The Voltron Coalition was in full force last weekend at NYCC to learn the latest about the Legendary Defender and the struggle against the Galra Empire. On hand were executive producers Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery, as well as voice actors Josh Keaton (Shiro), Kimberly Brooks (Allura), and AJ LoCascio (Lotor). Needless to say, much was revealed at the panel and press room that will whet fan appetites for Season 4 now available on Netflix.
Last season, it was a completely different ballgame for the Paladins when Zarkon’s son Lotor took over the Galra Empire in his father’s absence with a strategy involving the empowerment of his followers. Both Dos Santos and Montgomery have admitted Zarkon was initially a pretty straightforward villain that was necessary when launching the series, but with Lotor they wanted an antagonist who was nuanced and had more layers to his agenda. This prompted Lotor’s voice actor AJ LoCascio to joke, “Lotors are like onions!” The cast and crew eagerly await the fan art and memes to come, and sure enough they’re already here.
Of the various clips that were shown during the panel, fans hoping for the return of Kaltenecker the Earth cow will be most delighted to see Lance instructing Allura and Coran on the art of milking. Apparently, you can thank Dos Santos for this hilarious gag who believes if you were to see an alien milking another alien, you’d probably have the same reaction as the Alteans. Don’t take my word for it, see for yourself below:
Understandably, certain story elements still had to be kept under wraps, in particular Shiro’s role going forward now that Keith has taken command of the Black Lion. Josh “Space Dad” Keaton hinted at big things to come now that the character dynamics have changed within the team.
I would have been remiss if I didn’t ask the cast about working with the legendary and gifted voice director Andrea Romano, who recently retired with Voltron as one of her last major projects. Unsurprisingly, the cast had nothing but praise for Romano and her directing talents. “She brings this unflappable positivity,” said Keaton. “She always has a smile on her face. She always knows how to make the actor how to feel safe. And when we feel safe, we feel free to create. It is going to be a big loss to not have her around.” Brooks echoed Keaton’s sentiments on Romano’s impact on the animation industry. “The fact that she’s not going to be directing anymore is a major loss for this whole industry. She’s incredible and knows how to get the best out of any actor.”
While Keaton and Brooks go back in their careers with Romano, this was LoCascio’s first animated show working with Romano and the magnitude of the experience was not lost on him. “I dreamed of working with her since I first got into voice acting,” he said. “I knew who she was and thought, ‘That’s the bar!’ She’s like Mr. Miyagi for voiceover.”
Of course, Romano isn’t the only person responsible for producing this high a quality animated series at such breakneck speed. Co-executive producer Lauren Montgomery credits everyone involved in Voltron from the animators to the cast that enabled the show to be as successful as it has been. “It’s a marathon that feels like a spring 24/7 but we’re extremely fortunate to have a team that bolsters us and are really good at their jobs. And a cast that is also incredible. So having everyone doing the best job they can, working at 100%, is the only thing that allows us to do it.”
During press room interviews, it was noted that Zarkon and Lotor’s goal could be described as “Make the Galaxy Great Again.” When asked if current events influenced the new season, Dos Santos said, “I think the current climate informs everything you do. You can’t avoid it. But we were a ways out from all this craziness that went on politically here.”
While viewers may be unable to separate certain themes and aspects of the show from everything happening in the world today, Montgomery offered the hope of providing a positive message through Voltron in these trying times, “And [we want] to let people know that even when times are scary for our characters, don’t give up on pushing for what’s right just because the odds seem hopeless.”
The overall theme of Season 4 was summed up by Dos Santos as “Evolution.” It’s said that evolution favors the strong, so the Paladins will need all the strength at their disposal when they face a Zarkon and Lotor.