Science Ninja Team Gatchaman
|Science Ninja Team Gatchaman|
(Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman)
|Genre||Adventure, science fiction, mecha|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Hisayuki Toriumi|
|Produced by||Ippei Kuri|
|Written by||Jinzo Toriumi|
|Music by||Bob Sakuma|
|Original run||October 1, 1972 – September 29, 1974|
Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (科学忍者隊ガッチャマン Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman?) is a five-member superhero team that is composed of the main characters in several anime created by Tatsuo Yoshida and originally produced in Japan by Tatsunoko Productions and later adapted into several English-language versions. It is also known by the abbreviated name Gatchaman.
The original series, produced in 1972, was eponymously named Kagaku Ninja Tai Gatchaman and is most well known to the English-speaking world as the adaptation titled Battle of the Planets (1978). The series received additional English adaptations with G-Force: Guardians of Space (1986) and ADV Films' uncut 2005 release. Tatsunoko also uses the official translation Science Commando Gatchaman, as shown in numerous related products and media.
The original 1972 Kagaku Ninja Tai Gatchaman series was followed by an animated film, two sequel series, Gatchaman II (1978), and Gatchaman Fighter (1979). In the 1990s, episodes from both series were dubbed into English by Saban as Eagle Riders. In 1994, the original series was remade as a condensed OVA series.
A second feature film version of Gatchaman had been in production by Imagi Animation Studios for release in 2012, but was ultimately canceled due to the studio's financial problems. A live-action film was developed by Nikkatsu Studios and released in 2013.
- 1 Original series
- 2 Other anime series
- 3 Adaptations and changes
- 4 Live-action film adaptations
- 5 Video games
- 6 Reception
- 7 Legacy
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Recurring themes of Gatchaman involve conservation of nature, environmentalism, and responsible use of technology for progress and advancement. The series is centered around five young superhero ninja in the employ of Dr. Kōzaburō Nambu of the fictitious International Science Organization to oppose an international terrorist organization of technologically advanced villains, known as Galactor, from trying to take control of the Earth's natural resources. The operational leader of Galactor is an androgynous masked antagonist named Berg Kattse, who is later revealed to be a shape-shifting mutant hermaphrodite who acts on the orders of an alien superior, Sosai X. The most common recurring plot involved the Gatchaman team opposing giant monsters dispatched by Galactor to steal or control various natural resources (water, oil, sugar, uranium, etc.). These mechas were often animal-based. The Science Ninja Team is often aided by a mysterious squadron of combat pilots led by the enigmatic Red Impulse, who is later revealed to be Ken's father.
Most of the team were in their late teens, apart from Jinpei who was about ten or eleven. They included Ken Washio, the team leader and tactical expert; Jō Asakura, his second-in-command marksman and weapons expert; Jun, the team's electronics and demolitions expert; Jinpei, the youngest and reconnaissance expert, and adopted brother of Jun; and Ryū Nakanishi, the ship's pilot. The main characters featured always wore either teen fashions with numbered T-shirts showing their rank in the team or caped battle uniforms styled after various birds.
The Gatchaman team employed a unique style of highly violent and effective martial arts, developed by Dr. Nambu, that drew from their physical abilities to enable them to perform superhuman feats, akin to their avian namesakes, such as high-speed run and flight, high jumping, silent movement-attack and the like. This fighting system was known as "Science Ninja Technique" (科学忍法 Kagaku Ninpō?), and it is mentioned in the original Japanese lyrics of the Gatchaman theme song. The team members also used various signature weapons and mecha-style vehicles; each had a more mundane-looking disguised form. To change modes, each member is equipped with a special wrist device that, aside from being a communicator and tracking device, enabled the change when the proper gesture and voice command "Bird, Go!" was given.
