Photo of Voltes V, a red, yellow, blue, and silver robot. A logo that reads "Voltes V Legacy" is splayed across the image.

Interview With Voltes V Legacy Director Mark Reyes

Interview With Mark A. Reyes
Location: Zoom
Interview Date: 4/30/2023

A huge thanks to Patreon backer NegiKitsu for requesting this, and helping us to get in touch with Mark A. Reyes. This wouldn’t have happened without him.

Headshot of director Mark Reyes. Text: "Mark Reyes, DGPPI. Direct or, Voltes V Legacy"

Anime Herald: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me. So, I guess to begin, what led you to take on Voltes V as a project?

Mark A. Reyes: Oh, it was a ten-year vision quest. Way back in 2013, wait, before that, I’d been wanting to do the project. But, you know, it would [have been] very expensive and very hard to do way back around 2008. And then, around 2013, I felt that technology has caught up at that point when it comes to CGI here in the Philippines. So, I developed a pitch tape, and that’s what I sold to the network. And then that was sent to Toei Japan and Toei Japan approved it. And from that point on, it took us about ten years, until 2018, When we started pre-production. And then in 2019, we started production at the worst possible time, when the pandemic hit. So, it took us three years to finish, and now we finally have the finished product.

Anime Herald: And what was it like working during the pandemic period?

Mark A. Reyes: It was so bad! We followed sort of the Hollywood standard, that we would have to be quarantined for a certain number of days before we can actually shoot. So that was basically being trapped in a hotel room for ten days. Alone. Then, getting an RT PCR test to clear you, and then go into a bubble.

And then, the bubble is only the crew and the cast can intermingle with each other. No one from the outside world can come into the set, or us talking to people from the outside. So, it was really difficult. And here in the Philippines, we had to wear face shield masks, so awful, awful working conditions.

Anime Herald: That definitely sounds challenging. And what was it like working with a Toei as a partner, especially on a product as significant as this?

Mark A. Reyes: When they presented it to Toei, it was through their Filipino license or franchisor, which is Telesuccess. So, I only met people from Telesuccess here in the Philippines.

And they were relatively easy to work with because they were basically Filipinos. And they’re the ones that dealt with Toei, but it was very easy for us. But the minute they saw the pitch tape, they were very confident that we will be able to pull off something that met their standards. But along the way, they saw that we were surpassing their expectations. And they were giving us commendation letters and letters of encouragement during the pandemic, that we’re doing a fine job, they’re approving everything. Most of everything that we’ve sent, they just sent us some adjustments for the details and the size of some of the costumes and the Beast Fighters. But other than that, they were very supportive!

Photo of Voltes V, a red, yellow, blue, and silver robot as it stands against a blue sky

Anime Herald: And How did it feel to be in entrusted with a task of this magnitude by Toei, especially given that it’s such a significant property in the Philippines?

Mark A. Reyes: Well, I had the courage of ignorance (chuckles) at that time, that I wanted to do something, because this anime was very close to my heart. It’s something, you know, that dealt with family, and I felt that the Filipinos really had a significant relationship with the anime, given the fact that it was cut off.

I don’t know if you know, the history that former President [Ferdinand] Marcos then ended this abruptly, four episodes shy of the ending because he felt that the anime might provoke insurrection in the Philippines at that time. And it was martial law, so he cut it off. Instead of shutting down what could have, in effect for the Filipinos, fanned the flames to something, it kept Voltes V as significant for the Filipino society.

And all throughout the years, for decades, from the ‘80s all the way down to now, Voltes V has been very popular. The song has been used in political ads, in commercial ads in our karaoke bars, in the, you know, the song list the Voltes V theme song will be there. So, it was something that has touched the country for so long, for so many generations. So, it was a scary task to take, but I felt that, if not now, when; if not us, who? But thank God, and everything fell into place and then the product is, widely received by everyone here in the Philippines. You know that we had a cinema release version, and it was really appreciated by a lot, and it was extended in the cinemas!

