anime, Japan, Philippines, television

Doraemon Stays on GMA

Japan’s most beloved robotic cat is back on GMA.

Starting tomorrow, the popular anime ‘Doraemon’ will be seen anew on the Kapuso network. But instead of the regular series, GMA will air ‘Doraemon’ theatrical movies every weekdays, each encompassing three to four 25-minute parts.

The first ‘Doraemon’ movie that will be aired on GMA is ‘Doraemon: Nobita and the Robot Kingdom’. Released in 2002, the movie tells the story of an empress of the Robot Kingdom, whose aim is to capture robots and strip them of their emotion.

While the return of ‘Doraemon’ should give nostalgic fans some excitement, it came at the expense of another popular anime. ‘Yo-Kai Watch’, the newest hit Japanese anime, had been on the air for only six weeks, and with ‘Doraemon’ taking over its timeslot, it seems like its run would be suddenly cut short.

As of today, GMA has yet to announce its updated schedule for its Astig Authority block. Whether or not ‘Yo-Kai Watch’ will remain or not is yet to be determined, so stay tuned for further updates.

Going back to ‘Doraemon’, it can be recalled that the most recent movie ‘Doraemon: Stand by Me’ was aired on rival ABS-CBN. When it was broadcast in late March, many thought the series will find a new home on Mother Ignacia.

But like ‘Dragon Ball Z’ (its recent full-length movies ‘Battle of Gods’ and ‘Resurrection F’ were aired on the ABS-CBN family of networks), GMA has no intention of giving up on ‘Doraemon’. And thus, Nobita and his trusted blue robotic cat remain Kapuso property, with the blessing of Fujiko Fujio of course.

For all its criticisms and poor ratings, GMA’s animes remain a strong point. That said, whether critics like it or not, GMA has no intention of relinquishing its rights to beloved anime franchises such as ‘Doraemon’,  and as long as viewers continue to fall in love with it, they will keep it.

‘Doraemon’ theatrical movies air weekdays at 7:55 a.m. on GMA’s Astig Authority.

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cartoon, entertainment, Philippines, television

Ghost Fighter Again?

The first volume of the Yū Yū Hakusho Original...

For the hundredth time, GMA 7 airs YuYu Hakusho, emphasizing the fact that they’re short of funds in acquiring new anime titles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During the early morning, while watching  Doraemon, I saw GMA‘s plug for its early morning Anime programs and noticed that they brought back YuYu Hakusho (Ghost Fighter) to its rotation replacing Dragon Ball Z Kai. I’m getting too old for this. Why would they insist on re-airing this classic anime over and over again? It’s been aired repeatedly over a thousand times, can’t they move on and acquire new properties?

For those who didn’t know the story, YuYu Hakusho tells the story of a young junior high student named Eugene. He met his allies Alfred and Dennis (originally a female named Denise) along the way while feuding and later befriending Vincent. He also had a love interest named Jenny while Sherlene and Master Jerico became his confidants early in his adventures. Throughout the story he would be mentored by Master Jeremiah in an effort to defeat various villains, including his main adversary Toguro. His main weapon is the Ray Gun.

YuYu Hakusho, better known as Ghost Fighter in the Philippines, first aired on IBC-13 in the mid-1990s. In 1998 the rights for the anime were acquired by GMA 7 and was first aired at the height of the genre’s popularity in the country. It has been re-aired on a semi-frequent basis since.

For the nth time, GMA 7’s fortunes were focused mostly on producing elaborate teleseryes, top-notch live shows, and high-quality news programs. Which means acquiring new anime titles have been few and far between. ABS-CBN, for the most part, has been able to air new titles courtesy of its Hero channel, which is a subsidiary of the network, while TV5 has collaborated with Disney Channel, Toonami and Cartoon Network to air those network’s programs. As for GMA, they have little funds to allocate for new anime and other related programming, considering that their audience during the 8:00-10:00 a.m. timeframe is shrinking due to competition from cable networks.

With that in mind, GMA is definitely the one suffering. Without sufficient support from other companies (ABS-CBN and TV5 are owned by conglomerates), GMA 7 will continue to scramble for its early morning audience, if not the entire day’s audience. Reairing YuYu Hakusho and other past anime won’t help their cause; they would have to find a way to air another program in its slot.

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cartoon, entertainment, Philippines, television

Anime Classics: Doraemon

One of the greatest Anime creations ever, Doraemon is deemed a cultural icon throughout Japan, and a recognizable character worldwide. (Illustration courtesy of Fujiko Fujio)

Every morning I tuned in to GMA 7 to watch Doraemon, and I just kept laughing. There is this blue robotic cat named Doraemon and his sidekick Nobita, who turned to him for help and advice, mostly for the wrong reasons. And there are Nobita’s friends, namely Shizuka, Suneo and Takeshi.  Takeshi, in the Filipino dub of  the anime, is named ‘Damulag’ or fat. For some reason, I still enjoy the program’s comedic value with the emphasis on moral lessons and educational topics.

GMA 7 has been airing Doraemon in the Philippines for over a decade, albeit on an intermittent basis. GMA Network continues to have the rights to the Doraemon anime, so even though they would stop airing for a while, they would keep the rights for future airings. They have also aired Doraemon feature films, albeit in three-part episodes.

The anime is created by Fujiko Fujio, who published the manga for 27 years. The television programs, through three different incarnations, have been airing since 1973, mostly through the TV Asahi network.  Nearly 50 Doraemon feature films have also been released. The Doraemon character is popular around the world, particularly in its native Japan, regardless of generations. In the Philippines, Doraemon merchandise have been a hit with children and adults alike, from keychains to bags and t-shirts, and even ringtones in cellphones.

One of my favorite Doraemon items is the time carpet. Doraemon and Nobita would go inside the latter’s drawer with the time carpet in hand, and then go time traveling, either to the past or to the future. Doraemon’s emphasis on studying both the past and the future has been a subject of discussion during every episode, and with it comes the experience and knowledge that Nobita learned through each of his travels. Another Doraemon trademark is the food dorayaki, used as a plot device in most episodes.

The secret of Doraemon is in his belly pocket. This is where he retrieves a gadget for Nobita to use in an effort to solve his dilemma. Sometimes however, Nobita would use that object at his own risk, and whenever Suneo and Takeshi sneak in, they would either steal or take advantage of Nobita’s object. Oftentimes it would be Nobita’s mother who scolded him for using the item for the wrong reason. This is where the moral lesson comes in, and it is usually up to Doraemon to remind Nobita of those lessons.

The humorous tone, creative storylines, and the moral lessons that come with it ensured the anime’s popularity and critical acclaim. Even as the manga published its last issue in 1996, its continued exposure through television, film, promotional appearances and merchandise kept Doraemon into the conscience of every Japanese. Today Doraemon is considered one of the greatest creations in the world of Japanese anime.

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