NOTE: This review may contain some mild spoilers for the second season of, “Voltron: Legendary Defender.” That said, the review is written to accommodate those who have not yet watched the season, and as such, will avoid discussion of major plot developments.
Voltron: Legendary Defender surprised many when its first season debuted on Netflix last year, being a surprisingly competent, enjoyable and smart reboot of the increasingly convoluted Voltron canon of old. A great series for both kids and adults, particularly if said adults already love the original Voltron cartoons, Voltron: Legendary Defender boasts gorgeous animation and plenty of non-stop thrills. Somehow, the new second season of the show manages to improve it all further as well!
When Season One ended, the Paladins of Voltron were barely escaping with their lives from the stronghold of arch-villain, Emperor Zarkon, tumbling through an unstable wormhole. As Season Two begins, the main characters all find themselves separated in different corners of space, having to regroup and strengthen their resources, now that Princess Allura has been successfully reclaimed.
This immediately starts Season Two on a very interesting and effective note, as entire episodes are dedicated to splintering the group and unfolding from separate perspectives, rather than always having the full Voltron team together. The team still always comes together for the season’s biggest battles and missions in Season Two, mind you, but now that Season One has gotten the duties of establishment out of the way, Season Two can dive deeper into these characters and this new canon’s lore.
This is very welcome for people who don’t already know the classic Voltron canon, and can’t fill in some of these essential character blanks that remain in this reboot. The show’s heroes have never felt more endearing or likable as they have in this new season. Having them separated and vulnerable in quite a few episodes of Season Two is a great chance to see how they function without relying on their team to bail them out of danger, or any situation where they may find themselves at a disadvantage. Sometimes, this struggle is played for humour, namely in a standout episode where the protagonists separate to hit a shopping mall, and all of them wind up being mistaken for individual thieves, which is a far better episode than you would imagine. Even when the struggles of the characters are more predictably played for drama though, they remain on-point and interesting.
This is especially true when some shocking new revelations are made about characters we thought we knew. Pidge being outed as a woman in this new rebooted canon was probably the most shocking reveal of Season One, especially for fans of classic Voltron where Pidge was indeed a male, but Season Two has several bigger surprises in store for other characters. Shiro and Keith have some particularly unexpected details behind their characters that come to light in Season Two, which makes the conflict against the Galra Empire take a new, more complex form. That’s to say nothing of some pretty big reveals about Emperor Zarkon this season too, who was a pretty basic megalomaniac in Season One, but in Season Two, Zarkon’s own backstory starts being gradually revealed, making him more than just a cartoon villain by season’s end.
The Galra in general gain a lot more depth in Season Two actually, which is a huge part of the reason why the second season of Voltron: Legendary Defender is even better than the first. The Galra are no longer a tight, impenetrable force of villains this time. Instead, we see a whole other side of the antagonistic alien empire, as doubters and resisters from within them begin to become apparent to Team Voltron, who face the predictable, though still worthwhile lesson of not painting an entire group of people with the same brush. This is an especially big conflict with Allura’s character in Season Two, as she in particular is forced to try and accept the truth that not all Galra are innately evil, even after the Galra were responsible for the destruction of her home planet and everyone she knew, save for Coran, who is more or less entirely his usual self this season, for better or for worse.
Naturally, everything that Season One of Voltron: Legendary Defender did well continues to be done very well in Season Two. The show’s Americanime/CG hybrid animation, a joint production between Dreamworks Animation, World Events Productions and Studio Mir, remains breathtaking, especially in the flashy, highly explosive action scenes! Even if you aren’t normally drawn to anime-style visuals, Voltron: Legendary Defender remains a visual marvel for Netflix especially, with the scale and ambition behind the action and visual style cranked up even higher in the second season, which boasts bigger battles and a more competent team of Voltron Paladins.
It’s even more difficult to find anything to truly complain about in Voltron: Legendary Defender’s second season, after it turned out even better than the already-superb first season. I suppose the only thing that some may take issue with (though it won’t matter at all to avid fans both young and old), is that the show is still stubbornly bound to a few tired traditions that not everyone will accept. As fun as it is for fans to see the Voltron transformation sequence for example, more casual viewers will probably still find it annoying that every Voltron transformation has to be accompanied by the same unchanged animation sequence. The show’s overblown sense of destruction also doesn’t totally make sense all the time, yet again, as world-obliterating attacks somehow still don’t completely annihilate the Voltron Lions or Allura’s castle, even when they probably should. Sometimes the characters only seem to inexplicably survive direct hits from planet-searing beams and warhead-level explosions because the story demands it, not because they actually find a clever way to defend against such overwhelming assaults.
That’s pretty par for the course for Voltron though, not to mention various other anime-inspired sci-fi cartoons like it. The bottom line remains that Voltron: Legendary Defender has only gotten better in its second season! Despite Netflix’s reputation as a great home for explicit, unedited entertainment made purely for adults, the streaming platform has actually been crushing it lately with its family-friendly original shows, between Trollhunters, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and now this second season of Voltron: Legendary Defender. Even if you’re a grown adult that merely appreciates great animated shows, there’s never been a better time to check out the newest incarnation of Voltron, which is continuing on the path to being the best one yet!
- Characters are fleshed out more, particularly the Galra
- Lots of great twists and humour across new storylines
- Action, animation and presentation remain outstanding
- Still a few stubborn Japanese traditions that may annoy Western viewers