After two years in production, the Filipino-produced animated series Barangay 143 has finally shoot its way on-air.
As everyone may have expected, even before the program has made its way on the drawing board, Filipino anime fans already had some expectations about the show.
There were speculations on how it would be animated, based on previous Filipino-made animation like “RPG Metanoia” or “Super Inggo at ang Super Tropa”, as well as its celebrity voice cast, based on previous celebrity-dubbed anime shows that did not fare very well, particularly Initial D: Fourth Stage or Bleach.
But since one of the co-producers of the show is TV Asahi, which is the Japanese television network known for airing anime titles like Doraemon, Pretty Cure and Sailor Moon, there are higher expectations regarding its quality.
My first impressions on Barangay 143 is that they did very well, particularly how it was animated, and I think there may be some things that could be adjusted, specifically on the story flow, but the big question for me is the voice acting.
Definitely feels like Anime
Compared to previous Filipino-made animated works, Barangay 143 definitely feels a lot like a Japanese anime series that we all used to watch, from the way the backdrop look to the way the character moves.
Production SAKO has been established in 2014, but they handled background art for anime series like Doraemon and Aquarion Logos, as well as handling art for Legends of the Dark King: A Fist of the North Star Story. The company is responsible for amazing background art of the series.
Takaaki Ishiyama is credited as the show’s “Anime Art Director”. Although I cannot confirm it at the moment, Ishiyama may be the same person who handled storyboard for Sorcerer Hunter and Silent Möbius, as well as directed Sakura Wars OVA, Viewtiful Joe, and Chaos;HEAd.
Even if the main production house is the Philippine-based Synergy88 Entertainment, at least I could take some comfort that Barangay 143 is being supervised by people know have the technical knowledge of the Japanese anime scene.
After the media launch last July, I noticed that Filipino anime fans are puzzled on why the lead character of Barangay 143 is a South Korean, instead of a homegrown that has a first-hand knowledge of the country’s basketball culture.
I think what some people don’t get is that storytelling, whether reading a book or watching an anime, is mostly about the journey. How the characters, together with the audience, would get from point A to point B. Who wouldn’t be better in telling the story than someone from the outsider’s point-of-view?
Besides, if we all get emotional with a knight in shining armor in a medieval land and kills a bunch of goblins, then why not about a Korean guy in a fictional barangay that fell in love with a game that Filipinos love?
That being said, the first episode’s flow got me confused. I could understand that the producers would try as much as possible to introduce some of the major characters of the animated series, but I think the viewers may find it confusing if the focus of the story would jump from one person to another.
I think it would have helped if the producers could have paced the story better, maybe stretched the introduction to the first two or three episodes, instead of rushing from Coach B (VA: John Arcilla), to Vicky (VA: Julie Anne San Jose), and then to Bren (VA: Migo Adacer) in one half-hour episode. They are not writing for an animated movie, I think there’s no need to rush.
But there’s one thing that I find problematic, and that is how the episode ended. Of course, I don’t plan to spoil the episode for everyone, but I’ll just say that there’s a major incident that happened in Bren’s life. To those who saw the first episode, I’m pretty sure that you can smell the death flag a mile away.
Since most people would eventually think that a life-changing incident will happen to Bren, I think it would be better if the cliffhanger for the first episode would have been him landing to the country.
This will make the viewers ask questions, like “What is the reason for him coming to the Philippines?”, “Is the exchange student he befriended the reason for coming to the country?”, or “Would the star player be involved in barangay basketball?”
Hopefully, some improvements would be made in the following episodes.
Celebrity Voices, yet again
Ever since Voltes V: Evolution aired on the now-defunct anime channel HEROtv in 2006, Celebrity-dubbed anime shows had made some of Filipino anime fan’s cringe list.
I definitely understand why the networks use this tactic, because it’s exposure to the talent, despite only using their vocal cords, and their popularity would rub off on the show. Unfortunately, it usually doesn’t meet the expectations of the most fans, especially those who have seen the original material.
Barangay 143 is different thing on itself, since it will be the original material, but it feels like the voice acting on this episode still lacks some kind of genuineness, like the voice actors may just be reading from a script.
But during the media launch, the voice cast themselves had expressed that voice acting is really different from any kind of acting on-screen. I know that this is just the first episode, but I hope that things will get better from this point on.
As I have mentioned earlier, TV Asahi is one of the co-producers of Barangay 143. I admit, I’m genuinely curious if the show would be aired on any of the TV Asahi channels, whether on terrestrial broadcast or their BS/CS satellite service.
If they would be aired in Japan, would they be given the Japanese dubbed treatment? Who could be the seiyuus that can play the roles of these characters? I know I’m not the only one asking these questions.
So much possibilities, both whether programming-wise or the growth of the local animation scene. I’m excited.
Barangay 143 airs Every Sunday Mornings at 10:00am, right after I-Bilib, on GMA. For more details, please visit their website at barangay143.com.
This episode review was written by JM Melegrito, Anime Pilipinas Editor. You may follow him on Twitter at @JMmelegrito.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer do not necessarily reflect the views of Anime Pilipinas, its members, partners, and colleagues. If you have comments or reactions, please email at [email protected].