Due to dangers of decreasing resources and growing pollution, the International Scientific Organization is established to improve environmental conditions throughout the world. But an international criminal group, Gallactor, tries to achieve world domination by taking control of the ISO. Gallactor was created by a mysterious being from outer space known as Generalissimo X, who gives orders through its chief commander on Earth, the masked Berg katse. To fight Gallactor and its robot monsters, the ISO's Dr. Nambu enlists five brave youths into a combat squad called Gatchaman,the Science Commandos. Special scientific powers and dramatic birdlike costumes make the Gatchaman Squad a match for Gallactor, wherever on Earth it may strike. Ken(the Eagle) is the wise leader, assisted by sometimes-foolhardy Joe(the Condor), pretty Jun(the Swan), eager little Jinpei(the Swallow), and strong Ryu(the Horned Owl). Each has individual scientific weapons, but their main power lies in their aircraft, the Phoenix, which can transform itself into a fiery arrow capable of piercing the most massive threats. GATCHAMAN is a series of dynamic action and tension as ken, Joe, Jun, Jinpei, and Ryu hold themselves in constant readiness to meet each new threat by Gallactor to conquer the world.
When I heard that ADV had released G-Force/Battle of the Planets in it's entirety of all original 105 episodes completely unedited and under the original name, Gatchaman, I was overjoyed! Battle of the Planets [BOTP] was certainly all that and a bag of chips back in the day. Funny thing is, a couple of years back I attempted to revisit my childhood memories by watching Battle of the Planets again for old times sake and to my abject horror and dismay, I saw now with my adult eyes how absolutely putrid BOTP was....feel free to read my review of BOTP. Now that it's fully restored
I am going to give it another shot and see if this show is really good or not and just how much of it was butchered by Sandy Frank and the other American production companies.
~ The Art
Pretty darn old looking! There's no mistaking that this show was 100% hand-drawn! Lot's of errors and glitches in movement, little foreign objects and dust specs on the film [or art cells] Also the people looking all sorts of deformed due to disproportionate body ratios and incorrect angling. Tons and tons of looped and reused scenes. All of which I would find forgivable considering the show was made in 1972. It's still a pretty decent show visually and compared to many 80's show like Voltron, ThunderCats or Saber Riders, Gatchaman can still hold it's own. Also considering it's date once again it was still superior to it's US equivalent of show from that same era such as Scooby-Doo, Magilla Gorilla and Hong Kong Phooey [although I did think Super-Friends was the shit]
Thank Zeus, they re-did the voice cast! The biggest reason I decided to watch this show again. Listening to Casey Kasem's voice [on BOTP really got on my nerves, he sounds like he gargles with broken glass everyday....and in no way shape or form does he posses the voice of a teenager. He was the main reason I dropped the show.
The new English voices are OK, it's nothing I would normally go raving about but it's a drastic improvement from the original cast. Although this re-dubbing must have occurred fairly recently after 2000, the actors do playfully interject a lot of Groovy-Speak and Jive Talk which I thought was very funny.
What I also found funny were some of the voices of the bad guys....Like that one German villainous pilot that scene when he said “Auf Weidersehen” and disappeared into his mecha was a laugh riot. And forget about Berg Katse, I live for Berg Katse [He acts and talks like a villain from Batman [60's Adam West version] which was also pure camp.
Stright up tho, the songs for the OP and ED blow some serious chunks. The guy singing the Gatchaman Theme song sound like he's amped up on too much Mountain Dew....he's all like “YUKEEE!!! Yuke yuke GATCHAMAN!” it's so terrible it's kinda funny, check it out on youtube, you'll see what I mean and laugh too.
