Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 6 Interview – Space Grandpa

Season Six of Voltron: Legendary Defender just released on Netflix last week and I got to chat with executive producers and co-showrunners Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery for a few minutes about the season.

NOTE: This was originally published at GeekDad.com.

GeekDad:
Season 6 was awesome, of course. Best yet, in my opinion. One quick question before I start asking about Season 6 though, do you know if you’re going to be at San Diego Comic Con this year?
Joaquim Dos Santos:
We don’t know, but announcements on that sort of thing should come out in a timely manner. [NOTE: Since publication, it was announced that on Friday, July 20, at 10:15am in San Diego Convention Center room 6BCF,Dos Santos, Montgomery, story editor Josh Hamilton, and actors Rhys Darby (voice of Coran), Bex Taylor-Klaus (voice of Pidge), and Jeremy Shada (voice of Lance) there will be a Voltron panel screening the first episode of Season 7.]
GD:
The first question I wanted to ask, because I haven’t really seen anyone talking about this: Keith’s dad and Shiro are wearing the same vest.
Lauren Montgomery:
Yeah, that was something I think Joaquim came up with. We never really figured out where Shiro got his outfit from so we decided to work it in with this nice little reference to Keith’s past. His dad was a firefighter and that was his firefighting uniform and so, ultimately, his father passed away. And we come to the present where Shiro shows up, and all he has is some Galra prisoner spandex that he doesn’t want to wear anymore, and Keith gives him his father’s old outfit. So that’s where Shiro gets his outfit; it’s Keith’s dad’s old uniform.
GD:
Awesome, that was really cool. My favorite episode of S6 is E2 with Keith and Krolia because, as you guys know, I’m a big Keith fan. One question I have though: does the time wolf have a name?
JDS:
We will need to sort of wait on that. He has not been given a name yet as many people have pointed out online. He’s not born with a name.
LM:
But we’ll see if he gets one in the future *wink wink*.
GD:
But we will see him again?
JDS:
WHO KNOWS? We love spaces wolves, so he’ll be around.
GD:
I especially like that Keith got older because, as you guys know, as one of my cosplays I do Old Man Keith just because I’m much older and so it’s nice now we’re a little bit closer in age.
JDS:
That’s right. We did it all for you. (laughs)
GD:
(laughs) Thanks, I appreciate it. I also loved-everyone loves the D&D episode, right? Who’s idea was it for Shiro to whip out the old school, blazing sword, and how cool was it to actually be able to do that on screen?
LM:
I can’t remember whose idea it was. I know our goal in that room, this is kind of a funny story, but in amongst the treasure, we were going to try and throw every Easter Egg we could think of and one of them was a Voltron blazing sword and then we were like, “oh, that would be Shiro’s upgrade.” We tried… I tried to shove in every Disney reference I could but unfortunately we made a huge mistake which was when we sent it through legal things were still referenced on the sheet and, they were like, “Oh, you can’t do this!” So they ALL went away, so you’ll look at that treasure scene and there’ll be nothing. We tried Aladdin’s lamp and Cinderella’s glass slipper and a few other things.
JDS:
There’s a couple of things.
LM:
I think there’s a He-Man sword. Most of them are gone.
JDS:
We got a couple.
LM:
But we learned from our mistakes so, in the future there will be some Easter Eggs that do not get caught because we did not put their source material on the sign.
JDS:
It was, like, the most foolish thing we’ve ever done on the show. Literally, “Hey, legal, is this okay to do?” (laughing)
GD:
Always better to ask forgiveness, right? One thing that was really cool in this season, and we got two different versions of it. The show has a pretty distinctive style but in the D&D episode, we got the 8-bit stuff and in the Keith/Shiro battle we got, like, full on, old school anime fight scenes. What was the vision to change the style for those two things?
JDS:
For the D&D episode, we were just throwing every reference we could at the wall so that 8-bit is a direct sort of… you know 8-bit to 16-bit era graphics, and we got an awesome pixel artist named Michael Azzi to do that stuff and he worked. You can see on the video games-
LM:
You can see it in the video games Lance plays with the pig and the big dragon—
JDS:
Demonsphere.
LM:
Since that episode was influenced not only by the tabletop gaming but also by RPGs we’ve all played over the years, some video games, from the old Nintendo to Super Nintendo to full on PlayStation and on, the pixel art is more just a reference to the older style stuff. There’s also a huge reference to what I think is World of Warcraft.
JDS:
World of Warcraft. We go into that UI, and we hear a mouse clicking or something.
LM:
