For Philippine Television Networks Consideration: Create An All-Original Filipino Tokusatsu Series Seriously for the Younger Television Audience

An All-Original Filipino-Made and Produced Tokusatsu Series Taken Seriously for Younger Philippine Television Audience
By Christopher Aquino, January 17, 2012.

We are who we are thanks to the things we experienced in our lives. There are also some factors that influence and shapes us, one of which is the mass media. Mass media plays a very critical and important role in shaping the minds of the youth, the world's future leader. So as much as possible we need to protect them as our future may very well depend on them right? But what does the mass media, mainly he television provide our children? A regular weeknight primetime soap operas which regularly tackles convoluted plots with adult themes like infidelity, LGBT (Lesbian, Gays, Bisexual, and Transgender) suggestions and innuendos, betrayal, revenge, sex, and murder, which all are unsuited for the young minds of the children. In a way parents are also to blame for not adhering to the television show warnings and guidelines (Parental Guidance) provided by the MTRCB "effectively" placed before each show. I am no moralist or anyone so fixated with such extreme ideals that I actually suggest taking the fun out of the usual simple things. I am not against the removal of such shows for it is a source of entertainment for adults, but they have to also give something for the children to chew on. While to adults, adult themes are just part of the norm, to children they are a bizarre and sometimes very overwhelming matter. How many young niece, nephews, cousins, brothers, and sisters have asked while watching a show "Totoo ba yan?" or "Patay na ba talaga sya?"; how about you justifying a show "Wag kang maniniwala dyan, hindi yan totoo". Thus, the curiosity comes in, and when you have issues like betrayal, sex, revenge, and sexual innuendos then that is a deadly mix with a child's natural curiosity. As a matter of fact I liked my politically incorrect violent kids television shows (cartoons) back in the days, and that is probably one factor that made me who I am today, a geek, which is the new "cool" and "sexy" of the 21st century.

What's with a Tokusatsu series? Kids are different today, they now knew when someone is preaching on them, sometimes they become resilient of such cases. So when they are entertained by let's say a particular kid's show like a tokusatsu series their usual defenses against adults directly preaching them with good morals and right conduct will be down. Tokusatsu shows can subliminally educate children about various values and good morals like love for parents, respect, friendship, loyalty, optimism, hardwork, perseverance, and many more. So besides the rating, and potential merchandising empire created by a tokusatsu series, there is also a good cause to it.

I still can remember the times that I come home from school to watch my favorite cartoon shows in the afternoon, wake up early to catch that early morning kid's show, or impatiently wait until it's 5 o'clock in the afternoon to watch my favorite tokusatsu series every weekends. Speaking of tokusatsus, let's focus more on that, shall we? According to Wikipedia "Tokusatsu" is a Japanese term that applies to any live-action film or television drama that usually features superheroes and makes considerable use of special effects. Tokusatsu literally translates as "special filming" in Japanese. Back in the days, the three or four television companies IBC (Ch13), ABS CBN (Ch2), RPN (Ch9), and GMA (Ch7) features such forms of "kid-friendly" entertainment. Yup, it was a different era (the roaring 90's) that time, tv networks actually listens to the pulse of the mass by importing foreign shows abroad which go way back from the 80's. From American series to Japanese tokusatsus and animes, everyone had the option to what channel to go to to get their specific fix. I remember waiting for Ultraman and MagmaMan in ABS CBN (I wish my memory served me right), waiting for Maskman, MachineMan, Shaider, and Masked Rider Black on IBC 13, and Dragon Balls on RPN 9. They were every parents dream programming, to turn to one station which both entertain them and their children alike. I can remember father, taking the initiative to actually tune in to an episode of Masked Rider Black back in those days. It was a hot topic amongst boys when in school. "Did you see Robert Akizuki beat the crap out of that monster?!" is one of the sample lines one can hear from a group of classmates in our elementary school back then. But now, what?

