Imaw: A First-Look and a Lookback

“The old will be new again.”

Yesterday, for the first time, we were given a glimpse of what Imaw will look like in Encantadia 2016. And, boy, it was unforeseen. True to his word, Direk Mark fulfilled his promise of a revamped Imaw; the new puppet has a strange new look. He is fresher. He is new. He has less wrinkles. He has lighter skin, bigger eyes, a bigger nose, and bigger lips. Basically, his features got larger compared to his self a decade ago. And the purists and loyalists of the 2005 lore will surely have a tough time accepting and digesting his new image.

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2005 versus 2016 concept arts. It is said that Imaw 2016 now closely resembles the original 2005 concept because the original mascot’s foam latex skin darkened after a time.

The first-timers and starter-fans might wonder though, who is this Imaw and why is everyone making a fuss about him? What is “Imaw” and why did it trend, 7th spot on Twitter PH? Imaw has always been iconic to each and every kid who grew up watching the good Telefantasyas of GMA. He is, arguably, the most ingenious puppet ever used in the 2000s. While Kokey is a tough contender for the “most famous” title, Imaw is leagues ahead in terms of the artistry and craftsmanship put into his character. He was a wise character, as compared to Kokey’s endearing and quirky persona, and in a funny way that makes it a little difficult for everyone to insult or make fun of his memory. Somehow, Telefantasya kids have this unwritten high regard for the character of Imaw.

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Awoo, Imaw, Banak, and Nakba

Exuding graying hair and age lines in his face, the midget is the leader of a race of plump, dwarf beings residing in the southern territory of Encantadia, Adamya. Dubbed by returning voice artist Mr. Noel Urbano (the same voice artist behind Kokey, Ulla (in Zaido: Pulis Pangkalawakan, Aegen (in Encantadia: Pag-Ibig Hanggang Wakas), and one or two puppets in Batibot), Imaw has an old, raspy voice, resembling that of a grandfather. In 2005, he is known to be a wise, aged creature who delivers unmatched advice to the royalties of the land, especially to the Queen of Lireo, the state in which the Adamyans sought refuge after the war waged by the Hathors.

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The new Imaw has significantly bigger eyes and younger look as compared to the detailed 2005 version. One thing to note is that color grading will have a huge role in the requel. Light make up and prosthetic effects can be exaggerated using the technique.

Many were keen in pointing out how Imaw lost his “detailed” characteristic, expressing how they prefer his former appearance. Pretty normal, because for 11 years we had this picture of Imaw as the wizened, grandfather-like puppet, his brand new look will take some time getting used to.

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Eight men operate the robotic servo-controlled mechanism of Imaw. Direk Mark Reyes calls them “the new puppet engineers.”

There are a couple of reasons for the revamp, as always, one of which is the advancement in technology. Imaw has now a fully animatronic (robotic and remote-controlled) head, a first in Philippine TV, as compared to his previous version where he was just a cable puppet. One can just imagine the circuits built inside his head (thus explaining the immensity of his head). This connotes that his body’s size should be increased proportionally. Some things stay the same though: there is still an actor wearing the mascot to manage the gestures of the limbs and his main locomotion (walking, standing, and sitting) aside from the given fact that a voice artist is still dubbing his words.

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The size of Imaw’s build as compared to Aquil and Mine-a.

On another note, there are certain observations we’d like to express. The new version of Imaw has bigger eyes. We have yet to find out the reason for this enlargement. They also look a lot like platic or fiber glass now (but we’ll save our further judgment when color grading is implemented). His larger build is explainable though, as his head is now robotic. His skin is lighter and has less details, but post-producton will soon come into play and we are expecting that they’d do the trick. Moreover, we remember that Imaw was depicted as fragile and short in stature whilst the current Imaw is significantly loftier, pushing us to worry how his build would blend in with the rest of the Adamyans: are they going to have the relartively same build, the same size?

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Behind the scenes in Lireo. This image further shows the size of the mascot, but that could be because Imaw is in the foreground, and is closer to the camera than Mine-a and Aquil.

We conclude this blog post by shedding light again in the way we lay out our expectations. In the eleven years since Encantadia aired, a lot happened in between: advancements in technology, new ways in storytelling, and a showdown of special effects and techniques in films we won’t concern ourselves much in. For now, it is wiser to keep an open mind and make peace with the fact that this is a requel and almost everything is bound to be revamped. The Encantadiks of 2005 are not required to forget how we love and appreciate a wise old puppet the way we did for a decade. This is, after all, a different time. Let us give the new generation and audience a chance for it’s their turn to appreciate and love the new lore. At the end of the day, we are indeed very lucky to have witnessed Encantadia in our lifetime. To experience the magic once again is more than just a treat. And no amount of change in how an animatronic puppet looks like will ever erase how we love the show. 🙂

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