Hindsight Review: Technical Achievements Elevate and Carry Flawed “Voltes V: Legacy”

No spoilers.

I was very excited after watching the first episode of GMA Network’s Voltes V: Legacy. It was a huge breath of fresh air. For one, finally being able to see what had been worked on for years and delivering a truly exciting first half hour was so exciting. And two, having something of this magnitude be an all-Filipino production was such a major accomplishment.

And nothing will take away from that accomplishment. That is, the technical achievement in production is something not often, if ever, seen on local Filipino television. The elaborate sets. The top-notch CGI. And bringing a classic Japanese anime to life in a live-action series. You don’t expect such things from Filipino daily series. But Voltes V: Legacy was able to deliver that.

Again, the one thing that no one can take away from Voltes V: Legacy is the effort (and huge cost!) they expended on the technical production of the series. It is very evident across these past 90 episodes. And that will always help to elevate the series.

Sadly, the series ended up needing a lot of elevating and carrying.

All the hope I had at the start would slowly and steadily fade away as the typical traps of Filipino teleseryes would end up catching Voltes V: Legacy.

Simply put, a series like Voltes V: Legacy just isn’t suited for the daily teleserye format. I know that the format is a logistical and financial necessity in order for GMA Network to maximize its return on investment. But as much effort as was put in the technical side of the series, I think the same, if not more effort was needed in the writing. And perhaps some of the editing as well.

Sometimes, it felt as if the series was originally edited into longer episodes. For example, hour-long episodes. And in order to fit the series into a weekday/daily roll-out, they edited those longer episodes into more bite-sized ~20-minute episodes. (Minus the overly-long start-of-episode recaps, long end-of-episode previews and the full theme song and ending song as well.)

That presented some awkward pacing with many episodes all series-long. Instead of potentially self-contained hour-long episodes with clear beginning, middle and ends, the teleserye-ized episodes felt abrupt and disorienting.

A typical teleserye may have a consistent flow throughout its five episodes every week. Voltes V: Legacy did not.

And that’s not to say it’s impossible. A little more careful planning and thought into the writing would’ve made things much more seamless.

Unfortunately, the odd pacing seemed to end up negatively affecting the stories. Some ideas rushed and not allowed to breathe, let alone marinate to full satisfying effect. Other ideas feeling shoehorned in and forced. Elsewhere, randomly irrelevant detours. A formulaic pattern one may see on a typical Sunday morning tokusatsu series ill-suited to the daily format.

Big moments throughout the season like learning about Mark’s family or Jamie losing her father or potentially big stories like Steve and Mark’s rivals-turned-bromance or the Voltesers needing to grow up or learn about teamwork. Just a few examples of wasted potential.

Things would get resolved within what would seem like the original one-hour episode (anywhere from two to five daily episodes) and then jump into the next self-contained story. The lack of true character and plot development, instead relying on quick resolutions and instant gratification; again, suited perhaps for hour-long weekly episodes. But not so much for an ongoing, five-day-a-week rollout.

As exciting and sincerely emotional much of the first few weeks were for Voltes V: Legacy, the series eventually and sadly overstayed its welcome. (Which is also very much typical of Filipino teleseryes.) The questionable writing and editing decisions made the show a chore to watch.

And before anyone says “No one is forcing you to watch” or any other #NetworkWarCulture-inspired retort, I like to finish what I start. Especially when I decided to recap this series. It may not have been as expensive as GMA’s, but I invested my time into watching the series and I would see it through to the end.

And it’s because I legitimately enjoyed the series at first that I’ve become sadly disappointed as it wrapped up. It seems like the greater Filipino audience felt the same way as its declining ratings in its last couple of weeks showed.

There’s a lot of nanghihinayang or regret in the way Voltes V: Legacy ended up. At least, narrative-wise and in its editing. But ultimately, the technical achievements will be what the show can hang its hat on. It’s not something that can just be brushed aside because it really is a big accomplishment. It’s just too bad everything else could not compliment it.

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