Or when the hand clicks on the arrow or Allura uses the exact same sound byte every time she shot the arrow (she did an adorable version of the sound byte). For the big fight, the Keith and Shiro fight, that was actually more out of necessity. We ended up having to do some in-house retakes because some of the animation came back a little wonky and I want to say either Ryu…
JDS:
Yeah, Ryu did a lot of fixing and the stuff that’s more stylized and that was a lot of his influence on it, and I think just totally, because, you know both of the characters are pushed to the brink and for lack of a better word, they’re both at their most feral at that time, that more edgy style worked really, really well.
GeekDad:
It kind of brought out more of the emotion of the whole battle. It was amazing. So, are we going to see the Blade of Marmora again?
JDS:
Oh, they’re definitely still out there doing their thing. They’re not dead.
LM:
Yet. (laughs) We try not to let anyone fade away without giving a reason so I think it’s safe to say that anyone we haven’t closed the door on their story you’ll probably see them again.
JDS:
It’s tough though. We’ve got a huge show with a ton of characters at this point.
GD:
Shiro and his gray hair-is that a trauma thing or is there another significance?
LM:
It was just our way of showing that he’s not exactly the same Shiro. We’re not right back at Season 1. He’s been through some stuff and if we have a physical way to show, “This Shiro has been through it. He’s basically died and had his place occupied by a clone then came out of the black lion and merged with that clone, and now he’s essentially this amalgamation of the original Shiro and the better version of this clone.”
JDS:
This represents that he’s officially a space angel.
LM:
Or space grandpa.
GD:
Is he going to get a cool Altean arm now?
JDS:
We’ll have to wait and see! (laughs) Yeah, he’s sort of armless right now.
LM:
Give him a hand! (laughs)
GD:
So, I know before when I was making you guys bayards, I asked what your favorite character was. You said Pidge and Keith, but I didn’t really ask you why you identified with them. And I realized watching episode two, and Keith has always been my favorite character, even though in a lot of ways, I’m more a Pidge, I realized that, for me, my dad died when I was young and my mom was a single mom who was mostly gone, and I kind of identify a lot with Keith and how he grew up. It made me wonder why you guys identify with the paladins you told me before.
LM:
I think my personal favorite paladin is not necessarily the paladin I identify the most with. I LOVE Pidge, and she’s my favorite because I found a way to introduce another female character with an interesting backstory but that also isn’t just your standard female. But I don’t have a crazy amount in common with her. I’m definitely not in any way a child prodigy. I am the worst at technology. If I press a button and my computer does something, I don’t usually know what I did, and then I have to call the tech people to fix it. But I would say the character I feel most similar to would be also Keith. In no way, shape, or form because of his background but just because Keith is a less talk and more do sort of guy and that’s generally who I am too. I’m not much of a “Let’s chum it up.” If it needs to get done, I’ll do it and that would be a reason why we’re more similar. I’m more similar with the quiet guy than I am with Hunk, who is very friendly and likes food and I don’t like food. Well, you know (laughs). Other reasons.
JDS:
Yeah, I mean, it’s in a similar regard, I feel like there are different aspects of the different paladins that I relate to. If I had to pick two I was more relating to, I’d be a combination of Keith and Lance or something.
LM:
The ultimate Klance?
JDS:
I’m the ultimate Klance. Within myself. (laughs) I had a similar situation with my parents so I do relate to Keith in that regard. But I don’t know. There’s no real, like, perfect answer to this one I think, for both Lauren and I. That’s pretty much all I have to say on that.
LM:
I think there are pieces of each paladin that we related to. I definitely don’t feel like I have one specific paladin that just represents me.
JDS:
That’s one of the great things about our paladins. It allows everybody to be the things that they resonate with in each of them.
LM:
And if there is a paladin that fully represents someone, that they can relate to, but if they’re in the same situation as us, and they’re like, “I see a little bit over here and little bit of this character,” but then there are also the characters you maybe don’t feel like you are yet but you aspire to be and then you can enter that goal.
JDS:
I’m going for a Kolivan on that one.

Voltron fans are amazing, and last week as I was preparing this interview, I made mention of the revelation that Keith’s dad was a firefighter, and Adrian Hutson, made some amazing fan art around the idea of Keith’s dad saving Keith from a fire in which he also dies. Please check out their art. It’s so amazing!

And one more shout out to Zilla. Not only did she make my cool Billythebrick Cosplay logo, but it was her art of Shiro with an Altean arm that inspired my question to the writers.

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