Before you even read further, here’s a warning: This article will be filled with 100% profanity. I’m going all out. And if you’re a PR reading this, this is how I write articles in the most insane way possible at pure 100% expression. This has nothing to do with the way I talk but this has something I adopted during my time living in the Northern part of Europe and wrote articles for another website called Distrita. Although, they no longer exist.
Okay kids, before you start being an “expert” on anime in the Philippines… Let me school you with this article about how it actually became a thing. And what anime was first aired in the Philippines.
Part 01: Voltes V (1976-1990)
Voltes V (also known as “超電磁マシーン ボルテスＶ“) is an action anime consisting of robot battles against humongous insects or whatever alien is that. And this is the anime that started it all. You can ask your grandparents about it or your parents about it, they’ll talk about this anime for as long as they like (as long as they’re alive).
Ok, why did you mention “as long as they’re alive”? Well, when this anime came into the country… It was not long before that the late President Ferdinand Marcos banned the anime itself just because he says “It’s influencing our children to violence”. Speaking of which, I don’t even know what channel did this anime came on either. but I can bet it’s probably GMA-7. Why “probably”? The anime reboot were broadcasted on Hero TV (RIP) in 2006 and later on on GMA-7 after a few years later due to the late afternoon show demands for them kids. Of course, it was also censored (sorry kiddos, no undressing scenes for you all). Apart from that, it was also dubbed (except the 70’s, it wasn’t). Plus, AnimeNewsNetwork suggests that it’s also GMA-7 due to the old name ‘GMA Network’. (See? I told you I have resources so stop nitpicking me for being much of a liar back on the Tekken 7 article I wrote not too long ago). And of course, it was during the Marcos era as well until People Power came to life.
It wasn’t until after People Power 1986, the anime gets to return to the TV stations that actually had the anime on air. (Aquino fans will praise this article. But please, no. Don’t do this to me.) That also included the last five unaired episodes of the said show to be released as a movie under the name “Voltes V: The Liberation”. I like the name and idea. At least, it gave ideas to TV broadcasters that there is hope to introduce the Japanese Pop Culture slowly.
Fun Fact: Japanese Pop Culture wasn’t introduced in the Philippines formally. Hence, we get a lot of weaboos who don’t understand the Japanese Pop Culture too well. However, we had tech from the Japanese Pop Culture such as the Family Computer, the CD players, the radio cassettes, cars, and other things that makes Japanese Pop Culture in another country… a hidden JPop culture.
Part 02: When everyone starts watching anime – Building Influence (1991-1999)
It’s the beginning of the 1990’s. And to be accurate, Daddy Long Legs actually premiered in 1996. Because they went along with Spain’s release. This is the era where Anime became more interesting. It wasn’t just kids anymore watching these Japanese cartoons but also, the parents of the kids. Parents get curious what these anime people are doing, asking the right questions why Sailormoon had such huge eyes (yes. I got questioned about that but that was in 2014 when I torrented all the Sailormoon episodes and movies on my old desktop, eventually binge-watching them the whole summer vacation), why this dude with a weird hairstyle changes his black hair to yellow when he receives them immortal powers from the Dragon Balls (trust me on this, this happened from a friend’s past time).
So what happened in this timeline? Well, Japan started accepting licenses from other countries to have their shows previewed and eventually aired on local TV. The deals and negotiations at that time were cheap and the near equivalent of getting things dubbed. However, this was also the time that you get late releases of the anime you like. And also, there were deals about censorship as well. Such as in the UAE, Sailormoon cannot be premiered despite being a TV show for little girls. It was due to the uniforms that the lovely teen girls wear are too revealing. But they were able to sell a DVD box legally, but it had to be in a very small shop.
As mentioned before, Daddy Long Legs had the same release time as Spain. The reason being is that is due to the negotiations and timing. That also included getting voice actors to work on the projects for the Tagalog dubs. Tagalog dubs were catered to local TV networks except a few. Some where in English, making it a little different to experience. Apart from having Tagalog dubs, there were also license issues for the copyright contract. Which means: The anime songs will have to be cut too. What to do? Well, you know the drill. Make them from scratch.