Their vehicles were docked in the team's main vehicle, the God Phoenix, a supersonic plane capable of underwater travel and minor space flight as necessary. The God Phoenix was armed with an unspecified but large (roughly 30+) number of Bird Missiles that were fired from a rack system mounted atop the center section. After the original God Phoenix was destroyed by an octopus-based mecha, an improved version carried a pair of Super Bird Missiles in twin drop-down pods from the bottom center section, which could be fitted with either a warhead for attack or a manned capsule to carry a passenger for a boarding operation when it successfully impacted into an enemy vessel. The ship also could have an energy-beam weapon that was deployed by sliding, which opened the nose doors for the weapon apparatus that was mounted on the same frame holding Joe's car, but its solar power source was unreliable because of its sensitivity to any interfering cloud cover. In addition, when necessary, the plane was able to temporarily transform into a massive bird of flame like the legendary Phoenix to escape danger or as a powerful attack, although the process itself endangered the team because of the extreme pressure felt in the passenger cabin.
||It has been suggested that this section be split into a new article titled List of Gatchaman characters. (Discuss) Proposed since September 2013.|
- Ken Washio (鷲尾 健 Washio Ken?). A pilot, he is a leader of the Science Ninja Team. The word Gatchaman designates the leader of this Science Ninja Team. Ken's father disappeared while flying, but secretly became Red Impulse. As a result, Ken did not know his father while growing up, and was raised by Dr. Nambu.
- Joe Asakura (ジョー 浅倉?) is Italian of Japanese descent. A race car driver, he is a subleader of the Science Ninja Team. He was born George Asakura (ジョージ 浅倉 Jōji Asakura?), as the son to Giuseppe Asakura and his wife Caterina who were members of Galactor. Mr. and Mrs. Asakura were killed by a Galactor rose bomb when they tried to escape. Dr. Nambu rescued him, named him Jō to hide him from Galactor, and raised him as his son.
- Jun (ジュン?) is American of Japanese descent. She was raised in an orphanage and her last name is not disclosed within the anime. In her free time she enjoys riding her motorcycle and runs "Snack bar J".
- Jinpei (甚平?) was an orphan but was found by Jun and grew up with her in the same orphanage. His last name is not disclosed within the anime. He lives in "Snack bar J" with Jun.
- Ryu Nakanishi, a fisherman's son. He is the manager of a yacht harbor, and also the main pilot of God Phoenix. He is the only person in the team who has a family (parents and younger brother).
Created in the wake of the hugely successful Henshin boom started by Shotaro Ishinomori's Kamen Rider in 1971, Gatchaman was conceived as a blending of ninja adventure with science fiction elements. It was also notable as being one of the most successful anime attempts to emulate the American superhero genre with many of its conventions such as colorful costumes.
|This section requires expansion. (June 2013)|
Other anime series
A sequel was released four years later. By this time the episodes were filmed with a different color process. Resembling the Blue Hawk, the new Godphoenix is much larger and is painted with the face of a bird. Their personal mecha are upgraded also and feature similar bird-designed paint jobs. Ryu now has a tank-like mecha and has a Pilot Machine to assist him. This series picked up where the previous one left off and itself ends in a cliffhanger.
This series aired in 1979 immediately after Gatchaman II, picking up where it has left off. The team's mecha bears no resemblance to birds. Planet Earth is once again threatened by the creature that was once Sosai X, and is the cause of many more casualties compared to the two previous series.
A 1994 series reboot featuring updated character designs and altered backgrounds.
A new series based in the Gatchaman universe premiered in July 2013 on NTV. Just like the original series, it is produced by Tatsunoko. The story is set in Tachikawa City, Tokyo, and some of its inhabitants were chosen to join G-team to confront a mysterious entity known as "MESS". The series follows Hajime Ichinose, a 16-year-old girl who is the team's newest member.
Adaptations and changes
Gatchaman has aired in many countries with several languages.
The original series was shown in Japan. Later, it was exported to other countries. In Taiwan beginning in 1977, it was known as Ke Xue Xiao Fei Xia (「科學小飛俠」/“科学小飞侠” kēxué xiǎofēixiá, Scientific Flying Fantasy Warriors), which aired on the China TV network and was repeated several times.
Battle of the Planets
Sandy Frank teamed up with Jameson Brewer to air on American television in 1978, in heavily edited form, as Battle of the Planets (BOTP for short). Numerous scenes were cut and were replaced with new segments made by Gallerie International Films. These contained added characters 7-Zark-7 and his associates 1-Rover-1, and Susan in various space outposts. Other segments included the "Phoenix" flying in space. The quality of the new segments matched the original content and contained appearances of the "G-Force" and 7-Zark-7 together. New music was added and blended in with the original soundtrack. All 105 episodes were sourced, but 85 sporadic episodes were released. An animated TV Movie was made which combined several episodes into a new storyline. In this case, the violence was not cut.
