A Japanese television broadcaster conducted street interviews of tourists not too long ago, asking the visitors if they can sing any theme songs from Japanese cartoon and anime shows.
Most interviewees knew the opening lines of “We Are!” from the One Piece video series, while the second top opening theme was “Moonlight Legend” from the anime series Sailor Moon.
The TV station then conducted another round of interviews, this time targeting expats living in Japan.
One surprising finding was that every interviewed Filipino — a total of 88 of them — could sing the opening theme song of Voltes V, which first aired in Japan in 1977 and one year later in the Philippines.
The Japanese anime, featuring a ground-breaking style, became highly popular at that time, winning a viewership rate of as much as 58 percent. However, the Marcos government stopped the broadcast of the cartoon finale.
Authorities argued that it contained violent scenes that would adversely affect the mental development of children and adolescents.
But observers believed that the real reason why it was halted was because the Filipino dictator didn’t like some content.
In the story, five members operates a “Volt machine”, which can be a formidable weapon that stands alone or can be combined into a super robotic unit “Voltes V”, to fight off foreign invasion.
But the Marcos regime saw it as a representation of overthrow of dictatorial power, prompting a clampdown.
However, the ban only made the series more popular than ever.
Hence, in 1986, when the Marcos regime came to an end, a local television station aired the cartoon in no time. And its opening song soon became the national number one hit track in Philippines.
As of today, it is still often sung by street performers, choir groups and contestants in television singing contests.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 5.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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