So, it was blind faith, going back to your main question that how, you know, how I felt that I was entrusted to this. Well, when it was announced, a lot of Filipinos [were] really, like questioning if we could pull it off, and it would come out very cheap, you know, very third world. So, there was a lot of hesitation for the project, but as we’ve proven ourselves that we delivered and so far, so good. And, come May 8th, you’ll be starting to see the series on local television.

Anime Herald: And I saw that [the theatrical run] was actually extended to May 1 for showings How does it feel to have a work be received this warmly by the public?

Mark A. Reyes: Oh, gratifying, and I guess I still have a job after Voltes V!  It was, um, if we aired it on television, it would have been different, because people would have watched it separately in their households. But, you know, when we saw the product, and then my boss is GMA felt that it was worth presenting it to the cinema to watch it as a community, and have that feeling once you see the “Volt In” sequence, you know, the catharsis and the nostalgia would come in as a community, I think it worked, you know, the gamble paid off because people were crying, people were teary-eyed when the Volt In sequence starts, people couldn’t believe that the 2D animation that they loved back in the ‘80s is, you know, it’s live action.

And then there are a lot of significant moments in the cinema that they would recall. You know, like getting into the conveyor, and then the fight with the Beast Fighter and how they look [in] their costumes. And then, well, it’s no spoiler, no, but that we followed the death of the mother, and then, the Philippines being a back matriarchal society, I knew what buttons to push. You know, what would work and what would draw the call to action for them to watch the anime after they watch the movie? So that’s what we followed in the movies, that death of Mary Ann, the sacrifice of the mother for her children.

So that worked. That really made it something that that the whole country was talking about, and was being praised, not only in the Philippines, but, like you, you’ve reached out to me. And then even way back with a mecha trailer, I mean, all over the country, all over the world, we’ve been getting feedback from Australia, US, Italy, the Middle East, you know, and in Asia, as well. So, I’m very gratified.

Photo of Voltes V, a red, yellow, blue, and silver robot as it holds a gigantic sword in a ruined cityscape.

Anime Herald: And I noticed when going through all the promotional materials and things like that the actors look very close to their anime counterparts. How did you come across this, scouting for talent and bringing everyone together for this project?

Mark A. Reyes: Well, we did a slew of auditions. But one particular, well, interesting enough, the one that was like a given or who the network wanted to make sure was in the project was Miguel Tanfelix, who played Steve. And I worked with him since he was a baby, basically. He auditioned for the network when he was probably like, six or seven years old, and then he grew up with the network, so I knew him very well and I felt that he would pull off Steve Armstrong.

And then Radson Flores is a newbie, but when I saw him, I felt that “oh my god, he looks like Mark, Mark Gordon!” Because you know, long hair, dark, very Asian and, and his eyebrows, very anime. And then, lo and behold, when he auditioned, we only found that after that he got the part that he knew how to ride a horse. But, he [had] riding horses when he was young. So, it was serendipitous for him because it would be hard for us to train someone totally who doesn’t know how to ride a horse. You know, and that’s one of the trademarks of the character.

And then Matt Lozano, Big Bert, was not really that, you know, hefty when he started. But I told him the best words that any actor would hear from a director when I told him, “Matt, eat! And eat and eat and eat,” since we needed [him] to be very large and hefty or for the role a Big Bert.

And then Raph, who played Little Jon was also a shoo-in, because we saw that the network had some projects with him, so we knew that he was very mature for his age so he could handle what’s thrown at him for the project.

And Jamie Robinson played by Ysabel Ortega. She is actually a daughter of an iconic action star in the Philippines. So, the DNA came out with her for the action sequences. So, we were very happy that we were able to form the Voltes team, and they fit the part, they look the part, and they grew into the part when we started working.

Anime Herald: I’ve noticed that, in particular, your work Voltes V has gotten a lot of attention in the Japanese market. Did you expect it to really hit as hard as it has?

