One of the early shows that helped to build an audience for anime in America, Battle of the Planets began in Japan as Science Ninja Team Gatchaman in 1972-74. For its 1978 U.S. release, the 105 episodes were cut to 85. Much of the violence was excised and new animation, featuring the R2-D2-esque robot 7-Zark-7 and his robo-pooch 1-Rover-1, was created to bridge the gaps. Turner Broadcasting acquired the property in 1986 and recut it into 85 different episodes. The resulting G-Force included more violence, yet it wasn't shown in its entirety in the U.S. until it aired on the Cartoon Network in 1995. This release includes all three versions, enabling viewers to compare and contrast.
In episode 1, five highly trained teenagers--incongruously clad in bird suits--tackle a giant biomorphic enemy vessel. The group executes the commands of their brilliant scientist-leader in the virtually identical Gatchaman and G-Force. When they take on the bad guys, the punches, kicks, and yo-yo weapons connect forcefully; to escape, they convert their ship, the God-Phoenix, to "Firebird Mode," an avian cloud of glowing plasma. In Battle, the quintet takes orders from the dithering, Hanna-Barbera-style Zark. The hand-to-hand combat is heavily censored and the heroes somehow turn themselves into a "Fiery Phoenix." It's campy and silly, rather than exciting. Unrated; suitable for ages 10 up. --Charles Solomon
From the Back Cover
From Tatsunoko Productions, the award-winning Japanese animation team that created Speed Racer. Rescue of the Astronauts
Attack of the Space Terrapin - Center Neptune, a world defense base, lies off the West Coast, 900 fathoms beneath the surface of the ocean. There, the precious Vitaluman is mined, an amazing one that renews the depleted soil of Earth and the other planets, and without which, all life would cease to exist. Guarding the base against attack is the invincible, transmutable G-Force: Keyop, Jason, Princess, Tiny, Mark and 7-Zark-7, their robotic protector. When Zark's scanners pick up a radio-controlled attack monster from Spectra heading for one of the Vitaluman vaults, he's baffled. Why would anyone want to steel something that's been given away free? The answer, of course, is Zoltar, who wants to control it, and thereby, the universe. And so begins the cataclysmic Battle of the Planets, with the entire galaxy hanging in the balance.
- Two astronauts find startling evidence of giant alien bases, underwater on Mars. Returning from their top-secret mission, they mysteriously disappear on re-entry. 7-Zard-7 calls in the G-Force. Their assignment: rescue the astronauts and get the taped evidence. Only problem, the astronauts have been hijacked by the aliens who don't want anyone to know about their bases, and Zoltar is their leader! G-Force locates their huge underwater headquarters and Mark transmutes into a diver to gain access. Zoltar's aliens attack with drill-like precision, finally ordering Mark to surrender or never see the astronauts again. Now the G-Force Fiery Phoenix is the only thing that stands between Mark and oblivion.