I’ll Review Anything: Voltes V: Legacy (The First Five Episodes)

It seems like every country has a certain affinity for a particular Super Robot. For the United States, it’s GoLion AKA Voltron. In Korea, Mechander Robo gained some popularity. In Italy and France, UFO Grendizer was renamed Goldorak and Goldrake, respectively, and became the top Super Robot and cultural phenomenon. In my home country of the Philippines, the title of most popular Super Robot that captured the zeitgeist of its era was, hands down, Voltes V. Personally, I’m more of a Grendizer guy myself but that’s a story for a different time.

Anyway, despite Voltes V being a very old anime, its popularly never really waned as it’s still fondly remembered by a lot of, well, older people as they have nostalgic memories of watching those five ship form up into one gigantic robot to finish off a Beast Fighter with its Laser Sword. GMA knew this and, as such, made the risky decision to make a live-action version of Voltes V. Well, GMA has broadcast the first five episodes of their live-action version of Voltes V and I watched all five episodes over on Youtube. And I’m here to give you my unabashed SPOILER review of them.

The story of Voltes V: Legacy, as I was able to glean from the five episodes GMA has already made available, still follows the general story of the anime. The alien Boazanians are invading other planets and have now set their sights on the planet Earth. However, Earth has known about the impending attack and has been preparing for years to counter the siege. To this effect, they have trained five teens who pilot highly advanced spaceships. But when the Boazanians unleash their Beast Fighter, a towering creature that can wipe out a city in seconds, these teens combine their ships to form the Earth’s final defensive line, the ultra electromagnetic robot Voltes V.

Let me get to the good stuff first. I will say I grew to like Voltes V’s new modernize look. I can easily see a purist thumbing their nose at how bulky and overly complicated it looks. However, I do get the change and the people who gave him the visual overhaul did a decent job overall. There are some smart updates, like giving Voltes V “hip skirts” akin to Gundams, to make the legs move more believably.

This new redesign, unfortunately, has caused some big problems with the ship designs. While the Cruiser (the head) and the Lander (the feet) managed to get away virtually unfazed, the Bomber (the arms), the “Panzer” (the torso) and the Frigate (the legs) look really ugly as whatever sleekness they had in their original design has been stripped away for realism. Like the anime, they could’ve fudged the dimensions to make them look like actual vehicles, not flying metal tubes! Still, I wouldn’t mind if a company like Soul of Chogokin made a die-cast figure of this version of Voltes V.

The CGI is… okay. Now, I say this with the upmost respect to Riot Inc., the company that seems to be handling the post production and adding all the CGI elements in. When compared to what the Philippines has put out just a couple of weeks ago, the work they’ve done on Voltes V: Legacy is leagues better. Would I say it’s comparable to other CGI projects from other countries? Not really. There is a general last-generation video game cutscene quality to a lot of the shots, especially when you see the Boazanian ships flying around as there isn’t any weight to them. I know it’s very hard to do explosions as you need really good particle effects and stuff but, sadly, we’re not there yet. There are also the scenes where you have the live-action actors trying to interact with green screens and they’re not integrated all that well as the come off as cardboard cutouts at times.

But the worst thing about the CGI seems to be the framerate. Now, as I mentioned earlier, I didn’t watch the episodes on GMA’s local broadcast of the show, but rather, I went to YouTube to see them. And, while watching the scenes featuring the first Beast Fighter and the newly formed Voltes V, I started getting a little dizzy. I normally never get dizzy watching CGI fests! So I rewinded the sequences again and I got lightheaded once again! That was when I noticed something like a framerate issue akin to screen tearing or a slight skip. I can’t really put my finger on what’s wrong but it’s there. I even set it to 1080p, the highest possible resolution and, while that reduced the nausea feeling, I could still see the frame skips. It doesn’t happen all the time but only when big large objects, like a Beast Fighter and Voltes V, are moving fairly quickly.

Sadly, I can’t really say if this is a consistent thing because, well, throughout all the five episodes GMA has shown so far, they only showed one Beast Fighter so far! Heck, we didn’t even see them fight yet because, just before they did, the episode ended! Okay, so I guess we’ll see the conclusion of the fight in the next episode, right? Nope! What we then get is a four episode flashback! That is just atrocious and, if this is a harbinger of what Voltes V: Legacy is going to be, is probably going to be my biggest issues with the show: the pacing and the writing.

Let me tell you what the four episode flashback covers. As I said, this is a SPOILER review so I’m really going to get into it now. The flashback starts with a scene in which we see how the horned Boazanians are the ruling class and the ones with no horns are treated as slaves. However, one of the ruling class and the one who was supposed to be crowned as the planet’s next emperor, Hrothgar, wants to free the slaves. His conniving cousin and the illegitimate son of the former emperor, Zambojil, discovers that Hrothgar was actually born with no horns and uses that to depose his cousin. Hrothgar is sent to the slave mines but escapes with the help of the other slaves. He escapes to Earth and informs the planet of the Boazanians impending invasion, leading to the creation of Voltes V.

Oh, and Hrothgar had a Boazanian wife but was told in the slave mines that she and their unborn child were killed. It turns out she actually survive to bear a child, who Zambojil decided to raise as his ward by poisoning the child’s mine to hate his father. That boy is named Zardoz, who just so happens to be leading the Boazanian invasion on Earth. But Hrothgar found a new love on Earth and, while they were building Big Falcon and Voltes V, had three children named Steve, Big Bert and Little John, all of whom are now piloting Voltes V. So, in a cruel twist of fate, it’s actually brother fighting brother in this intergalactic war.

