The late 90s and early 2000s will remain memorable for me as the era when Japanese anime dominated Philippine television. When the clock struck 5 PM, kids back in the day were home, had done their chores, and were turning on the TV to begin the awesome hours of their childhood.
We had anime shows airing during primetime, right up until 8 PM. Every single day, there was a different show scheduled which was a real treat for a kid like me who wanted to watch more anime. This was when Internet DSL connections were really expensive and streaming for anime was impossible. You could only get your dose of anime through television.
One popular network that shaped my anime-loving childhood was GMA 7, one of the country’s leading media giants. They started the anime block “Anime Assault” which had similar names in the past like “Anime Resurrection,” “Afternoon Anime Resurrection,” and “We Are Anime.” The Tagalog dubbing for these anime shows was quite superb and memorable. Other shows were dubbed into English. They were so into it that the network even created custom title cards for some of their offerings.
While the majority of its competitor networks prioritized drama and game shows during primetime, GMA was very different. They aired anime during primetime and it was not only a delight for kids like me back in the day, but it was also for the kids at heart. I remember watching the first season of Pokemon together with my parents and memorizing all the first 150 Pokemon. It was a breeze. The song Sweet Soul Revue by Pizzicato Five has been mistaken as an opening song for Ranma 1/2 because they used the song in one of their ads to promote the anime.
The network also knew that their audience might have a hard time remembering some of the names of anime shows, so they changed to easier ones. A popular example is Yu Yu Hakusho, which changed to Ghost Fighter.
Dragon Ball Z was also popular back in the day. I remembered everyone glued to their TV screens at night waiting for the intense fight between Son Goku and Frieza. It became a topic of discussion every following day — like a highly anticipated boxing match.
The Anime Assault block also paved the way for anime fans to enjoy different genres and plots. Notable ones were Voltes V, Daimos, Count of Mosquiton, Monster Rancher, Slam Dunk, Hell Teacher Nube, Vision of Escaflowne, and Fushigi Yuugi. Although other networks, like ABC 5 and IBC 13 also showed popular anime like Sailor Moon, Cyborg Kuro-chan, and Crayon Shin-chan, GMA stands out for providing a generous amount of anime shows that fans loved to watch, every single day.
As the years went on, anime shows have had less and less screen time on these major networks. Nowadays, we get less than 3 or 5 anime shows on a network. At the time of writing this, Philippine primetime is now dominated by drama shows that deal with family issues, cliché romance plots, and infidelity. Not really appropriate for young audiences. This is why I’m not surprised when I read comments on social media that ask “Bring back anime on primetime.”
With this great shift of target audience, I doubt we’ll see a revival of the glory days of anime on Philippine Television soon. But it was fun when it lasted.
Now I will leave this here: