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'Voltes V': What you need to know before watching 'Legacy'

By Kara Santos Published Feb 16, 2021 4:15 pm

Voltes V is a pop culture icon that’s widely considered the most important anime show for Filipino audiences, popular across generations and especially among those who grew up during the martial law era.

With the recent casting news confirmed for Voltes V: Legacy, GMA’s live-action adaptation of the hit Japanese anime, fans of the original series can’t help but feel a wave of nostalgia and hope that the new series will live up to their childhood memories.

For new audiences not familiar with the original source material, the Japanese television series was known as Chōdenji Machine Voltes V, which literally translates to "Super Electromagnetic Machine Voltes V."

The series, produced by Toei Animation and Nippon Sunrise, originally aired on TV Asahi from June 4, 1977 to March 25, 1978. 

Long before streaming sites and the internet unleashed seemingly unlimited possibilities of shows to watch with just a few clicks, kids who grew up in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s eagerly awaited each new episode. It’s no wonder that many people developed a strong connection to the beloved robot series whenever it was aired and re-aired over local television networks over the years.

In the Philippines, the English-language dub of Voltes V originally aired on GMA Radio and Television Arts on May 5, 1978.  While it was widely followed every Friday night, the initial broadcast did not air the series' final five episodes after it was halted by the administration of dictator Ferdinand Marcos due to “excessive violence.”

This ban led to speculations that the series was pulled from broadcast due to its underlying themes of rebellion and revolution at the time.

Since then, the anime series has aired mutiple times, both in English and Filipino, but with heavily Westernized character names.

The Armstrongs were originally the Gos: Steve is Kenichi Go, Big Bert is Daijiro Go, Little John is Hiyoshi Go, Ned Armstrong is Kentaro and Mary Ann is Mitsuyo. Jamie Robinson is Megumi Oka while Mark is Ippei Mine. Prince Zardoz is Prince Heinel.

The story of Voltes V takes place on Earth which is under attack by humanoid aliens from the planet Boazan. The Boazanians have a caste system and are ruled by nobility with horns, while hornless citizens are treated as slaves. Boazanians also possess superior technology and manage to overpower Earth’s military when they attack. 

Leading Earth’s defense team against the impending Boazanian invasion is the Voltes V team composed of the Armstrong brothers Steve, Big Bert and Little John; along with friends Mark Gordon and Jamie Robinson, who pilot "Volt" machines that combine into the giant robot known as Voltes V, humanity’s last hope. 

In the original anime series, Steve Armstrong, the leader of the Voltes V team is known as Kenichi Go (voiced by Yukinaga Shirashi). The 18-year old marksman, motocross champion, and ace pilot is the eldest of the three brothers. He wears a red uniform and pilots the Volt Cruiser (head).

Mark Gordon is Ippei Mine (voiced by Kazuyuki Sogabe), an 18-year-old rodeo champion, who was orphaned while he was still a young boy. Mark’s uniform is blue and he pilots the Volt Bomber (arms).

Big Bert is Daijiro Go (voiced by Tesshō Genda), the second eldest of the brothers. The 17-year old defense tactician and master of different hand-to-hand fighting styles wears dark green and pilots the Volt Panzer (body and chest).

Little John is Hiyoshi Go (voiced by Noriko Ohara) the youngest of the brothers. The 10-year old kid genius is the resident expert in mechanics, robotics, and electromagnetism. The youngest member of the team wears a light green uniform and pilots the Volt Frigate (legs).

Jamie Robinson is Megumi Oka (voiced by Miyuki Ueda) a 16-year old female ninja and the 18th heir of the Kōga-ryū ninja. As the lone female member of the Voltes V Team, she’s seen as the voice of reason among the male members. Her uniform is yellow with pink accents and she pilots the Volt Lander (feet).

While each of the five machines possess their own unique abilities and weapons, when they need an extra defense against powerful enemies, the machines fly into a "V" formation, with each member pressing a button and crying out, “Let’s Volt in!” to form the giant robot known as Voltes V.

Despite enduring for over four decades, Voltes V has only ever been aired on television using the original 1977 2D animation as seen in the videos above. Voltes V: Legacy marks the first live-action and CGI adaptation of the series.

(Images by Toei Animation)