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Tuesday, July 04, 2023

Less Action, More Drama: A look on the first 40 episodes of Voltes V Legacy

07/03/2023 04:55:47 PM

Screenshot from Voltes V Legacy Episode 40 (GMA Network, obtained via YouTube)

2023 became a year for all nostalgia lovers. It was Christmas in Summer as Voltes V Legacy finally made it to the screens after almost a decade of being “in the works.” The celebrated cinematic action-drama television series debuted on 8 May 2023, sparking nationwide debate and massive raves among fans of the hit 1977 Japanese Anime series. This adaptation is reported to air 80 episodes in 16 weeks (four months).
The past Friday saw the broadcast of the 40th episode technically means we are now halfway through the entire program. That prompted me to ask: How's Voltes V Legacy been doing so far?

While I was entertained with many insightful answers from those who commented on my Facebook page, maybe it's time for me to say something. 

Even though I was not a fan of Philippine television anymore, I took exception by watching this robot saga out of nostalgia. Obviously, every kid from the 70s to the 90s knows the most popular franchise among the Robot Romance trilogy. I used to watch the original Voltes V show every Friday night at 7:00PM on GMA-7 (when it was still 'rainbow'). That said, seeing trailers and featurettes from the years prior piqued in interest in an instant.

Nearly two months – or after 40 episodes – did the live-action adaptation live up to our expectations. Generally speaking, the answer would always vary. For me, it did at some point. It was decent, to sum it up. 

You have to commend GMA and its post-production partner, Riot Inc., for taking a huge step forward in providing the immersive visual experience of Voltes V Legacy. Sure, it's still far from whatever we used to see in those Marvel or DC movies, but to see a Philippine-made television program throwing all the bulky efforts of CGI and animation effects to produce such an eye-candy locations and larger-than-life figures such as the Boazanian beast fighers and the Voltes V robot itself. That definitely is an instant win.

Although it was a long-ass flashback from the fan-service-driven pilot episode, I have to be impressed with the story of Hrothgar and Boazan Star Empire was introduced. Given the limitations of the actual content duration on the original Anime series, the side plot was where show writer Suzzette Dotorlero and her pool of writers thrived at best in expanding the Legacy's perspective; from Hrothgar's (Dennis Trillo) sudden exile to escape to earth – and reinventing himself as Ned Armstrong plus the creation of Camp Big Falcon; Emperor Zambojil's greed on his crusade to dominate the universe, to lastly, an estranged Prince Zardoz and his quest to conquer Terra Erthu (Bozanian's term from Planet Earth). It explained what was explicitly missing for 46 years if you're a deep-diver in storytelling and nitpicking.

Even with a bit of randomly-timed comedic episodes, Voltes V Legacy provided more room for humor in Big Bert (Matt Lozano) for the Voltes team and the clashing antics of Zuhl (Epi Quizon) and Draco (Carlo Gonzales). 

But even with the visual treats, interesting flashbacks, and bits of comic relief, some drawbacks can be observed in the first 40 episodes of Voltes V Legacy. 

While content length isn't that of a big deal here, if you're more of a detail seeker, you would notice that on Japanese Anime shows like Voltes V, it has a uniform content duration of 23 minutes per episode, including both the opening and closing billboards plus the bumpers in between. 

That said, each episode of Voltes V Legacy was affixed to the usual Filipino TV standards – meaning, no time fixtures. Sure, it ranges between 23-26 minutes at its understanding. And that poses a problem on the actual television broadcast, given the allotted commercial slots and potential TV-related breaks such as breaking news and other TV spots on both the network and live streaming. As scheduled, Voltes V Legacy airs Mondays to Fridays, from 8:00PM to 8:50PM, which makes the actual episode occupy 48-51 percent of its slot.

Well, it's not surprising at all since it's GMA-7 at all. If you know, you know.

Aside from commercials occupying half of the show's duration, one noticeable flaw is the acting among most of its talents. Some deliveries between characters (specifically, members of the Voltes V team and other crew from Camp Big Falcon) appeared lame. There were also bits of dead air among conversational and confrontational scenes that made them look unnatural. Additionally, a couple of abrupt pacings faulted the show's editing. 

Although mad props to Big Bert and Zardoz for being the standout among the characters. Dr. Richard Smith (Albert Martinez), Gen. Oscar Robinson (Gabby Eigenmann), and Mary Ann Armstrong (Carla Abellana) came close second. However, given their experiences as tenured thespians, their splendid portrayals were already given as adjectives. But Christian Vasquez's portrayal of Zambojil lacked a big-time appeal. Ouch.

But the biggest nitpicking of them all was the other subplots. As usual, what do we actually expect from a formulaic Suzette Doctolero? Even with the legendary national artist Ricky Lee as its content development consultant, Voltes V Legacy was not spared from criticisms from all the other side trip stories that are totally out of actual context and scenes that are damn out of line. 

It wasn't conventional — and unfortunately — for some purists, did not sit well. Forget that majority of the five members of the Voltes team were aged teenagers and a sudden injection of the love triangle between Steve Armstrong (Raphael Landicho), Jamie Robinson (Ysabel Ortega), and Mark Gordon (Radson Flores). They were in a military environment anyway. Although not gonna lie, I felt the post-sex scene between Zardoz (Martin Del Rosario) and Zandra (Liezel Lopez) became a selling point without us noticing the 'unrequited love' references from the original anime. 

However, even with its negative points, to say this Legacy is a “bastardized” adaptation of the entire Voltes V television saga is totally unfair yet at this point. Yes, progression-wise speaking, they lagged behind the actual pacing of the anime. But we still have a second half of the series to check out and see if Director Mark Reyes and the entire crew of hardworking men and women deliver as the clash between alien invaders and earthlings continues. Expect a plethora of sneaky and stealthy movements, sacrificial lambs, and treacherous acts from both camps to take place, as well as the never-ending astronomical journey of the Armstrong brothers in search of their father Ned and the eventual liberation of the Star Empire from the terror reign of Zambojil.

After all, Voltes V Legacy isn't just another adaptation that was born out of people's love for the 'good old times sake' – but with the merging of the classic and modern perspectives in storytelling, with societal elements holding them into a more humane approach, no matter more ridiculous than realistic it may look.

Author: slickmaster | © 2023 The SlickMaster's Files

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