G-Force: Guardians of Space
The series received a second English translation, courtesy of Turner Program Services and Fred Ladd, which was titled G-Force: Guardians of Space. The adaptation consisted of 85 episodes, spanning episodes 1-87 but skipping episodes 81 and 86. The series aired internationally beginning in 1987, but would not be aired in its entirety in the U.S until its run on Cartoon Network in 1995. While this version cut out much less of the original and had a relatively faithful translation, the voice acting and the background music (not to mention the Americanized names chosen for the characters) were widely panned.
The two sequel series, Gatchaman II and Gatchaman Fighter were combined into one and translated as Eagle Riders in 1996 by Saban Entertainment, with yet more changes to audio and character names.
North American home video releases
Battle of the Planets was released to VHS and DVD from 2001-2003 by Rhino Entertainment in 6 volumes, as well as a complete DVD collection. Select episodes from the G-Force version were included on the DVDs, and 7 more episodes were released in a "Best of Collection" in 2004, with only 13 out of 85 episodes of G-Force available on disc.
Urban Vision also released the 1994 OVA to VHS in 1997 and DVD in 2001 containing the original Harmony Gold English dub as well as the Japanese audio with English subtitles. The releases are now out of print as Urban Vision's license expired.
ADV Films released an uncut version of the original series on DVD in 2005-2006 across 18 volumes (and 9 limited edition sets) containing a new uncut English dub, as well as the Japanese audio with English subtitles. This release included all 105 episodes, with all footage left in. The dub aimed to be a faithful translation, without attempts to sanitize the show for younger viewers (meaning there is profanity and utterances of the word "kill"). All scenes have been left in as they were in the original Japanese broadcast, as well as the original opening and ending credit sequences. The ADV Films English dub contained creative changes. Profanity was added, 70s slang was added, and thick (and occasionally stereotypical) accents were put in as well.
In 2007, Sandy Frank's long-term contract with Tatsunoko Productions (owners of the Gatchaman franchise), which gave it all domestic U.S rights to the first Gatchaman series (along with its English adaptations) lapsed, which put all video releases out of print. Sentai Filmworks later formed a contract with Tatsunoko and acquired the North American home video rights to the Gatchaman franchise in 2013.  Section23 Films releases the complete collection of the series to DVD and Blu-ray on December 10, 2013. The Blu-ray set contains 14 discs on 3 Amaray cases, while the DVD set contains 22 discs on 4 Amaray cases. Both sets contains all 105 episodes of the original series (with ADV Films' English version and the Japanese audio) as well as all three OVA episodes (with an all new dub produced by Seraphim Digital with ADV's cast). In addition, the OVA was also released individually on DVD.
Team variations across different versions
|Gatchaman (and sequels)||Ken Washio||Jō Asakura||Jun||Jinpei||Ryū Nakanishi|
|Battle of the Planets||Mark||Jason||Princess||Keyop||Tiny Harper|
|G-Force||Ace Goodheart||Dirk Daring||Agatha June||Pee Wee||Hoot Owl (Hooty)|
|Eagle Riders||Hunter Harris the Hawk||Joe Thax the Falcon||Kelly Jennar the Dove||Mickey Dugan||Ollie Keeawani|
|OVA (Harmony Gold dubbed)||Ken the Eagle||Joe the Condor||June the Swan||Jimmy the Falcon‡||Rocky the Owl|
|Bird Uniform (aka Bird Style)||Eagle||Condor||Swan||Swallow||Owl|
|Weapon||Razor Sonic boomerang||Harpoon pistol, also the shuriken||Yo-yo||Bolas||Harpoon pistol, mostly fists|
|Mecha||Airplane||Race car||Motorcycle||Dune buggy||God Phoenix|
|Japanese voice actor (also applies for sequels)||Katsuji Mori||Isao Sasaki||Kazuko Sugiyama||Yoku Shioya||Shingo Kanemoto|
|Japanese voice actor (OVA)||Masaya Onosaka||Kōji Ishii||Michiko Neya||Rica Matsumoto||Fumihiko Tachiki|
|English voice actor (BOTP)||Casey Kasem||Ronnie Schell||Janet Waldo||Alan Young||Alan Dinehart|
|English voice actor (G-Force)||Sam Fontana||Cam Clarke||Barbara Goodson||Jan Rabson|
|English voice actor (OVA, Harmony Gold dubbed)||Eddie Frierson||Richard Cansino||Lara Cody||Mona Marshall||Richard Epcar|
|English voice actor (Eagle Riders)||Richard Cansino||Bryan Cranston||Heidi Noelle Lenhart||Paul Schrier|
|English voice actor (ADV/Sentai dubbed)||Leraldo Anzaldua||Brian Jepson||Kim Prause||Luci Christian||Victor Carsrud|
‡Although he was obviously the Swallow, Jimmy called himself the Falcon.
