The Gatchaman Collection

The Gatchaman Collection (1994)
Heretic Entertainment
Cast: The Science Ninja Team
Extras: Bonus Trailers

I rarely mention DVD cover art in my reviews, but I must draw attention to Urban Vision’s gutsy move to give their ’Gatchaman Collection’ such a spartan cover. Still, it’s obviously effective, for as I was perusing the new releases, I suddenly stopped and said, ’Is that G-Force?’ Yes, kiddies, for those of us who grew up in the 70s, ’Gatchaman’ is wthe Japanese incarnation of that weekday afternoon TV stand-by ’Battle of the Planets’. This particular DVD is an OAV collection of ’Gatchaman’ episodes from 1994. Once I got used to the name changes, and the updated designs, I soon fell into nostalgic bliss, as the memories of the adventures aboard the Phoenix came flooding back.

The ’Gatchaman Collection’ contains three separate episodes, each running about forty-five minutes, together making up an entire story arc. ’The Dragon King’, introduces the viewer to all of the main players. First, we have the villainous aliens, The Galactor, led by the evil Solaris. The Galactor have been on Earth for 3 million years, and have now decided to take the planet for their own. To accomplish this task, they have allied themselves with the Republic of Hontworl, and have unleashed a giant war machine shaped like a dragon. Fortunately, Dr. Nanbu, head of the International Science Organization, has created the Science Ninja Team. This group of five teenagers, who have taken on the likeness of different birds for their uniforms, are specially trained to fight The Galactors. In Volume 2, ’The Red Specter’, the Science Ninja Team visit a mysterious Galactor island, where they are assisted by the rogue Red Specter team. In Volume 3, The Galactor launch their final assault to destroy humanity, and Ken must face Solaris and his past.

As alluded to above, this ’Gatchaman’ is slightly different from the American version of the original series. While the five team members essentially look the same, their names are obviously different. These are the unedited episodes, so there is more violence and sexuality than we Americans were used to. (Also, there’s some profanity in the subtitled version.) That aside, these three episodes play much like their older cousins. The only real drawback here is that there is way too much plot and when the Science Ninja Team isn’t on-screen, the story tends to drag, but, once the battles begin, it’s just like old times. The animation is standard anime fare, but the action rocks!

Urban Vision have brought the ’Gatchaman Collection’ to DVD in its original full-frame presentation. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a fine sheen of grain, with some minor defects from the source print evident. The colors look good, but like some anime aren’t very bold. The exception here is that the blacks are very deep and rich.

The audio is a 2-channel surround mix for both the English and Japanese tracks. The only difference is that the English track is slightly louder. Both offer clear and audible dialogue with no discernible hiss or distortion. There isn’t a great deal of surround sound action, but the audio from the rear speakers does add some depth to the presentation. The English subtitles are yellow and quite easy to read.

As an unadvertised bonus, there is a music video at the end of Volume 3. The song is in Japanese, and the video is made up of clips from the show.