As Battle of the Planets
(syndication, 1978), the Japanese series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman
(1972) helped to build an audience for anime in America. For Battle
, the original 105 episodes were recut to 85, with much of the violence deleted from the fight scenes. New animation featuring the comic robot 7-Zark-7 linked what remained. Turner Broadcasting recut the series into 85 different episodes, restoring much of the violence and eliminating Zark for G-Force
(Cartoon Network, 1995). The Gatchaman
collections present the series in its original form.
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
In the 21st century, the evil organization Galactor has its sights set on global conquest. Their use of tyrannical terrorism and high-tech mayhem has the world in the clutches of fear! The only thing standing in the way of complete global dominance is the International Science Organization (ISO) and its chief scientist, Professor Kazaburou Nambu. Dr Nambu's primary weapon in the fight for freedom is his top secret experiment, the five kids who make up the Science Ninja Team. Bird, go!