An alien race known as the Gallactor have secretly inhabited Earth for millions of years, watching the rise of man and plotting to enslave them in order to take control of the planet. As a world almost united prepares for peace, a lone nation dissents and prepares for war, and only a select few know that this nation is only a front for the Gallactor's impending invasion of Earth from within.
A secret organization within the UN has been established to confront this menace head on, by taking the battle to the Gallactor themselves: the Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. These five aim to do what no one had been able to do since the inception of man: destroy the insidious Gallactor and make the world truly free.
Having been too young to watch the original 70s Gatchaman (aka Battle of the Planets, G-Force, and Eagle Riders), I really didn't have any nostalgia to associate with the series, though I recognized the usual hero-team formula from other shows of the time. That having been said, the new '94 Gatchaman is actually not that bad. The 70s character designs have been revamped to early 90s hipness, though still retaining much of the old feel. The mecha are reminiscent of a past decade, yet very up to date and actually rather neat to watch. The storyline is rather trite, having, of course, been lifted straight from the 70s, but the art and animation are of decent quality, and acting is actually solid, if not spectacular.
I must comment here, however, that the dub voice of Solaris is just beyond androgynous. (Perfectly fitting for the character, it seems, though it is VERY hard to take a villain seriously who strikes a ridiculous pose every time he (she?) says, "Hail Gallactor!")
The English-language theme song is rather good - I had originally thought that it was a dub-only addition, but it's actually the original theme to the series.
A recap of this series on DVD highlights both its merits and its shortcomings - as a three-episode series, it really doesn't have enough time to develop characters much beyond the archetypes whose roles they are to fulfill, though in retrospect some of the "modernizations" are surprisingly original and welcome. The animation holds up well, and the designs by the oft-maligned Umetsu Yasuomi are attractive and clean, which still evoking the "old school" feel that the Gatchaman franchise is supposed to have. Very 70s chic, though not always terribly practical or sensible. And the Doctor will always have terrible hair.
This incarnation of Gatchaman is a decent entry into the hero-team mix, and I recommend it to fans of the older versions of this series. Though not by any means impressive, it's still a very interesting update to a type of show that, no matter how outdated it seems, can still be a fun watch on a Sunday afternoon. For those too young to remember, however, it would be a LONG Sunday afternoon ...
A solid reset of an older franchise, which nevertheless remains of questionable value to most newer fans. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: This series does get more violent than the TV series did. Should still be okay for younger teens and above, though anyone not a fan of the original show may be bored by this OAV series.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, English dub; R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (3/3)
Gatchaman © 1994 Tatsunoko
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