Welcome to Bae Watch Wednesday, where I tell you all about the fictional characters you ought to be crushing on. This week’s bae — our first animated bae — is Keith Kogane.
Who is Keith Kogane?
Keith Kogane is one of the main characters — if not the main character — of the Netflix/Dreamworks show Voltron Legendary Defender. Keith became an orphan at a young age when his father died, having never known his mother. He was a bit of a problem child and fell on the radar of star pilot Takashi Shirogane when he stole Shiro’s car.
Surprisingly, Shiro didn’t hold it against Keith. Instead, Shiro was impressed by Keith’s tenacity and his piloting abilities. Shiro pushed Keith to enter the Galaxy Garrison flight school, where Shiro was a teacher. Keith did well at the school but continued to have discipline issues. He got into fights and failed to bond with his classmates.
When Shiro went on a dangerous mission, Keith was hurt that his mentor (and only friend) left him. Later, Shiro is assumed dead after the mission goes awry. Keith somehow gets expelled from the Garrison after refusing to accept that Shiro is dead, and goes into the desert to live on his own.
While in the desert, Keith investigates a strange energy source. He finds the Blue Lion but is unable to investigate further when Blue keeps him out. When Shiro crash lands back on Earth, Keith goes to rescue him from Garrison quarantine. There, he runs into some former classmates from the Garrison — Lance, Hunk, and Pidge — who are also trying to rescue Shiro.
The five go back to the cave where Keith found Blue, and surprisingly, Lance was able to activate the lion. Blue is a sentient spaceship, which the five utalized to escape Garrison investigation. However, they end up well over their heads when this brings them into contact with the last of the Alteans, and embroils them in a millennia-old war.
Blue is one of five lions that, together, form Voltron. The five Earthlings are matched to the various lions and together become the defenders of the universe, seeking to stop the evil Galra empire from destroying everything. Keith becomes the pilot of the Red Lion. Red’s reckless speed and fast action match well with Keith’s impetuous personality.
Together, the paladins of Voltron work with Princess Allura of Altea to free planets from Galra control. Things are rough, at first. Four reckless teenagers and tired space-dad Shiro are not ready to save the universe. Keith in particular struggles to bond with anyone other than Shiro. He is especially at odds with Lance, who proclaims them rivals from their Garrison days.
However, the team soon gets themselves in gear and make a name for themselves. They begin liberating planets and building alliances. Keith, in particular, becomes important as the right hand of Voltron, Shiro’s second-in-command. Shiro also begins preparing Keith to take over as head of Voltron in case something goes wrong.
Naturally, something does go wrong. After a fierce battle against Galra Emperor Zarkon, Shiro just disappears. The paladins must still defend the universe, but they are short not only a pilot but their leader. The Black Lion, head of Voltron, chooses Keith as its new pilot, making him the leader. He is reluctant but doesn’t hesitate to do what he must.
As leader of Voltron, Keith struggles a bit. His impetuous nature puts the team in danger. Luckily, his new right hand Lance is there to keep him in line, and the two become friends. All the while, Keith is desperate to find Shiro, convinced he’s not dead. When Shiro reappears, Keith is happy to see his friend, though somewhat reluctant to hand Voltron back over.
Blade of Marmora
With six paladins and five lions, things are tense. Keith decides to leave the team. He previously learned that he was actually part-Galra when he ran into the Blade of Marmora, a Galra rebel organization. Keith had a Blade sword. Desperate to find out what that means, he undergoes the trials of Marmora and qualifies to be a Blade.
Now that Shiro has returned, Keith leaves the team to join the Blade full time. That way, he can still contribute to the war efforts but doesn’t step on Shiro’s toes. Things are odd, with the Blade. Keith is very talented and successful, but he pushes back on Blade ideals about sacrifice and the value of life. He often butts heads with his superior officer, Kolivan.
Things aren’t all bad with the Blade, however. Keith is sent to extract Krolia, a Blade member who has been undercover. He later finds out that Krolia is actually his mother. She crash-landed on Earth seeking the Blue Lion and fell in love with Keith’s father. Furthermore, she left him not because she didn’t love him, but to protect him and his father from the Galra war.
Keith and Krolia end up in a weird part of space that bends time, spending two years together while little time passed for everyone else. When he returned, Keith had important information that could save the galaxy. Unfortunately, it also put him at odds with Shiro, who was brainwashed to serve the Galra. They fought, Shiro died, and then was brought back to life.
The team then returns to Earth for the first time and finds it occupied by the Galra. Keith must retake his position as Black Paladin and leader of Voltron to help save the day. They are ultimately successful, though it takes a toll.
Why is Keith Kogane Bae?
Uh, so, this is normally the part of the article where I bring up what makes the character physically attractive before delving into what makes the character attractive as a person. But those are normally real people? This is my first time writing a Bae Watch for an animated character. It’s not weird to think an animated character is attractive, right? …right?
