May 5, 2017, we witnessed the first teaser of the next big thing in GMA’s primetime block: Mulawin VS. Ravena. It is so fateful that Encantadia concludes its run on the same month the original series aired in 2006, to give way to the first breakthrough fantasy series of GMA that ushered in a golden age of telefantasya.
Now, on to the real deal:
The Mulawin VS Ravena Teaser
The iconic four-note flute tune of Mulawin begins the teaser. Slowly, a long crimson feather falls on the ground speckled with white smaller feathers, a precise symbolism of a Ravena landing on a foreign turf–Avila, home of the Mulawin. We first get a glimpse of Gabriel (Dennis Trillo), a half-human and half-Ravena, fiercely exhibiting his albeit bulky breastplate and awful haircut.
He immediately unfurls and reveals his bird wings—the most important CGI of the show, a dark pair streaked with maroon feathers, with a couple of protruding black claws (called the pollex in bird anatomy, or hinlalaki in Filipino). This introduction sets it in stone that Gabriel is a key character in this sequel, establishing the significance of the Ravena race in the story and in turn, their inclusion in the show’s rather quaint choice of title.
And then, the Mulawin enter the scene in the forms of Pagaspas (Miguel Tanfelix, reprising his role in the Mulawin 2006 and Encantadia 2016) and Almiro (Derrick Monasterio). Two young warriors of different fates, I’d like to believe.
The bird eyes of pure-blood Mulawin and Ravena are a nice touch that add to the believability of the story, giving these humanoids the “oomph” or depth their characters need.
Pagaspas has this charactertistic, with full-blown feathers as his hair. In contrast, Almiro (3/4 Mulawin, 1/4 human) and Gabriel (half blood): no bird eyes and less feathers in their hair.
Now, Almiro is supposed to be the new champion of his race, being the son of Aguiluz and Alwina who were both heroes of their generation. This was not clearly emphasized in the teaser, since both Almiro and Pagaspas were treated as if they have equal footing, and were positioned like they were just the best of buddies.
Pagpaspas looks at Almiro and awaits his signal to which Almiro affirms. Pagaspas is the first to spread wings, followed by Almiro—again showing how there is not much distinction between their ranks.
Gabriel and the duo of Almiro and Pagaspas exchange battlecries and dart to the air, leading packs of Mulawin and Ravena to clash against one another.
We were treated with an outdoor bird’s eye view of a valley river and vast forestry as the two races come face to face and slug it out, in the end revealing the title card of Mulawin VS Ravena.
CGI and Other Technical Stuff
The bread and butter of this franchise, even from its original series, is the excitement and mystery that the winged humanoids bring. Having said that, the expected staple is the execution of the CGI wings. The wings shown in the teaser were indeed a vast improvement from 2004. Not much wow factor, but like Encantadia, Mulawin is a nightly series and so there must be a compromise in terms of the 3D renders. But then again, we must realize that thirteen years have passed. Today’s TV audience are much more picky and intelligent and thus quality is expected as it is assumed.
The trailer text is worth noting, using a serif font variant (thankfully) of Times New Roman beveled and rough, as the frame spews fire embers, dust, and lens flare.
The teaser is shot in green screen and is also color graded. Gabriel, Almiro, and Pagaspas blend pretty good with the background, although you might have expected that the force and effect of the wind could have been much more evident in the rustling of their feathers and hair as they go to a battle, right?
The Title Card
MVR’s title card is composed of two pairs of Mulawin wings and two pairs of Ravena wings (emphasizing the main theme which is the conflict between the two bird races) in a 360-degree arrangement, flapping as the black text morph into white 3D script that uses the Optimus Princeps (if not Trajan) typeface. The “Mulawin” part is styled the same way it was in the 2006 Mulawin movie, using the same font style with a feather (dubbed as the Ugatpak) in lieu of a letter “I”.
Having watched Mulawin 2004, Encantadia 2006-2007, and Encantadia 2016, most of us viewers may already know the staple things which we are going to see in this comeback. The teaser is okay but it lacks the “oomph” to stir the old audience. Still, it’s just the first one, reminiscent of Encantadia 2016’s not-that-exciting first teaser (the one with the Sang’gres lying on boats), so we are hoping that the main trailer would do redemption in terms of the execution of the concept, lore, and imagination being thought, poured, and written for the story. Not to mention, of course, that the 2017 iteration marks a sequel.
The promise of Mulawin VS Ravena is of a battle of identity (half bloods, pure bloods, differing races, and a possible conflict between multiple champions of respective races), of familiar themes as the contest between good and evil, and relevant issues such as the power and the limitations of the environment personified in goddesses like Sandawa and Magindara. It may differ and loom in contrast with the massive world-building of Encantadia, but this will sure give room (hopefully) to better character development, story arcs with sensible twists, and focus on the backdrop which is the human world touched by the legend of winged beings who promise to take us up into the wildest of our imaginations.