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Anime / Barangay 143

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Ito ang liga ng buhay.note 

Barangay 143, considered the Philippines' first Anime, is actually a Filipino-Singaporean-Japanese co-production, borne of a joint venture between Filipino studio Synergy88 with Japan's TV Asahi. Local media corporation GMA Network broadcasts the series and provided the voice talent, with Ruru Madrid and Migo Adecer respectively voicing basketball players Joaquín "Wax" Rivera and Bren T. Park; also stars Julie Anne San José as Vicky, Filipino film veteran John Arcilla as Coach B (Vicky's dad), and introduces Kelley Day as Jinri, Bren's Korean Love Interest.

Plans for the anime first surfaced before 2016 and went through a bit of Development Hell before finally releasing the pilot episode on the 10 a.m. Sunday slot on 21 October 2018, and interest in and support for it was drummed up by a continual teasing presence on social media and the release of a mobile game named Barangay 143: Street League. There were even mini-manga webcomics centring on Wax Rivera, one of the players.

The anime centres around that most Filipino of obsessions—street basketball—and follows a ragtag underdog street-ball team, the Puzakals that hail from the titular Barangaynote  143, a poor neighbourhood in the City of Manila. As the series opens, they've been losing badly, but that's nothing compared to the personal tragedy they're going through: Baste, the captain of the Puzakals and the son of Coach B, was brutally shot dead by gunmen on a motorbike—leaving Coach and his daughter Vicky to fill in the gaping hole both in the team and in their lives. Meanwhile, over in South Korea, Bren T. Park grapples with family duties even as he makes captain of his own basketball team, but tragedy claims his family as well and eventually drives him to find his true parentage in the Philippines (it's that kind of show, and he's only half-Korean), where events will put him on a collision course with—who else—that ragtag team angling to bring glory to their hometown, Barangay 143.

Relevant Tropes:

