Lightspeed Electroid Albegas (光速電神アルベガス) has a pretty interesting history for a series a lot of people have probably never heard of. A 1983 anime series that found audiences in Latin America, Spain and Italy as well as Japan, Albegas was intended to be the third instalment in the original Voltron: Defender of the Universe series. However after Vehicle Voltron (adapted from Dairugger-XV) failed to capture audiences the same way the original GoLion series did, the plans were scrapped in favour of continuing that. However, that didn’t stop Albegas toys from being released as part of the Voltron line, with the robot known as both “Voltron II” and “Gladiator Voltron”.
Albegas stars Daisaku, Tetsuya and Hotaru – three talented highschool students who all built award-winning robots as part of a school competition. When these robots prove completely ineffective against the invasion forces of the Derringer, however, Hotaru’s father Professor Mizuki helps rebuild them into a powerful fighting force that can combine into the mighty Albegas super robot.
“Teenager robot pilots battle against an alien invasion” is about as stock plot as it comes for 80s robot shows, but having the leads all be geniuses and (mostly) build the robots themselves is a nice spin on the usual plot of having the main characters stumble upon them. Despite the mass destruction going on it’s also nice to see the episode retain a good sense of humour, even if the comedy relief mostly comes from characters that could have been cut out of this entirely.
The characters themselves are fairly bland so far but granted it’s hard to establish personalities when there’s so much else going on at the same time. It was however very weird to see Daisaku introduce himself in a moment of fourth-wall breaking, the likes of which goes completely against the style of the rest and the show and is never hinted at or done again. The villains don’t really have much to offer either apart from being generic space aliens, but the Derringer character designs definitely stand out with their pulsating brain parts or flashing vocal lights.
Conceptually the idea of three humanoid robots combining into one is great, but it hasn’t been executed especially well here. The three core robots are all pretty much identical save for the colour and heads, while the totem pole-style combination is fairly uninspired. If the multi-component monstrosity that is Vehicle Vehicle failed to capture American audiences in the same way that Lion Voltron did, it’s hard to imagine this faring any better.
Though while watching the show your mind immediately turns to picturing just how this would work as a Voltron series, it’s definitely got some shades of Mazinger Z in there as well. Particularly with the inclusion of Goro and his comic-relief gorilla robot, which is absolutely a pastiche of Boss Borot.
From this first episode Albegas doesn’t come across as a particularly remarkable series, but it’s place in mecha history perhaps make it worth checking out to see what could have been.
You can now find Albegas, as well as many other tokusatsu shows, on the TOEI Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel to watch for free with English subtitles.