Directed by David E. Hanson
- 2 bonus episodes of Gatchaman and one bonus G-Force episode
- English, Spanish, and Portugese language tracks
My Advice: Don't bother.
Dindrane's Anime Warnings:
- Gratuitous editing
For those of you new to Battle of the Planets and Gatchaman, a little background is in order: Battle of the Planets was born as Space Ninja Team Gatchaman (Gatchaman for short) in Japan in the early 1970s. Twenty episodes were cut from the Japanese run when the series was ported to the US; to explain the missing data, the character "7-Zark-7," a friendly robot who will look quite familiar to Star Wars fans, was created to serve as a kind of metallic Greek chorus. Not only episodes were cut, but also violence deemed unsuitable for the child audience of American animation. When Turner bought the rights in the mid-1980s, some of the "violent" content and drama were edited back in, and the result was G-Force. This series didn't air in its entirely until 1995, when Cartoon Network acquired the episodes.
The "features" are what save these disks from hopelessness. These DVDs from Rhino contain at least one episode from all three versions, allowing American audiences to bemoan what was done to an initially interesting Anime series. Rhino shows a great deal of foresight in including these extra episodes; not only do they explain what Battle of the Planets unaccountably cuts, but they keep a buyer from resenting spending their money. Unfortunately, the original Gatchaman episodes are only available in Japanese with English subtitles, so if you prefer your Anime dubbed, you are out of luck. Instead of the excitement and peril of the original Gatchaman and the mildly watered-down G-Force, Battle of the Planets is just, well, lame. Too much editing resulted in a series that just plain doesn't make much sense at times - for example, Gatchaman was set solely on and around Earth. No other planets involved. So who are they "battling?"
The stereo sound quality is acceptable, but the image quality leaves much to be desired. It looks about as you would expect it to look after sitting on the shelf for 30 years and not being re-edited, digitally or otherwise. The resulting cracking and streaking does lend something to that nostalgic effect, though, reminding viewers of childhood television experiences. The menus are actually pretty cool, presenting a brief breakdown of vitals for a few major characters. The type is very small, though, so sit close to the TV to appreciate this.
The voice talent is somewhat distracting, providing Batman's Robin and a host of goofy villains. The addition of the 7-Zark-7 and his faithful (and oh-so-American) canine companion might drive you up the wall, but the voice of Princess is actually much less irritating than her character might have allowed.
The cases are nice, with the preferable "yin-yang" style button in the center of the disks that holds them steady and don't make you feel you're about to break the disk to get it out. The images are crisp and attractive. Each disk comes with a page listing the disk's scene index, including that of the bonus Gatchaman episodes.
Two episodes per disk seems fairly paltry until you realize that each disk also comes with the corresponding Gatchaman episodes for comparison and a G-Force episode. Five episodes then in all isn't too shabby, though you'll probably find yourself watching only the Gatchaman episodes.
In short, if you are a Gatchaman fan, you're probably better off just buying those disks, unless you are curious to see what was done to the franchise. If you're in search of more ammunition to make you resent the American mental block that says animated = for children, then this butchered, "mainstreamed" series is for you - you'll sputter in anger constantly. If, on the other hand, you just enjoy camp, you'll like these disks. Or if you just remember Battle of the Planets from your childhood as I do, then you might want to take a stroll down memory lane and remember the days of Speed Racer and America's first brush with animated greatness. And what we did to it when we found it unguarded.
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