Thursday 12 May 2016

Voltron: second verse same as the first?

I have never, ever in my life read or watched anything from the Voltron franchise. I'd heard of it, knew it was a big deal but never experienced it. The only time it really pinged my radar was when that rumour went around that Cloverfield was a secret Voltron reboot and that was... about as wrong as its possible to be, let's face it.

Now I'm planning to watch a Netflix reboot of the thing. Why?

Well, one of the oldest marketing ploys known to man: “This thing is like a thing you loved before!” Netflix put up a trailer full of animation, voice acting and humour that reminded me of Legend of Korra and, of course, a short Google search later it turns out that Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery of Legend of Korra are working on this thing.

So, philosophical question: do I want truth in this advertising?

Short answer: … ish. Long answer: I think this is one of the greatest traps in the creative world. You absolutely cannot predict what someone will enjoy except by looking at what they already enjoy. This is as true of a friend recommending a book as it is of a multi-national corporation greenlighting a movie. Netflix poured money into this thing because some of the makers of Legend of Korra wanted to make a Voltron reboot and here is how it has been marketed to me:

1. The animation looks like Legend of Korra.
2. The humour sounds like Legend of Korra.
3. There is a comedy coward like Bolin in Legend of Korra.
4. Press were very clearly told about Dos Santos and Montgomery's involvement.
5. Press have speculated about the series based on this connection, as they were meant to.

What we need to disentangle here is that using this connection to interest me and using it to entertain me are different ideas. Would I like more Korra? Yeah, of course I want more of the thing I enjoyed and I'm well up for Dark Horse's sequel comics when they eventually deign to publish them. I'm a nerd, which is just hedonism disguised as literary taste.

The thing is that just producing the same thing again and again bores your audience no matter how much they loved the first thing. I loved Legend of Korra but I already watched four seasons of it. What I hope, given that Korra was a 1930s movie serial in cartoon form and Voltron seems to be a Sentei series, is that I'm going to get a very different experience from this series almost by default.

Essentially, once I knew Dos Santos and Montgomery were involved I wanted to see what they were going to do next, not see what they did before again. I want to see them run off in a new direction, just as Legend of Korra ran off in a very different direction from The Last Airbender

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