Science Ninja Team Gatchaman: Wikis


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Science Ninja Team Gatchaman
(Kagaku Ninja tai Gatchaman)
Genre Adventure, Science fiction
TV anime
Director Hisayuki Toriumi
Writer Jinzo Toriumi
Studio Tatsunoko Productions
Licensor Canada United States A.D. Vision
Network Japan Fuji TV, Nippon Columbia, Cartoon Network Japan
Original run October 1, 1972September 29, 1974[1]
Episodes 105 (List of episodes)
Anime and Manga Portal

Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (科学忍者隊ガッチャマン Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman?) is a 5-member superhero team that is composed of the main characters in several Japanese anime created by Tatsuo Yoshida and originally produced in Japan by Tatsunoko Productions and later adapted into several English-language versions. It is also known by the abbreviated name Gatchaman. The original series, produced in 1972, was eponymously named Kagaku Ninja Tai Gatchaman and is most well-known to the English-speaking world as the adaptation titled Battle of the Planets (or alternately G-Force, not to be confused with the subsequent 1980's English adaptation of Gatchaman, known as G-Force: Guardians of Space). Tatsunoko also uses the official translation Science Commando Gatchaman, as shown in numerous related products and media.

A second feature film version of Gatchaman is being produced by Imagi Animation Studios for release in 2011. The first feature film was released in 1978.



The original 1972 Kagaku Ninja Tai Gatchaman series was followed by two sequel series, Gatchaman II (1978) and Gatchaman F (1979). In 1994, the original series was remade as a condensed OVA series. Additionally, the original and sequel series were adapted and translated into several English-language versions, with the most well-known being Battle of the Planets. Because the English-language versions are notoriously inconsistent not only with one another but also with the original Japanese series, viewers most familiar with the English versions often experience some confusion upon re-examining the series after a long hiatus.

Created in the wake of the hugely successful Henshin boom started by Shotaro Ishinomori's Kamen Rider in 1971, this series was notable as being one of the most successful anime attempts to emulate the American superhero genre with many of its conventions such as colorful costumes, powers, and secret identities. It also established the convention of the five member hero team that has been emulated in later series, most notably the successful tokusatsu Super Sentai franchise (which was adapted into English as the Power Rangers franchise many years later); in fact, the Sentai series Chōjin Sentai Jetman was in many ways an homage to Gatchaman. [2][3][1]

Plot and character summary

Best described as a sci-fi action anime, recurring themes of Gatchaman involve conservation of nature, environmentalism, and responsible use of technology for progress and advancement. The series is centered around five young superhero ninja in the employ of Dr. Kozaburō Nambu of the fictitious "International Science Organization" to oppose a group of technologically advanced villains, known as Galactor, from trying to take control of the Earth's natural resources. The operational leader of Galactor is an androgynous masked antagonist, Bergu Kattse, who is later revealed to be a shape-shifting mutant hermaphrodite acting on the orders of an alien superior, Sosai X. The most common recurring plot involved Gatchaman opposing giant monster mecha dispatched by Galactor to steal or control various natural resources (water, oil, sugar, uranium, etc). These Mechas were often animal-based.[2] The Science Ninja Team is often aided by a mysterious squadron of combat pilots lead by the enigmatic Red Impulse, who is later revealed to be Ken's father. Joe Asakura is actually 'George Asakura', his father and mother were originally members of the Galactor Syndicate. For an unknown reason they decided to defect to the other side but whilst waiting for Dr Nambu, they were killed by a Galactor 'Devil Star', only George survived because he was attacked with a rose bomb & survived, but Dr Nambu pretended he was killed by it, he brought him up from then on as his son. (By the way he is known as Joe because the Japanese pet name for George is 'Joji' shortened by everyone to Joe).

The main characters featured always wore either teen fashions with numbered T-shirts showing their rank in the team or caped battle uniforms styled after various birds.[4]

From left to right: Ken, Ryu, Jinpei, Jun and Joe.

Most of the team were in its late teens, apart from Jinpei who was about ten or eleven. They included Ken Washio, the team leader & tactical expert; Joe Asakura, his second-in-command,marksman & weapons expert; Jun, the team's electronics and demolitions expert; Jinpei, the youngest and reconnaissance expert, and 'adopted' brother of Jun; and Ryu Nakanishi, the ship's pilot.[5]

