Review

by Allen Divers, Jan 12th 2002

Gatchaman (OAV)

Collection DVD

Synopsis:
Gatchaman Collection DVD
For 3 million years, the Alien Galactors have lived among humans, guiding them and preparing them to be enslaved. The Galactors had always lived in the shadows of humans, but have begun to gather their resources for the birth of a new world order. Only Gatchaman, a secret ninja force can stop the Alien Galactors as they move to enslave the people of Earth.
Review:
Gatchaman Collection DVD collects the 3-part OAV series created in 1993. Based on the hit TV series of the late 70s, this new OAV takes the classic storyline and characters updating them with a new style and dynamic atmosphere. The TV series was seen in the U.S. under the names "Battle of the Planets" and "G-Force".

Updating something that is considered a classic is a difficult prospect. Some creators will often adjust the timeline and create a set of new characters to play in the familiar world of the original series. With Gatchaman, the creators stuck to the original story and characters, really updating only the character and mecha designs. The characters remain in their original bird motif outfits with only minor adjustments for the overall style of animation. There change to the mecha, the ships and vehicles used by the characters, is more noticeable than anything else. The vehicles seem more real and much more dynamic as the characters interact with them. The Phoenix (Godphoenix in the Japanese version), the familiar red and blue colors left intact, becomes a whole character on its own with its new design and functions.

The English voices feel a bit off. Considering the past of Ken and Joe, the two main protagonists, you would expect a bit more angst in their voices. Both have significant reasons for being a part of the Science Ninja Team, but the performances come off a bit flat. The Japanese voice actors do a good job of expressing these emotions, so it's a bit disappointing to find them missing in the English dub. The English actor for Solaris, the main antagonist, comes off as pompous and uncaring and a bit feminine which actually fits well with the design of the character.

While maintaining the general flow of the original Japanese script, the English dub takes several liberties by changing the character names and descriptions of their equipment and transformations. The names used in the English dub are based on the character names used when the show was originally brought over to the U.S. Also, much of the small verbal interaction between the characters doesn't get translated at all, allowing what little character development that occurs disappear. The subtitles carry these little interactions, so the Japanese and English dubs really have a different feel.

The soundtrack is a bit unusual, with an English language rock ballad running through the high points of the show. It brings an interesting dark feel to the romanticism of the characterizations, but other than that, it provides no real tie-in with the plot.

The plotline for these OAVs is rather simple. In fact, it's more of a retelling of the original TV series, revamped and shortened to fit within the 3 OAV episodes. Those looking for serious character development will be disappointed, as the series focuses more on the fight between Gatchaman and the Alien Galactors. The fight scenes are quite spectacular, as well as much of the mecha combat, although the end is never in any doubt. This is a very simple story of Good vs. Evil, with no time for any significant character development or the resolution of any sub-plots. A few sub-plots are hinted at, such as the origins of the main characters, but are only given a bit of lip service as the main plot barrels through.

As a fan of the original show, I'm a bit disappointed that there is no concentration on the other 3 members of the Gatchaman team, Jun, Ryu and Jinpei. The unfortunate side effect of an action driven OAV series is the fact that character development is often left as an after thought. This is compounded by the liberties taken in the English dub to exercise a lot of this interaction.

It is still great though to see a show I grew up with come back strong with an updated look and feel. It shows this genre of action shows still has a lot of room to grow in and gives them more universal appeal as they adapt to the changing audience. Sure, the helmeted costume with capes seems a bit outdated, but this revamped style wears it well, without making it seem cheesy or comical.

Grade:
Production Info:
Overall (dub) : C
Overall (sub) : A
Animation : A
Art : A
Music : B

+ Great update to a classic Anime
Character development is left behind with the concentration on action

Director:
Hiroyuki Fukushima
Akihiko Nishiyama
Storyboard:Yasuomi Umetsu
Music:
Bill Meyers
Maurice White
Original creator:Tatsuo Yoshida
Character Design:Yasuomi Umetsu
Animation Director:Yasuomi Umetsu
Mechanical design:Kimitoshi Yamane

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Gatchaman (OAV)

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