Monday, December 14, 2009

Analyzing "Voltes V" and its alleged "subversiveness"

Analyzing "Voltes V" and its alleged "subversiveness"

When we were young, we enjoy watching good shows, and one good example is Japanese-made Animation. And for quite some time, we remember every show being broadcasted in the boob tube, one of which was Voltes V.

Voltes V, in laymen's idea is a mecha-anime featuring a robot coming from five different vehicles manned by five well trained pilots fighting against the enemies of the human race. But then, that Anime, according to Wikipedia, also narrates the heroic exploits of the young robot pilots known as The Voltes Team and their trials against alien invaders from the planet Boazan. Armed with the Super Electromagnetic Machine Voltes V, the five pilots drive back the invaders one Beast Fighter at a time. The series is different from typical super robot anime of the time in that it illustrates human sentimentality and common values, with underlying themes such as the love of family, equality, selfless sacrifice, team work, and patriotism.

Voltes V is not just a mere anime as what the children and the once children think of, since Voltes V is in fact a work that has a heavy revolutionary undertone. For sure the series ends with Voltes V's or rather say the "revolutionary nobleman" Baron Hrothgar's spectacular counterattack on planet Boazan to liberate the slaves from the oppression of tyrannical ruler, Emperor Zu Zambajil. And some information said that the creator of that said anime, Tadao Nagahama, was influenced by the French Revolution, taking the theme of enslaved population rising up to overthrow an aristocracy.

But according to me, a once avid watcher of that anime and having a DVD of that show, Voltes V shows the attempt to create an agitative propaganda using futurism, science fiction and of course, animation. Nagahama may have taken the French Revolution, but he seemed that he's using a Russian one than of a french one, for Boazanian society was sort of between feudal and capitalist one, since technology and serfdom were the bases of economy on that anime; and the ones affected, especially the unhorned class, out of years of oppression wanted a drastic change to end that ancient situation-using revolution as a type of action as what the creator Nagahama think of, and perhaps I need to thank him for revolutionizing and even his attempt for politicizing anime using science fiction and his creation Voltes V-that made Ferdinand Marcos banned it "due to its violent actions that may harm the children."

And since I speak of Marcos' ban on Voltes V during the martial law era, he banned it "because of excessive violence" and also states that due to cartoons such as this may affect children in their education. But in fact, despite his reason, it was really because of its subversive themes-as the Philippines during his era was in turmoil, as widespread protests and the growth of the National Democratic movement and his so-called 'imminent danger' made the late president declare Martial Law "to save democracy." But how come Voltes V was included in the list? Why was that anime being banned for showing? Just because of "violence?" Or rather "Its subversive messages?" And even having the channel where the anime being shown surpassed other two government-owned TV stations?

Some said that the show could be used by activists, especially from the National Democratic movement might also use it as a visual tool, an example to create another kind of protest a la First Quarter Storm and the Diliman Commune, and its scenes may use it as an example of a class struggle with a socialist perspective, and it includes the freeing the "slave" class in the Philippines. And somehow Nagahama really admired his work same as the others didn't notice that his work, a product of revolution, was in tune with the political atmosphere of the Philippines during the 1970's and thus could not have patterned his characters & his story as allusions to the mentioned Philippine leaders or to the troubled political situation of the country at the time. Remember Amado Guerrero's Philippine Society and Revolution? Somehow the anime's description of Boazania seemingly slightly similar to the Philippine society according to his desciption, and perhaps, Voltes V would be better if Amado Guerrero helped Nagahama for the story proper to mirror the realities clearly, or rather say a good teaching tool for a revolution as the story goes more revolutionary than science fiction, for agitation than recreation!

And as Voltes V unleashed its revolutionary theme, it shows that how society despite its modernity, remains backward; as V.I Lenin tend to call imperialism (with Boazania as example) as a highest stage of rotten-ripe capitalism, or rather say an instigator for a future "corporate feudalism" or "neo-feudalism", as capitalism continues to accumulate and propagate its outmost rottenness thanks to the countries of a developing type who supported the imperialists and its policies. And at the same time, People who are deeply oppressed for years in that kind of society may have tried to think of this: to think of change by any means necessary-including a call for armed struggle as what Baron Hrothgar (Ned Armstrong) wanted, from the creation of rifles to the rebels to the creation of Voltes V as a means for liberation; in short- a backward society needs a revolution.

Perhaps people may misunderstood this kind of writeup, especially to those who didn't know that Voltes V's message is more of change to the society and love of people, especially to the creators of the society; and instead of thinking of it as a show which was and is enjoying, an eye candy for them, for in the end people may understand what Voltes V and other "subversive" literary pieces really speaks of-as what Thomas Jefferson said:
"a little rebellion now and then is a good thing. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."