Ria is an avid anime and sci-fi fan who loves gushing about her latest favorite shows.
Nothing can ever replace Voltron: Legendary Defender's blend of epic robot lion battles, amazing character development, and memorable drama. The character interactions alone have inspired terabytes of internet content. (Okay, I don't know for a fact if terabytes is accurate, but it might well be.) The good news is that some shows out there are almost as good - and some even do certain things better. Here are the ongoing and completed shows that are most similar to VLD in spirit and content. Of course, leave a comment if you have other recommendations!
Gurren Lagann's premise is ridiculously similar to VLD's: young hooligans unearth a mecha, meet a girl, and begin to battle an enemy far greater than themselves. Gurren Lagann is decidedly less pure and wholesome than VLD - there's an entire episode dedicated to hot spring hijinks - but you get the same level of galaxy-spanning epicness in a slightly zanier package. Main character Simon is basically Hunk, Kamina is arguably a blend of Shiro and Lance, and the rest of the cast brings a well-blended range of character traits and talents that makes almost every episode a real treat for mecha fans.
(Heads-up: if you hated VLD season 8, you might end up hating parts of Gurren Lagann too! Gurren Lagann's finale is definitely better overall, though.)
If you're not usually a fan of anime, it's possible that you've never heard of Eureka Seven. It's a nearly fifteen-year-old franchise that has remained alive and popular in Japan, but hasn't retained much of a fan following in America. Its sequel series, Eureka Seven AO, didn't do nearly as well as the original, though a three-movie reboot is currently being released in Jaapn.
Like VLD and Gurren Lagann, Eureka Seven opens with a boy, a mecha, a girl, and a sudden battle - but this time, the enemy is much closer to home. The world of Eureka Seven has mysterious creatures, sci-fi societies, and political dealings, making it similar to VLD in many ways. While Eureka Seven ends up being significantly darker overall, it still maintains enough comedy and charm to make it accessible to most audiences.
Miraculous: The Adventures of Ladybug and Cat Noir
This French show about two superhero teens with secret identities has drawn international attention for its cute character dynamics. Some have even compared it to Sailor Moon in how the main characters interact with each other while hiding their true identities! Fans of VLD's romantic subplot will probably find Ladybug and Cat Noir to be a lovable pair. Overall, it's a well-written and clever series, making it a notch above most children's shows.
Avatar: The Last Airbender / Legend of Korra
No list of recommendations for VLD fans would be complete without Avatar and its critically-acclaimed sequel, which paint a vivid and accessible fantasy world for fans of action and drama. Both series are made by the same studio that made VLD, so the spirit and style of the shows are largely the same. Legend of Korra drew praise in particular for its relatively mature themes, which older VLD fans may appreciate.
My Hero Academia
After the controversies of VLD seasons 7 and 8, many disappointed fans announced that they would be shipping - er, shifting their love and adoration to My Hero Academia. MHA is about teens at a high school for superheroes, so the premise is very different from VLD's, and some may not enjoy the superpowered antics. The large and colorful cast makes for endless entertainment, though, and the villains' motivations keep fans engaged for battle after battle. Currently, the series has three seasons and a movie, but a fourth season has been announced.
This classic anime skips the mecha action in favor of a more traditional sci-fi feel. Like VLD, there are high-drama episodes, high-comedy episodes, and an overarching plot that keeps viewers glued to the screen. Main character Spike is much cooler and put-together than any of VLD's main cast, but he has enough secrets and quirks to make him a compelling lead. Cowboy Bebop's female cast is arguably just as good as VLD's, despite having far fewer episodes and less time for character development. Fans of Pidge will find Ed to be a joy to watch, since Ed is basically Pidge after drinking five cups of coffee. (Yes, Ed's a girl, and she's perfect.)
Out of all of the recommendations on this list, Gundam 00 is probably the biggest stretch. It's not nearly as funny or endearing, the characters are a little more flat, and the writers didn't wield the large cast as skillfully as VLD's staff did.
Still, Gundam 00 is less predictable than Voltron, making it a solid choice for viewers who want a thought-provoking, geopolitically-charged series to sink their teeth into. Character deaths abound, and a few characters go through truly compelling transformations in order to survive - and protect the people they love. It handles its content matter far more skillfully than some other Gundam series, so give it a try even if you typically stay away from darker mecha shows. (It also has a better ending than Voltron!)
DC's animated series about teen superheroes struck a chord with many fans, but it was originally cancelled after only two seasons. Luckily, DC is bringing the show back after years of fan outcry. The third season is scheduled to premiere on DC's online streaming service on January 4, 2019.
Fans of VLD will find a lot to love in Young Justice, since it does a great job handling serious material while avoiding melodrama. The action is fast-paced without overwhelming the characters themselves. The characters themselves may not be as complex and well-developed as many of VLD's, but hopefully future seasons will give the characters ample time to shine.
This recommendation comes with a major caveat: it has almost none of the same humor and charm as VLD. It has a space princess, giant robots, a ragtag team, and complex villains with shifting loyalties, though!
Aldnoah.Zero is set in an alternate history where Earth and Mars have attained a fragile peace, with Mars' citizens being far more technologically advanced. It's a fairly heavy show with intense action, though it's not overly graphic. The characters aren't as rich as VLD, but the story is well-woven overall. (Bonus points: the show has a fantastic soundtrack!) Older viewers may love this show, though it moves slowly at times and the second season is a little disappointing.
The Fullmetal Alchemist franchise is revered as a classic, and VLD fans should give it a try even though it's very different in terms of genre and story. Fullmetal Alchemist tells the story of two brothers trying to repair their broken bodies while fighting vicious bad guys and trying to protect their friends. The cast of characters is large and complex without being unwieldy, and while the team dynamics are very different from VLD's, the relationships and character development are still rewarding.
The first anime series, which aired long before the source manga had ended, had an ending that many fans felt was woefully inadequate. (No, it still wasn't as bad as VLD's finale.) A rebooted anime, titled Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, premiered in 2009. While Brotherhood has better plot and character development, the first anime is also excellent. Both series have lighthearted moments to give viewers a break from the dark themes and moral dilemmas that move the plot along, so they're often similar to VLD in spirit and tone.
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© 2018 Ria Fritz