Anime, one of Japan’s greatest imports, has been well-ingrained in the psyche of Filipinos ever since it first hit our TV screens in the late seventies.
Of course, who could forget Voltes V, Daimos, and Mazinger Z? These three shows were the pillars of GMA Network in the late seventies to early eighties. Surely, it was one of the best programming masterstrokes that its former General Manager Freddie M. Garcia made for the then-struggling network.
When GMA let go of these series, the state-owned IBC-13 picked them up in the late eighties to the early nineties, and, coupled with a few tokusatsu shows like Maskman and Bioman, the network was able to gain fans during the time it was beset with management trouble and dwindling ratings.
So it was no surprise that anime fans got excited when a newly-revitalized IBC 13, now headed by former broadcaster and producer Katherine “Kat” De Castro, told the entertainment press during a press conference promoting the “new” IBC last March that they are in talks with a content provider to bring back the well-loved anime shows that aired on the network.
And for anime fans who long for an anime fix on a free-to-air network ever since TV5 deserted anime for sports programming and the two biggies slugged it out for teleserye glory, IBC-13 was their salvation, their manna from heaven.
As for me, I don’t see it that way. Far from it.
Let’s face it: anime on IBC-13 sounds like a very nice proposition and a good way to turn around their fortunes. I, for one, wish for the network to return to having regularly-scheduled programs with entertainment, news, public affairs and sports shows, not purely informercials. De Castro’s push for the network to re-air the old classics is a good way to surely bring back an audience, especially those who lived watching these classics, and a new millennial audience rediscovering these classics.
The return of old local shows on IBC-13 won’t be a problem for them since they own the copyright outright, with the only issue being the quality of those materials and the process to which they are being digitized. This is something that the Film Development Council of the Philippines, which is now preserving the the channel’s archive as part of the Philippine National Film Archives, is possibly trying to address.
But classic anime shows? It’s going to be a wee-bit tricky.
When De Castro said they are in talks with a yet-unidentified content provider about re-acquiring those old anime classics to air on IBC, I winced, as the network is currently cash-strapped.
Yes, they may have moved to their new headquarters near their old home in the Broadcast City Complex, but their broadcast equipment is still mostly the same ones they’ve been using for decades, and upgrading them should be the first priority for IBC.
Sure, it would be good for IBC to air those shows on a barter basis, or even in an exchange deal arrangement. The network should prioritize first being watchable in order to be viable. Re-airing their old shows is a good start, but getting anime shows first just because they want to appease that young audience should not be their first real priority right now.
They need to be sold first, and fast. And when the time comes, they should consider retaining De Castro as the first CEO of a privatized IBC.
Only then should they go back to the business of bringing balanced alternative programming, including anime.
Ang Mahiwagang Paglipat!
Coinciding with the announcement of IBC wanting to go back into the anime broadcast business, another legacy brand is making news again, sending shockwaves reaching Timog Avenue.
Doraemon, the lovable cat that was once the staple of GMA’s anime programming, has moved house to ABS-CBN.
The move, which was announced during a trade event held by the anime show’s licensor in the country, Animation International, Inc., made YeY! and Knowledge Channel head Danie Sedilla-Cruz tizzy with excitement that the Kapamilya network will finally air an anime with a large and loving fanbase in the country.
It also signals another win for ABS-CBN after snapping up Regine Velasquez to move from her longtime home, GMA.
Imagine: two long-running and identifiable icons of the Gozon-owned network, making the big move across Timog and now settling in the ELJ Communications Center in the most extravagant way imaginable.
And the only thing GMA got in exchange was Kiray Celis.
Tender Loving Care
When Doraemon started airing on ABS-CBN’s digital subchannel YeY! last May 22, many people thought that it would be just like any other anime on ABS-CBN, with little promotion and an unwatchable time slot.
But since Doraemon came from a rival network, it was given the tender-loving care that other anime titles aired on the network lacked.
The last time I saw ABS-CBN give this much importance to an anime title was in 2004, when Level Up! Games partnered with the network to air Ragnarok: The Animation.
They did a month-long promotional push for Doraemon, with adverts airing on both ABS-CBN and Yey, and—a first for any anime shown on an ABS-CBN channel—the ability to watch past episodes on demand on the iWant streaming service!
Doraemon was all it took to get ABS-CBN to go on a marketing overdrive for an anime title like this, and with good reason, as it really wants to differentiate itself from the GMA era, even changing the name of one of the characters (which, contrary to even my initial assumptions, is not ABS-CBN gone “politically correct”).
This only means one thing: ABS-CBN needs more anime of the same calibre as Doraemon to drive the network to do this kind of marketing push that was only afforded to its teleserye and Asianovela shows.
But that’s a story for another day.
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].