Science Ninja Team Gatchaman
|Science Ninja Team Gatchaman|
(Kagaku Ninja-tai Gatchaman)
|Genre||Adventure, science fiction, mecha Superhero|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Hisayuki Toriumi|
|Produced by||Ippei Kuri|
|Written by||Jinzō Toriumi|
|Music by||Bob Sakuma|
|Original network||Fuji TV (original broadcast)|
|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 Japanese animated franchise about a five-member superhero team created by Tatsuo Yoshida and produced by Tatsunoko Productions. The original anime series, which debuted in 1972, was eponymously entitled Kagaku Ninja Tai Gatchaman and is best known in the English-speaking world as the adaptation entitled Battle of the Planets (1978). The series had 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 in related products and media.
The original Kagaku Ninja Tai Gatchaman series was followed by an animated film and two direct sequel series, Gatchaman II (1978) and Gatchaman Fighter (1979). During the 1990s, episodes from both series were dubbed into English by Saban as Eagle Riders.
In the years since, the franchise has spawned many different productions, some that were left unproduced or evolved significantly from its development. This includes a 1994 original animated video remake, a cancelled 2011 animated film reboot by Imagi Animation Studios, a 2013 Japanese live-action film reboot by Nikkatsu Studios, various spinoffs, re-imaginings, and merchandise.
- 1 Original series
- 2 Other anime series
- 3 Film adaptations
- 4 Character variations
- 5 Video games
- 6 Reception
- 7 Legacy
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Recurring themes of Gatchaman involve conservation, environmentalism and the responsible use of technology for progress. The series centers around five young superhero ninja employed by Kōzaburō Nambu of the fictitious International Science Organization to oppose an international terrorist organization of technologically advanced villains (Galactor) who are trying to control Earth's natural resources. The leader of Galactor is an androgynous, masked antagonist named Berg Kattse, who is later revealed to be a shape-shifting, mutant hermaphrodite acting on the orders of an alien superior (Sosai X). The most-common plot involves the Gatchaman team opposing giant monsters dispatched by Galactor to steal (or control) natural resources such as water, oil, sugar and uranium. These mechas are often animal-based. The Science Ninja Team is often aided by a squadron of combat pilots led by the enigmatic Red Impulse, who is later revealed as Ken's father.
Most of the team are in their late teens, except for Jinpei (who is about ten or eleven years old). They include 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 the reconnaissance expert, an adopted brother of Jun, and Ryū Nakanishi, the ship's pilot. The main characters wear teen clothing with T-shirts numbered to show their rank in the team or caped, birdlike battle uniforms.
The Gatchaman team employ a unique style of violent, effective martial arts (developed by Dr. Nambu) drawing on their ability to perform feats similar to their avian namesakes, such as high-speed running and flight, high jumping and silent attacks. This fighting system, known as Science Ninja Technique (科学忍法 Kagaku Ninpō), is mentioned in the Japanese lyrics of the Gatchaman theme. The team members also use signature weapons and mecha-style vehicles, each with a mundane, disguised form. To change modes, each member is equipped with a wrist device that, in addition to communications and tracking, enables a change when the proper gesture and voice command ("Bird, go!") is given.
Their vehicles are docked in the team's main vehicle: the God Phoenix, a supersonic plane capable of underwater travel and space flight. The God Phoenix is armed with Bird Missiles, which are fired from a rack mounted atop the center section. After the original God Phoenix is destroyed by an octopus mecha, an improved version carries a pair of Super Bird Missiles in twin drop-down pods on the bottom center section. The ship also has an energy-beam weapon which opens the nose doors for the weapon apparatus mounted on the frame holding Joe's car; however, its solar power source is unreliable because of its sensitivity to cloud cover. The plane can also temporarily transform into a massive bird of flame (like the legendary phoenix) to escape danger or attack, although the process endangers the team because of extreme pressure in the passenger cabin.
- Ken, the Eagle
- Ken Washio (鷲尾 健 Washio Ken), a pilot, is a leader of the Science Ninja Team. "Gatchaman" designates the team leader. Ken's father disappeared during a flight, becoming Red Impulse. Ken did not know his father, and was raised by Dr. Nambu.
- Joe, the Condor
- Joe Asakura (ジョー 浅倉) is an Italian of Japanese descent. A race car driver, he is a sub-leader of the team. Joe was born George Asakura (ジョージ 浅倉 Jōji Asakura), the son of Giuseppe Asakura and his wife Caterina (members of Galactor, who were killed by a Galactor rose bomb when they tried to escape). Dr. Nambu rescued the boy, named him Jō to hide him from Galactor and raised him as his son.