Other character variations across different versions
|Gatchaman||Male scientist||President of ISO||Mystery pilot||Enemy commander (Gatchaman)||Enemy leader||Announcer||Enemy commander (Gatchaman II)||Female scientist|
|Gatchaman||Kōzaburō Nambu-hakase||Andāson-shachō no ISO||Reddo Imparusu / Kentaro Washio||Bergu Kattse||Sōsai X||Gel Sadra||Sylvie Pandora hakase|
|Battle of the Planets||Chief Anderson||President Kane||Colonel Cronos||Zoltar||Luminous One / Great Spirit||(no appearance)||(no appearance)|
|Guardians of Space||Dr. Benjamin Brighthead||Commander Todd Anderson||Red Impulse/Kendrick Goodheart||Galactor||Computor||(no appearance)||(no appearance)|
|Eagle Riders||Dr. Thaddeus Keane||Anderson||Harley Harris||Lukan||Cybercom||Mallanox||Dr. Francine Aikens|
|OVA (Harmony Gold dubbed)||Dr. Kōzaburō Nambu||Director Anderson||Red Specter||Solaris||Lord Zortek||(no appearance)||(no appearance)|
|ADV/Sentai English dubbing||Dr. Nambu||Director Anderson||Red Impulse||Lord Berg Katse||Leader X||Gel Sadra||Dr. Sylvie Pandora|
|Japanese voice actors||Tōru Ōhira||Teiji Ōmiya||Mikio Terashima||Nobuo Tanaka||Hideo Kinoshita
|Masaru Ikeda||Miyuka Ieda|
|English voice actors (BOTP)||Keye Luke||William Woodson (with Alan Young)|
|English voice actors (G-Force)||Jan Rabson/Gregg Berger||Jan Rabson/Gregg Berger||Cam Clarke||Bill Capizzi||Jan Rabson/Gregg Berger||Norm Prescott|
|Japanese voice actors (OVA)||Ikuya Sawaki||Kaneto Shiozawa||Nobuo Tanaka|
|English voice actors (OVA Harmony Gold dub)||Michael McConnohie||R. Martin Klein||Ralph Votrais|
|English voice actors (Eagle Riders)||Greg O'Neill||(character mentioned by name only)||Peter Spellos||R. Martin Klein||Lara Cody|
|ADV/Sentai English dubbing||Andy McAvin||Marty Fleck||John Tyson||Edwin Neal||Winston Parish||George Manley|
Other notable changes
|Variations||Gatchaman (Japanese)||Battle of the Planets||Guardians of Space||Eagle Riders||OVA (English, Harmony Gold)||Gatchaman (English)|
|Identity change command||Bird, go!‡||Transmute!||G-Force, transform!||Eagle Mode, now!||
|Enemy civilization||Galactor (Gyarakutā)||Spectra||Galactor||Vorak||Galactor||Galactor|
‡The original Japanese-language version of Gatchaman features a limited number of words in English.
