The Galra Empire is the main antagonistic faction within the Voltron's parent production, Golion. Ruled by the supreme Emperor Daibazaal it appears to have been modeled after various elements from Ancient Roman, Sumerian, German, and various Asian empires. It does, however, have a tendency to perform juvenile and ridiculous acts that can only be described as "evil for the sake of evil" with little rational behind them. Not exactly the best developed cartoon antagonist group.
Galran society is ordered in several divisions or castes. The main divisions being the Ruling caste, the Warrior, Working civilians and finally Slaves. The Galra caste system is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of occupation, social class, and political power.
- Ruling Caste - Obviously Emperor Daibazaal and his son Sincline fall into this caste, they are the supreme rulers of the Galra Empire. However, in a number of episodes such as ep. 30 "The Prince Imperial's Dark Love", one can clearly see Daibazaal holding court with a number of nobles. During the series these nobles are little more than background for various throne room scenes, they would still fit onto the ruling class.
- Warrior Caste - Most of the Galran characters that are seen in the series belong to this caste. As its name would suggest, this is the caste of warriors, fighters and soldiers; in other words they are basically the entire military. Actual named characters that fall into this cast are Sadak and Gibra.
- Working Civilian Caste - This caste is never actually seen by the viewer during the course of the series. It is, however, talked of on occasion by the military caste whom wish that Daibazaal and Sincline would think about what would benefit "the people of Galra" more often.
- Slaves - The slaves are the lowest of the low and are not citizens of the Empire but rather property (as would already be implied by the word "slave"). They are the captured populations of defeated worlds that had the gall to stand up to the Empire. Most of the slaves seen in the anime are human, however, as seen in ep. 1 "Escape from Slave Castle" the Empire does posses a small number of non-human slaves. These poor alien souls, however, are never given the opportunity of becoming actual characters and (like the Galran nobility) are really just window dressing in the backgrounds. Such a pity.
Its a little difficult to get a clear image of how the Galra military is structured. Everyone seems to perform all tasks regardless of uniform or division. This would lead a viewer to conclude that the Galra military has no structure. Obviously, this cannot actually be the case because they did somehow manage to take over an entire galaxy and that just doesn't happen by accident.
The lowest rank and common grunt fighter of the Galra Empire appears to be the charcoal gray jumpsuit with steel gray over-vest (shown right). This uniform gives the soldier a robotic look and is no wonder why the American Voltron decided to just go ahead and make them robots. These flesh and blood soldiers appear to be the lowest of the low in the military preforming menial tasks like opening and closing doors, blowing trumpets and, of course, serving as cannon-fodder against Golion and the Allies there of. However, these same low level clots have also been seen filling the roles of command crew on Prince Imperial Sincline's flagship more than once. But perhaps they should be given the benefit of the doubt, they could have just been promoted and their new uniformed were just at the tailors that day. Right.
Next is the on
e that most resembles a German World War I uniform prior to 1917, a navy blue tunic and trousers combination with gold fringe on the shoulders and buttons and, most iconic of all, a pickelhaube or "spiked helmet". These are the soldiers most often seen standing and cheering, but when they're not practicing for Bring It On: Mech Pom-Pom they seem to be actual officers. Ya know, the kind that usually have titles like Ensign, Lieutenant, Colonel, etc. These guys titles on the other hand all seem to be "attendant", "lackey", "soldier" and "Hey you!". On the brig
ht side, however, there's a high level of turn over in this level of the military, especially for one stationed under the Prince Imperial. Just remember to transfer to another command ship before you get slashed, your military career just might be cut short.
From that point on you have a few miscellaneous soldiers that quite honestly look more like goofs the studio might have made rather than actual members of the military. It has been said many a time that Golion was not the best planned anime ever made. It would not be out of the question to assume an intern misplaced one of the character models and an artist just had to 'wing it' for whatever scene they happened to be drawing.
But the question remains, how in the hack did such a messy and disorganized army like Galra manage to take over the galaxy? And, why are they such a threat? Their lousing streak is bigger than Prince Imperial Sincline's ego!
The Black Army
The first military division that was sent after the escaped Earth's space pilots under the command of Commander Sadak. The army was quickly annihilated by four of the five Lions in the third episode of the series and quickly becomes obsolete after Daibazaal starts using Beastmen.
The Red Army
The Red Army is an elite sub-division of the larger Galra military and is lead by General Gibra. The Reds does not play a very large role in the anime until the later half of the final season when they align themselves with Sincline and help him stage his coup to over throw Daibazaal.
Death-black Beastmen are creatures created through the power of Occult-Science. Each beastman, regardless of what it is, began as a normal creature, an alien from a captured world, an animal native to planet Galra, even human slaves can become Beastmen. Whatever it is, the subject undergoes a transmogrification process that has no basis in "science" what-so-ever (seriously, they don't even try). The subject is then shoved into a stasis pod which greatly resembles a post-modern Gothic coffin and is sent to whatever planet Daibazaal wishes to lay waste to (usually Altea).
Most Beastmen require the energy from a special beam equipped to most Galra capitol ships to awaken from stasis. This is why Sadak and later Sincline must also be on planet while the creature is attacking (even though they don't do jack). However, there are exceptions to this rule (and these few exceptions make the actual antagonist characters even more useless).
Unlike their organic counterparts, Mecha-black Beastmen do not start out as innocent living things. They are artificially manufactured in Honerva's Occult-Science research laboratory and greatly resemble very large cardboard boxes (or robots from other shows).
The Mecha-black Beastmen do not enter into the series until after the second half of the second season and at first must be piloted by Death-black Beastmen. Later, Honerva develops some which have a sentience of their own. For the final episode and the final Beastman they go back to having independent pilots (and what a pilot he was...).
- Galra - Central planet, Imperial government seat.
- Galleria - Planet from which Princess Sahlia (Sincline's finance from ep. 30) hails. This planet is never actually visited by any of the characters during the series and next to nothing is known about it aside than it is mostly populated by humans (just like every other planet in the galaxy).