  • Affectionate Nickname: Buchoy, the barangay's plucky little elementary-school-aged kid, frequently calls Bren "KPop," as in the music genre (a very popular one in the Philippines as of the present).
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Hoo boy do Bren and Vicky get into it hard in E07, spending the last half of the episode arguing with each other on the court.
  • Big Damn Reunion: Albeit unexpectedly, Wax met Bren again in Manila when he accidentally bumped the latter while jogging. This same goes for Vicky whom Bren met her again, accidentally.
  • Bland-Name Product: "Friendspace," a social-media network that's an obvious copy of Facebook, with its name likely taken from older social networks Friendster and MySpace. In Episode 5, Buchoy (Bren's new little friend) was logged onto it in an Internet café, which is how Bren finds out Jinri's been trying to contact him. (Although one wonders why he didn't get the same notifications from his phone.)
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Bren's mother, father and little sister conveniently drown and freeze to death when their car sinks through an iced-over lake en route to his game.
  • Crash-Into Hello: How Bren (literally) bumped into Vicky in the third episode. Neither falls, but Vicky does get a faceful of the matcha ice cream she was trying to enjoy at the time.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Despite his age, Coach B soundly thrashes Bren's ass at a pickup game (first to seven baskets) in episode 6. Just as well, because both of them had staked Bren's future on the court on this little game: if Bren had won, Coach B had agreed to never bother him about basketball again; but as Coach won, Bren must start training with the Puzakals immediately.
  • Danger — Thin Ice: What (conveniently) kills off Bren's entire family in the pilot, en route to his game.
  • Da Chief: Tita Baby, who used to be Bren's yaya (nanny) in South Korea, is now the captain/chairwoman of Barangay 143.
  • Death Seeker: One way to interpret the reckless way that Bren, after breaking down and losing his most recent match (caused by hearing of his family's deaths), jumps on his motorbike and collides with a delivery van as he's speeding through Seoul. Naturally, he survives, but obviously get hospitalised.
  • Ensemble Cast: Had a controversial response from some viewers who noted that voice acting involves a different set of skills from live-action acting, raising concerns of whether the GMA-provided cast (hitherto used to live action) would be up to the task of an animation voice cast.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Vicky used to let her (fairly longish) hair down in the past; it's seen when she first met Bren in South Korea, for example. In the present, it's always tied up in a high ponytail—perhaps an indication of her hardening or toughening up ever since Baste died and the Puzakals need a new captain.
  • Given Name Reveal: Technically "full name reveal" and happened twice. First,it was during the South Korean memorial to Baste in the third episode reveals that his nickname is actually derived from his family name—his full name (not counting middle name) is given as Roberto Sebastián, and his sister Vicky herself is referred to as Victoria. Second, it was Buchoy posted a missing meme in the SNS where Jinri commented on the post where she said that she misses Bren. The name in her SNS handle revealed her full name, Jinri Choi.
    • Since Coach B, Baste and Vicky's father, is referred to as Bobby by his own father—presumably also a nickname for "Roberto" or something similar—this stands to reason that Baste is actually the second of his name in the family, though the memorial doesn't appear to include a generational suffix such as "II" or "Jr" in his name.
  • Gangbangers: The Blue Valley Lions —the Puzakals' main opponents—act rather like this, being all arrogant and even threatening Vicky in a traffic accident when she accdentally collides with their car on her bike.
  • Gratuitous English: In the Korean scenes with Bren. Kind of funny when you think about it—wouldn't Bren and his family and teammates be speaking, I don't know, Korean?
    • Possibly more a case of Translation Convention: all Korean scenes are rendered in English to avoid the cost of having to find voice talent to record lines in a third language, not to mention that the original scripts were already using both English and Tagalog, having been written locally.
    • Of course, in the Philippines, Bren—as the obvious foreign tourist—encounters this a lot in all its broken and strongly accented forms from various locals. This decreases over time as Bren learns more and more Tagalog and becomes more comfortable in it.
      • This has been played with twice in E01 and E10 of the animé where some lines are actually in Koream.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: There are two scenes and one song from the OST in the animé where there lines being spoken or sung in Korean.
    • In E01, the pilot of the aeroplane that Bren rode on his flight to Manila, spoke an announcement in Korean.
    • In E10, Been ranted out his thoughts to Vicky in Korean which left her confused.
    • In the song "Para sa Isa't Isa," some of its lines were in Korean.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: Both Coach B and Bren visit their dead loved ones' graves.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Subverted. Bren Park was initially banned from playing in PIBA due to a issue on his citizenship and residency. Thankfully, Da Chief came to the rescue proving his residency and dual citizenship.
  • Hidden Depths: Bren is also a pretty decent bibimbap cook, and as such assists Kapitana Baby at the barangay's eatery, Tapsiturbee, which she also happens to own.
  • Heroic BSoD: In the second episode, Bren basically has a breakdown in the final quarter of his game in Korea, costing his team the single winning shot, and thus the championship. He also swears off basketball for good—or so he says, but obviously, being a main character on a basketball anime set in a basketball-crazy nation, it's only a matter of time before he comes back to it.
  • Holiday in Cambodia: The urban variant; Barangay 143 is set solidly in the overcrowded slums of Metropolitan Manila. The second episode gives away its specific location in the Tondo district of the city of Manila, a Real Life Wretched Hive-cum-Gangster Land. (Also Truth in Television: All of the barangays in the cities of Manila, Pasay, and Caloocan in Metro Manila are numbered instead of named.) But, this being the Philippines, also expect quite a bit of Latin Land in the mix.
  • Hot-Blooded: Vicky. She's often pretty easy to annoy or piss off.
  • Latin Land: A milder case than most, the time period being over a century removed from Spanish rule per se, but the Philippines being the anime's primary setting, many names—given, family or both—are mostly Hispanic in origin, such as the cases of Kapitana Baby dela Cruz (Bren's nanny), Vicky (Victoria Sebastián), Wax (Joaquín Rivera), and Coach B (Roberto Sebastián, Sr.). Even some of the background music in two episodes had a bit of Hispanic influence.
  • Look Both Ways: This happened alot in Episodes 02 to 04. First, Bren when he was having a Death Seeker moment in Seoul where he was hit by a delivery van due to the death of his family. Second, when Vicky was pedaling her "mamachari" bicycle which she was hit by a car in Tondo by Wax and his teammates from the Blue Valley Lions. Third, when Bren was going out of the house, he was almost hit by a pedicab and lastly when, Bren, again, was jogging around the neighbourhood and was hit again, by a car, driven by the cause of his My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels moment with Vicky in Korea, which is Wax who was distracted when his smartphone rang.
