i keep getting this weird sense that the world building in vld is 'make it up as you go along'. especially with the galra with the completely different sense you get of what they are as a species in every season. like.. the fire nation is a chocolate cake, and you were given slices throughout the series until you had a complete picture. the galra empire is a cake where every slice is a different flavor, and every flavor is a mystery. not an awful cake, just a really really weird one.
Perfect analogy. Especially since all the AtLA/LoK fans, the mecha fans, the old-school Voltron fans, just about anyone interested in a combination of animation and science fiction, were like
cue jokes about the cake being a lie.
Okay, now I’ve got that out of my system, a more serious response.
The thing with AtLA is that the EPs/writers used a short-cut: they looked across a variety of earth-based cultures and picked what they’d use as analogues. This meant ready-made references for food, architecture, clothing, even political systems. They didn’t have to do reams of world-building details; they could just refer back to the source culture and lift something from there.
(Note: there’s plenty I’m not unpacking here, ‘cause it can be problematic when a bunch of white people in the dominant paradigm use someone else’s culture to prop up a story. But that’s for another post.)
The disparate and incoherent cake-slices in VLD tell me that the EPs/writers don’t really care to consider the Galra as a culture. Other than the mandatory Big Bad (Zarkon, Haggar), the Galra people are nothing more than disposable minions. No need, then, for what I’d see as foundational aspects of a culture: what people eat, how they build or decorate their residences, what they consider a family unit, etc.
Here’s the thing about world-building a culture: it’s characterization on a grand scale.