I’ll admit that when I first started my character reviews, I chose the Disney Princesses strictly because I was curious to see how far Disney had gone into making them an established group and sharing my findings with others. As I went along however, I started to notice a lot of the tropes that many often associate with the Disney Princesses but one thing in particular that I found especially noteworthy was that for all their common tropes, each and every princess was distinct in their own way.
In most cartoons however, there is nearly an entirely different set of tropes often associated with the “princess” character. Chief among them is that even when said princess is a main character in her own right, she is rarely, if ever, portrayed as a leader but almost always a follower. Oh sure, a princess may be capable of standing up to and even overcoming the villain of the episode but it is often thanks to the main hero of the tale that the day, as a whole, is saved.
I do not recall much of the original Allura but what little I do remember was that despite being the ruler of her world, she deferred to the pilot of the Black Lion as a leader whilst on missions as she, at the time, was the pilot for the Blue Lion. So you can only imagine my surprise when Allura takes the role of Commander-in-Chief straight by the horns and brings it down to its freaking knees.
Each and every time that I presumed to have something of a read as to who Allura is and what she is capable of, she keeps surprising me. Initially, I had presumed her to be “the princess” wherein she’d take a leadership role when the situation called for it and no other time, even going so far as to see the guidance and opinions of the Voltron Paladins.
Though despaired at the loss of her father and her entire world, never mind the literal millennia that she and her advisor Coran had spent in stasis, Allura very rarely shows anything remotely resembling weakness. In point of fact, I’d dare say that out of the many varieties of princesses that I’ve come to know in all variety of media, Allura has the most indestructible and nigh unbendable backbone I’ve ever seen.
She is not afraid to get her hands dirty in every sense of the phrase, going so far as to do diagnostic and technical work that would otherwise be beneath her station to know about never mind actually doing. As shown in my favorite episode of the series, thus far at any rate, Allura utilizes this by turning the Castle of Lions defense and offensive systems against the Paladins to goad them into forming Voltron. In point of fact, for a majority of the episode Allura comes off as being an outright jerk, pushing the Paladins harder and harder and, at the time, severely lowering my opinion of her.
That is until she initiates a food fight with the Paladins following a rather cruel statement from Pidge that sets the pilots against her and Corran. For a moment, she appears enraged with them, asking them outright if they don’t see what they’ve done until she smiles and reveals that they’re now working together as one. Inspired by this, the Paladins manage to successfully form Voltron on their own, which Allura explained to Corran that she knew that she could get the Paladins to do it, that all they needed was a common enemy.
That right there, solidified Allura’s place as Best Princess in my book.
I have seen such a thing done before but it was by those who simply know no other way to inspire such camaraderie and who, oftentimes, still kept that same attitude to their dying breath or are otherwise still seen as being a jerk regardless of the results being justified by the means. Yet, Allura had done so gladly and with such ease… If it weren’t for the fact that such things as Pidge’s little secret brought a rightfully hilarious reaction from her, I’d swear she was on par with the likes of Palpatine in the political circuit.
Being an Altean and one of the royal family, Allura possess a small degree of shape-shifting that allows her to alter her form to limited degrees including increasing her height, altering her skin coloration, and increasing her strength to such magnitudes that she was able tackle a door and the guard standing behind it, into a wall. It is also hinted that Alteans are quite long-lived as noted by Coran who stated that the Castle of Lions had been built 600 years prior to him and Allura being put into stasis by his grandfather.
A door and wall that made up a super advanced alien race’s spaceship might I add.
However, Allura’s greatest ability is the manipulation of Quintessence, which, based on other usages of the word and what little of it can be seen in the series thus far, is a type of energy that is second to none. It is what binds her to all five Lions of Voltron and through which she can utilize and activate many of the Castle of Lions systems including creating stabilized wormholes. However, Allura has most notably used her Quintessence to restore a literal living planetoid back from the brinks of death.
Though we don’t see the whole of her world for ourselves, we can assume that Altea is quite similar to Earth in many aspects whilst being extremely different in others. One particular aspect that I found both funny and noteworthy is that despite Alteans, or at least Allura and Coran, being able to understand and speak most languages instantly, there are still a few cultural… hiccups as it were. For example, rather than using seconds or minutes, Alteans have ticks and time slices.
Unfortunately, like most Disney Princesses, Allura is not without her own animal companion, or rather companions as the case is. A quartet of small Altean mice happened to have shared the same stasis pod as Allura and the millennia spent in such close proximity with the princess has given the mice not only near human level sentience and intelligence, but have telepathically linked themselves with Allura.
Overall, Allura is one of the best characters I’ve come to know in any era of animation and I sincerely hope to see more of her and her Paladins of Voltron for many more episodes.