OK so this being an old ass anime from the Paleolithic Era, you can expect things to be rather simplistic, repetitive and somewhat hokey. I no longer look at this show with the wonder and amazement as I did as a kid, but the show is still fun to watch [in small doses...as a marathon it fails] The basic premise for this show is that the Gatchaman team are these 5 teens who go around trying to stop the pollution of the Earth, which consequently and repeatedly they end up foiling the plans of the Galactor who are these aliens intent on screwing up the planet for some odd reason. I find this funny because the tremendous irony that apparently goes unnoticed is that the whole time Gatchaman fights and blows up these giant enemy mecha they become equally culpable for the destruction and pollution of whichever the site they are trying to defend [Edit: Actually in ep. 96 someone FINALLY tells them they are equally guilty in taking part in the destruction]. So I'm a little lost on the eco-friendly thing. Also they're not too animal friendly either because in one particular episode one of the good-guys Joe, blasts a whale straight in the mouth, just like that....I know it's not funny, but I had to laugh.
The downside to all of this is that Gatchaman is a whopping 105 episodes. By episode 25 I was getting a little tired and bored because it's all basically the same story with different monsters and different members of Gatchaman being the focus for that episode....after a while it just ran in the background while I did other stuff. The last few episodes at the end of the series, like maybe after episode 90, become a bit more interesting again.
~ The Characters
You know something, when it comes to the latest controversial debate about whether anime characters look more Anglo rather than Asian....I kinda have to agree, because these guys are as Anglo-American looking as it gets. Not that I'm trying to say much about that on here so controversial topic aside, it must also be said that their overall designs were fantastic, each character was unique looking and easily distinguishable. You could easily tell who were the good guys and who were the bad guys. I also love the wardrobe and costumes of the characters. I especially like how the 5 main characters look when they are not dressed up in “Bird Mode” I love the long hair, wide belts and striped bell-bottom pants; it's a good look.
My best character award goes to two characters this time: Jinpei, the youngest member of the Gatchaman team and of course to Berg Katse the commander of the evil Galactor force. I really like Jinpei the Swallow, I think he's adorable with his little match-stick body and giant round head. He's young but he's got guts and will take on adults twice his size. He does a lot of things he's not supposed to and gets in too deep many times but once he gets that determined look on his face you know he means business and most of the time he can hold his own and doesn't need to be bailed out. Jinpei also has the coolest [IMHO] and most versatile vehicle in the group. He has a fully armored mini-tank/submarine that has robotic arms and can fly but also dig underground.
The other award goes to Berg Katse [like I said] this guy is hilarious! The words that comes out of his mouth are a trip [I really should give credit to the VA]. Also he's very clever and disguises himself as anything and anyone. The funniest things about him are the fact that he always abandons his subordinates whenever the battle goes south and they are facing oblivion also I love when he gets abusive and smacks people but he's also funny when he's groveling to his superior....which is that floating demonic head-thing [X, I think he's called]
Bishounen Hunter hottie alert: Ken the Eagle and Joe the Condor [sometimes, when the angle is right] they have that vintage 70s look with the sideburns and long hair. Ken's eyes are cute but Joe's eyes are kinda feral looking.
~ The Verdict
Compared to BOTP, Gatchaman is not too bad of a show to watch, I just think 105 episodes is a bit too much for a series that does not have a continuous story like most anime shows nowadays. The fact that the stories are rather simplistic and repetitive with most of everything being resolved at the end of an episode makes having to endure 105 episodes kinda tedious.
This is a show I would maybe recommend viewing in an episode-a-day format, but it's definitely not something to watch as a marathon, because it's too long of a series and some of the stories [and scenes] repeat frequently. But the new voice cast makes this show a hell of a lot better to watch.
In only just a few short weeks, Gatchaman has been able to establish itself as my favorite anime. It's the combination of excellent vintage animation, sound, retro- style, and over-all originality that makes it such an amazing series. There's plenty of character development along with great story telling. Even the characters make the series such a great work. Gatchaman was the series that played a huge roll in the creation and boom of Henshin tv shows. My advice to anyone is to check out this series, especially if your an old-school anime fan.