The role Voltes V played in toppling Martial Law

July 6, 2018 - 6:08 PM
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Japanese anime television series "Voltes V" first aired on TV Asahi on June 4, 1977.

A popular Japanese cartoon about a giant robot may have had a part in toppling a regime that lasted for more than 20 years.

Artist Toym Imao has shared a short video showing his many artworks, some of which reveal how Voltes V is inseparable from the discussion on martial law and the regime of Ferdinand Marcos.

‘Let’s volt in!’

Imao, whose work is featured in an exhibit at the University of the Philippines Diliman campus, has shared videos detailing his work on social media.

Based on the videos, his work features sculptures and installation art inspired by action figures and model robots. References to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos can be glimpsed.

In the original post, Imao included a past interview where he discusses the relevance of a classic anime series in the discussion on martial law.

The artworks featured were part of the “Super Robot – Suffer Reboot Series“, installation art that first went viral in 2014, when it was placed on the steps of the Arts and Sciences building at UP Diliman.

“Super robot” is an anime genre that typically features massive piloted robots facing off against interstellar threats to humanity.

Voltes V, Mazinger Z and Daimos—the three anime series banned by Marcos during the height of martial law—are considered classics in the genre, which was popular during the early days of Japanese animation.

The re-airing of dubbed editions of Voltes V and Daimos by GMA in 1999 is considered by some as the start of the anime craze in the Philippines.

Voltes V revolved around five human pilots chosen to helm the titular giant robot, humanity’s last life of defense against an invading alien race known as the Boazanians and their army of colossal robot monstrosities.

Its catchy theme song has been subject to numerous parodies.

The artworks were made in reaction to younger generations’ perceived unfamiliarity with the dark side of martial law, according to Imao. For the artist, younger generations unfamiliar with the first hit anime in the Philippines may also be unfamiliar with the true impact of martial law.

The exhibit features a painting depicting the late Marcos as Prince Zardoz, the primary antagonist of Voltes V and leader of the villainous Boazanian attack force in the series. Marcos’ widow Imelda is depicted as Zardoz’ love interest Zarda.

Some writers on the topic of martial law have discussed how the cancellation of Voltes V may have influenced those who fought against the Marcos regime.

Norman Sison of VERA Files in an article titled “Revenge of the Voltes V generation” recounted how those who were children during the height of martial law or “martial law babies” were angered by the series’ cancellation in 1978.

According to Sison’s dialogue with martial law babies, their frustration pushed them to later on fight against the administration as they grew older.