Toei Animation (東映アニメーション株式会社 Tōei Animēshon Kabushiki-gaisha ) is a Japanese animation studio that created both the Beast King GoLion and Armored Fleet Dairugger XV anime series which would become the source material for Voltron: Defender of the Universe. After striking a deal with World Events Productions it would later be commissioned to animate the extra 20 episodes exclusive to the American franchise.
Toei and Voltron
Prior to the creation of the American franchise, Toei created multiple super robot anime that were sponsored by Bandai and made into toys in its Chogokin toyline. Among them were Daltanious, Golion, Dairugger, and Albegas; the four series that were originally intended to be combined into World Events Productions' Voltron franchise. However only the latter three would be sold under the American Matchbox toyline and only Beast King GoLion and Armored Fleet DaiRugger XV being adapted into the American TV series .
Because the episode threshold for television syndication was 65 episodes and the typical Japanese season contained 52 episodes, World Events Productions chose to combine similar looking TV series to surpass the episode count. However, because the episodes directly adapted from Golion were vastly more popular than the ones adapted from Dairugger, World Events Productions scrapped its original plans to adapt Albegas into the third season and commissioned Toei to animated an additional 20 episodes and TV movie made exclusively for the Voltron franchise.
Due to the overwhelming popularity of Voltron in the United States contrasting with the original source material's obscurity in Japan, Toei sold partial rights to the series to World Events Productions. However, after WEP decided to create Voltron: The Third Dimension without Toei's involvement, the two had a legal battle over the ownership of the franchise. The lawsuit was settled in Toei selling more rights to the franchise.
However, the 2007 game Super Robot Wars W, which is the first game that Golion debuts in, lists Toei in its copyright section with WEP's name being absent possibly signifying that Toei held certain rights to franchise that are exclusive to Japan. During the same year the Live-Action Movie was in development, Toei confronted WEP over the production of live-action movie stating that the legal issues concerning a live-action movie falls under different circumstances regarding the franchise that the two companies haven't discuss any agreements upon.
As a result of Toei's claims, a film company, New Regency, conducted a legal investigation into the rights of the Voltron franchise. Upon investigation, they discovered that the original character designer and animation director of Beast King Golion, Kazuo Nakamura, might have possessed some rights to Golion and thus Voltron.