Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ripping Off Lobo

Yes, the obvious reference to that current top-rating series on Philippine television right now. Or at least, what some fans actually assert when confronted with the question of whether the Piolo Pascual-Angel Locsin love team actually works. But that is not the focus of this entry.

Perhaps the oft-used word in the literary circle, and the critics that abound hounding those who can write (though most critics are also writers) is the word rip-off. That is something quite common with juvenile writers (read: Those who just discovered their passion for writing, prose or poetry. I do not really fancy calling them young writers since some writers actually started late in their life.), and writers for television.

Rip-offs are those works which literally rip off parts of many stories and piece them together - revising in the process the names, settings and sometimes situations but nonetheless retaining the organic idea of that which was ripped off - to form a cohesive material, which at first glance appears to be original.

The recent episodes of Lobo -- allegedly patterned after the film Blood and Chocolate (Olivier Martinez, Hugh Dancy, Agnes Bruckner) and that Korean soap Forbidden Love -- struck me as very similar to something I have read before. The familiarity was at first very subtle, until the recent episodes last week.

The observant ones who watch Lobo and who, at the same time, have read that great novel series of J.K. Rowling -- yes, the Harry Potter series -- would clearly see that the recent developments of Lobo is a rip-off from the later installments: specifically, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows.

Obviously, I cannot hide anymore that I am one of the biggest fans of the Harry Potter series - the books, not the films though I loved Alfonso Cuaron's adaptation of the Prisoner of Azkaban.

But I digress.

First, the evaluation.

In the world where No. 12 Grimmauld Place exists, the people are divided between the Muggles (non-magic folks) and the witches and wizards. However, the magical folks are further divided into the purebloods, the half-bloods (sired by a Muggle and a magical person) and the Muggleborns (sired by Muggles, but have magical powers; also called Mudbloods, an insult). In the magical world, there are also Squibbs (those born of magical lineage but have no powers, as in nada, zilch, kaput).

This is the first subtle difference. In the world where Luna and the Waya exist, the people are divided between the ordinary people and the lobo (werewolf). The lobo is also divided into the puti (white) and the itim (black). The whites are the purebloods, the blacks are the tainted ones (half-blood, Muggleborns/Mudbloods) who became werewolves when they were either bitten and contaminated by a werewolf, or a white one who tasted blood and therefore became tainted.

Now, the recent development in Lobo made me realize that the dynamics now in the said series is like that between the Order of the Phoenix of Albus Dumbledore (in my mind, Lady Elle of Lobo) and the Death Eaters of Voldemort (Anton).

(If you have not yet finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, stop now! Possible spoilers ahead!)

Here's how.

After Anton was able to take possession of the Batong Remus (by the way, the protagonist werewolf in the Harry Potter series was named Remus Lupin), he suddenly had this incredible desire to become the most powerful werewolf. Still a subtle rip-off.

However, when he used a mark to identify himself, he called it Marka ng Kamatayan (the Death Mark that Voldemort magically tattoos on the arms of his followers, the Death Eaters), I could not help but snigger. The temerity of the writers of Lobo is so laughable; they did not even change the name of the mark but merely translated it to Filipino.

Nonetheless, let us continue. Like Voldemort, Anton's main goal is to rule the world with the werewolves as the superior species with him to lead all of them. This is the same insane aspiration of Voldemort: to be the most powerful wizard who will rule the wizards and witches and to enslave the Muggles.

It does not stop there.

Anton's plan was discovered by Ylvana (played by Timmy Cruz), a very idealistic and powerful white werewolf who believes that the whites are more superior and powerful than the blacks. She confronted Anton, who is a black werewolf, a half-blood just like Voldemort. However, when Anton completely reveals his plan and the power he possesses because of the Remus stone, Ylvana was seduced by the power and the idea of werewolf domination.

This is reminiscent of Bellatrix Lestrange, a pureblood witch in the Harry Potter world, who believed that the purebloods are more superior than the half-bloods and the Muggleborns. She was also seduced by the power of Voldemort and his seemingly unparalleled power. When she vowed her allegiance to Voldemort she was marked with the Death Mark on her arms (Just like the Marka ng Kamatayan on Ylvana's arm).

Here is another rip-off.

The character development of Gabby (played by Shaina Magdayao) is the same as that of Severus Snape. Yes, the friend of Lily Evans Potter who also fell for her; though the same was unrequited because Lily fell in love with James Potter. Lily and Severus lived in the same neighborhood and were best friends during their years in Hogwarts. In Lobo, the love triangle involves Lyka (the Huling Bantay; probably the boy-who-lived in the Harry Potter world), Noah and Gabby (who were friends in the special task force against the werewolves called Luna). Gabby (Severus) fell for Noah (Lily). However, Noah (Lily) loves Lyka (James).

Now, when Gabby discovers the conspiracy between Anton and Ylvana, Anton did not kill Gabby. Instead Anton promised Gabby that he will give her Noah so long as they help each other. The same promise Voldemort gave Severus - that Lily would be his.

Here's another one.

Trixie (Dimples Romana) is now the new Tagabantay (which I see as patterned from the character of Sibyl Trelawney, the often-touted fraud of a seer; though she managed to give two important predictions that forever intertwined the life of Harry Potter and the villain Voldemort). The importance of Trixie is now apparent since both camps are after her, though they do not know yet that the new seer is her. She may be the key for either the triumph/downfall of the Waya or the defeat/reign of Anton.

That is as far as I can piece together how Lobo's recent development is a rip-off of the later installments of the Harry Potter series.

Now to test my theory, I interpose these predictions patterned on how Harry Potter's story was concluded by J.K. Rowling.

(I tell you now, there will be more spoilers here!)

First: Gabby's apparent treachery will be discovered by Lyka, but at the end will show her true allegiance to the Wayas and her love for Noah. She will be killed by Anton. But before her death, she will tell Lyka the secret of how to defeat Anton. Just like Severus Snape.

Second: Ylvana will be killed by Nessa (Agot Isidro), the mother of Lyka. They will square off in a separate scene during the final battle. This is important since Nessa is a former Waya who turned black when she bit Anton and Ylvana is a pure Waya. The dynamics of this fight can only be anticipated as that eventful duel between Molly Weasley (Blood traitor/Muggle-lover) and Bellatrix Lestrange (Pureblood).

Third: In the final battle, Noah/Lyka (though I believe it would be Lyka) will give Anton the ultimate chance to turn good. That is by purging himself of the powers of the Remus stone which can only be achieved by a tremendous regret and repentance.

Fourth: If before the television series ends, Anton puts a part of his soul into the Remus stone (the Horcruxes in the Harry Potter series), then Noah/Lyka would have to damage it first before she can kill Anton. However, if Anton does make the Remus stone as a Horcrux, only one will destroy the stone (perhaps Lyka since she has powers unlike Noah, and the stone is more powerful than the ordinary Anton) while the other will square off with Anton.

Fifth: In the end, Anton will use his power to kill his ultimate opponent, but it will backfire. (If it is Lyka, because she now has the Remus stone for her use. If it is Noah, because he is immune from the powers of the werewolves). Thus, like Voldemort, Anton will be killed by his own power.

I do not presume that all of this will happen in the series. But if my evaluation of the series is right and the writers move to finish the series the same way as J.K. Rowling ended her novels, then these (or at least some of these) will surely happen.

Today is 24 June 2008. In two weeks, the series will end. Let us meet again then. Hehe.

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