OK. Rounin turned out to be exactly what I thought it would be. They used up most of the scenes in the trailers in this first episode! Hahaha. Nice.
Whoever greenlighted this series is very misinformed. I didn't know that the Filipino masses are the type to clamor for science fiction -- specially science fiction with a thin and incoherent story line. Maybe the younger generation will appreciate this, but clearly the target market for Rounin is an 11-15 year-old MALE who gets turned on by people fighting with swords. Hardly the demographic that will beat GMA in the ratings, and a demographic that I doubt even watches any TV.
Plot: After 40 minutes, unbelievably, I still had no idea what the Rounin are about. They are the protectors of a character-less city in the middle of nowhere called Lumeria and their sworn enemy is Heliz. They have good fighting skills -- they're able to spin in the air and all that -- and are able to use special powers just when they are about to die. I was thinking: Kaya pala nila gawin yun -- disintegrate enemies with electricity, etc. -- bakit hindi nila ginawa bago sila matuhog? It's no wonder they died -- they don't know when to use their special powers! Anyway, the old Rounin get conveniently wiped out in a series of gratuitus fight scenes, so Diether with his ridiculous hair extensions, can form a new group of Rounin to fight the Heliz. This in essence is the plot. Ha? Ganoon? Akala ko ba epic? Where's the over-reaching story arc of good vs. evil and love conquers all of Encantadia? Also, the Luke-Skywalker-figure is played by Rayver which just sucks. Pagnagsama na silang tatlo: Rayver, Diether and Gay Manzano, I will probably throw up in front of the TV. Unfortunately, after all that happened, I found myself not caring what happens to any of the characters since they're so one dimensional (or dead).
Production: I'm sure that these guys are proud that after 8 years, the Philippines is able to produce Matrix and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon fight sequences -- pero konting innovation naman sana -- it has been 8 years, we've seen this before, I was hoping for something new and Pinoy -- pati yung paglipad ni Neo in his trenchcoat from the Matrix, gayang-gaya eksakto. However, I won't belittle their efforts. I'm happy that this guy, Erik Matti, was able to live out his dreams by being able to get these fight sequences and effects on tape and on TV. He was able to convince ABS-CBN to do this, so more power to him and his crew. However, this is an impossible series to execute. This one episode alone looked like it took 3 months to produce. What's going to happen in the next few weeks? I'm sure by week 3 -- wala ng special effects and/or puro flashback na lang ang makikita natin. Just like Panday which had a week of grandiose fight sequences, and then very quickly degenerated. Also, since I'm a jaded viewer and watch a lot of HDTV here in the U.S., I was unimpressed with these special effects -- the colors are horrible. Plus, what's up with the sound? I thought Asian Treasures was bad, but this was worse.
Kasi, the staff of ABS-CBN don't read Pinoy Rickey: As I said before about Panday, people don't watch fight scenes -- they watch for story and characters -- specially for something that will run for 3 months -- so you have to invest in good storytellers. So ayan, Rounin has a lot of gratuitous fight scenes (elaborate fight scenes for the sake of having an elaborate fight scene) and no story and character development. Sigh.
In all honesty, and not to offend the ABS-CBN fans, this is a disaster in the making. Already we know that the plot has zero appeal, and the fight sequences/special effects are unsustainable -- so what's left? Diether? I hope I'm wrong. Being a SCI-FI fan and with a mind of an 11-year-old, there were moments where I thought it could actually go somewhere, but this series does not belong in the serial primetime structure that we have now. More importantly, it is not for the masa. They should have positioned it for one hour during the weekend back-to-back with Pedro Penduko.
Verdict: Better than Panday and the PEX people will love it (burgis kasi sila). If it had a better cast, I might forgive the script. Aubrey Miles as the villainess is inspired. It will be watchable until the start of Week 3. Diether sucks bigtime.