Welcome to Bae Watch Wednesday, where I tell you all about the fictional characters you ought to be crushing on. This week my group chat has me obsessing over Takashi Shirogane.
Who Is Takashi Shirogane?
Takashi Shirogane, also known as “Shiro,” is one of the main characters of the show Voltron: Legendary Defender. Though Voltron is someone of an ensemble show, with several characters taking center stage, Shiro is definitely one of the protagonists.
Before the events of Voltron started, Shiro was one of the top pilots at the Galaxy Garrison. He broke many records as a pilot and worked as an instructor. He recruited the ace pilot Keith Kogane and served as a surrogate brother to the lonely and cynical Keith. Shiro was even engaged to another instructor, Adam. Things seemed to be going well.
Unfortunately, Shiro was diagnosed with a terminal illness and knew he wouldn’t live to old age. He wanted to make a difference and leave a legacy, so he signed on to a dangerous mission to Kerberos. The decision caused the dissolution of his engagement to Adam and nearly ruined his friendship with Keith. But even worse, it almost cost Shiro his life.
While on Kerberos, Shiro and his crew were attacked by vicious aliens called the Galra. They were taken captive and forced to fight in gladiator-style matches. Shiro saved his crew at the expense of his own comfort, becoming the Galran “champion.” The Galra eventually conducted experiments on Shiro. He nearly died, but a rogue Galra set him free.
Shiro returned to Earth, where he was immediately quarantined by the Garrison. However, Keith showed up to rescue him. When some former students from the Garrison show up, the five of them soon find themselves in over their heads when the Galra show up on Earth and they escape in a giant robotic lion. They have no idea what’s in store for them.
Paladin Of Voltron
The five Earthlings become the paladins of Voltron, the universe’s best defense against the Galra. Voltron is a robot composed of five lions, each with its own strengths. Shiro pilots the Black Lion and is the leader of Voltron. His cool head and depth of experience save them more than once.
Shiro must work hard to make heroes out of his ragtag team. The rest of the team are all teenagers, and it shows. In the meantime, Shiro must work with Princess Allura, an alien who fights the Galra and leads the team. He does his best, but his time in captivity took its toll. Shiro deals with some lingering PTSD and struggles to find peace.
Unfortunately, his lion previously belonged to Zarkon, the evil head of the Galra. This makes things difficult for Shiro. In a climactic battle wherein Shiro faces off against Zarkon for control, Voltron defeats the enemy but Shiro is lost. He wakes up in Galra captivity once again and must escape and return to the team.
In his absence, Keith became the head of Voltron. Shiro struggles to readapt but soon finds his footing when Keith leaves the team. With no leader, Shiro can easily return to his former spot. Things seem better, but Shiro is a little off-balance. He clashes with Lance, who had previously done well on the team and confesses to not feeling like himself.
There’s a reason for that. It turns out, Shiro actually died in the battle against Zarkon. Instead, a clone made by the Galra and controlled by them returned to the team. Shiro’s consciousness stayed in the Black Lion and tried to reach out to the team, but only eventually managed to reach Keith when he returned.
Captain Of The Atlas
Keith is able to save the clone’s body after a nearly deadly duel between the two of them. Allura is able to use alien magic to transfer Shiro’s consciousness from the Black Lion to the clone, essentially resurrecting Shiro. He is glad to return to the team (and to life) but it has certainly been a rough road for Shiro.
The team heads back to Earth to regroup but discovers they have lost three years. When they return to Earth, it is to find that the Galra have invaded and are occupying the planet in an effort to get Voltron. The team must work to find a way to save their planet, while Shiro must be restored to health.
His prosthetic arm was damaged in his duel with Keith, so Allura and the Garrison’s scientists create a new one. Although Shiro nearly dies in the procedure, he comes out with a new, stronger arm. However, there is a tragedy in the wings. Although Shiro is miraculously still alive after everything he’s been through, it turns out that Adam died defending Earth.
Heartbroken but more determined than ever to defeat the Galra, Shiro takes charge of Earth’s defense ship the Atlas. While his team pilots Voltron against the Galra, Shiro provides support. When things look dire for Voltron, he manages to unlock hidden powers in the Atlas and save the day. It looked bleak for a moment, but in the end, Takashi Shirogane saved the Earth.
While the rest of his crew recuperates from their nearly deadly mission, Shiro helps the rebuilding efforts. All the allies that Voltron made come to Earth to help repair and build a new coalition of allies. Shiro is primed to help Earth enter the galactic stage. What will season 8 bring?
Why Is Takashi Shirogane Bae?
Listen, for an animated character, Takashi Shirogane is an absolute babe. Like. We all agree that animated characters can be hot, right? Like sometimes it’s weird to say that, but certain animated characters (Li Shang, anyone?) just work it.