The audience became much different too as interests are coming from adults as well. Well, young adults to be precise. The young adults also started getting hooked to draw “anime-style drawings” at that time. Even fan-made comics started to appear in the form of anime style. But they were not published.
I did mention about the censorship, so not all the episodes from every show that you watch on TV are present. Even some TV shows didn’t make it to Philippine TV. One example is City Hunter. There reason why it didn’t make it is because of the release dates for international waters. Plus, the anime itself isn’t appreciable to the younger crowd (because of the excessive sexual innuendo speeches and actions posed by the hero), hence making it not appealing to the MTRBC as well. Which can also mean, more censorship to be done, and less episodes to cut. (Now if only Filipinos were not too conservative but smart enough, everyone would enjoy the humor just like the Japanese).
Although there were some animes that didn’t make it, we should be thankful that there were animes that premiered on a different channel. Except that they were for the English audience in South East Asia as the majority. And that’s on Cartoon Network.
From 1995, Cartoon Network has been showing a couple of anime shows that has sparked interest among youngsters. One of them is Ninja Robots, which is an anime based in the 80’s but aired in the mid 90’s instead. Speaking of Cartoon Network, they made a small channel block called Toonami by the start of 1997. It was effective worldwide but there’s just one tiny problem. Not everything from CN USA is on CN SEA. CN SEA had a special treatment at that time because, if you were able to watch cable TV, at the start of 12:00AM, Cartoon Network will shutdown and eventually open-up a midnight channel for adults to watch, which consisted of old classic films. One of the most popular animes that made it to CN is Akazukin Chacha.
Except that, this was the only anime show that Cartoon Network ever premiered in 1998 not until they started showing more anime shows such as Zoids, Gundam, and the list goes on.
But going back to the local TV stations, they started premiering shows like Flame of Recca, Dragon Ball GT, Yu Yu Hakusho (localized as Ghost Fighter), Hunter X Hunter, Rurouni Kenshin (localized as Samurai X), Mojacko, Doreamon and many others (just mention them in the comments, i cannot remember them all).
However, most of the episodes were repeated on loop for the weirdest reasons though.
Then later on, a new TV Station created by Sony called AXN, came to South East Asia, with more anime. AXN is another channel, where you can actually watch anime as well. But most of the animes they have are pretty uncensored, has subtitles, and also was the go-to channel for anime. But 1999 was the start of everything for AXN when it comes to their popularity for anime. But that will change later on in 2001.
Part 02.5: The Mid 90’s – The toys and merchandise sold from Anime stuff (and hobby-related stuff too)
Let’s rewind a bit back to 1995 first before I proceed to continue on everything else. But that “everything else” will be in this part as well.
So, there was this one thing that never occurred to anyone else. Because, it’s also one of the things that nobody in the country have ever noticed: The hobby influence based on toys and other forms of merchandise.
The trading card scene actually started to grow. And it all started with Magic The Gathering cards. As you proceed, you will also notice another growth somewhere else too. That also is in a digital form called “videogames”.
And 1995 was the influx and start of things. It was also the year that started the development of the PC gaming scene in the Philippines. Where people build computers, piracy happens, and the rest is magic. Piracy was a thing in the Philippines since the late 80’s or early 90’s because of VHS and Betamax. To be frank, there were even bootleg anime shows on VHS and Betamax. (Come to think of it, it was the war between the two videotape formats as well).
Toys were becoming a thing too. However, not everything that are on the shelf are legit. Some were legit merch while some were bootlegs. It wasn’t just toys but also clothes, shoes, bags, school supplies, and everything else… you name it. That also includes those pin buttons, posters, stickers, and… some games.
Come to think of it, Super Sentai shows started appearing in some channel that I do not know of along with Power Rangers as well, on the very same year.
The development didn’t stop there though. It also went somewhere else too and by 1998, the Pokemon Trading Card scene happened.
But why did I not mention this in Part 02? Part 02 was solely focused on the anime shows that started premiering along with answering questions that many would actually ask in this point of time especially if you stumbled upon awesome shows around the corner.
And yeah, right after that… 1999 came.
Part 03: The New Millennium and the Development of the Anime and Manga Culture Among Filipinos
It’s 1999! And everyone is hyped about “the future”. It was going to be awesome. So awesome that we cannot wait for the new wave era to end especially with people still listening to corny Filipino music that still came out from 1997.
