Tokusatsu Gesundheit: Gatchaman

science-ninja-team

The Science Ninjas themsevles!

Welcome to Tokusatsu Gesundheit, where we’re looking at a slightly different kind of Tokusatsu today. Gatchaman is the big (for Japan) budget adaptation of a classic anime (which was brought over to the U.S.A. as Battle of the Planets (70s), G-Force (80s), and Eagle Riders (90s)), which heavily influenced Super Sentai and as such bears a strong resemblance to the franchise when adapted into live action.

Plot Rundown

A mysterious alien virus is converting human beings into biomechanical creatures called Galactors. Lead by the villainous Berge Katse and a select few commanders who have retained their individuality, the Galactor hive mind has conquered most of the Earth (leaving Japan one of few free zones). Five young people of Japanese descent have been found to be compatible with power stones that counteract the virus, and use the power of these stones to become the Science Ninja Team Gatchaman!

Their nemesis Berg Katse, who is less gender bend-y than the original.

Their nemesis Berg Katse, who is less gender bend-y than the original.

Brief Background

Gatchaman was a creation of Japanese animation studio Tatsunoko Production that aired in Japan from 1972 to 1974. It produced two sequel series before the 70’s were out and an Original Video Animation in the 90’s, so one assumes that it was a fairly big hit. It’s most recent revival saw episodes released about a year ago, but this film is based on that original series.

Highlights

  • The armored Science Ninja Team costumes sported by the movie are readily recognizable as the classic Gatchaman heroes while not looking silly. Same goes for their arch-enemy, Berge Katse.
  • The action sequences are well choreographed and well filmed, though somewhat fewer in number than the viewer would like.
  • Unfortunately, the only DVD available on Amazon is a Malaysian bootleg. The subtitles are terrible (and at one point just kinda take a ten minute break), translating what I assume was supposed to say “undercover mission” as “submarine mission” early on in the film. Still, it makes for some unintentional humor.
Don't worry, their airplane is actually meant to catch fire.

Don’t worry, their airplane is actually meant to catch fire.

Review

It’s a little boring, unfortunately. They clearly blew their budget on the big opening action sequence (which at one point blatantly copies the ring-around-the-heroes shot from Avengers) and the big finale. Everything in between is, well, a lot of standing around talking with a smattering of small action sequences tossed in. The big opening and the big finish are really good though, so it averages out to be pretty entertaining.

NEXT WEEK: We visit China to watch the Tokusatsu rip-off Super Inframan (which we talked about in my last blog series).

About Chris Walker

Chris Walker (@back2past) is affectionately referred to as Back to the Past's social media lackey. He's all over finding nuggets of pop culture news, wherever they may be hiding!

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