Well, let me tell you. Takashi Shirogane works it. It is not fair for an animated character to be that attractive. I’m upset that Takashi Shirogane is not a real person or at least an actor that I can thirst over. I demand a refund; this is false advertising. Real men could learn a thing or two.
Voltron has a lot of amazing characters that are all lovable. But with an ensemble cast, they fall into categories. Shiro’s category is amazing: he is the Space Dad. He has a team of teenagers that he has to deal with and work with them to save the universe. It’s a lot to ask of a 20-something.
But Shiro really encapsulates the role of Space Dad. He fills a gap in these kids’ lives. This is especially true for Keith and Pidge, another paladin of Voltron, but it shows in his interactions with all the team. The reason the clone is so jarring is his inability to connect with and support the team, especially Lance.
With Pidge, the dad really comes through. Pidge snuck into the Garrison to investigate when her father and brother go missing; they were Shiro’s teammates on the Kerberos mission. So when Pidge ends up in space with Shiro and the rest, he does a great job reassuring her. Shiro ends up filling the void Pidge felt when she lost her family, and they bonded over their mutual affection for her family.
Keith shows Shiro’s dad tendencies even more strongly. They had a bond way before any of the other paladins. They met when Shiro came to recruit at Keith’s school. Keith showed talent but was classed as a delinquent after stealing Shiro’s car. That wasn’t deterrence enough for Shiro, who saw promise in Keith.
He encouraged Keith while he was at the Garrison and stood up for him. When Shiro went missing, that was the final straw for Keith at the Garrison. When they were in space, Shiro continued encouraging and supporting Keith. It was thanks to Shiro that Keith was able to become the leader of Voltron.
Gyro The Hero
But for all his dad-like tendencies, Shiro is still a goofball and a young adult. He seems mature in comparison to his team, but he’s a 20-something. Trust me: 20-somethings aren’t actual adults. Sometimes, this comes through with Shiro.
Shiro has fewer lighthearted moments than other members of the team, particularly Lance, Hunk, and Pidge, but he does have a few. One of the best moments comes in the episode “Monsters and Mana,” where the team plays a Dungeons and Dragons-esque roleplaying game. Shiro plays… Takashi Shirogane, a paladin determined to save the day.
When the others give him grief for his boring choice, he argues that being a paladin is the coolest thing he can think of. When “Shiro” is killed off, he returns as Shiro’s twin brother… Gyro. It’s a goofy moment in a goofy episode that adds a much-needed lighter touch to the show. He goofs off with the other paladins and manages to be playful at times.
Flashback scenes of Shiro pre-Kerberos also emphasize that he used to be a fun-loving goof. There’s a reason he picked up on delinquent, car-stealing Keith. The two were able to bond over their reckless tendencies and have fun together disregarding safety and regulations. God help Adam, who must have dealt with both of them at once.
It’s sad to see Shiro lose that light-heartedness after what happened with the Galra. Torture and captivity really took their toll on Shiro, physically manifested in his white hair. But lighter moments still peek through and show that Shiro is still that good-natured, goofy kid he once was. The Galra won’t beat him. Shiro’s nature is one of persistence, and that makes him a hero in my book.
What’s Not To Love?
Takashi Shirogane is a hero, a maverick, and a reluctant single space-father of four. He’s definitely multifaceted, and that comes through in his excellent characterization. Somehow he manages to be a weary father, hardened soldier, reckless pilot, fearless leader, nimble diplomat, and a goofy 20-something all at once. It’s impressive.
There is so much depth to Takashi Shirogane. He’s a boon in terms of representation, ticking off more diversity boxes by himself than many shows have in their entire cast. He is Asian-coded, canonically gay, disabled, and suffers from mental illness. And amazingly none of those things are used to define him or reduce him to a stereotype. Shiro can be all those things and more.
Shiro brings a lot of life and love to Voltron. The protagonist of the show may more arguably be Keith or even Allura, but Shiro definitely plays a major role. It’s his capture by the Galra that leads to Keith discovering the Blue Lion on Earth, which eventually leads to them becoming paladins of Voltron. It’s Shiro who leads the team at first, and Shiro who saves Earth on the Atlas.
At the end of the day, Takashi Shirogane is an amazing character. He has gone through so much. He was diagnosed with a terminal illness, captured by aliens, tortured and experimented on, forced to fight for survival, all before the show even really gets started. After Voltron really begins, Shiro faces more combat, destruction, and even death. He literally dies.
And then he comes back. Because no matter what life (or the writers) throws at Shiro, he never stops fighting. He won’t let anything hold him back. He is a hero, not because he saves the day, but because he is strong and good, and loving.