Pretty much everything before 1979 is a blur. Bits and pieces flash before my eyes, but they’re fleeting.
1973-1978 are little more than flickering visions of polyester and plaid.
But for the longest time I could swear I was a child obsessed—with a cartoon.
I have visions of jumping around the backyard in a homemade costume, a paper “G” safety-pinned to my chest.
But it’s all so…fuzzy.
Maybe I was just thinking about Voltron.
But I could have sworn there was something before that—better than that.
It drove me nuts trying to grasp at the details of something that may or may not have existed.
20 years later, I was flipping through the channels when I landed on Cartoon Network.
There it was. Or was it?
I could have sworn it was called something else, but there it was.
G-Force: Guardians of the Universe.
I sat for a moment and watched.
Suddenly a flood of memories came rushing back, but…the memories weren’t matching up. Wasn’t this called Battle of the Planets?
And who the fuck are Ace Goodheart and Dirk Daring? Weren’t they named Mark and Jason?
It looked right, but the voices seemed off, the names were wrong…and wasn’t there originally a talking robot involved?
Was my memory that bad? I know I had my fun in college, but I had to have a few functioning brain cells left.
I turned the TV off and went to bed, confused and mildly angry that my childhood memories were so wrong.
But this was in a time before Wikipedia.
It turns out my childhood memories hadn’t failed me. I was right.
in 1972 Kagaku Ninja Tai Gathchaman was created in Japan. A few years later Sandy Frank, a producer most famous for the game show Name that Tune introduced an American dubbed version called Battle of the Planets.
But there were some changes. To hit the American juvenile television market of the late 1970s, Frank removed most of the elements of graphic violence, profanity and transgenderism—and added a talking robot, most likely to cash in on the popularity of a little movie called Star Wars.
So what the hell was on Cartoon Network?
In 1986 the cartoon was retooled as G-Force: Defenders of the Universe by Turner Entertainment. They added back in all the violence, removed the cute little robot and changed the names and voices.
And this is what aired on Cartoon Network.
Now, I like me some violent television, but…
I don’t like watching classic moments from my youth vandalized—even if it was restored it to its original glory.
Even if, in reality, that which I held so dearly was the actual vandalism.
As I read about my beloved childhood cartoon, I began noticing a strange similarity— another dubbed Japanese classic from the “good old days” bared some striking resemblances.
It got me wondering.
Did Voltron coldplay Battle of the Planets?
Now, before I continue, let me stress that as a child, I loved Voltron. Just about every boy my age did.
This isn’t about whether or not Voltron was bad ass. We all know Voltron was bad ass.
Let’s just look at some of the evidence, shall we?
Battle of the Planets was a team of five. Each had a vehicle that fit into their main ship, the Phoenix.
Voltron was a team of five. Each had a vehicle that fit together to form the super robot, Voltron.
Perhaps, but, let’s look at the teams, shall we?
Each color-coordinated team is lead by a stoic leader, level headed and heroic.
Both teams have an impetuous, hot-headed second in command, always ready to contest the decisions of the leader.
Chunky lummox with a heart of gold? Check.
Quirky, little guy with a speech impediment? Check.
Pink-clad female team member named Princess? Check and check. (Why do they always name the female team member Princess?)
Like I said before, I loved me some Voltron as a kid. They formed a blazing sword, for god’s sake.
But this isn’t about which show was better.
Truth be told, this isn’t even about which came first.
It’s really about proving my childhood was real. Those faded memories wrapped up in polyester and plaid—they were real…
As real as skinned knees and birthday cakes, an inevitable part of my childhood that was almost lost to the annals of time.
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