Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (科学忍者隊ガッチャマン Kagaku Ninja Tai Gatchaman?) is a 5-member superhero team that is composed of the main characters in several Japanese 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. The title is unofficially called as G-Force (not to be confused with the subsequent 1980s English-language adaptation of Gatchaman, known as G-Force: Guardians of Space). Tatsunoko also uses the official translation Science Commando Gatchaman, as shown in numerous related products and media.
- 1 Description
- 2 Plot and character summary
- 3 Adaptations and changes
- 4 In popular culture
- 5 Episodes list
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
The original 1972 Kagaku Ninja Tai Gatchaman series was followed by two sequel series, Gatchaman II (1978) and Gatchaman F (1979). In 1994, the original series was remade as a condensed OVA series. Additionally, the original and sequel series were adapted and translated into several English-language versions, with the most well-known being Battle of the Planets. Because the English-language versions are notoriously inconsistent not only with one another but also with the original Japanese series, viewers most familiar with the English versions often experience some confusion upon re-examining the series after a long hiatus.
Created in the wake of the hugely successful Henshin boom started by Shotaro Ishinomori's Kamen Rider in 1971, this series was 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. It also established the convention of the five member hero team that has been emulated in later series, most notably the successful tokusatsu Super Sentai franchise (which was adapted into English as the Power Rangers franchise many years later); in fact, the Sentai series Chōjin Sentai Jetman was in many ways an homage to Gatchaman. 
Plot and character summary
Best described as a sci-fi action anime, 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 Bergu 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 monster mecha 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 lead by the enigmatic Red Impulse, who is later revealed to be Ken's father.
Joe Asakura is actually George Asakura. his father and mother were originally members of the Galactor organization. For an unknown reason, they decided to defect to the other side, but while waiting for Dr Nambu, they were killed by a Galactor Devil Star; only George survived because he was attacked with a rose bomb and survived, but Dr Nambu pretended he was killed by it, he brought him up from then on as his son. (By the way he is known as Joe because the Japanese-language name for George is Jōji, which is shortened by everyone to Joe).
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.
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 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.
Adaptations and changes
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”, Scientific Flying Fantasy Warriors), which aired on the China TV network and was repeated several times; then on American television in 1978, in heavily edited form, as Battle of the Planets (BOTP for short). The series was shown again on American television in 1986 and 1995 in a newly translated form as G-Force: Guardians of Space. While this version cut out much less of the original and had a much more 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, with yet more changes to audio and character names.
ADV Films released an uncut version of the series in the USA with an all-new English-language 5.1 dub, on DVD starting on June 14, 2005. This release included all 105 episodes, with all footage left in. The dub aims 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 violent scenes have been left in as they were in the original Japanese broadcast.
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 leaves both the Battle of the Planets and G-Force adaptations in limbo, with ADV Film's uncut English dub (long since out of print) being the only one readily available on the market. In addition, ADV's sub-license with Sandy Frank that allowed them to release its uncut dub during 2005–2006 has also expired, and ADV itself ceased operations in September 2009. It is not known if any U.S companies currently own the domestic rights to the Gatchaman series. Plans are afoot for a possible live action film of Gatchaman.
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||Joe Thax||Kelly Jennar||Mickey Dugan||Ollie Keeawani|
|OVA (Dub)||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-language seiyū (also applies for sequels)||Katsuji Mori||Isao Sasaki||Kazuko Sugiyama||Yōku Shioya||Shingo Kanemoto|
|Japanese-language seiyū (OVA)||Masaya Onosaka||Kōji Ishī||Michiko Neya||Rika Matsumoto||Fumihiko Tachiki|
|Voice actor (BOTP)||Casey Kasem||Ronnie Schell||Janet Waldo||Alan Young||Alan Dinehart|
|Voice actor (G-Force)||Sam Fontana||Cam Clarke||Barbara Goodson||Jan Rabson|
|Voice actor (OVA Dub)||Eddie Frierson||Richard Cansino||Lara Cody||Mona Marshall||Richard Epcar|
|Voice actor (Eagle Riders)||Richard Cansino||Bryan Cranston||Heidi Noelle Lenhart||Paul Schrier|
|Voice actor (ADV Dub)||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||Battle of the Planets||G-Force||Eagle Riders||OVA (Dub)|
|Kōzaburō Nambu-hakase||Chief Anderson||Dr. Benjamin Brighthead||Dr. Thaddeus Keane||Dr. Kōzaburō Nambu|
|Andāson-shachō no ISO||President Kane||Anderson/Commander Todd (some episodes)||Anderson||Director Anderson|
|Colonel Cronos||Red Impulse /Mr. Goodheart||Harley Harris||Red Specter|
|Sōsai X||The Luminous One /
The Great Spirit
|Gyarakutā||Planet Spectra||Planet Galactor||Vorak||Galactor|
Other notable changes
Identity change command
|Battle of the Planets
Identity change command
Identity change command
|Eagle Riders change command||OVA change command (English)|
|Bird, Go!||Transmute!||G-Force, Transform!||Eagle Mode, NOW!||
A series reboot, it used updated character designs and altered backgrounds.
