Gatchaman: Collectors Edition Vol. #04 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

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: 150
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gatchaman

Gatchaman: Collectors Edition Vol. #04

By Chris Beveridge     September 19, 2005
Release Date: August 16, 2005

Gatchaman: Collectors Edition Vol. #04
© 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!
Moving swiftly through the teen episodes, Gatchaman plays up its campy side but also a bit of heavy handed environmentalism.

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.

Getting away from the team image for a bit this cover provides a very strong shot of Joe in his uniform sweeping around as he throws out a number of feather darts. This just looks solid here and Ross' style and detail is about as good as it'll ever get for this kind of piece. 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.

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. Providing it's legal, I really hope ADV encourages people to send in some fandubs for the show and find a way of putting a winning entry out as an extra. Also included in this release is an episode with a commentary track by voice actor Victor Carsrud who is playing Ryu.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Gatchaman's fourth volume finishes out those teenage episodes and moves us into the first half of the twenties and in a way you can tell that the series is growing up. The writers are getting more and more comfortable with things, there are less of the standard shots being used for repeat effects - though they are still there - and some chances are being taken with the characters that show they can be hurt pretty badly.

The mix of episodes is once again pretty strong overall but was I glad to see some of the focus moved on towards giving us material that works for Joe deal with. The opening episode is really amusing one in some ways since it has a big race being the driving vehicle to how things happen and there's a fantastic sequence where entire highways are shifted and moved across to mess up the drivers, but the overall plot is pretty good. In some middle eastern style country, the king has sold his soul and country to Galactor but his son won't stand for it. The young prince sneaks into one of the security areas and snaps pictures of a logbook that has the locations of all the Galactor bases and he uses the race as a way to sneak it out of the country.

When the race gets manipulated so that everyone ends up inside one of Galactor's bases, it's "revealed" that a number of the drivers are really team Gatchaman and we get some rather fun material as they deal with the guards while the prince has to deal with Katse. What's fun and interesting in this particular brawl is that Joe actually manages to get his hands on Katse and gets close to taking him down as he tries to rip off his mask to reveal who he is but Katse is quicker by actually stabbing Joe in the hand with a knife. There's been violence before of course but not much of it has been actually inflicted upon the main characters.

This happens again in another episode when the team is dealing with the every amusing mole mecha and Joe finds himself mortally wounded by having a piece of metal get lodged in his head. To remove it, Dr. Nambu says it would be impossible and the chances of doing it successfully would probably cause his death. So the team finds themselves struggling to deal with the mole mecha without their critical fifth member and having a lot of trouble in doing so. This is a truly beautiful thing as Joe pushes beyond human limits and comes on board the God Phoenix so he can help because they need him to finish things out but that he probably wouldn't survive the inertia of going into phoenix mode. That's fun enough in itself, but the resolution to the chunk of metal in his head is simply priceless as the God Phoneix gets spun around at really fast speeds and that's all it takes. It's a decent enough episode overall and the mortality factor is well played but at the same time it's the "it's so bad its good" kind of funny.

Probably my favorite episode on this round involved a leadership shakeup inside of Galactor when a professor who has designed some amazing cybernetic creations becomes second in charge after proving how great his genius is. This pushes Katse below him who takes this not well at all but there's little that can be done since this professor seems to know who the person behind Galactor really is. The things he's created are fantastic though and make it all the more fun. He's designed and built a couple dozen cybernetic evil horses that will stomp and destroy upon command. The only drawback to them? A big honking self destruct button that's at the base of their necks. Between the power play that's made inside Galactor, the simply beauty in the humor of seeing evil cybernetic horses and watching the Gatchaman team infiltrate the base with stealth and then causing massive destruction we get an episode that just hits every mark right.

In Summary:
The Gatchaman goodness continues with this volume and the six episodes are pretty good across the board with a mix of campy, serious, and just plain amusing. The release continues to be strong overall with a nice selection of extras, gorgeous packaging and a treatment to both scripts that really work well in each respective area. It's still weird at times watching something that's almost as old as I am but it's great to be able to reach back to then and to be able to enjoy the stories and animation from then. This is great stuff and we're very much into this for the long haul.

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.


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