Kamen Rider Black a testimony that Tokusatsu has a place in Philippine television scene

Kamen Rider Black a testimony that Tokusatsu has a place in Philippine television scene

Although I had to give acknowledgement to the two major Philippine television network for coming out with television adaptation of some of Philippine comics most reverred superheroes, and creating the fantaserye (fantasy television series) Philippine programming category, they are not enough to entertain every generations of audiences. Let's say one generation had the opportunity to enjoy a super hero series like Pandakekoks, Kristala, Pintados, or Captain Barbel, but what about the generations that comes after that? Although I can also suggest for television networks to make all their classic super hero shoes available in home video format, but nothing beats the live primetime television version right? This is where Japan excels in providing entertainment for every generation of child audiences. They have the tokusatsu television tradition. This is where I am hoping the Philippine television networks could consider... to create an on-going all-original Filipino-made tokusatsu or super hero series.

japan space sheriff shaider and philippines zaido pulis pangkalawakan

TV Networks can pull this off. They already did create such special effect filled super hero television series like Panday, Captain Barbell, Darna, LastikMan, Flash Bomba, and Super Inggo to name a few. One of the most notable but negatively received series that a TV Network has ever come closed to making a Filipino tokusatsu is GMA Network's Zaido: Pulis Pangkalawakan, the Philippine TV Network's version or rather a loosely based sequel of the popular 1984-1985 classic Japanese Metal Hero "Space Sheriff Shaider". Shaider was a beloved classic to those who grew up watching the popular metal hero series, so when Zaido: Pulis Pangkalawakan, a 2007 series looks way inferior than the 1984 predecessor Space Sheriff Shaider that it draws inspiration from, it was only natural for the majority of the Shaider and generally tokusatsu fans spoiled with the top notched quality Japan has brought them to hate and complain about the unofficial Filipino sequel, Zaido. On the other hand, the newer generation of Filipino kids (Philippine televiewing mass) didn't mind it which is an obvious clear sign of the potential of a possible successful tokusatsu series. If only the TV Network listened to that community.

The problem with Zaido: Pulis Pangkalawakan is that it followed the traditional time slot of every Filipino soap opera. The Philippine television viewing public was presented with a 20-minutes-a-day primetime series every weeknights rather than following the trusted Japanese timeslot formula of one 30-40 minute episode a week format. Being only once a week could give more time for the production team to polish the visual and special effects used in every major monster fights, but since Zaido is a weeknights series then it is expected for the show to have a poorly applied special effects that even a nine twelve year old would notice as a fake. If only the TV Network has taken the tokusatsu tv series more seriously, and focused more on a niche market the kids. If they only dropped all the unnecessary soap opera-ish drama cliches uncalled for a superhero series, focusing more on convincing special effects, engaging plot, awesome fight sequences and creative monster and superhero designs, then the network might had something special in their hands back then. Unfortunately, Zaido just miserably fail.

Learning from the failure that is Zaido, I believe that there is money (for tV Networks) and entertainment (for the Philippine TV audience) to have in the super hero or tokusatsu genre that is taken seriously. It is time for the (now three) leading Philippine television networks (ABS CBN, GMA, and TV5) to invest and engage on a much more younger television audience by not only importing foreign shows, but by making an all-Filipino tokusatsu or super hero series in a one-hour time format presented on a once a week basis (preferably weekends). If the TV Networks followed the Japanese kind of tokusatsu TV Series formula, then they can create a new niche, a loyal following, and amoney making merchandise. Appealing to kids, Japanese tokusastu series like the Kamen Rider and the Super Sentai created this unique audience where they can successfully market the various merchandise like plush toys, collectible cards, action figures, and video games related to the series that kids loved to watch. So imagine, if a Philippine TV Network does create something as popular and phenomenal like an annual series similar to what a Kamen Rider or Super Sentai series is like, then they don't only have a competitive show with good ratings which brings moe advertising for them, but it can also bring them new money making machinery. Tokusatsu shows are presented on a once a week showing basis for it gives the series more lifespan which is good for any of its merchandise. Just imagine how many toy merchandise can a company make under such titles, and repeat that same success year after year if they established this unique market. As long as the TV Network takes the genre seriously, then their audience will take them seriously. In a way, they are also training these young audience to become loyal followers which will itself sustain the new TV genre for as long as the company can keep doing it.

Hopefully the Philippine TV Networks can consider making an all-Filipino tokusatsu series seriously even if it is aimed at a younger audience.


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