Gatchaman

Alt title: Kagaku Ninja-Tai Gatchaman

TV (105 eps)
1972 - 1974
3.225 out of 5 from 1,013 votes
Rank #12,238

In the 21st century, the evil faction known as Galactor is set on world domination… and there’s only one group of people who can stop it: the Science Ninja Team! Under the guidance of Dr. Nambu and the International Science Organization, the team handles everything from taking down giant turtles to battling iron monsters, all in the name of justice! Go go Gatchaman! Take down the evil Galactor and save the world!

The series known as "Battle of the Planets" is a US-licensed release, made up of 85 of the original 105 episodes. The content was heavily edited to remove violence for US TV standards, and includes some new animation sequences. For more information, see the Wikipedia page.

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Reviews

ThatAnimeSnob
6

ANIME EVOLUTION SERIES Full list of the review series can be found on this page, 3rd post from bottom: http://anidb.net/perl-bin/animedb.pl?uid=251338&show=userpage&do=blog&blogid=29009&page=0TEASER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjuN5Bn-RCo&feature=relatedGatchaman is historically the show which began the shift from heroes using only huge robots, to being a team that uses martial arts and occasionally even deception. So in a way it was giving off the first signs of a much later established genre, that of the Fighting Shonen. Gatchaman can roughly be seen as the Japanese version of Batman as it established the anime superhero equipment. Although itself a copy of American superhero clichés, it was the first to feature in anime form various stereotypes in a vogue way. Colorful costumes (like Superman’s uniform and cape), special equipment/gadgets (like Batman’s belt) and secret identities (masked heroes). Practically, it orientalized the way superheroes are seen in Japan. Something between a ninja in the way of fighting, a samurai in the way of living and a yasashi teenager in the way of acting. Which, was a nice alternative to the unrealistic and almost random superpowers of the Mazinger Z formula and where the robot was getting all the spotlight while the pilots were just comedy material. Not that this anime is very realistic in its characterization but it sure tried a lot to make them more than cardboards. Also, choreographies with martial arts generally need a lot more detail and complexity to be shown properly. The overall result also looks more elaborate and vivid, as the heroes do all sorts of acrobatics and don’t just stand still and throw laser beams or missiles. They need to move in order to avoid incoming attacks instead of just scraping them off for being made out of super indestructible alloys like Mazinger Z. So you get situations where they run to avoid being hit by bullets or deflect lasers with something or jump in a higher ground so they can better counter attack with a vertical strike, even cover behind walls. This situation gave the first feel of field tactics in anime, which was completely absent in super robots. At this point I must make clear that Gatchaman are NOT the first Japanese masked superheroes that used henshin (transformation) and gadgets, as there was already Kamen Rider and the first Super Sentai (Power Rangers) airing already. But then again those were NEVER made into anime, so in a way every time you see shonen heroes or mahou shojo heroines transforming, you actually witness the brainchildren of Gatchaman’s legacy.It also the show that established the Super Sentai 5 member team in anime. You know, the kind-hearted hero in red, the silent emo-like type, the gentle, pretty girl, the fat guy and the little kid. A billion following series (mostly mecha) copied this format, from Voltes 5 , to Digimon , to even Power Rangers themselves (they were 3 at first). Again, I must point out that the above archetypes were already present in Mazinger Z but played a very secondary role. The fat guy, the kid and the girl were mostly there as support from the rear lines while here they are part of the main group, taking part in every mission and allowing more openings for character coloring and more active roles for you to care about. Some episodes are solely dedicated to each one of them and all the focus is not given to some impersonal huge robot smacking other impersonal robots. The show became a lot more humane this way with characters you could sympathize easier. It is also famous for being the only title whose names and storyline were changed completely 3 TIMES in English adaptations. All 3 of its adaptations in English, Battle of the Planets, G-Force, and Eagle Riders, have almost no relation to each other, neither in names, locations or even plot development. Those darn Americans and English people found a weird way to create 3 distinctive (and of course inferior) series, using the exactly same footage! Lord almighty, how did they do it??? At least there is the 4th release, which is 100% uncut and un-tempered so the hardcore fans can enjoy it fully. The adaptations hid all the deaths, made the robots be not in need of pilots that die when blowing up, made the voices of the characters sillier and even shoehorned extra footage with a cute comic relief robot.As always, because of restrictions in animation of that time you can easily find lots of mistakes like jerky motions, repeated footage, wrong coloring, even wrong backgrounds at some places. Also, realism is as I said still quite off as the heroes can avoid a hundred