The surge begins
So, what happened in 1999? Well, a lot of things. And things are getting noticeable.
AXN Asia has a bunch of new anime to show us apart from showing Boys Be, Shin Hakkenden (I have the bootleg copies somewhere but ripped entirely from AXN), and others.
Apart from TV coming off screen, new merch came into the scene. There’s a magazine that contained all of the anime jack-of-all-things that nobody ever heard of. And that magazine happened to be Questor.
Questor was one of the famed magazines in the Philippines, reputable and known for publishing animes that nobody had damn never ever heard of before. Although, Questor already existed wayyy…. back in the 70’s and 80’s. But it wasn’t until the popularity of anime became a thing. Hence, Questor was the anime magazine to go for.
The magazine itself, was priced at a hefty 180 PHP (210 PHP for special shits or shop-dependent prices due to imports from Manila in most provincial places. But increased to 200 later on yet provinces would price it at 230 instead). And in each month, the magazine will have a specific theme. Be it a bikini theme, a gymnastics theme, a cooking theme, or sexy ladies theme, this was the only magazine that had a huge price tag than the others that were sold in the Philippines (such as FHM, PlayBoy, and others).
Apart from that, it also came with a couple of freebies (the special shits I mentioned) such as Video discs like Lupin III – The Castle of Cagliostro. But a full copy of the film FOR FREE (if you buy Questor, that is).
This is literally the only magazine, that has shown anime that never premiered in the Philippines (but some where because of all the thanks to AXN). And also the only magazine that made that anime fan from the kiddie life into the newborn, profounding, self-proclaimed, anime geek (Otaku) in one shot. Making that sort of person create a “cult” (just kidding) for the anime scene in the Philippines.
But how do people watch those animes that weren’t on TV? Well, it’s the Late 90’s, you go to a video tape rental shop, and rent one. You can eventually rent the whole series if you wanted. There were even some for sale but it was so expensive. So expensive you can even buy college for it. I’m talking about nearly 5000 PHP worth of a whole series of either VHS or Video CDs (a movie actually costs 700 PHP by the way. And it wasn’t that cheap).
And what else happened in 1999 for anime? Of course! A convention for toy collectors and similar happened. And that was by Novelty Entertainment. However, there isn’t much detail about it so I won’t dig further. But from the littlest information I got, it was more of showing toys from some anime shows that premiered in the Philippines.
Speaking of toys, there was a growing popularity on one toy called “Mini 4WD Racers” (localized as Tamiya because… of the brand itself is Tamiya and made by… Yeah, Tamiya). The surge started in the Late 90’s and all the way to the end of Year 2001. However, I do not know if it ever made more tournaments around the area. But the scene died out pretty quickly and went into darkness. Except it didn’t mean it literally died out. It just shows that people weren’t interested anymore.
So with that magazine in existence, AXN showing anime in existence, Toonami becoming a thing in 1999, and all that jazz and merchandise… The Philippines is ready for the Anime of Y2K. Except the computers are bugged as hell (thanks, IBM).
Exhibiting Anime in many forms to the public (cosplay and manga)
Year 2000, is the newest start of all things. AXN is showing much more interesting anime such as The Gatekeepers, Fushigi Yuugi (aka Curious Play), Ah! My Goddess OVA (my personal favorite), Grander Musashi, and others. What’s even more interesting that Videogames started getting interesting. It was also the very same year that the PlayStation 2 is going to go on sale in Japan. Making tons of interesting RPG games apart from Final Fantasy from the PS1. But apart from the media stuff, something else big happened too.
It was the beginning of cosplay interest in the Philippines.
So the photo I extracted from gabe-e.com (thank you, dear kind person for leaving this behind) is a sample of the very first cosplay event that happened in the Philippines. This was hosted by an event called Anime Explosion in Late 2000 (November, as what gabe-e.com states). And since then, the year after the first event, Cosplay Manila exhibited another one in 2001 followed by AXN-Asia hosting another as well.
If you want to know more of the history of cosplay, just click here to see what OtakuCosplayPH has in their blog for you to learn. For the album in where I get that historical photo, please click here for gabe-e’s album that’s still alive.
