After a series of tragic events, Ben's life is changed forever. As Ben struggles with his new reality, new secrets emerge of his mother’s past. Unsure what to do or how to handle his new life, Ben flees to Manila, Philippines in search of answers. Will Ben discover the truth of his mother’s past? Will this solve all of his problems?
This was the first ever Filipino created anime and anime set in Manila, Philippines. The production company that helped resource and sponsor this anime was Shin-Ei animation studios. Shin-Ei animation has been around since the 70’s and has produced some notable works such as Doraemon and Crayon Shin-chan. Shin-Ei animation studio parted up with ASI studios which is a collaborative anime studio between Synergy88 based in the Philippines and August Media Holding based in Singapore. They worked on Baragay 143 the series. Which was first released the first season in 2018 and the second season in 2020. Encompassing a total of twenty-six episodes.
Going into this anime I was not sure what to expect from it. However, I was not disappointed with this series. There is potential for a future anime production coming from the Philippines. Here are some of my thoughts from the series. Also check out the reference material in the point of view from Filipinos at the bottom of this blog post.
The beginning of the series had me a bit confused since there are many elements in play for setting up the plot. The first couple episodes felt rushed when coming to stitch all the elements together because of the pacing of the storytelling. Especially when establishing Ben and the female supporting character, Vicky, but will touch on that in a bit later.
First off, the story takes place 2 years after the death of Roberto "Basti" Sebastián Jr. was killed by a gunman from a large crime syndicate. Basti was the captain of Barangay’s prominent basketball team and having lost their top player, the team has suffered to regain its footing after his death. Bring in our protagonist Ben, who just so happens to be a top Korean basketball player. Having established a sense relevance to our protagonist and the basketball team Barangay 143, I am able to see where the story will take us. Having created a correlation to our protagonist; I was excited to see Ben would impact the Barangay 143.
Furthermore, the animation in the series was well done. It was consistent and color scheme of the character/ background complemented the anime. Seeing brown anime characters drawn authentically was an A+ in my book. The environment and landscape of the anime was nice drawn. One of major criticism though, is the beginning of the anime. The first like two minutes of the series, starts off at an entrance. However, the entrance is so grain and unappealing, I was concerned about the animation. Some may say but it is only the introduction to anime. So, what if the first couple minutes is a bit grainy. In my personal opinion, we eat (devour) with our eyes first. If something looks unappetizing, or strange we already feel a certain type of way. This why the beginning of the anime should be well presented. It set a precedent on how the rest of the series will be. They always say dress to impress, and I believe Barangay 143 should have brought out all the stops. Especially, when it is your first anime. Moreover, I did enjoy seeing the street markets and the interactions between the locals in the series. The way they animated the town of Barangay 143, reminded me of what some pueblos in Mexico looked like. The soft nuances being a small pueblo brought a smile to my face.
Regarding the characters, I liked their presentation and the design. My husband is Filipinos and interacting with his family, I feel like they captured the uniqueness of their (Filipino) mannerism and the local dialect. However, I will criticize the interactions and relationships between the characters. As I stated previously, the relationship between Ben and Vicky felt too rushed. It almost felt forced on how quick they tried to establish a connection between them. However, by episode six/ seven everything started to fall into place. I will give the animation studio the benefit of the doubt it being their first anime production. How the character design was well done.
Overall, this is a good anime to watch. I am hoping to see for Filipino anime productions in the future. All in all, I believe ASI production, alongside Shin-Ei studio did a great job delivery us Barangay 143.