Gatchaman: Collectors Edition Vol. #06 (of 18) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, October 18, 2005



What They Say
First, Galactor's ruthless Devilstars have planned to assassinate Dr. Nambu. Knowing they will stop at nothing, the Science Ninja Team goes on full alert!

Then in part one of the series' first two part story, the hulking mecha Gezora is attacking Lawnpark city. The Science Ninja Team goes undercover to expose Gallactor's secret plans. Jun and Jinpei are tricked by enemy agents and trapped in a subterranean prison! Can the rest of the Science Ninja Team escape their fate?

In part 2 of "The Grand Gezora Operation," Jun and Jinpei are scheduled for execution! Meanwhile Gezora continues to attack! In this one Gatchaman's hope hangs by a painfully thin thread.

In episode 34 strange radio waves and a mysterious aurora are making people freak out and cause grave accidents! The Science Ninja team must battle Thundersaurus to stop the radio waves and keep everyone from going insane.

Next in "Burn, Desert Fires" Gatchaman travels to the oil-rich country of Doria and ends up right in the middle of a civil war! To make matters worse Galactor is behind every corner. Can the Science Ninja Team bring justice to the people of Doria and still prevail over Galactor?

Finally, get ready for something fishy as brothers Taro and Jiro decide to dress up as the Science Ninjas. Gatchaman gets ready to turn up the heat on a giant crawfish-Mecha and rocket squids in "Little Gatchamans."

The Review!
Gatchaman hits up more single stories and a solid two part tale that really messes with the Galactor folks

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. Having never been able to hear it like this before it's an obvious draw for us and it's quite enjoyable. The mix for it is rather low though in comparison to other DVD releases out there, including ADV's own releases, but once kicked up a few notches it's still very clean and clear all things told for its age. There isn't much to really expect from this mix overall but it fills the forward soundstage nicely and it gets across the show as it was originally presented. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback though it does get a bit muffled during some of the louder scenes when played higher in volume.

Video:
Originally airing back in 1972, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. With this show being as old as it is, the transfer for it looks pretty much amazing. It's not problem free but it's something where I never expected the materials to look this good. There's a layer of grain to it that causes a lot of the solid color areas to look a bit alive but it was only noticeable when sitting about three feet away on my 23" widescreen set. When watching on the primary setup at a nine foot distance, it just looks all smooth and good looking. There are some visible areas of print deterioration and scratches along the way but these are fairly minimal overall and simply a part of the show. For something that as of this writing is thirty-three years old and who knows how badly stored over the decades, this is fantastic.

Packaging:
Joe gets a cover to himself with this installment as it gives him that really powerful look as he's coming down hard in the sky with the sun shining in the background that almost makes it look like he's riding an explosion, particularly with the almost violent look to his facial expression. The back cover is nicely laid out with several shots from the show and character artwork and the obvious plugs of its US relation to Battle of the Planets and G-Force. The summary covers the basics and a good clean listing of the extras. I was amused that their listing of the cover art included the world "famed" for Alex Ross though. The rest of the cover is rounded out with the technical information and production material. No insert was included with this release.

Menu:
Done up in a very 60's/70's-ish layout of multiple boxes with animation and various imagery of the show playing throughout them, the menu invokes the period and feel of the show nicely while giving it a mixture of a more modern taste as it has CG logos, sketches and new artwork mixed in while the opening song vocal piece plays through for its brief thirty second loop. The layout is easy to use with one small box containing instant access to all six episodes as well as the standard subsections. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets without issue and played accordingly.

Extras:
The extras mirror the previous volumes pretty closely. The opening and closing sequences are provided in a clean format once again and another episode is opened up for fans to do their own karaoke/fandub for. Also included in this release is an episode with a commentary track by voice actor George Manley who has the fun role of the narrator.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This installment of the series provides another six episodes of the show as well as what the back cover says is the first two part storyline. If this one is any indication, multi-part storylines should be done more since it's a lot of fun and it takes the time to really expand on things both on the Gatchaman side as well as the Galactor side.

One person who doesn't make out the best in this volume is Dr. Nambu for a couple of reasons. The first episode puts him in the spotlight again with an assassination plot underway, figuring that by eliminating him that the Gatchaman team itself will fall apart or at the least be far less supported both in power and supplies. The episode has some fun with trying to fake out the Galactor folks after him and lets Ken really shine with some casual ways of dealing with them, particularly when he just sits around waiting for them to show. Another episode has Dr. Nambu being affected by the new creature that Galactor has running around called Thundersaurus. The thing emits radio waves that causes people to go insane and almost ape-like in their appearance, so seeing him get taken down a few pegs from his heavy-browed faced to a monkey face is pretty amusing. The standalone stories for these are fairly weak in general though but the Nambu goodness is plenty.

The two part storyline turns out to be rather interesting and one that allows for a bit more depth overall. The plot involves Galactor creating a new creature called Gezora, which looks like a giant squid and quite possibly the inspiration for the base of the League of Super-Villains from the old Superfriends cartoon. This nasty creature is causing havoc in the city of Lawnpark as it has some ulterior motives in the destruction its causing but the story is more focused on the way that Ken has decided to go with the subtle style of figuring out what's going on by sending Jun and Jinpei undercover into the city. They work their way around to try and discover where Galactor may be operating out of but they instead find themselves being caught up in a trap to capture them. Since Ken had them go in without their wristbands, they're unable to escape with help and have to play up that idea that they're not the Gatchaman Galactor is looking for.

As much of a problem as they have, once they're captured things don't go well for the three remaining guys either as without the other two they can't operate at full power which means the God Phoenix can't really be used. Since the Galactor people are still trying to determine if Jun and Jinpei really are Gatchaman members or not, having two of them missing from the team only starts to cement the possibility and some psychological fun is played out as Ken tries to bluff his way against Katse face to face about whether the whole team is with him or not. It's quite comical and Katse only continues to come off as a total loon.

Katse actually doesn't make out too well in this volume as his boss continues to criticize him for his constant failures and how he'll take only so many more of them before doing something radical. Katse seems to become a bit more unglued as time goes on here but he's also using more people under him to do his dirty tricks which helps immensely since if he was the main villain for every episode, he'd take on even more epic proportions of a comical nature. It's also interesting that the people he chooses to do most of his dirty work now tend to be women or some really ugly buck-toothed men.

Try as I might, I found that I couldn't really hate the last episode on the disc entitled "Little Gatchamans" which is focused around two young brothers who completely idolize the Gatchaman team and dress up like them as best as they can. Naturally, they end up in some danger by getting on board an actual Galactor vessel and you get the standard storyline about them needing to be rescued, but the thing is just so humorous and you go into it wondering what kinds of mean things the guys will say to them, based on how they've dealt with children in the past. They've had some really strange stuff in the past and just the preview for the episode is laughter inducing as they tweak the voices, not that the actual voices used for the boys isn't funny enough. I can only imagine the voice actors for these roles just having a really fun time playing hick-stupid level, especially with the character designs that they get to work off of.

In Summary:
While this volume doesn't have anything that truly stands out like a giant magma Jesus, there is some good material here and a lot of it shows up in the two part storyline. More and more, the show is shifting away from everything being an adventure in costume to providing more street clothes material and getting to know the cast a little bit more, though they are mostly still just basic archetypes without a lot of depth. But even with that, there is something that is just so charming and fun about this show that keeps me watching, laughing and enjoying it so much that's hard to describe. This is good fun stuff and having listened to it in both languages now, it's a real treat for fans of both language tracks.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean closing animation,Episode commentary,Gatchaman Karaoke

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 14.98
Running time: 150
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Gatchaman