bullets by simply doing aerial flips and their airship can just go inferno and blast through everything like butter. It is also questionable if you actually like the bird-themed costumes and the crazy looking robots. In Mazinger Z they were like creatures from hell but here they look like circus freaks. Heck, I know people who laugh every time the main villain appears in his traditional uniform, with its long ear accessories and high heel boots. Also the feeling of silliness seems to increase even further when they get to upgrade their vehicles and airship. They looked simple and rather pragmatic at first but then they get them all colorful with silly birdheads and pointless extra accessories. So it’s a matter of aesthetics really. I sure didn’t mind much as a kid but today they do look like Adam West’s Batman show. Still, it feels a lot better than most following series of the 70’s. Really, I consider its animation and music amongst the best of that decade. Studio Tatsunoko Productions may never had a great overall in any of their works but they sure did wonders for the time this was made. Voice acting is decent for its time and the first opening theme is… um… questionably stupid. I mean Mazinger’s was awesome but this is … silly with those kids singing. The second song is a hundred times cooler and even got numerous rock remakes. Because it’s THAT AWESOME.The story is again quite basic and there is hardly any continuity most of the time. An evil organization tries to take control of the Earth’s natural resources by building an army of animal and monster themed giant robots. A good organization proceeds into forming a team of 5 super teenagers, specially equipped with weapons and gadgets, wearing bird-themed costumes, riding bird-themed vehicles and piloting a bird-themed aircraft to stop them!!! … Ridiculous, isn’t it? Frankly, there is nothing serious in the story. There are no realistic characters or interesting personalities, everything is one, big, fake parade of circus freaks doing monkey business… BUT! …The story itself has several interesting ideas that were hardly used in the exact same way by any other series. For instance, the arch villain is amongst the most original bad-guys I have ever witnessed. spoiler alert! He was created by an alien creature of pure energy, he can change his/her gender as he/she pleases, and he turns out to have a close relation with the good guys. As always, there are several moral messages about ecology and the misuse of technology, themes hardly used in most action series. The show was actually targeted at pre-teens and thus it aimed to inspire its audience with high ideals. And surely, at some episodes it was way too scary or violent to be considered for kids here in the West. Which, in a way is also the trademark of the director of the show to randomly throw in very adult touches in otherwise shows for children. Toriumi Hisayuki is kind of notorious at this but has produced some very good retro shows because of that, the most famous being The Mysterious Cities of Gold, Like The Clouds Like The Wind, and the most excellent Area 88 OVAs. Because of him, the pace and atmosphere varied from time to time; some episodes are pure drama (tragic pasts), some are scary thrillers (man-eating plants) and some are apocalyptic in scale (Van Allen zone destruction). It was way too gloomy most of the time for a genre that is usually cheery and aimed at kids. The characters also get some sort of basic development, such as power-ups in their equipment, the main hero’s father gets involved numerous times, and even the bad-guys develop special anti-hero squads later on to counter all that. The conclusion is also not a happy ending one as some key players get killed in very gore ways. Just don’t do the mistake of watching an old English adaptation. YOU WILL REGRET IT! I was rubbing my eyes at the sight of how watered-down in violence and comical the series was turned into. It may feel simplistic and repetitive today but it still is the root from which all following mecha and super sentai took pointers from. So regardless of you liking it or not, it has earned its place in history.And now for some excused scorings. ART SECTION: 7/10 General Artwork 2/2 (very good for its era) Character Figures 1/2 (generic) Backgrounds 1/2 (basic but fitting with the feeling of the series) Animation 2/2 (very good for its era) Visual Effects 1/2 (basic) SOUND SECTION: 7/10 Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series) Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series) Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess) STORY SECTION: 3/10 Premise 1/2 (typical) Pacing 0/2 (mostly episodic) Complexity 1/2 (not much) Plausibility 0/2 (none) Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy) CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10 Presence 2/2 (cool) Personality 2/2 (cheesy but well founded) Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there) Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there) Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there) VALUE SECTION: 7/10 Historical Value 3/3 (very important in establishing several tropes) Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too little context and plot) Memorability 3/4 (it may feel generic today but has a style most shows barely manage to acquire) ENJOYMENT SECTION: 5/10 It is cool but it tends to be very repetitive and predictable most of the time. VERDICT: 6/10

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