Mark A. Reyes: Um, honestly? No! The marching orders was to really focus on the Philippine market. But, in the back of my head, I knew, I knew that this is not going to just stay on the Philippine shores. I had a strong feeling that this will really, you know, be called to attention, especially in Japan, and in the region. I didn’t know that in the Asian region, I didn’t know it’s gonna go global as it did, or as far as it is going is global, the attention that it is receiving worldwide. But I wanted to push the standards of how to do a Philippine series. It’s on record that we kind of went over budget, you know, but it was expected because, when we hit the pandemic, probably there was a choice. The network could have shut down everything and waited for the pandemic to be over before we started working on the project. But, for some reason, they were very gung ho and they said, “Never mind. Even if there’s a pandemic, let’s push through with him.”

So, it’s very difficult to do it. Back then, just to give an example. Everything was closed. So, the costumes, the materials for the costumes, we couldn’t go to a regular place in Manila where you can buy off the, like, the fabric warehouses, they’re all closed. So it was very difficult to come up with the costumes. I don’t know how we managed, to be honest!

So, going back to your original question, so I didn’t expect it to be accepted this much. And for you know, on YouTube, you Google “Voltes V Legacy reaction,” and a lot of Japanese vloggers are reacting to it. And, you know, now there’s a petition, that right after the Philippines, the next market that they should air is Japan. So that’s really up to Toei, and Telesuccess, and GMA, and how they’re gonna go about it.

But definitely, Japan… You know, what’s funny is that we were getting more support from Japan than the Philippines! You know, there were a lot of like, you know, bashers and unbelievers in the Philippines, I call them “bashanians,” compared to Japan that were really praising us and really asking us to bring the product to their shores. So, it’s amazing.

Anime Herald: And one thing I’ve noticed was actually just the overall quality of the mecha sequences. What was your inspiration when putting those together?

Mark A. Reyes: Oh, well, I have been a geek all my life, and a nerd, you know, and sci-fi has been something I’ve been wanting to do. But sci-fi is not really something that is mainstream media here in the Philippines, you know, it’s we’re basically more of dramas, rom-coms, horror… Sci-fi is a very hard subject to deal with and to get approved by the networks.

But because of Voltes V and its sentimentality, and like what I told you earlier, the reason behind it, and you know, it’s been in pop culture for so long that they agreed to it. So, the exploration basically stems from my influences. You know, from Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate, Pacific Rim maybe would be the closest when it comes to the mecha sequences. But overall, it’s really the sci-fi kid in me; I knew exactly how to do the project. There was no question to me on like, I never had any doubt of “how am I going to do this? How am I going to do Camp Big Falcon? How am I going to do all the segments?”

So I knew, I mean, I grew up with Star Trek and Star Wars. And it was a matter of just adjusting, working with CGI and live action together. For the first time, you know, the gimbal sequences, the pilot cockpit scenes? That was very difficult. We had to be in sync with the animatics of the fight scene where Ryan Eigenmann was doing the robot fight scenes, we were doing the gimbal. So, all the movements have to be in sync with everything that they’re doing. I couldn’t spend to have five gimbals for each of the characters. So, you can imagine the gimbal sequences had to be done five times for the five characters. And it was not like, “okay, Steve, back this way, we’ll all finish all your gimbal sequences”. No, I insisted that, per- scene, one goes on, one gets off, one goes on, one gets off, and they do it again, five times.

They were like, the setup was, what is it the gimbal the four other characters were seated off cam, with music stands with the scripts in there in front of them and reacting. So, once we put that all together, their emotions will be in sync. So, it came out the way I predicted it, it came out really well. But you know, there was so tiring, I think we just had, like, a thousand gimbal sequences. So, now looking back, you know, a sigh of relief, but we were like, “When will this be over?” I have a on my Facebook page, I think I’ve shown everyone the enormous wall of storyboarding that we had to do just to merge all those together.

Anime Herald:  I can imagine. Out of curiosity, is there a particular scene or segment in Voltes V Legacy that you’re particularly proud of, and that you want people just look at and say “this is the crowning achievement what we’re doing with this?”

Mark A. Reyes: Oh, well, first of course, the Volt In sequence that, you know, I have to give props to Riot, Inc [Post Production] for putting something that spectacular. And, of course, GMA’s graphics post-production group also delivered. People could not believe that this is a 100% Filipino-made project. You know, both vendors of the CGI really raised the bar so high for the country that actually GMA’s now worried that, what do we do next?

