Russo Brothers’ AGBO Studios Developing an Adaptation of Gatchaman/Battle of the Planets Anime

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo announced at their panel at San Diego Comic-Con that their AGBO Studios is developing an adaptation of the Gatchaman (Battle of the Planets) television anime series. The Russos added that they could not say if they will direct the project, nor could they say if the project will be animated or live-action. However, they said that if they do direct, it would be in live-action.

The first Gatchaman anime premiered in Japan in October of 1972. The original series premiered in the United States in 1978.

Source: ANN

Anime Spotlight: Gatchaman (Updated)

Gatchaman is an anime directed by Hisayuki Toriumi and was produced by Tatsunoko Productions. The series aired on Japanese television from October 1, 1972-September 29, 1974. This series was brought over to North America in 1978 by Sandy Frank Entertainment under the title, Battle of the Planets, but only 85 of the original 105 episodes of the series were dubbed into English. As of this writing, Sentai Filmworks holds the North American distribution license for Gatchaman.

The series features a young five-member superhero team. While most of the members are in their late teens, one of them is only about 11 years old. The members of the team are: team leader Ken Washio, second-in-command Joe Asakura, electronics and demolitions expert Jun, reconnaissance expert Jinpei, and pilot Ryu Nakanishi. The team members wear a uniform to represent birds: Ken is an eagle, Joe is a condor, Jun is a swan, Jinpei is a swallow, and Ryu is an owl.

Each member of the team has a signature weapon and vehicle, as well as a mundane-looking disguised form. They also have a wrist device that serves as a communicator and a tracking device; it can also be used to change modes with the proper gesture and voice command.

The team has a vehicle called the GodPhoenix, which is a supersonic plane that is capable of underwater travel and some minor space travel. It can also temporarily transform into a massive phoenix of flame in order to escape from danger; however, the process of going into this mode is taxing on the team.

The Gatchaman team is employed by Dr. Kozaburo Nambu of the International Science Organization. The organization’s mission is to stop the technologically advanced Galactor from taking over Earth’s natural resources. Galactor is led by an androgynous masked antagonist named Berg Katse.

When it comes to Gatchaman, I can definitively say that it is a product of its time. The animation style and the clothing the protagonists wear have an obviously early 1970’s feel to them. For some modern viewers, this very dated look could potentially be a turn off to giving it a chance.

When I went beyond the overall look and feel of the series, though, I found that there were times that the writing wasn’t as strong as it could have been. I remember there were times when my husband I would shake our heads at some of the stories and plot devices that we saw in the series. Sometimes, stories and plots were either ridiculous and made no sense, or they were just simply stupid. While some of it could be excused by the era that the first Gatchaman anime series was produced during, that alone couldn’t explain all of it. There were just times when the writing was simply flawed.

As my husband and I watched this series, we found the fact that Joe was so trigger happy and wanted to use his weapons whenever he could to solve problems almost comical. When we realized just how often Joe did this, we would start singing a refrain from Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe”: “Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand?” To be honest, counting how many times Joe is trigger happy would probably make for a good drinking game. LOL!

To be honest, though, outside of trigger happy Joe and the portrayal of Berg Katse, there wasn’t much that was memorable to me about Gatchaman. After hearing so much about it and knowing how much of a classic this franchise is seen as, I was ultimately let down by the series when I finally watched it. Maybe if I hadn’t heard so much hype going into it, perhaps my expectations would have been lower and I might have appreciated it a little better.

I was glad to see Gatchaman for its historical significance to anime, but I was disappointed that the series wasn’t better than what it was.

Battle of the Planets Voice Actor Casey Kasem Passes Away

Casey Kasem passed away on June 15, 2014 due to complications from Lewy body disease. He was 82 years old at the time of his passing.

Kasem, born Kemal Amen Kasem, was born in Detroit to Lebanese immigrants on April 27, 1932. He graduated from Wayne State University and went to work in radio. Kasem gained fame 44 years ago as the host of America’s Top 10 and other weekly radio countdowns of hit pop songs.

Kasem also had a career in animation voice acting, and his roles included Mark in Battle of the Planets (the English dub version of Battle of the Planets; Cliffjumper, Bluestreak, Teletraan 1, and Dr. Archeville in the first American Transformers animated series; Shaggy in Scooby-Doo, Robin in Super Friends and The Adventures of Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, and Merry in Return of the King.

