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The Asian ApertureGatchaman
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, February 2, 2014    Share

The single biggest influence on my generation, those born around 1970, was Star Wars. Sure, I grew up watching Star Trek on syndication and I have always felt that Star Trek was more scientific, but the beloved series couldnít compete with the sheer marketing power of Star Wars merchandise. Star Wars paved the way for anime series to be shown on American TV.

In 1978, I first saw Battle of the Planets, hosted by the R2D2 clone, 7 Zark 7 and his robotic dog companion, 1 Rover 1. Despite how hokey those two look today, Battle of the Planets is still in my memories thanks to the incredible detail in the vehicle designs and characters that reeked of 70ís cool. Seeing Battle of the Planets was a pivotal moment for me.

It was the first series I show that I saw with five team members with different personalities who were able to join together to fight a common enemy. What impressed me was how each team member had a vehicle that perfectly matched their character. Mark, cool headed leader, had a plane that transmuted into a jet. Jason, the angry young man, had a sports car. Princess, the sole female member who was deadly in combat, had her motorcycle, and Keyop, the youngest member with a speech impediment, had his bizarre bubble shaped all-terrain vehicle. Tiny, overweight and friendly, was the pilot of the main ship called the Phoenix. All four team members had special places inside the Phoenix that they could drive/fly their various vehicles into. Now, the Phoenix was a marvelously designed ship that could fly, even into outer space, and even submerge underwater. It also had the ability to transform into the fiery Phoenix that resembled a giant flaming bird that could absorb all weapon attacks and burn through solid objects such as enemy ships. Thatís not all that was so great about Battle of the Planets, it also had colorful villains.

As a kid who grew up watching Godzilla movies on any given Saturday afternoon, I was hooked on Battle of the Planets thanks to the giant mecha monsters that would threaten the world. I remember being particularly fascinated by a giant mummy that picked up people and smashed buildings.

Then as I grew older new things became interesting and I didnít really think about Battle of the Planets until just after graduating high school when I bought a five dollar VHS copy of the English dub of Akira. Akira renewed my interest in anime and I decided to revisit Battle of the Planets with a friend of me. We saw it on TV. The quality of the animation didnít hold up when compared to the rich detail of Akira and we both agreed that Battle of the Planets was a product of 70ís anime that should remain there.

However, I had just started working as a phone rep for Home Shopping and I met someone who remembered Battle of the Planets. He was into RPGs and introduced me to the wonderful game called Space Opera. Anyway, he told me to seek out the original series called Gatchaman. I learned that Battle of the Planets was heavily localized for Western children and the action and violence was toned down to make it kid friendly. He told me that Keyopís strange speech was because he was swearing and the translators couldnít get what he was saying past the censors, (this proved to be false. Keyopís speech problem is due to the fact that he was artificially created and his genetic engineering was flawed.) However the big one was that the main villain called Zoltar in BoTP was that he was a hermaphroditic. After hearing this amazing news I was on a quest to see Gatchaman.

I waited years until Rhino released Battle of the Planets in the early 2000ís. One of the special features was Gatchaman. I watched Battle of the Planets again and groaned and complained about how the animation quality varied due to the fact that the 7 Zark 7 scenes were created by different animators and inserted in. You would be following the story and just before the action started you get 7 Zark 7 attempting humor via a really lame joke and you can tell the new animation from the old with the new lacking the quality of the original. That is when I watched the original Gatchaman from 1972 and I was instantly hooked. The plot was darker, the characters went through real emotions, and the villains were meaner. The biggest thrill for me was to finally see the action. For example, Mark in BotP called Ken in Gatchaman, started kicking and punching Galactor henchman with Bruce Lee battle cries and showed just what a 70ís icon Lee was. I was able to see what was happening when kids of my generation were forced to see all those lame 7 Zark 7 scenes.

Ok, I missed out when ADV Films released Gatchaman with a new English dub and uncut because I was into other anime. Then a friend let me borrow volume 1 and I was hooked again. Sadly, I saw that most of Gatchaman was out of print for online stores by the time my interest was renewed

However, the news just gets better when Section23 Films decided to release Gatchaman Complete Collection on Blu-ray back in December 2013. Having followed this series since 1978, I had to have it. So with the gift cards I got for Christmas 2013, I had enough for Gatchaman, which was sold cheaper online then it is now in 2014.
I put in the first Blu-ray disk and was amazed all over again. Seeing the vibrant colors on Blu-ray really made me feel like I was seeing it for the first time. Ok I admit I cheated, I was dying to know what happened in the last episode so I decided to watch that one first. I wonít reveal the ending here.

What I love about Gatchaman is that you can randomly put in a disk and follow along without having to watch it in consecutive order like with other series such as Starblazers/Space Battleship Yamato and Robotech. It is like an 80ís era American cartoon in that regard.
Gatchaman have something for Sci Fi fans, action fans, anime historians, and even Western comic book fans because it is easy to identify with the five main characters and how they get along and argue and fight against a common enemy. Also they have their everyday clothes so they can blend it and they can also transmute into their Gatchaman outfits.

Gatchaman Complete Collection on Blu-ray is the way to go because you get all 105 episodes plus the OVAs and tons of extras. Enough content to keep this fan up all night.

Highly Recommended.

5 out of 5 Stars

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2014 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2014 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.

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