Review of 'Science Ninja Team Gatchaman: The Movie (Kagaku ninja tai Gatchaman)'

gatchaman.jpg A group of five teenage super-heroes (ninjas) are tasked with defeating the nefarious “Sosai X”, the leader of Galactor, an evil alien terrorist organization who seeks the overthrow of earth. Using their spaceship “God Phoenix” they defeat each of the horrible plans of Galactor and save the day (not giving anything away, you understand).

This is based on the television series of the same name (that was released in the west - heavily modified - as “Battle of Planets”) and effectively stitches together many story-lines of the series into a single film - It certainly feels this way with any occasional watcher recognizing each story as it comes and goes - There is little chance to celebrate the defeat of one giant robot attacker before the next comes along (development/build times for these things seem to be quite minimal).

By today's standards, the animation is basic but at the time it was cutting edge. The introduction of the idea of a team working together to defeat evil was revolutionary and makes it more interesting. In the film we are only really properly introduced to the leader “Ken” who is suffering existentially over not knowing who his father is (when watching there is no prize in guessing who it is - you can see it a mile away). It is interesting to see that they do not shy away from death here with no one really being entirely safe. This does help give at least a little peril to work against - If not the baddies who are repeatedly dispatched in vast numbers.

I have to admit that I was a fan of the US version of this growing up so it made it easier to follow and understand. It is much better to see the original which has far more depth and characterization than the banal treatment given to it by the west (a talking, wisecracking, robot narrator, seriously?).

Interesting and innovative for it's time. This is a bit of history but not for anyone but a die-hard classic anime fan (who will likely have this in their list of top anime pieces of all time).

Rating: “A bit better than average”

Review Date: 2015-08-02

Directed by: Toriumi Hisayuki

Studio: Tatsunoko Production

Year: 1978

Length: 110 minutes

Genre: Japanese Animation