Classic Cartoons- Gatchaman

Theres 4 main things i remember from my childhood, Toys, Games, Cool movies and Cartoons….Everyone remembers getting up early in the morning to watch the latest cartoons. Mum and Dad would still be sound asleep in their beds, but not you! You’d be up at 6am to watch the latest installment of He- Man and the Masters of the Universe, Transformers, Robotech or Centurions! How could you sleep through that!

So, appropriately dressed in the proper Hero Branded Pyjamas,  accompanied by essential Action figures and a bowl of Co Co pops, you’d sit there in awe of the latest adventures your heroes had to offer….

In todays article, i wanted to look back at one of my absolute favourite shows, Battle of the Planets, or G- Force in the States and Gatchaman,as it’s originally known as in Japan.

Now for the sake of clarity, i’ll refer to it as Gatchaman from now on. So! Gatchaman, wow…. where do i begin?

Gatchaman was a show that was originally aired in Japan all the way back in 1972, and was followed by two follow up series’ entitled Gatchaman 2 and Gathaman Fighter.

The series focused on the adventures of 5 youths who were all part of the Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, working for a Dr Nambu who ran the International Science Organization to oppose any Terrorist threats to the worlds Natural Assests…phew! Now these “Terrorists” if you will, comprised of Katse, (Known as Zoltar here..) a shapeshifting mutant hermaphrodite (only in Japan people…) and his gang of thugs, who seemed to have an endless supply of giant mechs to terrorize their adversaries. This ruthless gang, known as Spectra (In the West) were governed by a kind of floating Orb with eyes, that Zoltar always used to take orders from. Weird huh? Yeah, but oh so cool.

Each episode usually consisted of a new giant Mech terrorizing a part of the city, stealing some sort of natural ore etc, Team Gatchaman, were called in, they’d kick some ass, save the day and rinse and repeat. Awesome.

One really cool and most notable feature about the Gatchaman team, was their outfits, all inspired by birds. You cant help but notice their cool helmet designs, especially their visors, which replicate the beak of the particular bird they represented.

Here’s a rundown of the team, and their affiliated “Bird” personas.

Now to avoid confusion, ill add the names in this order, as they changed from region to region, Gatchaman, Battle of the Planets, G- Force.

Ken – Mark – Ace Goodheart

Position– Team Leader

Bird Affiliation– Eagle

Joe – Jason – Dirk Daring

Position- Second in command

Bird Affiliation- Condor

Jun – Princess – Agatha June

Position– Electronics and demolitions expert

Bird Affiliation- Swan

Jinpei – Keyop – Pee Wee

Position- Reconnaissance expert

Bird Affiliation- Swallow

Ryu – Tiny – Hoot Owl

Position- Ships Pilot

Bird Affiliation- Owl

Hey what about 7 Zark 7, that robot dog and their base on Planet Neptune, y’know, that base that was  all underwater and stuff?….. Now here’s where it gets real interesting.

In the West, we like to edit things. We like to cut and edit alot! How much i hear you ask? Well let me just say that in the original Japanese series, 7 Zark 7 and his robotic canine didn’t exist….. But…how?! I remember those zany guys, always checking on the team, telling them that something was afoot here and there, getting up to all sorts of shenanigans on Planet Neptune.

Well, in Japan that didnt happen….ever…EVER!!!!

Heres why.

It seems that in Japan there must to be a higher tolerance to violence and general weirdness in cartoons.

 

Wanna kill some henchmen and see them fall to their deaths?- Cool.

Wanna make the main badguy a Hermaphrodite?- Cool.

Wanna show scenes where people sacrifice their lives in Spectras honour?- Cool

Wanna kill off a main character?- Cool

Wanna have two main characters  punch the crap outta each other?- Cool

Wanna make Jinpei be a smart mouthed wise ass?- Cool.

 

All these crazy things and more happened in Gatchaman, dont remember any of that happening? Thats because you didnt see it. Western editors decided that all these adult themes would potentially distress our children, and maybe cause some sort of mental problems, “Heck! You cant kill in cartoons!! It’s Cartoons!”

Whole episodes were omitted from the Western series, due to either, too much violence, or being too “adult themed”. So what did we get instead of awesome action and violence……..

These two jack asses……They actually created these two, animated them, and inserted them into the episodes to make up for all the violence/adult themes they removed, crazy huh?

After i discovered this, i had to chase down the original Japanese series, as its a much better watch, albeit an adult themed one.

You dont get this excitement here in the West! No Sir! This episode wasnt shown at all, for obvious reasons…

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So what was so appealing about Gatchaman, well once i discovered the true “Non Kiddy” version, i found an exciting, action packed and very character driven series. Characters dark pasts were brought up, there was an ongoing bitchiness between Ken and Joe (which led to a brawl between them!) great action and a really depressing ending.

Like so many other early Japanese animes, Gatchaman really thrives by offering the viewer plenty of action, cool Giant Mechs and not to mention, a very interesting, and sometimes very confronting  storyline.

Ken and Joe settle their differences the old fashioned way in the Japanese version. The episode was unaired here as the two main heroes beating each other up isn’t good practice…

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So i honestly recommend fans of the original western show, to chase up a copy of the original Japanese series.

Whether your a casual fan, or a hard core fanboy of the series, you owe it to yourself to see it how it was intended to be seen.

 

In gaming, Gatchaman has appeared a few times, from my knowledge here in Shmup form on the PS1 with

Gatchaman – The Shooting-

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And most recently on

Tatsunoko vs Capcom-

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So there you have it. Gatchaman, still as cool as it was all the way back in the 70’s.

Maybe even cooler now….

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