  • Love Interest: Bren used to have something with Vicky (who once went to South Korea) as shown in a pilot flashback. It's implied his relationship with Jinri in the present day might be this too.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels:
    • Bren falls victim to this in the episode 3 flashback, where he first meets Wax, then playing for the Philippine team, against the South Koreans. Somewhat resentful at their loss, Wax sets Bren up by translating the Tagalog word engot as "friend"—and Bren immediately starts using this on Vicky, with whom he quickly gets infatuated, but who shortly corrects him that he's fallen for a prank; engot really means "stupid" (though it's one of the milder terms for it).
    • Bren usually mixes up the syllables and grammatical order making him have unexpected Filipino Language Lessons. This is exemplified by saying that the local convenience store (Sari-sari Store) as a crazy store (Sira-sira Store) and other moments in the Philippines.
  • Nightmare Sequence: In E05, Bren dreams he's back in Korea playing for the national team, and he's trying to play with his little sister, but she's standing and crying on the thin ice where in reality she and her parents fell into, and even in the dream she falls through it (again) before Bren can pass her the ball.
  • Noble Male, Roguish Male: Bren and Wax respectively have this sort of dynamic.
  • Not So Safe Harbour: Barangay 143 is smack up against northern Manila's Port Area, and Buchoy's drunkard father lives on a sort of houseboat or tugboat. When Buchoy puts away his dad's beer and gin bottles, the dad flies into a rage and upsets a burner, causing a house(boat) fire from which Bren rescues Buchoy.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: The anime opens pretty graphically with Coach B's son Baste, who headlined the Puzakals team, shot dead in a drive-by shooting from a motorbike.
  • The Place: The anime's title refers to its main location—Barangay 143, in the City of Manila.
  • Precious Photo: Both Coach B and his family on the one hand, and Bren on the other, naturally keep family photos of their deceased loved ones. In the pilot there's a framed photo of the whole Puzakals team with Baste prominently at the centre.
  • Punny Name:
    • One of the Puzakals' rival teams is named the Oso Negros—on the surface it's derived from the Filipino-Spanish for "Black Bears," but add a "P" to "Oso" and it becomes "Poso Negros"—Sewers. The incorrect "Spanish" grammar gives it away, because the proper Spanish translation of "Black Bears" would be "Osos Negros". Well, then again, even "sewers" would translate as "pozos negros"—literally meaning "black wells"—but suffice it to say that Filipinos would understand the pun from hearing it. Note that there are some Spanish dialects where "s" is silent at the end of words or between consonants.
    • The Puzakals themselves are presumably named, tongue-in-cheek style, after the Azkals, the Real Life Philippine national football team. "Azkals" is the shortened plural of "asong kalye" or "stray dog"; likewise, "Puzakals" comes from pusang kalye or "stray cat" and also a figurative term to mean "notorious" or "malicious."
    • Da Chief's Restaurant is named as "Tapsiturbee" from the phrase "Topsy-turvy" and the popular Filipino viand Tapa. The store's name's ending in a "-bee" also recalls the famous Filipino fast-food chain, Jollibee.
    • After getting two leads on the whereabouts of Bren's biological father, he then promised Buchoy to treat him at "McJollie," a nearby fast-food restaurant near the Barangay. The name "McJollie" is a reference to the two rival fast-food chains in the Philippines (the local Jollibee and the international McDonalds).
    • As for acronyms, the local basketball organisation PIBA evokes both Real Life organisations the PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) and the FIBA (the international basketball federation, which in reality would oversee games like the Philippine-Korean game that pits Wax against Bren for the first time).
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Puzakals.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Jinri, which is par for the course since she's Korean. It's especially obvious when compared against the darker-skinned Filipinos surrounding Bren in Barangay 143. (Filipinos in general might have a skin-whitening obsession to rival the Koreans', but it's not super-evident in the barangay, if only because the type of settings that would encourage gratuitous skin-whitening among locals are often found elsewhere instead of urban ghettoes like this.)
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The somewhat belligerent Wax appears to be the Red in contrast to the cooler, more down-to-earth Bren's Blue.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • The backgrounds so far depict reasonably accurate modern Filipino settings, mainly gritty urban street scenes in the relatively impoverished areas of Metropolitan Manila.
    • There are also scenes and lines which shows racial discrimination among the Filipinos, especially if the person is considered first-generation mixed ancestry and have grew up away from the Philippines. This also applies to some foreigners in the Philippines and some them were targets of attempts banning them in some aspects of the society and life in the country.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: There's a bit of this dynamic between the poor (or at least working-class) players of Barangay 143 and their family and friends, as against players from rather better circumstances, like Bren, partly by default of being Korean (his family back home are generic corporation owners), and Wax, whose dad is PIBA Commissioner.
  • Sole Survivor: Bren, after his whole family goes down in a freezing lake on the way to his game.
  • Smurfette Principle: Vicky. She's basically the Filipino equivalent of Riko Aida.
  • Telenovela: Having Filipino screenwriters and network executives directing them, it's perhaps not entirely surprising that the overall plot of Barangay 143 owes quite a bit to Soap Opera tropes, such as tragic character backstories, Love Triangles, near-fatal accidents and hospital scenes, overly emotional acting heavy with shouting matches, and a domineering wealthy female antagonist in the persona of Wax's mother Sophia, among others.
  • Title Theme Tune
  • Tomboy: Vicky.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Respectively, Vicky and Jinri.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The little red bouncy ball that Bren used to play around in Korea with his little sister, whom he jokingly calls "Stinky". He brings it with him to the Philippines, of course, even when he said he'd swear off basketball initially.
  • Troubled Back Story Flash Back:
    • Basti's murder. The given flashback scene doesn't really elaborate on the happy times before it happened though, but it's easily deducible that the Puzakals were doing better before it.
    • Vicky was once also trying to sign up for her high school's women's basketball team, but she gets into a fight with an Alpha Bitch classmate who vandalised her locker and accused her of selling out to the Koreans and costing the Philippine team their win. Naturally, the school administration sides with the powerful—the family of the girl Vicky assaulted is cited as a generous donor to the school—and suspends Vicky for three months, thereby ending her chances of joining the women's team. Not even Wax's defence of Vicky ends up helping her case.
  • Tsundere: Vicky shows signs of this, especially in the present. She's pretty belligerent and standoffish towards Bren when he surprises her after his arrival in the Philippines in general, and in Barangay 143 in particular, and she refuses to face him for the moment—even if she was already warming up to him when they first met back in Korea.