Five teen-age adventurers--Ken the Eagle, Jun the Swan, Ryu the Owl, Jinpei the Swallow, and Joe the Condor--make up the Science Ninja Team. Dressed in bird suits, these stalwart heroes fight the Galactor Group, an evil cabal bent on conquering the world. Galactor henchmen use mecha monsters to steal uranium, hurl meteors at the Earth, interrupt air travel, and, incongruously, capture the world's supply of sugar. The Ninja Scientists thwart these nefarious schemes.
Gatchaman shows its age, not only in details like Ken's shoulder-length hair and bell-bottoms, but in the stolid pacing, minimal character development, and rudimentary special effects. Gen-Xers who grew up on Battle of the Planets will love this uncut version. Among the extras are "karaoke" episodes (the dialogue appears only in subtitles, so the viewers can supply the voices) and scenes of six actors auditioning for Ken, including Leraldo Anzaldua, who got the part. (Rated TV PG, suitable for ages 8 and older: violence, occasional grotesque imagery, tobacco use) --Charles Solomon