The Gatchaman team employed an unique style of highly violent and effective martial arts, developed by Dr. Nambu, that drew from their physical abilities to enable them to perform superhuman feats, akin to their avian namesakes, such as high-speed run and flight, high jumping, silent movement/attack and the like. This fighting system was known as Science Ninja Arts (科学忍法 Kagaku Ninpō?)and it is mentioned in the original Japanese lyrics of the Gatchaman theme song. The team members also used various signature weapons and mecha-style vehicles, which each had a more mundane-looking disguised form. To change modes, each member is equipped with a special wrist device that, aside from being a communicator and tracking device, enabled the change when the proper gesture and voice command "Bird, Go!" is given. Their vehicles are docked in the team's main vehicle, the God Phoenix, a supersonic plane capable of underwater travel and minor space flight as necessary. The God Phoenix is armed with an unspecified but large (roughly 30+) number of Bird Missiles that are fired from a rack system mounted atop the center section. After the original God Phoenix was destroyed by an octopus-based mecha, an improved version carried a pair of Super Bird Missiles in twin drop-down pods from the bottom center section, which could be fitted with either a warhead for attack, or a manned capsule to carry a passenger for a boarding operation when it successfully impacts into an enemy vessel. The ship also could have an energy beam weapon that is deployed by sliding opening the nose doors for the weapon apparatus that is mounted on the same frame holding Joe's car, but its solar power source is unreliable because of its sensitivity to any interfering cloud cover. In addition, when necessary, the plane can temporarily transform into a massive bird of flame like the legendary Phoenix to escape danger or as a powerful attack, although the process itself endangers the team.[6]

Adaptations and changes

G-1 the Eagle, aka Ken Washio, leader of the Science Ninja Team

The original series was shown in Japan. Later, it was exported to other countries. In Taiwan beginning in 1977, it was known as "Ke Xue Xiao Fei Xia" (「科學小飛俠」/“科学小飞侠”, Scientific Flying Fantasy Warriors) which aired on the China TV network which repeated several times, then on American television in 1978, in heavily edited form, as Battle of the Planets (BOTP for short). The series was shown again on American television in 1986 and 1995 in a newly translated form as G-Force: Guardians of Space; while this version cut out much less of the original, and had a much more faithful translation, the voice acting and the background music (not to mention the Americanized names chosen for the characters) were widely panned. The two sequel series, Gatchaman II and Gatchaman Fighter were combined into one and translated as Eagle Riders in 1996, with yet more changes to audio and character names.

ADV Films released an uncut version of the series in the USA with an all-new English 5.1 dub, on DVD starting June 14, 2005. This release included all 105 episodes, with all footage left in. The dub aims to be a faithful translation, without attempts to sanitize the show for younger viewers (meaning there is profanity and utterances of the word "kill"). All violent scenes have been left in as they were in the original Japanese broadcast.

In 2007, Sandy Frank's long-term contract with Tatsunoko Productions (owners of the Gatchaman franchise), which gave it all domestic U.S rights to the first Gatchaman series (along with its English adaptations) lapsed, which leaves both the Battle of the Planets and G-Force adaptations in limbo, with ADV Film's uncut English dub (long since out of print) being the only one readily available on the market. In addition, ADV's sub-license with Sandy Frank that allowed them to release its uncut dub during 2005–2006 has also expired, and ADV itself ceased operations in September 2009. It is not known if any U.S companies currently own the domestic rights to the Gatchaman series. Plans are afoot for a possible live action film of Gatchaman.[7]


Team variations across different versions

Gatchaman (and sequels) Ken Washio Joe Asakura Jun Jinpei Ryū Nakanishi
Battle of the Planets Mark Jason Princess Keyop Tiny Harper
G-Force Ace Goodheart Dirk Daring Agatha June Pee Wee Hoot Owl
Eagle Riders Hunter Harris Joe Thax Kelly Jennar Mickey Dugan Ollie Keeawani
OVA (Dub) Ken the Eagle Joe the Condor June the Swan Jimmy the Falcon‡ Rocky the Owl
Rank G1 G2 G3 G4 G5
Bird Uniform (aka 'Birdstyle') Eagle Condor Swan Swallow Owl
Weapon Razor Sonic boomerang Harpoon pistol, also the Shuriken Yo-yo Bolo Fists
Mecha Airplane Race Car Motorcycle Dune Buggy God Phoenix
Japanese seiyū (also applies for sequels) Katsuji Mori Isao Sasaki Kazuko Sugiyama Yōku Shioya Shingo Kanemoto
Japanese seiyū (OVA) Masaya Onosaka Kōji Ishii Michiko Neya Rica Matsumoto Fumihiko Tachiki
Voice actor (BOTP) Casey Kasem Ronnie Schell Janet Waldo Alan Young Alan Dinehart
Voice actor (G-Force) Sam Fontana Cam Clarke Barbara Goodson Jan Rabson
Voice actor (OVA Dub) Eddie Frierson Richard Cansino Lara Cody Mona Marshall Richard Epcar
Voice actor (Eagle Riders) Richard Cansino Bryan Cranston Heidi Noelle Lenhart Paul Schrier
Voice actor (ADV Dub) Leraldo Anzaldua Brian Jepson Kim Prause Luci Christian Victor Carsrud

‡Although he was obviously the Swallow, Jimmy called himself the Falcon.