This is so expensive, you know, [and] if we need to maintain, do we do Daimos next? You know, those kinds of questions, but Voltes V was really expensive. So, particular scenes probably were the Volt In sequence, the Butterfly Return Technique, sequence the death of Mary Ann that they saw. There are a lot of touchstone moments, and there are a lot of key moments in the anime that, you know, true fans will react “Oh my god, you know, that’s frame by frame! He’s doing his thing by frame!”

So, there are certain moments that I really wanted to do a major homage to the anime that we were able to pull off, so I was very happy with those particular sequences.

Photo of Voltes V, a red, yellow, blue, and silver robot. Its arms are spread wide, as a giant flaming "V" forms between them.

Anime Herald: And where would you like to go next with Voltes V Being such a big success? Where would you like to see your next project go?

Mark A. Reyes: Well, the cat has been out of the bag, because our producer already announced that the next project might be Daimos. I’m saying “might” because, until I see myself in front of the camera saying “roll cameras,” I’m not sure if that Daimos is gonna come into being. But right now, that’s the next project that is in line with Voltes V, this is a Daimosseries.

Anime Herald: Do you know if there are any plans to have a wider digital distribution on this? Say, in North America for example?

Mark A. Reyes: Well, there is a high demand. People in North America that have GMA Pinoy TV, the Filipino cable network, and TFC will be able to watch a subtitled version of this. Expanding it to, like streaming platforms, I know there are plans. But if it comes out in, let’s say, for example, Netflix, it will just be in the region. So, I don’t know, [but] if there’s a demand, they’ll probably expand it to the US as well. So, we’ll see how that goes, if there’s really a demand for it. But Japan, definitely, I’m sure they’re figuring it out how to air it there. Because unlike in Japan, when you talk about a project like this, they do it once a week. In the Philippines, we do it every day for Monday to Friday, so we really expanded the material to contain 80 episodes. Compared to 42 episodes, or 40 episodes of the original anime, we have 80 episodes. So, we doubled the project, you know, the product.

So, hopefully, they find a way to air this in full in Japan. And I can’t wait for the day that I see that this is dubbed! You know, I don’t want subtitles. I want this dubbed in Japanese. So, I want to see you know, Steve Armstrong, and the rest of them talking Japanese so that would be a blast.

Photo of the cast from Voltes V Legacy that depicts the characters in their combat suits

Anime Herald: What would your dream Japanese cast be?

Mark A. Reyes: Well, I’m not too familiar with the Japanese characters that could voice this or dub this Japanese. I would leave it up to Toei to figure out who they should be. I would love to have one of the original characters who dubbed it in Japan do it, but I don’t think anybody is alive at this point, who was part of the original animation. Even, we were trying to look for animators or directors who was alive, but Toei said, “no one is left.” So, it was really just the product that was left to their care. It’s really a next-generation kind of thing.

Anime Herald: And do you have any final comments that you’d like to say to our readers?

Mark A. Reyes: Well, thank you! Thank you for your interest. It’s something that we’re very proud of in the country to pull off something like this. Again, the reaction is appreciated, and that we didn’t expect [it] to be as global as it did, as it affected a lot of people all around the world. Hopefully, we will deliver and we will meet your expectations for the entire series. Once again, thank you, thank you for believing in Voltes V Legacy.

About the author

Samantha Ferreira

Samantha Ferreira is Anime Herald’s founder and editor-in-chief. A Rhode Island native, Samantha has been an anime fan since 1992, and an active member of the anime press since 2002, when she began working as a reviewer for Anime Dream. She launched Anime Herald in 2010, and continues to oversee its operations to this day. Outside of journalism, Samantha actively studies the history of the North American anime fandom and industry, with a particular focus on the 2000s anime boom and bust. She’s a huge fan of all things Sakura Wars, and maintains series fansite Combat Revue Review when she has free time available. When not in the Anime Herald Discord, Samantha can typically be found on Bluesky.

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