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Gatchaman (1994) – DVD Review

Gatchaman DVD cover art


English Language Version Written and Directed by: Steve Kramer
Directed by: Hiroyuki Fukishima & Akihiko Nishiyama
Character Design by: Yasuomi Umezu


  • English and Japanese language tracks
  • Digitally remastered audio
  • Contains all three 45-minute OAV episodes
  • DVD-ROM content (UrbanVision weblinks)
  • Trailers for other UrbanVision titles

Doc’s Anime Warnings:

  • Graphic melodrama
  • Cheezy fashion sense
  • Science ninja nekkidness
  • Decades-outdated dialogue

Released by: Urban Vision
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: Nope

My Advice: Rent it if you feel nostalgic.

[ad#longpost]The trials and tribulations of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman’s trans-pacific voyage are well-documented elsewhere on this site, so I’ll spare you my lame attempt to cover ground already established by our anime expert-in-residence Dindrane. Suffice it to say that the original Gatchaman series is something most Americans haven’t seen, and Battle of the Planets is lame.

This disc, sold as the Gatchaman Collection DVD can be a little misleading to the unwary otaku. Rather than collecting original, early-70s Gatchaman episodes, the disc presents a 90s revisit to the classic characters in a set of three original animation videos, or OAVs. Created less than a decade ago, these were an attempt to recapture the cool that was the original series, for the sake of audiences hungering for more of their favorite science ninjas, particularly in light of the Turner re-edit and broadcasts of the newly titled G-Force.

While such a revisit could have injected new life and gallons of coolness into a series that was starting to look a little long in the tooth, these OAVs instead simply rehash tired themes and lame plotlines already exhausted by the original series and its countless imitators. What was original and clever in 1974 hardly cuts it in 1994, and the total lack of any effort on the part of the creative team behind these 45-minute episodes to do anything interesting or new with the characters is a real shame.

These three videos deal with one of the recurring villains of the original series, the Galactor and their devious leader, Solaris. With stereotypical evil villain cackling, Solaris plans to take over the Earth. And the Gatchaman team must stop his evil plans. Solaris plans to accomplish this with a succession of giant war machines, all of which the Gatchaman team must ultimately infiltrate and destroy. If this is starting to sound boring and repetitive, that’s because it is. Any random episode of Battle of the Planets or G-Force covered the same ground…two decades earlier. C’mon guys, make with the “A” material.

Ken Washio from Gatchaman

The animation does look good, to be fair. The artistic stylings are a direct translation of the original series — no attempt has been made to update the look of the show, which could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your tastes. The voice-acting is decent, though the ham-fisted melodramatic dialogue would be hard for anybody to make sound good. The features list on the disc is a little bit paltry, but since you’re getting a complete set of the 90s OAVs, it’s still a pretty good deal.

Jun from Gatchaman

In all fairness, if you’re just feeling nostalgic for the old series, this disc won’t disappoint. But if you were kind of hoping to see somebody take what is a much-beloved, but still incredibly cheezy, classic anime and put a new and interesting spin on it, you’ll be terribly disappointed. The only way one can tell the episodes on this disc weren’t part of the original broadcast of the series is some slight (very slight) costume modifications on the main characters. And the animation is a little bit cleaner. Other than that, these look like they fell through a wormhole and landed on an animator’s desk 20 years in the future.

Joe, Ryu and Jinpei from Gatchaman

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1 comment

  • I recently watched the original Gatchaman series, and was surprised by how good the animation-particularly the character animation was. The people looked a lot more convincing than most anime characters. But Gatchaman Ova was clearly done by a much less sophisticated group of artists. The character animation is terrible, nearly as bad as Pokemon or one of the other “junk anime” shows that tokyo has been spitting out for the last 20 years. I found Gatchaman Ova to be hard to watch. It seems to me if you are going to remake something, doing a good job should be a high priority. I wouldn’t even bother watching this thing.