The writing/directing tandem of Mihk Vergara and Miko Livelo seems to have a single goal in mind: to create Filipino Tokusatsu. Tokusatsu is a very loosely defined Japanese genre of live-action entertainment that largely involves costumes, fights, and special effects. Godzilla, Power Rangers and Shaider all fall under this umbrella, and generations of young Filipinos have grown up watching the genre in its various forms.
Recently, Vergara and Livelo won the audience award at QCinema for their short film Mighty Robo V, which told the story of a struggling Filipino government agency that needed to field a new team of pilots for the giant robot meant to defend the country from monstrous incursions. But earlier in the year, the two worked together on a pilot for a series: Carpioman.
Taking its cue from Ultraman, Carpioman is a man who grows to giant size and fights off monsters. The name is a reference to Bernardo Carpio, the figure in Philippine mythology said to be the cause of earthquakes. His civilian alter ego Nardo is played by Jerald Napoles, a farmer just trying to make ends meet while taking care of his precocious daughter, played by Miel Espinosa.
The pilot keeps things pretty simple, establishing the characters, and more importantly, the tone. This is a much more laid back show than its inspirations, its provincial setting dictating the pace and the demeanor of its elements. This isn’t just Filipinos aping Tokusatsu; it feels like an earnest attempt to produce a truly Filipino version of the genre. As such, it seems much more concerned with the home life of its characters, taking time to depict Nardo’s financial struggles, and investing a lot into the unusual relationship between him and his daughter. It would be a treat to see more of this get made.