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5.0 out of 5 stars ADV Gatchaman gels. Don't miss "Gluttonous Monstor Ibukron", September 5, 2005
This review is from: Gatchaman, Vol. 2: Meteors and Monsters (DVD)
Gatchaman, Five extraordinary ninjas with brilliantly colored bird style uniforms work to thwart the bad guys, Gallactor, headed by a driven megalomaniac bent on taking over earth with giant mechas.

Gatchaman emphasizes teamwork between equals in the goal of saving the world, and it has set many historical precedents in the world of anime and animation around the world. Notably, the five-member world-saving team, the team individuals' vehicles coming together into one vehicle, metamorphosing mechas, girl warriors (good AND bad), and piloted giant robots (after a fashion). The members of the team speak their minds and give of their expertises to the common goal of defeating the bad guys.

This second volume is what really sold me on the new ADV releases of Gatchaman. This anime classic is restored beautifully. The voices deliver the story well and convey the team spirit born of the original Gatchaman series. Voice acting can make or break a series, and in this case, the voices bring out the best in Gatchaman.

The voice acting and scripts bring today's culture to the ADV release in the form of a variety of phrases used in hip lingo throughout the years since 1978 when this series was introduced to the U.S. as Battle of the Planets. This lingo is used appropriately and sparingly to give the story savvy without dating it.

The episode that really sold me on the Gatchaman series (I grew up with Battle of the Planets) was the last episode (#12) of this volume, "The Gluttonous Monstor Ibukron". For Mystery Science Theatre 3000 fans (MST3K), this one almost lampoons itself. I fell in love with it and wondered if it was really the best one or if I had missed something in the eleven episodes before it.

I had missed elements of the previous eleven episodes, notably the addition of all the hip language, but #12 really did have some humorous elements unique to it.

Gatchaman appeared in the United States first as Battle of the Planets by Sandy Frank in 1978, as well as around the world. It was far different than any cartoon that was aired at that time: The art was 3-D and the characters were drawn more like real people than the stylized caricatures that comprised American cartoons. The American version had high-profile voice actors who gave the stories a lot of spice.

Unfortunately, BOTP suffered at the hands of cartoon censorship in America. At the time, there seemed to be a debate on whether cartoons were too violent for children to watch. TV censorship required shows shown for children to restrict violent scenes (other American cartoons such as Looney Toons were uncensored, and many of them had one violent scene per minute). Thus, Gatchaman was a bit chopped up before it was showed as BOTP.

Another element was also added to BOTP, the robot, 7-Zark-7, which was not in the original Gatchaman series. Zark was the narrator for BOTP, and he always explained that the violence (that was inextricably left in the show) was not as destructive as it looked, that there were no people hurt as the landscape was laid waste. I never believed it, and neither did many others who watched.

In contrast to Battle of the Planets, though, the new ADV releases had scripts which stayed truer to the original Gatchaman stories. The voice actors for the ADV releases do not try to match the original Gatchaman nor the American Battle of the Planets, and it shouldn't. The actors were well selected, and their performances do well for the show. Fans of one will recognize the other show, but each of Gatchaman and Battle of the Planets series is unique and worth watching in its own right, BOTP for its foibles as well as its strengths.
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