Now, I shouldn’t have a problem with that as all of that information was in the original anime. But all of these were told much later in the series! Telling all of this just ruins all of the mystery. Sure, you can say Voltes V is a very old anime so telling all of this isn’t a SPOILER anymore. But I say that’s a lazy excuse. Besides, just because you know all of this because you watched the anime so many years ago, that doesn’t mean everyone else does? Why take away the shock value of whenever Zardoz says he wants to prove himself to wipe away the through that his father was branded a traitor that he’s also referring to the father of the Armstrong brothers? That’s just disrespectful for new viewers! Also, why front load all of this information in the first five episodes? Wouldn’t it be better to space out all this history throughout the supposedly 80 episode series?

What’s even worse is that GMA is probably going to cram those 80 episodes, which is double the amount of the anime’s original 40 episodes, with a ton of filler. And I mean a ton of filler! It’s already begun in the first five episodes! Do we really need to see the Earth building Big Falcon, Voltes V’s home base? Did we really have to see Hrothgar have a flashback within the flashback of how his wife knew he has no horns? Did they actually write in the reason why Hrothgar’s chosen Earth name is “Armstrong” is because he was shot in the arm but wasn’t that hurt? Did we really need to devote half an episode of Steve, Mark, Big Bert and Jamie “training” to be soldiers? By the way, we’re apparently still not done with the flashback as the preview of the next episode show them still training! That means we are not going to see the Beast Fighter and Voltes V continue their fight!

While we’re on the writing, I also have to address some of the added “flavor” context GMA is trying to add to Voltes V: Legacy. I appreciate the effort but… try harder. They do try to make sense of why everyone has to scream out the name of each weapon by saying everything is voice controlled. Okay, that’s good. But they also add stuff that conflicts with things within the show! For example, in the first episode, after sending their “ultimate weapon” to wreck havoc on a city, Prince Zardoz and the invading Boazanian generals watch an Earth news broadcast calling their “weapon” a Beast Fighter and they comment that they like the name. But why would they say that when, in episode 4, Hrothgar/Dr. Armstrong says that the Boazanian’s ultimate weapons are called Beast Fighters? That’s what you already call them Prince Zardoz? Shouldn’t you be wondering how a primitive planet like Earth knows that your “ultimate weapon” is called a “Beast Fighter” in the first place? You might have a mole in your midst!

Oh, and the acting. The acting is classic Filipino soap opera acting, for better or worse. I hardly watch Filipino television dramas already because of the pretty insipid and melodramatic writing, which is already in full display in the first few episodes of Voltes V: Legacy, but I also tend to avoid it because of the general flat acting. There’s hardly any movement from the performers, leading to very stiff portrayals and that’s also very evident in the episodes I’ve seen.

I will say there are some more than passable performances here, however. I’ll give props to Matt Lozado, who plays Big Bert, as he does manage to show a whole lot of personality in the episodes he’s in. Dennis Trillo’s take on Hrothgar/Dr. Ned Armstrong has its moments. But the standouts are definitely Christian Vasquez and Chandra Romero as Emperor Zambojil and his mother. That’s because they are so deliciously over-the-top evil! They just pour on the cheese on their performances and I can’t help but eat it up. They’re also the only ones who really get to ham it up with exaggerated facial expressions that I can’t help but see how much they’re enjoying themselves.

Suffice to say, it felt like a slog for me to go through the first five episodes of Voltes V: Legacy because, well, there wasn’t a whole lot of Voltes V in it! Imagine Batman: The Animated Series but you only see Batman during the closing minutes of the first episode. Then the next four episode detail, in excruciating detail how Bruce Wayne’s father met Martha, then gave birth to Bruce, and so on and so on. Wouldn’t you be upset because you’re not getting, you know, Batman? Making things worse is there are some very obvious animation issues and very mononote voice acting throughout. This is pretty much my feelings of the first five episodes of GMA’s Voltes V: Legacy in a nutshell.

Obviously, this is just my personal view on Voltes V: Legacy. As I watched all these episodes on YouTube, I also dug through the comments section and it’s plain to see that fans are gushing over the show. I can’t say they’re wrong for liking it because they like what they like. I just hope it just isn’t nostalgia goggles clouding their vision. Because, from what I’ve seen, I think I’d rather watch the original Filipino broadcast of the old Voltes V anime, bad dubbing and all.

Will I watch more episodes? Maybe, but I’ll probably only return when there’s actually some Voltes V in those Voltes V: Legacy episodes. Otherwise, I’ll skip them.

Have you seen Voltes V: Legacy? How many episodes did you see? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments section below!


One thought on “I’ll Review Anything: Voltes V: Legacy (The First Five Episodes)

  1. Hi there,

    Appreciate your review. I totally agree about episode 2-4, but I thing starting episode 5 the show really picks the pace up. The Armstrong brothers really pull the show forward acting-wise and the slice-of-life bits really give the characters depth.

    I think if they cut out episodes 2-4, they would have had a very strong start. The acting of 2-4 is a tad bit wooden, so is the writing. But to be honest, I starting with 5, I find myself more and more looking forward to the next show to the point that I cant wait for the next episode!

    Both acting and writing improve starting episode 5, I find it crispy with a good sense of humor.

    Hoping it keeps getting better.

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