- Jun, the Swan
- Jun (ジュン) is an American of Japanese descent. Raised in an orphanage, her last name is not disclosed in the anime. In her free time, she enjoys riding her motorcycle and runs Snack Bar J.
- Jinpei, the Swallow
- Jinpei (甚平) was also an orphan, and grew up with Jun. His last name is not disclosed in the anime either, and he lives in Snack Bar J with Jun.
- Ryu, the Owl
- Ryu Nakanishi, a fisherman's son, is the manager of a yacht harbor and the main pilot of God Phoenix. He is the only person in the team who has a family (parents and a younger brother).
Created in the wake of the Henshin (transformation) boom begun by Shotaro Ishinomori's Kamen Rider in 1971, Gatchaman was conceived as a blending of ninja adventure with science fiction. It was one of the most successful anime attempts to emulate the American superhero genre, with many of its conventions (such as colorful costumes).
In 1978, Tatsunoko released a condensed theatrical compilation of the first two story archs in the series with additional new animation.
After its broadcast in Japan, Gatchaman was later exported to other countries and translated into several languages. 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).
The original series has seen several English adaptations with varying levels of modifications. Many of these versions later spawned foreign language releases of their own:
Battle of the Planets
Sandy Frank and Jameson Brewer syndicated the series on American television in 1978, in heavily edited form, as Battle of the Planets (BOTP). A number of scenes were replaced with new segments by Gallerie International Films, with additional characters: 7-Zark-7 and his associates, 1-Rover-1 and Susan, in a number of space outposts. Other segments included the Phoenix flying in space. The quality of the new segments did not match the original content, with the G-Force and 7-Zark-7 appearing together. New music by Hoyt Curtin was blended with the original soundtrack. Although all 105 episodes were used as sources, 85 sporadic episodes were released. An animated TV movie was made, combining several episodes into a new storyline. In 2003, Sandy Frank announced a series of 8 compilation films that ultimately went unreleased.
Battle of the Planets was released on VHS and DVD from 2001 to 2003 by Rhino Entertainment in six volumes and a complete DVD collection. The DVDs included a subtitled version of the corresponding Japanese episodes, alongside a single episode of the latter English adaptation, G-Force. When Sentai Filmworks acquired the rights to Gatchaman in 2014, Battle of the Planets became available to stream on The Anime Network and temporarily on Hulu.
Battle of the Planets: Phoenix Ninjas
Battle of the Planets: Phoenix Ninjas (working title) is an upcoming original animated reboot produced by Nelvana, d-rights and Tatsunoko tentatively scheduled for release in 2017. Aimed at 6-11 year old boys, the project was conceived when d-rights expressed interest in Nelvana rebooting the franchise after the success the three saw with the second generation of Beyblade.
G-Force: Guardians of Space
With Battle of the Planets ending its syndicated run and broadcast standards becoming more lax, a second English translation from Turner Program Services and Fred Ladd, by license of Sandy Frank, was produced. Entitled G-Force: Guardians of Space, this 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 air in its entirety in the U.S until its run on Cartoon Network in 1995. Although this version was less heavily edited and had a relatively faithful translation, the voice acting, background music and the Americanized character names were criticized.
A single episode from G-Force was included as a bonus on Rhino's individual Battle of the Planets DVDs released through 2001 and 2003. Seven more episodes were released in a 2004 best-of collection, making 13 out of the show's 85 episodes available on disc.
Battle of the Planets: The New Exploits of G-Force
Development began for an uncensored version of Battle of the Planets. An animated TV movie was made (Battle of the Planets: The Movie, featuring David Bret Edgen as Zark), combining several episodes into a new storyline. In 2003, Sandy Frank announced a series of 8 compilation films that ultimately went unreleased. Sandy Frank announced a third English adaptation of the series in 2003 that was also never released. Battle of the Planets: The New Exploits of G-Force was set to be a 52 episode series encompassing content from the first 85 episodes of Gatchaman, the 20 previously unlocalized ones, and new CG animation produced by JulesWorld (including 7-Zark-7). The series would have been recorded at Ocean Studios in Vancouver, Canada and would've featured a new score and script to help modernize the show and create a tone in-between the two prior adaptations. While never released, the twenty-second episode of Gatchaman was adapted into a pilot called "The Sea Dragon." It received two forms: one that focused on adventure and action and another that focused on comedy. At the time, this rendition of the show was sold as Battle of the Planets: The New Adventures of G-Force.
At Anime Central 2004, ADV Films announced that they had acquired the rights to release the series. From 2005–2006, the company released 18 volumes (and nine limited-edition sets) containing a new uncut English dub recorded in Texas and Japanese audio with English subtitles under the name Gatchaman. This release included all 105 episodes. The dub aimed to be a faithful translation, without attempts to modify the show for younger viewers (including profanity and the word "kill"). The English dub contained creative changes: profanity, 1970s slang and thick, occasionally stereotypical accents were added.
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 and its English adaptations, lapsed and all video releases were out of print. Sentai Filmworks, a company founded by the creators of ADV, later signed a contract with Tatsunoko, acquiring the North American home-video rights to the Gatchaman franchise in 2013. Section23 Films released a complete collection of the series on DVD and Blu-ray on December 10, 2013. The Blu-ray set contains 14 discs in three keep cases, and the DVD set has 22 discs in four cases. Both sets contain all 105 episodes of the original series (with the ADV Films English version and Japanese audio).
Other anime series
A sequel, filmed with a different color process, was released four years later. Resembling the Blue Hawk, the new God Phoenix is larger and painted with the face of a bird. The personal mecha are also upgraded, with similar bird-designed paint jobs. Ryu has a tank-like mecha and a Pilot Machine to assist him.
Episodes from this series and Gatchaman Fighter were combined and translated into English as Eagle Riders in 1996 by Saban Entertainment, with changes in audio and character names. Another release in South Korea is Eagle 5 Brothers (독수리 5 형제, Dokksuri Hyeongje) which does not contain unusual changes in audio. Instead, it contains visual changes.
This series aired in 1979, immediately after Gatchaman II. Here, the team's mecha bear no resemblance to birds. Earth is again threatened by the former Sosai X, who inflicts many more casualties than he did in the two previous series.
Urban Vision released it on VHS in 1997 and DVD in 2001 with an English dub produced by Harmony Gold and Japanese audio with English subtitles. In 2013, Sentai Filmworks licensed the series and produced a new English dub from Seraphim Digital with the same cast as their ADV/Sentai's releases of the original series and film. The new dub was released on DVD and Blu-Ray and is available for streaming on The Anime Network.
New Gatchaman (新ガッチャマン Shin Gatchaman) is a project that was attempted around the same time that the new version of Speed Racer X was made. This version of Speed Racer was not so successful and as a result, it was canceled along with the project of Gatchaman '98.
Good Morning Ninja Team Gatchaman
In 2011, Tatsunoko produced a series of 200 two-minute flash animated shorts called Good Morning Ninja Team Gatchaman (おはよう忍者隊ガッチャマン Ohayō Ninja-Tai Gatchaman) for broadcast on NTV's Zip! television series. While the series used the original's designs, it was more comedic in nature and featured none of the original actors. The characters were instead voiced by Scha Dara Parr's Bose and Ani, along with actor Tomu Miyazaki.
A reboot of the Gatchaman series premiered in July 2013 on NTV. The story is set in Tachikawa City, Tokyo, where some of its residents have been chosen to join a 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. A second season, titled Gatchaman Crowds insight, started airing on July 6, 2015.
As it aired in Japan, both seasons of the show were simulcasted on Crunchyroll. Sentai Filmworks licensed and dubbed both seasons. They released them on home video between 2014 and 2016.
Super deformed animal versions of the Gatchaman team appeared alongside similar renditions of Tatsunoko's Casshan and Golden Lightan in Tachimals Theater (たちゅまる劇場 Tachumaru Gekijō). The 26-episode anime series ran on Yomiuri TV between from October 4, 2010 and March 28, 2011.
On March 26, 2016, Tatsunoko announced a collaboration with Digital Frontier to create the Infini-T Force 3DCG anime project. The team features members from Gatchaman alongside Tekkaman, Casshan and Hurricane Polymar. Set for release in 2017 alongside Tatsunoko's 55th Anniversary, the project will contain an original story and won't be an adaptation of Ukyō Kodachi and Tatsuma Ejiri's Infini-T Force: Writing Line of the Future (Infini-T Force 未来の描線 Infini-T Force ~Mirai no Byōsen~) manga series. 
Canceled Imagi film
Imagi began developing a film version in 2004, with producer Tom Gray saying that it would have a PG-13 or R rating. A Gatchaman film was first announced in February 2006, 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 an initial treatment was begun. However, in 2008 Munroe was taken off the project to direct Dylan Dog. Although early scripts were written by Paul Dini, in fall 2007 he was released from the project. In June 2007, Robert Mark Kamen was signed to write the screenplay in preparation for a 2008 release.
At the July 2008 Comic-Con, Imagi introduced a Paul Dini-scripted trailer. In August, art director Felix Ip began posting screenshots from the trailer. At the July 2009 Anime Expo, Imagi shared another 45-second, Dini-scripted trailer. Although it did not reveal much plot, it was the first public look at the 3D characterizations of the main villain Galactor and the Gatchaman team in and out of costume. The trailer also introduced the film's theme: "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 one-minute trailer for Gatchaman on its company website, with a release date of 2011.
In December 2009, auditors reported growing concerns with the half-year results posted by Imagi. Although the company said that it was on course for the release of Astro Boy, according to the audit firm "It is uncertain whether the group will have the necessary financial resources to complete [the films] Gatchaman, Tusker, and Cat Tale." In January 2009 the auditing firm announced that the studio lacked funding for the release of Tusker, Cat Tale and Gatchaman, although Felix Ip reported that Gatchaman was expected to be released later in 2009. In June 2009, Imagi opened Gatchaman for licensing and announced a planned 3-D theatrical release in 2011. On December 11, 2009 Imagi's Hong Kong-based parent company, Imagi International Holdings Limited, laid off 100 employees. In January 2010 it announced that although the Gatchaman project would be delivered in 100-percent stereoscopic 3D, to safeguard working capital it would close its U.S. subsidiaries. The U.S. closure was finalized in late January, with about 30 staffers laid off and a few key personnel continuing as consultants as Imagi sought $30 million from investors for 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 its annual report that the Gatchaman film project was cancelled.
Nikkatsu Studios produced a live-action version of Gatchaman for Japan, which was released in August 2013.
Team variations in 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 "Aggie" June||Pee Wee||Hoot "Hooty" Owl|
|Eagle Riders||Hunter Harris the Hawk||Joe Thax the Falcon||Kelly Jennar the Dove||Mickey Dugan the Swallow||Ollie Keeawani the Owl|
|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 to 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/David Jolliffe||Janet Waldo||Alan Young||Alan Dinehart/Ronnie Schell|
|English voice actor (G-Force)||Sam Fontana||Cam Clarke||Barbara Goodson||Jan Rabson/Gregg Berger|
|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 Lenhart||Paul Schrier|
|English voice actor (ADV/Sentai dubbed)||Leraldo Anzaldua||Brian Jepson||Kim Prause||Luci Christian||Victor Carsrud|
‡Although he was the Swallow, Jimmy called himself the Falcon.
Other character variations in 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||Commander Zoltar||Luminous One / Great Spirit||(no appearance)||(no appearance)|
|G-Force||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 / Kentaro Washio||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/Shūsei Nakamura||Masaru Ikeda||Miyuka Ieda|
|English voice actors (BOTP)||Alan Dinehart||Michael Rye||Keye Luke||Keye Luke||Keye Luke||William Woodson (Main) / Alan Young (Zark)|
|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||Yonehiko Kitagawa||Unshō Ishizuka||Kaneto Shiozawa||Nobuo Tanaka|
|English voice actors (OVA Harmony Gold dub)||Michael McConnohie||Michael Forest||Bob Papenbrook||R. Martin Klein||Ralph Votrais|
|English voice actors (Eagle Riders)||Greg O'Neill||Peter Spellos||R. Martin Klein||Lara Cody|
|ADV/Sentai English dubbing||Andy McAvin||Marty Fleck||John Tyson||Edwin Neal||Winston Parish||George Manley|
|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 few words in English.
|This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (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, and Joe joins Ken and Jun in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars.
|This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (June 2013)|
Gatchaman helped establish the convention of the five-member hero team emulated in later series, notably in the successful tokusatsu Super Sentai franchise (a genre exemplified by the English series adaptation of the Power Rangers franchise many years later). The Sentai series Chōjin Sentai Jetman was, in many ways, a homage to Gatchaman.
Guest appearances and pop culture references
- In 1994, the Science Ninja Team and Dr. Nambu appeared in a crossover OVA, Time Bokan: Royal Revival.
- In 2000, NTT East produced two animated and two live-action television commercials for their ISDN service with an updated version of Gatchaman, featuring members of the J-Pop boy group SMAP.
- They appeared in several episodes of the 2008 reboot of Yatterman as background characters and played a minor speaking role in the hour-long "Episode 12.5" TV special.
- The third episode of Sket Dance has Jun as a playable character in a re-enactment of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom.
- The face of one of the characters appears in episode 252 of the Gin Tama anime.
- Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog comic series parodied Gatchaman in Sonic Super Special, Issue #12.
- A parody of Gatchaman was used in the cartoon Megas XLR as the S-Force, appearing in two episodes.
- Joe is the reference of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG card, "Swift Birdman Joe".
- The Ame-Comi version of Batgirl has a costume with design similarities to the Gatchaman costume. She is also equipped with Batarangs that look identical to Ken the Eagle's Birdrangs.
- The character of Lord Viper in the 90s cartoon King Arthur and the Knights of Justice appears to be based on the design of Spectra foot soldiers.
- A silhouette of one of the characters appears on the poster of the Michael Keaton dramedy, Birdman.
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