Wisps of golden sunshine slowly begin to peek out from behind the silhouette of Henry Sy Sr. Hall; the air is ripe with a chill that only the morning could bring. At the foot of the mighty building stands Shinji Asuka (XI, CIV), wearing a bomber jacket and a proud smile. “Imagine what it’d look like when it’s ready for battle,” he says, brandishing the smallest of smirks.
Many people are unaware of the Yaiba Extraterrestrial Enhanced Transformers (YEET) protocol currently active in the University—even less know that it was even enacted, given that the project was drafted in 1978. It’s no secret that the Philippines grew enamored with the Voltes V hype back in the day. Rumor even has it that the protocol was put into place to capitalize on that boom. But when anime became banned in the country at the time, the hype eventually died, along with all hopes of DLSU’s very own Voltes V ever seeing light.
However, the construction workers assigned to the project were still ordered by some unknown powers to finish what they had begun. Thus, underneath the bright green exterior of DLSU lies the skeleton of a mighty mecha, ready to take to the skies and defend the planet from alien invasion—the Animozord. At the command of multiple pilots, the University’s buildings can shoot toward the skies and combine to form a mighty robot. The Animozord comes equipped with homing missiles, rocket fists, and a mighty sword—all for the purpose of annihilating any alien invaders that threaten to disturb Earth’s peace.
“The aliens haven’t quite come yet,” laments Shinji. “I’m…we are still waiting.”
A day in the life
Having lived in the country for a couple of years, the life Shinji enjoys today wasn’t always the norm for him. He explains that he was “persuaded” by some strange men in Uniqlo chino shorts and shades to relocate to the Philippines when he was only nine years old. “My parents simply said that I should do it and that I had no choice. Ever since then, I left Japan, and they have trained me to become the best pilot there is,” he says.
Although currently a student at the University, Shinji has taken an indefinite leave of absence, making him one of the “immortal” students left. He discloses, “They won’t let me leave until the aliens arrive. The men wearing Uniqlo even said this was my purpose in life. Still, since I was apparently bred for this, I can’t wait to fight the aliens who have doomed me to this fate.”
Since then, aside from being a mecha pilot of course, life has become a rather simple daily routine. “My trainers tell me that fitness is a key part of this job,” Shinji explains, his breaths heavy after just having finished a set of bench presses. “The machine only moves as fast as you can, so it’s important to build strength and agility.”
As the leader of the team that pilots the Animozord, Shinji’s influence has spread to members like Sora Yukusa (III, MEM-MR), who shares his belief in the importance of fitness. “Given that I also pilot the legs [of the robot], it’s important that my lower body is strong. Skipping leg day is not an option for me,” says Sora.
However, the body is not the only tool necessary in being an effective pilot. As Sosuke Bosuke (IV, BSM-FIN) attests, the responsibilities he shoulders as an Animozord pilot are no excuse for him to slack off in his academic work. “The body is only as strong as the mind,” he affirms. “Combat is decided by the speed of our wits, and it’s important to stay sharp constantly.”
Despite the passion that the team clearly has for the job, the YEET project has its fair share of detractors who criticize the project’s seeming “uselessness” in the modern day.
“There are some who say that [the project] is irrelevant just because we’re not actually fighting aliens,” discusses Higo Yoshi (I, CS). “What do they want—for us to not have Animozord and to have to build him from scratch when the aliens eventually come?”
Sora similarly complains that the critics have seemingly begun to affect how the pilots are perceived by their peers, as she notes, “I don’t think my friends really believe me when I tell them [that I pilot the legs of the Animozord]. They don’t really ask me about it, and whenever I mention it, they usually act as if they haven’t heard me.”
However, despite the naysayers, the Animozord team remains ever vigilant, sticking to their routine and preparing for when the war of the planet actually arrives. “It’s so easy for people to talk while evil aliens aren’t at their door looking to devour them,” says Shinji. “No matter what they say about us, we have to be ready for whatever is out there; after all, I have nothing else to live for.”
The prophetic coming
Apparently, a few days ago, leader Shinji suddenly emitted a great scream in his sleep, as if waking from a terrible nightmare, shouting and convulsing on the floor. “It is coming,” says Shinji, referring to a terror which could cause the war of the world. “The aliens have already begun their descent into our planet. Now they aim to destroy us all. And I have the visions to prove it.”
“The Chosen One has spoken. We must get ready to inject him into the seat of the mecha. We have prepared for this moment for many years, and alas, now the time has come,” says the Uniqlo-clad team, now all gathered at the Cory Aquino Democratic Space.
Shinji further explains, “The terrible nightmare I witnessed was the aliens’ doing, no doubt. Still, all I saw were fearsome bodies with strange shapes; they were elliptical with a lot of spiny armlike structures protruding from their base. It seemed as if they were…”
“…Hybridized Oompa Loompas!” the members exclaim in unison, reporting that “scientists from Area 52” and partner intelligence agencies had confirmed their hunches. “The aliens that would terrorize our world are not large and imposing reptilian city-destroyers like Godzilla; crafty and stealthy as they are, they sent these midgets instead. We heard they had already landed—first in Malacañang,” Sosuke reveals.
Though the DLSU community may be tempted to breathe a sigh of relief, the mecha pilots issue a stern warning: “We may not have to fight a giant alien in our giant robot anymore, but this army of strange alien species remains a looming threat. And this may yet be a more terrible fate for humanity to face.”