Gatchaman: Collectors Edition Vol. #01 -

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Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 14.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gatchaman

Gatchaman: Collectors Edition Vol. #01

By Chris Beveridge     July 13, 2005
Release Date: June 14, 2005

Gatchaman: Collectors Edition Vol. #01
© ADV Films

What They Say
In the 21st century, the evil organization Galactor has its sights set on global conquest. Their use of tyrannical terrorism and high-tech mayhem has the world in the clutches of fear! The only thing standing in the way of complete global dominance is the International Science Organization (ISO) and its chief scientist, Professor Kozaburou Nambu. Dr. Nambu's primary weapon in the fight for freedom is his top secret experiment: the five kids who make up the Science Ninja Team. Bird, go!

The Review!
Presented for the first time with a full uncut dub done with today's actors, Gatchaman brings some nostalgia to the plate but it also shows where a lot of the standards used today in series originated from.

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.

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.

The cover art for this series is nothing short of gorgeous, particularly since I am a fan of Alex Ross' art and they have the advantage of using his love of the show to produce some stunning pieces. As described in one of the extra sessions on their Bento Box feature on The Anime Network, Ross' style for Gatchaman differs from how he traditionally takes super-heroes and makes them more real. With the Gatchaman series, it's their larger than life nature, the overt expressiveness of the eyes and features that are such a staple of anime, that he's able to take and build upon in a new way while providing some of that real-world nature. The combination is a fascinating piece of artwork where the characters just look stunning in my eyes. The designs from this period are so different from today that I don't know if today's designs would come across the same if he tackled something there, but his work with Gatchaman meshes beautifully. 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.

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.

A good selection of extras are included with this volume. While no clean materials are available for the series opening, the closing gets a clean sequence here. One really fun extra for a group that's included is an entire episode done just as a music and effects track. This starts with a screen that tells you how to karaoke it as it basically lets you do a fandub. Aspiring voice actors should use this kind of thing repeatedly to try a wide range of voices and styles as well as getting an idea of timing and flap. What I'd really like to see is submissions for these to be played back, especially from a group that has a lot of beer on tap. Also included in this release, episodes five and six get commentary tracks by some of the voice actors and the series ADR director.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Like a lot of people in my age range, I'm familiar with this show to some extent in that during my single-digit years I was able to see the "adaptation" of this show into both Battle of the Planets and G-Force. My actual memory of the show is barely a handful of images about it and the enjoyment I remember getting from sitting in front of the TV watching something I thought was cool. There's no real nostalgia involved in this since it wasn't a life altering event as that didn't happen until Robotech, but those memories do stand out quite strongly even after almost thirty years.

Even if Gatchaman is big in the nostalgia area for a lot of people, it's a series that deserves the stature it's been given over the years. It's so early in the history of anime that many of the things that are now accepted staples and practices of various genres were all decided long ago. Much of what was done in Gatchaman over the course of its hundred plus episodes has evolved into how many team series have been created, the archetypes, the villains and how things need to be played out in such a series. In a sense, some of this will seem very by the book since we've seen it many times since this first came out, but seeing where it all began is really instrumental in understanding it - and seeing where the changes are for better or worse.

Gatchaman spends no time playing around in getting the story underway. The world is much like it is now except that science plays a much stronger role. A foundation of sorts called the International Science Organization is involved in a multitude of things over the world and assists many governments with various issues. Their role becomes increased with the arrival of Galactor, an underground society that uses its level of science combined with evil intent to try and take over the world. Working with the fears of that decade about uranium and atomic weapons, Galactor is intent on scouring the Earth for sources of uranium that they can put together to build their ultimate weapons and conquer by strength and fear.

To combat this, one of the leaders in the ISO, Dr. Nambu, has created a group called the Science Ninja Team. With Galactor creating massive robots and beasts to travel around the world and cause trouble and fear, the Science Ninja Team, under the leadership of Ken the Eagle, aka Gatchaman, attempt much the same as each of them has their own vehicle that can combine with the large aircraft that they use together for their missions. The theme for the Science Ninja Team focuses around birds, from the eagle motif that Ken has to owl form of Ryu and the duck form of Jinpei. Each of them has their own standard vehicle of some sort with some that transform into other things. Ken's propeller plane turns into a sleek white aircraft that's much faster and combines with the larger ship itself for example.

For the most part, at least across this volume, each episode stands alone but it works in a progression to introducing the characters and their situations as well as seeing how the Galactor side works. Galactor is lead by one leader who's visible only through a communication monitor and lets most operations be run by Berg Katse who sends out various minions in the oversized robots, such as turtles and the like. Those commanders tend to be more incompetent and all wear amusing costumes and all the soldiers on board do as well, but there's a neat uniformity about all of it that works well. While these villains aren't exactly menacing with their outfits, they do have a certain something that places them within the realm of being that. Their plans are fairly simple in that they find areas of possible uranium deposits or other needed materials and go after it with reckless abandon. After the Gatchaman team shows up though, they start to change their tactics and realize that they do have a viable enemy to deal with now.

The Science Ninja Team themselves fall under the very cool category, though my wife disagrees and found them to be fairly dorky. In watching these episodes, I can't help but to find the costumes they wear to be cool, a certain style to them that just appeals strongly. The fun with the cast is that they are diverse and there are issues between them. Ken's the good guy and tries to do right but he finds himself at odds with Dr. Nambu's orders and does things he shouldn't. Even with this, Joe finds that Ken's still too much of a goody-goody and the two have words quite often as Joe is rather insubordinate. There's some fun in that Jun, who's quite attractive in her design both in and out of her swan costume, has feelings for Ken and it's something that Jinpei, her younger brother, torments her about. The weakest link so far is Ryu who is often left to just being the pilot or napping in times of danger. He gets the least screen time overall in this batch of episodes.

Across these first six episodes, we get to know the basics of the world which has some fun science fiction advances to it, and I love that the focus is on science to some extent and that knowledge is power but it's not done as a constant "And knowing is half the battle" kind of crap that's become a joke ever since. The episodic nature works well in its favor since you can check out a few episodes or just one and not feel overwhelmed by trying to keep up with what else is there. We did the first volume in a split of two episodes and then four and it worked out nicely whereas taking in all six would have been overwhelming I think.

In Summary:
While I'm sure there's a touch of nostalgia involved here, this isn't something that I've been pining to have for ages nor even though we'd ever see a new accurate dub and a clean translation for. In watching it though, it's an example of how great anime has been and can be and shows where things have faltered in recent years. Though the scripting in the original is awkward at times and we're thirty years removed from its social conditions and how everything else was written at the time, Gatchaman provides for some very exciting situations, interesting characters and yes, something of a history lessen. In addition, it gets itself a wonderfully done just slightly over the top dub that really captures the essence and feel of the series without all the awfulness that made the original so distant from its source material. Gatchaman is a series that almost no anime fan should be without.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and 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.


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