Live-action film adaptations
Imagi film (canceled)
Imagi began development of a film in 2004. Producer Tom Gray shared that the Imagi release will have a PG-13 rating, possibly pushing toward R. When plans for a Gatchaman film were first announced in February 2006, it was with an expected 2008 release. Kevin Munroe (TMNT) was scheduled to write and direct, with Lynne Southerland (co-director of Mulan 2) as producer, and had begun initial treatment. However, in 2008, Munroe was taken off the project to direct Dylan Dog. Early script treatments were written by Paul Dini, but in fall 2007, he was released from the project. In June 2007, it was announced that Robert Mark Kamen was signed to write the screenplay in preparation for a 2008 release.
At the July 2008, Comic-Con, Imagi shared a Paul Dini-scripted trailer. In August, art director Felix Ip began posting screen-shots from the trailer. In July 2009, at the Anime Expo, Imagi shared another 45-second teaser trailer as scripted by Dini, which did not reveal much of the plot, but it acted to allow the first public look at the new 3D characterizations of the main villain Galactor and the Gatchaman team both in and out of costume. The trailer also shared the film's theme with juxtaposed text that stated, "A world in chaos, an alien evil, a lone warrior is found; Earth's last hope, five shall rise, Gatchaman." In July 2010, Imagi posted a new 1-minute teaser trailer of Gatchaman on its company Web site, with a release date stating 2011 at its conclusion.
In December 2009, auditors reported a growing concern qualification toward the half-year results posted by Imagi. The company had reported that it was on course for release of Astro Boy, but the audit firm said, "It is uncertain whether the group will have the necessary financial resources to complete [the films] Gatchaman, Tusker, and Cat Tale." Then, in January 2009, the auditing firm officially announced that the studio lacked funding to complete the release of Tusker, Cat Tale, and Gatchaman, even though Felix Ip had reported that Gatchaman's release was expected later in 2009. In June 2009, Imagi opened Gatchaman to licensing partners and announced a planned 3-D theatrical release for 2011. On December 11, 2009, Imagi's Hong Kong-based parent company Imagi International Holdings Limited laid off 100 employees, but in January 2010, it announced that the Gatchaman project would be delivered in 100% stereoscopic 3D. However, in order to safeguard working capital, it would be closing its U.S. subsidiaries. The U.S .closure was finalized in late January with the layoff of approximately 30 staffers and the retaining of a few key personnel who would continue to work as consultants as Imagi sought $30 million from investors to continue its animation projects. In February 2010, the parent company laid off another 300 employees, calling the layoffs temporary as it sought new investors.
On June 21, 2011 Imagi announced in their annual report that the Gatchaman film project was officially cancelled.
Nikkatsu live-action film
Nikkatsu Studios produced a live action version of Gatchaman for Japan, released in August, 2013.
|This section requires expansion. (June 2013)|
- Ken, Jun and Berg appear as playable characters in Tatsunoko Fight.
- Ken and Jun appear as playable fighters in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes.
- Joe joins Ken and Jun in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars.
|This section requires expansion. (June 2013)|
Gatchaman helped establish the convention of the five member hero team that has been emulated in later series, most notably the successful tokusatsu Super Sentai franchise (a genre exemplified by the English series adaptation of the Power Rangers franchise many years later); in fact, the Sentai series Chōjin Sentai Jetman was in many ways a homage to Gatchaman.
- In 2000, NTT East produced two animated and two live-action television commercials for their ISDN service with a more updated version of Gatchaman, featuring members of the J-Pop boy group SMAP.
- The third episode of Sket Dance has Jun as a playable character in a re-enactment of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom.
- One of the characters' faces appears in episode 252 of the Gin Tama anime.
- Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog comic series parodied Gatchaman in the issue Sonic Super Special issue 12.
- A parody of Gatchaman was used in the cartoon Megas XLR as the S-Force who appeared in two episodes.
- Joe is referenced in the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG card "Swift Birdman Joe".
- In 2008, Gatchaman characters appeared in two crossover segments with Yatterman. One segment contains Doronjo who is jealous of Jun's popularity. In the other segment, Boyacky serves The Science Ninja Team and Dr. Nambu in a restaurant. After they finish their soup, they intentionally leave without paying.
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||This article uses bare URLs for citations, which may be threatened by link rot. (December 2013)|
- Science Ninja Team Gatchaman at the Internet Movie Database
- Kagaku Ninja-Tai Gatchaman (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia