Takashi "Shiro" Shirogane - known to other slaves in the Galra arena as Champion - is a skilled pilot of legendary reputation and the leader of the five Paladins of Voltron. He is the Paladin of the Black Lion of Voltron.
Originally an exploration pilot for the Galaxy Garrison, Shiro traveled to Pluto's moon Kerberos with Dr. Samuel Holt and his son, Matt Holt, which at that point in time was the furthest that humans had ever traveled into the universe. While Earth's governments officially reported them missing due to pilot error, the three had in reality been abducted by a passing Galra ship which had been scouting Earth's solar system for signs of Voltron. Dr. Holt was sent to a labor camp, while Shiro and Matt were sent to become fighters in Emperor Zarkon's Gladiatorial Arena. While waiting to face off against the gladiator Myzax, Shiro could sense Matt's trepidation and fear, and in a bid to protect the younger man knocked him to the ground, injuring his leg so that Matt would be sent to the labor colony with his father. With this action, Shiro created a façade for himself as a bloodthirsty warrior amongst the other alien prisoners and went on to become the reigning Champion, undergoing extreme physical and mental scarring in the process. The full extent of his trauma is unknown, but his memories became suppressed, and since his escape he has had difficulty willfully recalling his memories of captivity. What is known is that his right arm was replaced with a weaponized Galra tech prosthetic capable of energy emission powerful enough to cut through most metals and weld doors shut. He also gained a lateral scar across the bridge of his nose, part of his black hair turned white from the extreme stress, and even his skin appears paler.
Following his team's latest battle against Zarkon, he suddenly vanishes without a trace from within the Black lion's cockpit. What happened to him remains to be discovered.
Shiro's personality is that of a born leader, naturally adept at calmly commanding his team. Although he holds a commanding presence, Shiro is actually quite kind, sensitive to the struggles and concerns his fellow Paladins are undergoing or may have. This is highlighted in his patience with Pidge, as he knew that she was Katie Holt from working closely with her missing family members, and sympathized with her loss and understood her grief, frustration, and desire to uncover their fates. Shiro's skills as a leader are further enhanced by the familial bond he forms with all of his teammates. Despite how serious and straightforward Shiro can be, he can also be just as silly and laid back as his friends when he has the chance, such as when his friends were making "laser noises". He initially sided with Keith on knocking it off before engaging himself, causing the Red Paladin to appear embarrassed that his leader was acting so ridiculously. Shiro's experiences as a gladiator have left him suffering from a degree of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is noticeable when he has momentary flashbacks when confronted with particular stimuli. These flashbacks are actually invasive memories, which are typically triggered in people suffering post-traumatic stress by things that are connected or similar to features or stimuli that one experienced during trauma. Normally Shiro just brushes it off, but when he was confronted by Haggar, he started to lose control of his emotions and became frantic, wild; certainly not the disciplined warrior most people know him to be.
He is also known to feel somewhat disgusted by his Galra tech prosthetic hand, as his conversation with Sendak's memories in their Altean container managed to pry at the insecurity of his that his cyborg arm is the strongest part of him, making him part of the Galra. This moment of psychological warfare was enough to cause Shiro to jettison Sendak and his cryo-pod into deep space due to his deep-seated fears that the Galra Commander revealed to Shiro. This tendency to make irrational choices based on trauma despite being extremely collected most of the time is another one of Shiro's symptoms of extreme, but well restrained PTSD.
Shiro is incredibly patient with his teammates' personalities, though his patience is measured. Due to his pragmatic military background, Shiro has an extremely difficult time coping with the obstructive neuroses of tightly-wound people like Slav. The famed engineer's preoccupation with extremely unlikely hypothetical scenarios that bordered on psychotic had a noticeably negative affect on Shiro's ability to stay calm, with him ridiculing Slav in an attempt to keep his head cool.
Shiro embodies the Black Lion's elemental affiliation of Air in that he is the current that guides his fellow Paladins and keeps them on course, and that his personality can be kind and gentle while also being a powerful and overwhelming force of nature. And like air, Shiro serves as the fuel to the fire of the Team's spirit and will to fight.
Shiro is a pilot of almost unheard of ability. He is a natural pilot of legendary reputation back on Earth, where his skills made him a hero to many aspiring pilots such as Lance and Keith. In addition to his skills piloting human ships, Shiro was also a master pilot of the Black Lion. His bond with Black was so deep that Shiro was the only Paladin to pass the blind dive training exercise, allowing him to see through Black's senses and body. Shiro was also known to be among the most skilled in hand-to-hand combat among the Paladins. Shiro's lean and muscular build marks him as possessing incredible athletic abilities that allow him to rival even the likes of Hunk in terms of raw strength, and able to duck and dodge with great agility and grace, rivaling Keith's speed, Pidge's balance, and Lance's precision. Shiro's greatest asset is his superb tactical mind and leadership skills, allowing him to take on stronger foes such as Myzax in both the gladiator pit and on Arus within Voltron. Shiro regularly and skillfully inspires his team with his charismatic personality and indomitable spirit, able to bring them from the depths of defeat and ignite their will to win, allowing them to push back with the strength of a true army, acting as one. He is also skilled in military tactics, which is how he learned the guards' routines aboard the prison ship where he was held. Shiro is also skilled at reading the tactical weaknesses of others, devising plans based on their weak points, and often drawing out fights against stronger foes to learn any and all possible faults in their fighting styles and move sets.
A quality that very much describes Shiro is dynamic. He is able to endure and withstand just about anything, often adapting on the fly to new threats and environments. Despite his PTSD, Shiro is still able to fight back and endure incredible levels of stress, both mental and physical, and is skilled at concealing this trauma from his friends and allies most of the time. His ability to conceal this also marks Shiro as a rather talented actor. This talent for acting was best witnessed during his time as a gladiator in Zarkon's arena, where he quickly concocted a bloodthirsty and homicidal persona in order to protect his comrade, Matt, from the dangers of the ring. This performance was thoroughly convincing as even Matt appeared terrified of his friend's aggression and zeal, as were the rest of Zarkon's prisoners who bore witness to Shiro's actions.
Shiro's Galra tech prosthetic arm gave him a number of abilities that enhanced his prowess in combat, such as energy emission that he could use to cut through various dense materials such as metal, often using his hand like a sword to slice his enemies with energy blades. Shiro could also interface with Galra computers and systems through his prosthetic arm, making him the only Paladin to be able to access enemy installations despite not understanding anything about the Galra's technology. The arm also afforded Shiro a degree of superhuman strength and durability, given that it was able to handle direct blows from Sendak and others without any apparent damage to the arm or the surrounding tissue even when not encased in armor. Shiro's duel with Sendak displays this durability at its peak, as Sendak's own cybernetic arm was capable of rending steel and delivering devastating attacks, yet Shiro's arm was able to absorb a head-on attack with no difficulty at all. This lack of damage to his organic body parts suggests that his body may have had a few upgrades or augmentations as well to handle the increased strain of his new limb's enhanced strength.
- Shiro is purportedly 25, which would make him the oldest of the Paladins. However, the DreamWorks website and comics contradict this claim by describing the five Paladins as "Five unsuspecting teenagers", placing Shiro's age as 19 at the oldest.
- Shiro's birthday is on Leap Day (February 29th), which only occurs once every 4 years. Leap Day birthdays are usually celebrated on the 28th on years that it does not occur.
- His full name, "Takashi Shirogane", which was displayed during the Garrison news report declaring the Kerberos Mission crew missing and presumed dead, heavily suggests Shiro's heritage is Japanese. Lauren Montgomery confirmed this in an interview with Newsarama.
- Shiro's nickname (derived from his surname) means "white" in Japanese (Shiro 白), contrary to his position as the Black Paladin.
- The full surname "Shirogane" means "white metal" or "silver" in English - this contrasts with Go Lion's Kogane Akira, whose surname "Kogane" means "gold".
- Shiro shares his name with GoLion's Shirogane Takashi, who became Sven when WEP edited the original anime into Voltron: Defender of the Universe. Rather than the leader, this character was the second-in-command, under Keith.