Source: ANN

Anime Spotlight: Gatchaman

Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (which is often shortened to Gatchaman) is an anime series produced by Tatsunoko Productions in 1972. There was also an animated feature film in 1978 and two sequel series (1978’s Gatchaman II and 1979’s Gatchaman Fighter). In 1994, an OVA series was released that condensed the original Gatchaman series down into three episodes.

Sandy Frank Entertainment acquired the North American license for the original 1972 Gatchaman series, and released an English version of the series in 1978 under the title, Battle of the Planets. Of the original 105 episodes of Gatchaman, only 85 were used for Battle of the Planets.

In the 1980s, Sandy Frank Entertainment collaborated with Turner Broadcasting to create a newer and more faithful translation of Gatchaman for American audiences. This newer version was created in 1986 under the title, G-Force: Guardians of Space. Even though this version was meant to more faithful to the original Japanese, the series still used Americanized names that were different from the Americanized names given to the characters in Battle of the Planets.

In the 1990s, Saban acquired the rights for Gatchaman II and Gatchaman Fighter. They combined both of the series together, and released the English dub versions under the title, Eagle Riders, in 1996. All 65 episodes of Eagle Riders aired in Australia, while only 13 episodes were aired in the United States.

In 2005, ADV Films released an uncut version of the original Gatchaman series in the United States on DVD, which includes subtitles and an all-new English language 5.1 dub. This release included all 105 episodes and all of the original footage remained intact. Unfortunately, these DVD sets are now out of print.

A second feature film version of Gatchaman had been in production by Imagi Animation, and it was supposed to be released in 2011. However, the company announced on June 21, 2011, that the Gatchaman project had been cancelled.

At the time of this writing, it has been announced that a new Gatchaman series, Gatchaman Crowds, will begin airing on Japanese television in July 2013. According to Anime News Network, Gatchaman Crowds will consist of 12 30-minute episodes.

Gatchaman features a young five-member superhero team; while most of the members are in their late teens, one of them is only about 11 years old. The members of the team are: team leader Ken Washio, second-in-command Joe Asakura, electronics and demolitions expert Jun, reconnaissance expert Jinpei, and pilot Ryu Nakanishi. The team members wear a uniform to represent a particular bird: Ken is an eagle, Joe is a condor, Jun is a swan, Jinpei is a swallow, and Ryu is an owl.

Each member of the team also has a signature weapon and vehicle, as well as a mundane-looking disguised form. They also have a wrist device that serves as a communicator and a tracking device; it can also be used to change modes with the proper gesture and voice command.

The team also has a vehicle called the GodPhoenix, which is a supersonic plane that is capable of underwater travel and some minor space travel. It can also temporarily transform into a massive phoenix of flame in order to escape from danger; however, the process of going into this mode is taxing on the team.

The Gatchaman team is employed by Dr. Kozaburo Nambu of the “International Science Organization.” The organization’s mission is to stop the technologically advanced Galactor from taking over Earth’s natural resources.

I admit that I didn’t get to see Battle of the Planets when it originally aired on American television in 1978, because I was living in Japan at the time due to my father being in Navy and being stationed there in the late 1970s. While I might have potentially seen Gatchaman II or Gatchaman Fighter on Japanese television when they are on the air, I have no memory of it; this would be due to the fact that I would have been between the ages of three and four when those two series would have been current on Japanese television.

We left Japan in 1980 after my father was given orders to be stationed in Hawaii, and we lived there for four years in the early 1980s. After getting cable around 1983, I remember flipping through channels and coming across a rerun of Battle of the Planets. We have a Japanese 7” record of a song from Gatchaman that my dad bought while we lived there, and I recognized the characters from the cover of the 7” record. Unfortunately, this is only a vague memory, and I seem to recall only watching that one episode.

Around 2007-2008, I found the first episode of Battle of the Planets on YouTube and watched it. It wasn’t too bad for what it was, considering that it was an English dub of an early 1970s anime. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if what I saw was the original Sandy Frank Entertainment dub from 1978 or ADV’s dub from 2005.

From what I’ve read, it seems that to some anime fans, Gatchaman was the start of the five-member group dynamic that became prevalent in other anime series. One of the best examples of this dynamic is Beast King GoLion.

Gatchaman has gone on to become a classic anime title, and the fact that a new series for the franchise is just around the corner proves that there is still interest in this property over forty years after its original debut.