P350,000 flight suits have ‘Voltes V: Legacy’ stars feeling like ‘superheroes’
Finding out that they had landed the main roles in “Voltes V: Legacy” sent Miguel Tanfelix, Radson Flores, Matt Lozano, Raphael Landicho, and Ysabel Ortega into a whirlwind of emotions.
There was thrill and excitement, fear and pressure, joy and relief. It all felt like a dream. And the magnitude of their accomplishment didn’t fully sink in until they finally put on their flight suit costumes and took a good look at themselves in the mirror.
“When I first saw the suit, I couldn’t believe that I would get to wear it. I was so giddy because the letter ‘V’ in front is iconic. And when I wore it, I was surprised,” Matt, who plays Big Bert Armstrong, told the Inquirer in a recent virtual interview.
“Never in my life did I imagine that, one day, I would look at myself in the mirror and see a superhero,” he said.
For Radson, who plays Mark Gordon, being in costume was the pinch that reassured him that what was happening to him wasn’t just in his head. “It was surreal. I couldn’t believe I was part of the cast. The suit looked really cool—ang angas. And it made me feel like, “This is it. It’s really happening,” he said.
The design and construction of the suits — which cost P350,000 each — underwent several revisions.
“They wanted to make them perfect. When I tried on the final version, I got goosebumps. I felt more confident. I could easily picture myself as Jamie Robinson,” Ysabel said. “And that got me even more excited.”
Raphael, who portrays Little Jon Armstrong, had a growth spurt during the three-year production period, prompting the team to have another suit made for the now 10-year-old actor. “I also felt like a superhero… It was as if I used a power-up item or bought a new skin in a video game,” he said.
As Steve Armstrong, the leader of the Voltes team, Miguel became the fit model for the early versions of the suit.
“I did so many fittings for the costume, so much so that the magic faded for a while. But when I wore the final version, all I could say was, ‘Sheesh!’” he related. “It really hyped me up. I was like, ‘Let’s go!’ Wearing the suit can be tough on the body after long periods, but we enjoyed it. It was really inspiring.”
‘Believable’ set design
Aside from their flight suits, the expansive, elaborate set depicting the Voltes team headquarters, Camp Big Falcon, helped the five actors get into their characters and feel the sense of urgency that often pervades the said building.
They were particularly excited to see and experience the command center consoles and conveyor chairs that launch the five characters into their respective Volt vehicles, which form the Voltes V battle robot.
“The production team did a good job of letting us see what we were supposed to see in the scenes. I would say that only 5 to 10 percent of the set used chroma key. They really did everything they could to make everything feel believable for us. Our seats really move, so we could really feel it (the action),” Ysabel said.
“My inner nerd was happy seeing the set. ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Star Trek’ came to mind… The conveyor seats, the command center, the launch pad all looked believable, and it helped us with our acting,” Radson said.
“Voltes V: Legacy” is GMA 7’s live-action adaptation of the iconic 1970s Japanese anime “Chōdenji Machine Voltes V,” or simply, “Voltes V.” It revolves around the exploits of Steve, Mark, Big Bert, Little Jon, and Jamie, as they defend the Earth against the invasion of the alien faction Boazanian Empire led by Prince Zardoz (Martin del Rosario).
But things get complicated, however, after brothers Steve, Big Bert, and Little Jon discover the truth about their heritage. Their missing scientist father, Ned Armstrong (Dennis Trillo), was actually a disgraced and hornless Boazanian royalty named Hrothgar.
The adaptation’s plot will be faithful to the original. But since the new version will run for about 80 episodes—40 more than the anime’s—there was more room to flesh out character backgrounds and subplots, head writer Suzette Doctolero said.
Main selling point
The show is produced by GMA in partnership with Toei Company Ltd. and Telesuccess Productions Inc. The special effects and CGI — described as one of the series’ main selling points — were done by 250 animators and artists from GMA’s video graphics team and another 100 from Riot Inc.
“It was one of the challenges. How do we pull this off, when this generation is already used to seeing the likes of ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Pacific Rim’ and Marvel movies,” director Mark Reyes said. “But I was very impressed [with the outcome]. I believe the proof is in the pudding.”
“Voltes V: Legacy” will premiere on the Kapuso network on May 8. Asked if the premiere is an homage to the original Philippine run of the anime which started on May 5, 1978, the director, Mark Reyes, told the Inquirer, “We wanted to start on May 5, but it was a Friday, so we had to move it. But it wasn’t by design — it was just how things unfolded amid the production and programming movements. We got excited when we realized that we might end up airing in May. It would be perfect timing, because it marks the 45th anniversary of ‘Voltes V’ in the country.”
Soap opera as anime
In 1979, the anime, with four episodes left, was banned by then-President Ferdinand Marcos due to its depiction of “violence.” But after martial law, “Voltes V” was rerun multiple times on different channels in 1986, 1989, 1999 and 2005.
“It’s an old anime, but it has always been in people’s hearts. The theme songs are sung by people at karaoke, used in political jingles and for commercials. It has a certain magic that has truly allowed the show to endure for more than four decades,” said Reyes.
Its popularity among Filipinos is perhaps rooted in the fact that “Voltes V’’ is practically a soap opera but in anime form.
“It’s inherently a story about family. It was, I should say, one of the first soap operas I saw when I was a kid. It explored betrayal and loss, the love and camaraderie among siblings, the possibility being at odds with someone of your own blood—and they’re all packed in this one big pageantry,” Reyes said.
One of the adaptation’s goals is to satisfy longtime “Voltes V” fans while attracting a new generation of viewers who may have never heard of the show before.
“Through this show, we hope to make people of our generation feel the same way their parents did when they first saw ‘Voltes V.’ It’s about being excited about going home so you can watch the show. It could very well become a bonding activity of parents and their children,” Miguel said.