Also, there was also an introduction of books too. And those books happened to be translated mangas and… introducing a book that taught people how to draw manga as well.
How To Draw Manga is a series of reference instructional books published by Psicom Publishing in the Philippines. These books originated from the USA though. Although the old series (bottom-right is one of the issues published back in 2001) is no longer in press, the new ones such as How To Draw Manga The Next Generation, is currently in press. If you cannot afford these, there’s always the internet. Like Polykarbon, MangaTutorials, and others. You can click the links to see the websites though. They’re pretty much the old reference I use way back in 2001.
Manga didn’t became a thing unless if it was introduced formally. At that time, there were only reference books related to how to draw american comic books. But with Manga into the ballpark play, the only crowd of people at that time interested in such reading material were the young adults. Basically, your average college student or person who have their first job right after college. However, manga was also seen in the issues published by Questor too.
The toy popularity era
These years are of another era. And this time, it’s the toy popularity era. Mini 4WD Racers were still around but interest started to die out in 2001. Yet, these are the years that introduced two of the hottest toys that went on for nearly 15 months or let’s just say, two years of excitement.
These toys were Beyblade, Crush Gear Turbo, Yu-Gi-Oh and Super YoYo.
Beyblade was one of the toys that also featured their own TV show. Originally, the toys were released first before an actual “story” of how these characters used these typical spinning battle top toys that would replace a very old toy that kids played way back in the past.
In one episode of Dagashi Kashi Season 2, Koharu introduces us a historical piece that “may have relevance” to Beyblade’s origins. The name of this particular toy is called “Beigoma” (written as ベーゴマ in Japanese).
So, with Beyblade appearing in the late 90’s… The surge of interest in battling tops became a big thing in the early 2000s. And it was a hit with many Filipino kids.
Every after classes, kids won’t go home just yet. Kids will get their battle domes for the beyblades and eventually battle out til frustration. It was very competitive but nobody gambled though. But that’s only for the “cool” kids who have cable TV at home to watch the episodes properly. While some, who don’t have a cable TV, will just watch on ABS CBN instead and play with the beyblades on the weekend with friends and a small community in the villages (they’re called “barangay” for some reason).
The TV show lasted for a year though. But the Tagalog versions of the show started right after the English version of the show from Cartoon Network kicked off. The Beyblades stayed until the end of 2002.
In the middle of 2002, Crush Gear Turbo started becoming a thing that went up in the trend. The show started on Cartoon Network’s Toonami. There wasn’t any Tagalog dubs of the show until 2003, which premiered on ABS-CBN. The show and the toys kept going for two years. And that’s longer than what Beyblade had aired despite the re-runs that ABS-CBN offered to keep up the interest of the younger audience.
Everyone who had a Crush Gear toy would put Tamiya Mini 4WD machines in it as a way of saying to “battle out” as the strongest “gearfighter”. The trend kept going and eventually, new toys kept coming in.
Another toy that went together in the late of 2002 was Super YoYo and Yu-Gi-Oh. Although, Super YoYo premiere as a Tagalog dub on GMA-7 while Yu-Gi-Oh premiered as an English Dub on Cartoon Network’s Toonami slot.
Super YoYo had left more of a huge impact than Beyblade and Crush Gear Turbo in that time. It opened up a competitive scene where people who have a Super YoYo would be able to perform tricks on stage.
The competition is so fierce that everyone started finding these “professional yo-yos” in order to perform tricks. There were even tutorial videos that were based to create these performances.
Wait, that would mean you’ll be an exhibitionist. But with Yo-Yos.
Yu-Gi-Oh didn’t have the same impact as Super Yo-Yo. But had the same impact with the Pokemon cards, Magic The Gathering cards, and other trading card game that ever appeared. The show didn’t really kicked off really good at the start. But it really did its best to promote the product in that certain time despite the fact that: The products from the Yu-Gi-Oh side were from the Late 90’s. Of course, we had to deal with a lot of bootlegs that existed too. Yeah, it was also the era that bootleg Yu-Gi-Oh cards started to appear than the Pokemon cards (for some reason). The trading card game only had a few competitions to boot here in the Philippines than Magic The Gathering.
