Unfinished business

There was this joke that became popular right after the Gulf War ended. A CNN news correspondent reporting live from the battlefield was describing the U.S. led forces attack against Saddam’s Air Force and the difficulties they were having. First was how the U.S. sent a fleet of 1,000 F-15 Eagle fighter jets but they were still having a hard time winning against Saddam’s planes. Then the British sent 1,000 Eurofighter Typhoons, but they were still having a hard time. The French followed suit and deployed 1,000 Mirage fighters, and that didn’t help either. The Allied forces were becoming desperate because Saddam’s Air Force was too powerful.

Then a report came that Japan has entered the battle. Everyone was hopeful at first, but their hearts sank in despair when they saw that Japan sent only five fighter jets. Five. What the heck are mere five fighters supposed to accomplish when 3,000 planes have already failed?

Then a voice was overheard through the radio, coming from the five Japanese fighters.

“LET’S VOLT IN!!!”

That corny joke aside (though it made me laugh when I first heard it), I guess that for our generation, nothing defines “Unfinished business” more clearly and meaningfully than that old anime series Voltes V. Flashback some 30 years ago when we still resided in Bulacan and I was nothing more than a rubber band-bearing, spider-fight watching snot who couldn’t go home from school until the tricycle my mom paid to ferry me home arrived. The routine was play time after school, every day, when my playmates and I would clutter the dirt roads of St. Martin’s Subdivision (beside present-day SM Marilao) with our cheap and “classless” toys and playthings like wooden guns, “tex” and the aforementioned rubber bands.

And when it strikes 6 p.m., we’d all zip home, like clockwork, leaving the streets emptier than a proverbial ghost town. We did it so efficiently that a visitor could mistake it for a scene from a John Carpenter movie. Eerie.

Why? Voltes V is on. “He” and “his” contemporaries. It was the time when Voltes and gang – Daimos (Tuesday), Mazinger Z (Wednesday), U.F.O. Grendaizer (Thursday) and Mekanda (Monday) – lorded over prime time TV to provide us kids of our generation with 30 minutes of utter TV-viewing bliss. Unbridled TV heaven at 6 p.m. every school day, amen.

You probably know how it all went down. The series (not just Voltes but all of the Super Robot series) was cancelled by order of the late President Marcos allegedly because it was too violent. Well, no arguments there, as I’ve compared this with other subsequent similar Sentai format shows that came out, like Star Rangers (the “template” of the Power Rangers) and Voltron, and it was clear how they toned the violence down - for example showing only streaks of bright light instead of the whole graphic enchilada of Voltes slicing through the beast fighter’s body with his Laser sword. But then again, a side story ran rampant of how such shows carried heavy revolutionary undertones that could have endangered the despot’s regime. Still, one has to have a great deal of imagination and paranoia to even consider the possibility of a cartoon… er… anime show provoking an entire nation to rebellion (besides, we all know that the Edsa revolution was triggered by an entirely different event. But I digress).Â

We didn’t give a flying chicken of course. All we cared about was THEY CANCELLED OUR FAVORITE SHOW, just when it was leading to the final episodes! WAAAA! And we were left with nothing but a harrowing question – of how the series eventually ended – that lingered through the years, despite Voltes V and his contemporaries being revived dozens of times in its original home (GMA 7) and its bitter rival (duh). Nostalgia aside, none of the reshowings gave us the closure that we’d been longing for since the original program’s cancellation on March 25, 1978.

Unfinished Business. Over and over and over again.

Happily, that’s over and done with. Thanks to the outfit that sponsored the showing of Voltes V: The Liberation in theaters back in 1999, we’ve finally resolved this unfinished business that lasted for more than 20 years. Ivan Chen maintains a fantastic Voltes V shrine and, being the incorrigible softie that I am, I couldn’t resist swooning out my personal sentiment after witnessing the resolution of this most classic anime treasure.

You have to understand, The animation technology may pale compared to the likes of today’s Gundam series, but my generation lived for Voltes V. The original showing may have lasted for only a little under a year, but the mark it left on us was indelible. And really, how many other anime series merited the number of reshowings that Voltes V had (notwithstanding that shoddy ‘Voltes V Evolution’ over at Hero TV)?

This video is an excerpt from Episode 2, the very first show on TV that made me cry (I’m not ashamed to admit this because my brothers and sister were crying with me the first time we saw this). To my contemporaries, enjoy this brief trip down memory lane (“you have not seen an angry-as-hell robot until you’ve seen this”). To everyone else, discover why Voltes V is also sometimes called ‘a universe-spanning animated soap’ =)

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quistian

An incorrigible Gen-X cynic who writes too damn much

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