Gatchaman: Collectors Edition Vol. #09 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • 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. #09

By Chris Beveridge     February 13, 2006
Release Date: February 21, 2006


Gatchaman: Collectors Edition Vol. #09
© ADV Films


What They Say
Galactor is on the prowl for uranium ore that the International Science Organization has secretly discovered. But the God Phoenix is trapped under the ocean by the fearsome monster Mechadokuga! In episode 50, Gatchaman journeys to the country of Inderia to investigate strange accidents hampering the construction of an important dam. When a giant dinosaur skeleton starts attacking, the team vaults into action! Next in episode 51, Red Impulse is undercover and on the scene as Galactor plots to overthrow the government of the peaceful vacationing paradise of Hontwarl. Meanwhile, Ken learns that his father is still alive! Continuing the story in Episode 52; while Galactor sets the Van Allen belt on a collision course with Earth, the Ninja Team’s abilities are crippled because Ken is away looking for his father! Then in Heart-wrenching episode 53; Red Impulse’s secrets are all finally revealed and Ken meets his father, but Death comes-a-knockin! To close out this volume, Katse’s on the warpath and Ken goes into a blistering rage! Will Gatchaman’s thirst for vengeance destroy his humanity? Find out in six more Earth-shattering episodes!

The Review!
While not billed as a multi part storyline, Gatchaman hits its stride here with a number of episodes that cover Ken's past, present and future.

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:
Ryu finally gets a cover to himself and with plenty of flames from the background and shown at an angle just right for the character, he gets to look a fair bit imposing with the dark lines, heavy scowl from his face and just the overall combination of design here. 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 the voice actor for Red Impulse, John Tyson.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the ninth volume of the series we hit the halfway mark with it and break just past fifty episodes. To celebrate this goal the show provides a fun little standalone piece and then shifts to provide some of the best drama and adventure of it yet as it explores Ken's past and deals with Galactor launching their most diabolical plan yet.

The opening standalone story is a fun little piece that lets Jinpei shine a bit as he ends up finding his way into a secret Galactor base during a time when Katse has managed to plant a bomb inside the ISO headquarters. Since it would take too long to find the bomb in the hour that they're given to respond to Galactor's demands for the data on the uranium mines, they opt to send the Science Ninja Team in to hand over the information as requested while then trying to rescue Jinpei. There is a fair bit of fun action with the side story about the main team trying to get to the place to deliver the goods and the goons that they have to fight but the real fun is watching Jinpei go from a sneak about the base to a captive and then to a sneak again as he takes one of the guards uniforms and tries to blend in. The comments he gets with his small and wispy frame is priceless. Jinpei's always been the weakest of the characters for me and while this doesn't change it that much it's good to see him get some really good time to shine and prove himself as a valuable member. But man, keep him and those buckteeth out of the Galactor uniforms.

The real meat of this volume though is the multi episode storyline that focuses on the peaceful country of Hontwahl. Dr. Nambu sends the entire team off there for some much earned rest and relaxation but little do they know that it's a cover as the good Dr. has reason to believe that a plot that's ongoing in that country is close to fruition and must be dealt with. While enjoying their time off, Ken ends up in a scuffle with a group of guys after a somewhat refined older gentleman only to find that he's supposedly a man of Galactor. It actually turns out to be Red Impulse as he's been working undercover within Hontwahl for some years to figure out what nefarious plan that Galactor is coming up with their. As it turns out, they have a massive V2 project underway with the intent of bringing the Van Allen Belt crashing down on the planet and turning it into a fiery deathbed unless the ISO and world governments agree to surrender to them.

The big world threatening storyline alone is more than enough fun as it gets revealed in pieces and then finally put into motion but it's kept down to a very human level as Ken and Red Impulse work together for a lot of this as the others are off doing their own thing or Ken has simply left them to pursue his own goals. The relationship between Ken and Red Impulse becomes a main focus through the storyline as we get the revelations from Dr. Nambu about who he really is and how long the two have worked together and why. It's nothing that can't really be figured out easily enough, unless of course you're Ken, but it's the kind of big epic angsty material that helped make Gatchaman stand out so strongly during its original run. No matter how corny it gets at times here, it still has a solid core to it and having the characters react as they do to it just stands out so strongly against the way things happen in most shows today.

While we listened to a lot of the release in Japanese we did go through parts of it in English again as well since I was watching some episode with an audience that doesn't, well, read yet and they like to know what's going on too. The English adaptation continues to be quite enjoyable with this series and I have to say that Leraldo Anzaldua really nails the character of Ken and mixing in all the 70's terms. From the groovy's to the inflection used when saying words like "man" are just spot on and really give it a near camp feel without quite going far enough to doom the entire production by its terms and lingo. Everyone gets their shot at this kind of dialogue throughout it by the character of Ken is so iconic in the series that he ends up with many of the best lines for it and Anzaldua's use of it really helps the character of Ken instead of hurting it. It's almost like comedy in that it's incredibly hard to do and to do right but it's done just right here.

In Summary:
This is one of those defining volumes of the series as it mixes in a lengthy storyline with not just big action moments that put the world in peril but also some great character aspects that bring to the surface things that have been hinted at and played with for many episodes now. In a way it both changes a lot of things and doesn't change much at all. With the six episodes here we get a solid mix of standalone pieces that beef up the lesser used members of the team as well as the big epic material that the show just revels in. This show continues to amuse, amaze and entertain me.

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.

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