Let’s be real, we’ve all been there. Don’t even try to tell me you’ve never crushed on a Disney prince or princess (or both). So don’t @ me. This is a judgment-free zone, and Keith Kogane is hot. Sue me. I mean, mullet aside, obviously. But Keith is pretty? Those eyes are really something special (even if completely unrealistic, but that’s animation for ya).
Also, I mean, Steven Yeun is hot so I guess it’s like tangential attractiveness? Like, when your voice actor is hot, that makes you hot too, right?
Tall, Dark, and Broody
Okay, moving on, because that was the most uncomfortable thing I’ve written for The Daily Fandom, and that’s saying something. So what makes Keith Kogane bae that’s not a physical characteristic? His personality is fantastic.
Keith is, undoubtedly, the loner of Voltron. The rest of the team are more social and have fun with their grand space adventure, even as they fight an all-important war. Lance is a lovable goofball, Hunk is an absolute angel, and I’ve seen the tag “Pidge is a gremlin” too many times on AO3. Even Shiro, who’s been through hell, is sociable and has fun.
Not so for Keith Kogane, champion brooder. He’s been a problem child from the start, as evidenced by him stealing Shiro’s car. He doesn’t play well with others. We see him actually get into fights at the Garrison. So when he’s suddenly thrust into space with not-dead-Shiro and three former classmates to fight an intergalactic war? He’s less than thrilled.
Which is not to say that Keith is a stick in the mud. That would be very much not bae. Instead, he’s equal parts seriously professional and awkward teenager. Keith’s efforts to bond with his team are fantastic to watch. After Lance shuts down Keith’s efforts following the infamous “bonding moment,” it would be easy for Keith to shut down completely.
Instead, Keith keeps trying. He’s definitely on the fringes of the group, which isn’t helped when he leaves the team to join the Blade of Marmora. But he still builds relationships. His bond with Shiro is a driving force on the show. He befriends Pidge and Hunk and works well with Allura. He even manages to befriend Lance, against all odds. It’s a delight to watch him open up.
You know the way to my messed-up heart is to be skilled in some form of deadly art. Well, look no further than Keith Kogane, star pilot, swordsman, and leader. Before leaving the Garrison, Keith was one of their best pilots. He broke new ground, even beating Shiro on some things. When he left the Garrison, the skill didn’t disappear.
As a pilot of Voltron, Keith is incredibly skilled. He pilots (at first, at least) the most difficult lion. Red is tempestuous (like Keith) and requires a pilot of the highest skill. That’s no trouble for Keith. In fact, he delights in what he can accomplish with Red, often going above and beyond mission goals just because he can.
Keith is no slouch outside a cockpit, either. He quickly becomes one of Voltron’s best combatants. Each pilot receives a personalized weapon that they use on ground missions. Keith receives a sword and is highly skilled at using it. This is partial because he’s been using knives since childhood, having inherited the Marmora blade from his mother.
When Keith joins the Blade of Marmora, this skill set continues. Keith’s prowess with his Marmora blade is divine. The sword can change form, and Keith uses various blades with smooth and deadly skill. He’s great at hand-to-hand and can hold his own against larger, stronger, older Galra opponents easily.
Keith is also a great leader. He is reluctant to take over Voltron after Shiro disappears, and struggles to find his way at first. However, he soon figures things out and quickly becomes a good leader. He inspires his team and gives them good direction. He is smart and good with battle strategy, whether on his own or with five others to account for. It’s fun to watch him.
What’s Not To Love?
There’s a reason Voltron keeps returning to Keith’s story over and over. Even when he leaves Voltron, Keith stays a major focus of the show. He has some of the most screen time out of any character, and his story definitely receives the most background and development. There’s a strong case for Keith being the protagonist of Voltron.
The reason for that is because Keith Kogane is a thoroughly interesting character. That’s not to say that the other characters are uninteresting. It’s just that Keith is a fascinating blend of contradictions that makes for a captivating watch. He’s broody and dark but laughs at dumb jokes. He struggles to make friends but desperately wants to.
Seeing Keith’s progression from the start of the show to the finish is an excellent look at character development. Keith grows from a Garrison drop-out to the leader of a team that’s saving the entire universe. He goes from an orphan to the loving son of an alien mother. He goes from a loner to a brother-in-arms and friend. Plus, at one point he even gets an alien dog.
Keith Kogane deserves the screen time he gets because his story is a compelling one. To be fair, I think some of the other characters deserve an equal chance to shine. But I can’t be bitter about so much of the show focusing on Keith because he’s worth the attention. He’s a good character and a good person, and watching him grow is a delight.
Hopefully, season 8 won’t do wrong by Keith. I’ve seen a lot (a lot) of theories, some of which I’m not enthusiastic about. I’m going to have to just trust in the showrunners to not ruin what they’ve accomplished. Because they accomplished a lot with Keith Kogane: pilot, hothead, friend.