When I was watching Victory Gundam, something clicked in my mind. Have I seen this stuff before? Not exactly, but it was a big deja vu feeling.
Thanks to an AWO review about the anime classic Nobody’s Boy: Remi (which ironically is not a representative of the World Masterpiece Theater itself), I remembered. Victory Gundam is essentially a WMT show, albeit with robots and war.
I started to connect the dots. Victory is set mostly in Europe, and has very few characters (if any) of Japanese ethnicity. The main character is a kid with a family-oriented goal in mind–to reunite with his missing parents. Cartoonish animation. A wistful, moving score with vaguely Western sensibilities. Kids who routinely manage to beat up adults twice their size. Dogs.
I thought I was stretching things for a bit, but then I watched the OP.
The picker-upper song with its uplifting lyrics is totally unrepresentative of the show as a whole. There’s no mistaking it: Victory Gundam is the kind of show I watched as a kid!
I would like to think that the WMT shows that were an ubiquitous part of weekday Filipino TV programming ruled the roost for a reason: they delivered a compelling narrative by putting their child protagonists through hell, until they got better, or in more extreme cases, died. A Little Princess Sarah was a huge phenomenon here, and even my mom watched it faithfully and could remember key plot points in the series. And it works very well; we Filipinos are total suckers for this stuff. (I’ll try to expound on that in the next post.)
Victory Gundam works the same way. Every episode, I was engrossed with the prospect of seeing Usso wade through a quagmire of bad things, because I wanted to see how he’ll pull through. There are very few happy moments, but they are good enough for you to hope for more, and this approach is highly effective. I had been wired for this stuff way before I learned how to feed myself.
Which explains why I love it.