There were two other toys that didn’t make the same impact of popularity like these four. But it had a great TV show and video games to follow. These shows were Pokemon and Digimon.
Digimon started in 1999 where it followed after Pokemon, which started in 1997. Both of the shows premiered in the Philippines as well in the late 90’s and early 2000s, both on cable TV and also local TV channels in either English or Tagalog dubs.
For Pokemon and Digimon, most people or fans preferred to play the game rather than watching the anime. But between the two, Pokemon had a better audience catch than what Digimon had to offer.
Both did have toys though. Digimon offered a toy along with cards that have magnetic strips that contained probably 2 bytes of data. You can even use the toy to battle against someone else, who also has the same toy.
Except that, they were expensive to have.
Pokemon on the other hand had the same. But they were, in fact, separate things. The cards had no meaning to the video games though. But it had one device and a couple of figurines (in a ball).
The Pokedex is accompaniment to the Gameboy releases of Pokemon. With this, it helps identify the stats that every Pokemon RPG player to determine if the pokemon they got is registered or not. There is no way to connect them to the Gameboys but they’re rather standalone units. The new one (shown) is smaller but with a much updated database.
I have a very good reason why I didn’t mention them first and that’s because these toys were pretty minor to much of anything.
Despite the toys being shown around coming up, the Mini 4WD scene actually went silent. In 2003, Beyblade died out slowly and so as Crush Gear Turbo. Super Yo-Yo was still on sale though.
There were also toys back in the Mid 90’s that has relevance to the Super Sentai popularity (like Power Rangers, Kamen Rider, etc). But most of the shows were usually live action (and attractive to kids and the crowd-alike to this day).
I know I don’t want to talk about this but, this is also important.
Have you ever had friends that kept asking you about hentai? Yeah. This era started the surge of interest of cartoon pornography.
And it started with… DragonMoon X
So, cartoon pornography started coming out in 2001. It was also a huge wildcard search and eventually became a thing among Young Adults (college students). Because, they’re the only ones who knew about it until they told their brothers (or sisters) that were younger than them about it.
The surge only went up after the search results from Google, Yahoo, and other available search engines of that time had to go from an innocent Sailormoon wallpaper search to… a Sailormoon pornography search.
Dragonmoon X was one of the accidental searches and it became a big deal. It’s actually a cross-over pornographic media of Sailormoon characters and Dragon Ball characters going into sexual-innuendo that was never intentional. Apart from that, the surge of other cartoon characters, both from the Western media and Japanese media, went into the play.
Hentai became a thing when people wanted to watch cartoon pornography though. And also became a running joke among the Filipinos as well.
Although the Hentai Era isn’t much as fantastic as what you may think of, it’s mostly just about Filipinos collecting small 10 second videos downloaded from the internet (in LOW HQ) and also wallpapers that they can diss on their phones phones, that are also having multi-colored screens (and cameras later on).
Speaking of wallpapers, there was even the craze of promoting text icons, wallpapers, and ringtones on mobile phones. It was promoted by Smart Telecommunications at that time and Globe Telecom followed.
Also, this is where I can safely say that manga is starting to become a thing. Except on the internet.
Another thing that became a thing were Flash Games. With thanks to Hentai and current TV cartoon shows from the west and Japan, Newgrounds started to pop-up on the list. Although, Newgrounds only promotes short flash player shows, flash player games, and other spin offs on both on and off mature content.
Note: I won’t discuss much of the Hentai part because, it’s pretty much not the best to talk about unless if you’re not a very conservative person. Filipinos are very conservatively sensitive with topics like this in public whereas if it was some European country with the same interest, I can openly talk about it without being told to shut up for the first 5 seconds.
Apart from NOT discussing much of the Hentai stuff, I want to give a very big mention on the First Digital Age. This is the era that started early since 2002. But 2003 was the starting point of all things to go up.
The Digital Age development
To simply put, everyone is starting to go online. Not because of Hentai but the major interest of online games
Ragnarok Online launched in 2002. But the surge of interest started in 2003. Online games were also the first to bring people to the internet despite the weak usage of internet in the Philippines (even if DSL or Broadband internet were available for the cheapest price. But Dial-up was a thing).
