarkon's tyrannical attempts to enslave the masses and create a battalion of vicious soldiers. Along with his son, Prince Lotor (voiced by Lennie Weinrib), and a sinister witch named Hagar (B.J. Ward), Zarkon (Jack Angel) sets his sights on bringing all of the galaxy's planets into his villainous fold and simultaneously destroying his nemesis, Voltron. He dispatches minions to far-reaching worlds to round up the peaceful residents, but even his best-laid plans are usually foiled by the dedicated do-gooders of the Voltron force. Working under the oversight of war veteran Coran (Peter Cullen) and answering to an alliance of good planets, the force's five space explorers keep tabs on Zarkon's moves and wage war on his troops.
Is it any good?
The group is a good balance of different types. Levelheaded Keith's (Neil Ross) dedication to the cause is an inspiration to his teammates. Lighthearted Lance (Michael Bell) and impulsive Hunk (Weinrib) often keep their cohorts guessing with their antics -- but at heart, they're as industrious as the others. Meanwhile, sensitive Pidge (Weinrib again) sometimes shows his youth in his tendency to jump into any situation headfirst, and unlikely warrior Allura (Ward) determinedly proves that she can hang in there with her male peers. (In early episodes, a character named Sven, voiced by Bell, was the fifth force member, but an injury forced him out, opening a spot for Allura.)
Traveling the galaxy in robotic lions, the quintet regularly join their vehicles together to form megarobot Voltron, which proceeds to stomp and blast its way to defending the universe from Zarkon's evil clutches. Although the group's intervention usually frees his latest conquest, Zarkon's frustration over being overpowered only increases his determination to win next time around. A fan favorite in its 1980s heyday, Voltron spawned a second series in the 1990s, as well as a line of action toys. But given that the "vintage" merchandise isn't readily available on store shelves today, the series, though dated, might be a welcome choice for adventurous tweens whose parents would prefer to avoid getting caught up in a cloud of commercialism. Just be ready for a fair amount of cartoon violence -- it's pretty tame by today's standards, but it's still prevalent.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in cartoons. Why are so many kids' cartoons action-oriented, with lots of crashes and battles? Is that more fun to watch than quieter shows? Why? Are TV shows and movies more violent now than they used to be? Why do you think that is? Is society as a whole more violent? What dangers exist in public places (like schools, shopping malls, and city parks) and at home? How does the media affect our view of violence and violent offenders?