Well crafted. Light-hearted. Hints of gender nonconformity. But still embraces redemptive violence.
I was an 80’s kid who always (skeptically) looks forward to modern updates and remakes of old childhood favorites … especially since the old cartoons often don’t hold up well (try watching old episodes of Transformers, GI Joe, or Thundercats without cringing).
A lot of the updates are quite good. But virtually all of them play into the myth of redemptive violence, with the exception of updates of “girl toy cartoons” (I hate myself for typing that sentence, but that’s how it was seen in the 1980’s) like the adorable My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, which I love to watch with my daughter.
Voltron: Legendary Defender is especially well done. The animation, music, voice work, characterization, and even dialogue are top-notch, and appropriate for children (though not for a 3-year old). The plot is serialized, and each episode leaves the viewer in suspense for the next. I have been thoroughly enjoying watching it myself.
The heroes’ success turns on teamwork and on realizing the importance of putting aside their own personal needs in order to protect society at large, which are good things.
Of course, protecting society at large mostly involves blowing up massive numbers of enemy ships, robots, and mecha. It’s the myth of redemptive violence all the way down.
I know it takes a little more thought to come up with non-violent plots, especially in a show with a violent predecessor, but the excellent Transformers Rescue Bots (and the aforementioned My Little Pony) proves it is possible to design action-packed kids cartoons, and even to draw off Gen-X nostalgia, without glorifying violence.
I just wish more people would do it.
(Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 1 is available on Netflix now).