The contribution that made people interested with Online games were mostly the graphics before the actual gameplay mechanics and storylines ever came into play for the people’s general interest. The graphics were anime-ish and people got attracted to it. Once they start playing, they’re getting that feeling that they should really go for playing the game. Later on, MMORPG games became the best-selling product in the digital age in the Philippines. It also had a lot of fanarts made by kids, who actually played the game, leading up to send to magazine publishers like K-Zone, Games Master, and other magazines that started to pop-up (I know Otakuzine came out in 2004 or 2005 but hey, it’s a thing).
The Digital Age isn’t pretty compromised though as it had a lot of promising things. There were even forums developed for one thing like the Hunter X Hunter fanclub, Even Yahoo Geocities became a thing, Lycos became a thing, Angelfire became a thing, Social Media platforms like Yahoo! Messenger, MySpace and Friendster had a lot profiles with images of anime junk being uploaded. And everything else, people started going online for anime. And also, reading manga online started to become a thing in 2005. Although, there were not much manga reading sites but they existed since the late 90’s. But the interest growth happened in 2005. Most of these things were made by people or groups called “scanlators”. And what they do is scan and translate things that were in Japanese to English (or any other language). Also, anime piracy became a thing and you will need the mIRC app to download most of the episodes from it (which will take you generally a day or two to get them. This was even torrents were ever a thing). And that’s because of fansub groups staying alive until… they closed down due to no funds or no interest in keeping the media alive.
To summarize the Digital Age: It was mostly about Online games, downloading subbed anime from mIRC, using Social Media platforms as a means of communications, creating fanclub groups and unofficial fan websites, discovering hentai, and the interest of going online on the internet is the biggest summary of the Digital Age.
Apart from online games, Video Games influence also played a part of making people get hooked into anime. It’s more on the anime adaption of a video game (or the other way around) that helped Filipinos still get more interest into anime more and more. However, it will also vary on the region of where the game comes from (as most Japanese games do not come with English language features when released locally in Japan).
With anime, we will never know what artist we would like to go with. The introduction to JPOP started with the influence of people watching anime due to how powerful the song is regardless whether people understood the song or no.
Here’s a few examples:
ZARD – Don’t You See from Dragon Ball GT
Mako Oguro – あなただけ見つめてる from Slam Dunk
L’Arc-en-Ciel – Driver’s High from Great Teacher Onizuka
Nujabes – Battlecry from Samurai Champloo
These songs are one of the popular ones from the list from the 80s to the recent ones. And they heavily influenced most people who are looking for a new tune to go for. And anime happened to be the only one introducing Japanese Pop Songs in the Filipino Pop Culture.
After JPop came in,KPop came in due to the influence of TV Drama shows that are dubbed and aired on GMA 7.
Most songs we know, we never knew who sang it at that time too. And for most dub releases in the west and locally, sometimes the songs were changed to adapt for the domestic market (that also includes the west).
Like Beyblade’s opening on Cartoon Network was actually an English song. But Crush Gear Turbo retained the Japanese song opening instead.
Part 04: Progressing from 2005 and to the present
It didn’t take long that Filipinos are now grasping about anime. And eventually, the interest in the art has progressed greatly as well.
Many people are now demanding for Filipino-made manga, anime-style TV shows, and more JPop madness.And it all took from Voltes V to get to this point where we can see people getting hooked to Idolmaster, Love Live U’s, current awesome animes, reading mangas, learning Japanese, cosplay conventions, opening up pop-up maid cafes, and also… embracing the Japanese culture as well. We’re now eventually eating the foods they eat too despite being a little expensive.
There may be some who are misinformed about what anime is, or what an otaku is, or what manga is, or where do these animes come from as well as games and toys… That would vary on how they will learn it or correct themselves to avoid embarrassing themselves in public.
In Media, we’re getting more anime movies too but not everyone in the Philippines gets the equal treatment though. And here we get MNL48, a PH-style of AKB48 yet not the greatest in Asia. And lastly, we get all the best with JPOP concerts coming to the Philippines as well from the sold-out demand of bands and artists. There are even Filipinos working with small and big Japanese companies and studios as writers, animators, artists, and other things. Even Cosplay itself is considered a big deal. Videogames? Well, depends on what’s popular among the crowd.
But hey, at least it’s cool, right?
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it.