Other character variations across different versions

Gatchaman Battle of the Planets G-Force Eagle Riders OVA (Dub)
Dr. Kozaburō Nambu Chief Anderson Dr. Benjamin Brighthead Dr. Thaddeus Keane Dr. Kozaburō Nambu
ISO Director Anderson President Kane Anderson/Comander Todd (some episodes) Anderson Director Anderson
Red Impulse/
Kentaro Washio
Colonel Cronos Red Impulse Harley Harris Red Specter
Berg Katse Zoltar Galactor Lukan Solaris
Sosai X The Luminous One /
The Great Spirit
Computor Cybercom Lord Zortek
Galactor Forces of Planet Spectra Planet Galactor Vorak Galactor
Geru Sadora
(Gatchaman 2)

Other notable changes

Identity change command
Battle of the Planets
Identity change command
Identity change command
Eagle Riders change command OVA change command (English)
Bird, Go! Transmute! G-Force, Transform! Eagle Mode, NOW!
Ken Eagle One, Transform!
Joe Shapeshift, Condor
June Swan Mode, Now!
Jimmy Falcon Tracker, Transform!
Rocky Owl Mode 5, Transmute

Gatchaman (OVA)

A series reboot, it used updated character designs and altered backgrounds.

Gatchaman movie

In popular culture

  • In 2000, a parody involving Gatchaman in Archie's Sonic The Hedgehog series' Sonic Super Special #12 was known as "Sonicaman: Chaos Ninja Team".
  • In 2000, NTT East produced two animated and two live-action television commercials for their ISDN service featuring a more updated version of Gatchaman, featuring members of the J-Pop boy group SMAP.[8]
  • In 2003 this anime series was aired in Taiwan which the opening song was performed by famous hip pop boyband Energy.
  • Gatchaman became the inspiration of Chōjin Sentai Jetman in the order, except that, in the latter, the swallow is a female, and the eagle is replaced by a hawk (however, an eagle enters the team's formation in the Jetman epilogue manga, albeit in the place of the condor, who had died at the end of the TV series). Before that, it seemed to have inspired the idea of Goranger.
  • The opening credits of Gatchaman began with the five heroes' silhouettes flying across the screen at high speed. At the beginning of each episode of The Powerpuff Girls the three titular heroines dart across the screen in a similar manner before that episode's title card.
  • On the Gachapin website, the character can be seen dressed in the outfit of Eagle.[9]
  • On The Simpsons December 14, 2003 couch gags - The couch is a street bench in Japan, and everyone is a famous anime or tokusatsu character: Homer is Ultraman, Marge is Jun from Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, Lisa is Usagi Tsukino, the protagonist from Sailor Moon, Bart is Astro Boy and Maggie is Pikachu from Pokémon. The episode was called "'Tis the Fifteenth Season."
  • In episode 2 of Nurse Witch Komugi, Komugi battles her rival by dressing up as the entire Gatchaman force.
  • Tatsunoko Fight and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All Stars are two games in which characters from the show make special appearances.
  • Megas XLR had two episodes involving a Gatchaman parody known as the S-Force.
  • In Teen Titans TV show, Robin uses a glider and helmet to fly after villains which resemble Gatchaman. His birdarang is almost identical to Ken's razor boomerang as well.
  • In the "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" episode "The Color of Revenge," the adult Robin, who is the guardian of Bludhaven City, makes a dramatic appearance on his motorcycle (seemingly evoking the Kaneda character from Akira) and leaps to the ground very much looking like a member of Gatchaman with his pointed helmet visor and cape (another point of the reference being that Robin's namesake is that of a bird, much like the Gatchamen were based on birds).
  • The character Waka from the video game Ōkami has an outfit who resembles very much the Gatchaman's.
  • Gatchaman is obviously parodied in episode 213 of the Bleach anime series. In it, the character known as Karakura Riser and his team's costumes and poses have an almost direct resemblance.
  • The first issue of the Justice Society of America spin-off JSA All-Stars features a scene where the characters discuss potential names for their new team. Japanese superheroine Judomaster jokingly suggests "Kagaku Ninja Tai Gacchaman" as a possible title. Her teammate Rick Tyler is the only one in the room to get the reference, claiming that he loved the english dub of G-Force.
  • In the Torchwood novel Trace Memory, it is revealed that, as a child, Toshiko Sato wanted to be a member of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, her favourite tv show while growing up in Japan.

Episodes list


  1. ^ "科学忍者隊ガッチャマン サブタイトルリスト". Tatsunoko Productions. Retrieved 2008-07-20. (Japanese)
  2. ^ a b "GATCHAMAN! The story of Tatsuo Yoshida and his greatest creation". Comic Book Resources. 2008-05-11. Retrieved 2008-06-25. 
  3. ^ "New from Japan: Anime Film Reviews". Animation World Network. Retrieved 2008-06-25. 
  4. ^ "Tatsunoko Pro". Tatsunoko Productions. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  5. ^ "科学忍者隊ガッチャマン". Tatsunoko Productions. Retrieved 2008-07-20. (Japanese)
  6. ^ "科学忍者隊ガッチャマン". Tatsunoko Productions. Retrieved 2008-07-20. (Japanese)
  7. ^ "Yatterman, Gatchaman Live-Action Movies Green-Lit". Anime News Network. 2008-07-10. Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  8. ^ "GATCHAMAN!". Internet Archive. Retrieved 2008-09-17. 
  9. ^ "ガッチャピン公式サイト". Retrieved 2007-08-18. (Japanese)

Further reading

External links


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