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 Filix Ip began posting screenshots from the tailer. Neil Miller of Film School Rejects wrote, "At this point, I was not only forced to give the film a second look, but I was also very intrigued. What is this Gatchaman, and why does it look so damn cool? The answer to the latter question is simple, the folks over at Imagi have some serious game."
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.
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."
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 United States subsidiaries. The US 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.
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 popular culture
- In 2000, a parody involving Gatchaman in Archie's Sonic The Hedgehog series' Sonic Super Special #12 was known as "Sonicaman: Chaos Ninja Team".
- In 2000, NTT East produced two animated and two live-action television commercials for their ISDN service featuring a more updated version of Gatchaman, featuring members of the J-Pop boy group SMAP.
- In 2003 this anime series was aired in Taiwan which the opening song was performed by famous hip pop boyband Energy.
- Gatchaman became the inspiration of Chōjin Sentai Jetman in the order, except that, in the latter, the swallow is a female, and the eagle is replaced by a hawk (however, an eagle enters the team's formation in the Jetman epilogue manga, albeit in the place of the condor, who had died at the end of the TV series). Before that, it seemed to have inspired the idea of Goranger.
- The opening credits of Gatchaman began with the five heroes' silhouettes flying across the screen at high speed. At the beginning of each episode of The Powerpuff Girls the three titular heroines dart across the screen in a similar manner before that episode's title card.
- On The Simpsons December 14, 2003 couch gags - The couch is a street bench in Japan, and everyone is a famous anime or tokusatsu character: Homer is Ultraman, Marge is Jun from Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, Lisa is Usagi Tsukino, the protagonist from Sailor Moon, Bart is Astro Boy and Maggie is Pikachu from Pokémon. The episode was called "'Tis the Fifteenth Season."
- In episode 2 of Nurse Witch Komugi, Komugi battles her rival by dressing up as the entire Gatchaman force.
- Tatsunoko Fight and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars are two games in which characters from the show make special appearances.
- Megas XLR had two episodes involving a Gatchaman parody known as the S-Force.
- In the "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" episode "The Color of Revenge," the adult Robin, who is the guardian of Bludhaven City, makes a dramatic appearance on his motorcycle (seemingly evoking the Kaneda character from Akira) and leaps to the ground very much looking like a member of Gatchaman with his pointed helmet visor and cape (another point of the reference being that Robin's namesake is that of a bird, much like the Gatchamen were based on birds).
- The character Waka from the video game Ōkami has an outfit who resembles very much the Gatchaman's.
- Gatchaman is obviously parodied in episode 213 of the Bleach anime series. In it, the character known as Karakura Riser and his team's costumes and poses have an almost direct resemblance.
- The first issue of the Justice Society of America spin-off JSA All-Stars features a scene where the characters discuss potential names for their new team. Japanese superheroine Judomaster jokingly suggests "Kagaku Ninja Tai Gacchaman" as a possible title. Her teammate Rick Tyler is the only one in the room to get the reference, claiming that he loved the English dub of G-Force.
- In the Torchwood novel Trace Memory, it is revealed that, as a child, Toshiko Sato wanted to be a member of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, her favourite tv show while growing up in Japan.
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- Gatchaman,BotP, G-Force
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- Kagaku Ninja-Tai Gatchaman (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia