A five-member superhero team called G-Force fights to defend Earth and its space colonies from the threat of the planet Spectra.A five-member superhero team called G-Force fights to defend Earth and its space colonies from the threat of the planet Spectra.A five-member superhero team called G-Force fights to defend Earth and its space colonies from the threat of the planet Spectra.
Sandy Frank brought Tatsunoko's Science Ninja Team Gatchaman to America as Battle of the Planets. The names were changed to protect the innocent, or because they foolishly thought American kids couldn't identify with Japanese names, like Ken, Joe and June. Oh, well, Whatta ya gonna do? Instead, they became Mark, Jason, Princess, Tiny and Keeyop, with voice work from Casey Kasem, Ronnie Schell, and Janet "Judy Jetson" Waldo. To further the ties to then-popular Star Wars, a robot, 7-Zark-&, was added, with obviously inferior animation. The series was moved from Earth to outer space. People sill died occasionally, but not in as large numbers as in Gatchaman. Exploding planes and ships were always robot controlled and Spectra forces aways ejected, much like in the later GI Joe series. But what still set this apart from other animated fare was the mature storytelling.
The characters had real feelings and motivations. They sought revenge, felt jealousy and fear, had relationships, and got hurt. The battles were spectacular, even after being heavily censored. The villains were unabashedly evil, not misguided. The heroes didn't always win, at least not completely. Plus, there was character development and ongoing sub-plots. Quite a change from the Superfriends and Scooby Doo.
The main flaw with the series is the censorship and the added footage. The new animation was greatly inferior and detracted from the plot. The distributors didn't have enough faith in the viewers and felt an overwhelming need to protect them from violence; however, this audience was in love with Star Wars and wasn't afraid of a little violence. The later G-Force version stuck closer to the storyline and showed that most of the violence could be left in without being too graphic, editing only the most extreme scenes.
The series was highly influential in Japan, inspiring many imitators, including the live action Power Ranger shows. In the US, it inspired a cult following, but did little to pave the way for better animated shows, at least immediately. In later years, fans of the show would end up in the tv world and would import greater numbers of Japanese animated programs. Now, Japanese shows and manga comics account for a large segment of youth entertainment. The dvd revolution has finally brought the uncut Gatchaman, along with the altered BOTP, to American homes, through legal means, rather than bootlegs. There's even talk of a continuation of the show and/or new show. Although somewhat dated, there's still quite a bit of entertainment value here.
- Oct 5, 2003