What They Say:
With Earth’s resources dwindling, the new Mantel Plan, which unifies all the planets power sources into a single network, is vital to the continued survival of mankind. But the terrorist entity Galactor wants those resources for itself, unleashing giant engines of mass destruction while, one by one, key members of the International Science Organization begin disappearing. To combat this threat, the ISO’s secret squad of science ninjas and their ship the God Phoenix are brought into play. But between Galactor’s new technology and superior numbers, it may be that not even the Gatchaman team is up to the task. But a mysterious force is about to enter the fight, one whose forces could turn the tide of battle. But who is behind the mysterious Red Impulse? And why have they remained hidden for so long? The war for Earth’s future hits an all new level as the classic anime series gets a radically new look in GATCHAMAN – THE OVAs!
Contains episodes: 1 – Gatchaman vs Turtle King, 2 – The Mysterious Red Impulse, 3 – Final Count 0002
Both the English and Japanese are presented in 2.0 and both dialogue and effects are to their fullest here. I was never disappointed, given that this was made in 1994, with the action effects or dialogue presented here. The dub is also easy to listen to, and clearly nicer than the Japanese—a result of the English being produced much more recently.
The video on the set is quite nice. Originally airing in 1994, it’s presented in its original 4:3 instead of stretching it to 16:9 (thankfully, still 4:3 I should say). I think it actually looks nicer than the Another and Special A sets I reviewed prior. But it gets the job done and is about as good as you can expect from a DVD.
The packaging is as Spartan as you could get for a DVD. The box is relatively flimsy, but does the job well. No insert and no reversible DVD artwork. Really not much to say about it, because there’s just nothing there to comment on.
It did, however, receive a chip in the bottom right of the box within about two hours of me taking the plastic off, which is worth noting.
Everything is pretty straightforward on the menu. The episodes are listed on the main screen and language and special features options are just as easy to use. It’s backed by the red, white, and blue color scheme of the Gatchaman and a piece of character artwork to the right.
There’s nothing in the way of extras, as to be expected for a relatively old release such as Gatchaman. The Special Features are trailers of other Sentai properties—including one for Casshan, another old property—and the disc credits.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Made in 1994 as a remake of the original 1972 TV series, this Gatchaman OAV contains three episodes compared to the monstrous 105 of the TV. It features an all new cast in both Japanese and English (this OAV has five English tracks listed on Wikipedia). The extent of my exposure to Gatchaman has been with the 2013 series, Gatchaman Crowds. Other than that, I know little to nothing about the original TV series (but John Rose wrote up a nice review of the first episode of Gatchaman Crowds here on the Fandom Post, giving a little background of that TV series and its relation to Crowds).
The Gatchaman team gathers once again after the threat of Galactor, specifically the Turtle King, presents itself. The absence, it seems, was the result of something involving Jou. But it’s clearly hit everyone on the team hard enough to take the absence. The story is rather black and white, with the Turtle King providing your cut-and-paste villain—or pawn rather—that wants to take over the world. The true villain is Berg Katze, who has a superior of his own. He reveals that he wants to send a nation into chaos, setting off World War III, and take over the world in the ensuing chaos. Their plan is to infiltrate the Turtle King’s ship and destroy it from within instead of using the Bird Missiles, which I assume are flashier. They use the excuse of wanting to have a trump card.
On the ship, all seems to be going well until Jou falls into a trap and they end up having to fight at least half the crew of the ship. The sequence takes about five minutes and, like the rest of the episode, overstays its welcome. The scene sums up my feelings of the first episode rather well, as the entire thing could be half the length and convey the same amount of information. It takes the entire first half to even know who the Gatchaman are in any depth and I wonder why it would ever take that long to introduce main characters in a first episde. Once the ball gets rolling, it does indeed roll. But plot is focused on too heavily and the most I learn about any of the characters is that Jun likes Ken and Jinpei likes to poke fun at her for it.
As such, the first episode fails at the most basic storytelling requirements, in my opinion. I need to know more about the characters to be truly invested in this story and I simply don’t. What it succeeds at very entertainingly is setting up plot. Berg Katze is definitely the guy to deal with and there is no doubt that I want to see him taken down. That and the abilities of the Gatchaman crew are spelled out rather nicely without feeling shoehorned in.
I fail to see what the second episode accomplished, aside from introducing a new character in the form of that “red impulse.” The entire thing could have been set up in the length of a typical anime episode, as in 24 minutes, but it instead takes twice that long. The problem isn’t with the plot, which is episodic, as I hear the original Gatchaman TV series was. But it’s that nothing happens with regards to the characters. Given that this is a three episode remake, the characters have to mean more than they do and be more than “just superheroes.” You can have a slow burn in 105 episodes, but the flaws are much more noticeable with only three.
The third and final episode provides finality, for sure, but not reconciliation. I felt like the characters were always strung along by the plot, which is in great contrast to Crowds where everything seemed to move with Hajime’s flow whether the writers wanted it or not. Berg Katze is lacking in every aspect except as a figurehead for the antagonist role and the Gatchaman lack in the same ways. I never felt fear for the characters because they are always going to succeed and worse, I never felt compelled to see HOW they won.
The Bird Missile that was the trump card in the first episode comes back in the third, which is appreciated. Berg Katze needed more screen time and focus should have been at least some on character rather than full focus on plot.
There is a mistake in the subtitles where Jun says to Jinpei to “get to G4,” but the subtitles read G3. The subtitles seemed otherwise fine in the first episode, but I switched to the dub for episodes two and three.
Speaking of the dub, it is hilarious. And not intentionally hilarious. Lines are delivered awkwardly and some of the dialogue was just plain bad. My personal favorite line was, “Hey, what the cheese is that thing?” Who says that? Now, that being said, most of the performances were fine given the circumstances. No one performance stood out—not even the usually great Luci Christian as Junpei—and I can only blame the script for this. It’s serviceable, for sure, but the Japanese version is the way to go.
Gatchaman has a lot of nostalgia value for a lot of people because of Battle of the Planets back in 1978. It’s not the case for me, as I wouldn’t be born for another 12 years in 1978 and I was only 4 years old when this OAV came out. My nostalgia is with Dragonball Z. So forgive me when I say that this OAV simply was not good. The glimpse into the characters’ lives when they were called together again in the first episode should have been an extended sequence for each character instead of a quick montage. And we need down time in between these action scenes to learn more about Ken, Jou, Ryu, Jun, and Jinpei. We unfortunately get none of that, as they are relatively interesting characters from what you see in the OAVs.
Ultimately, I feel like this would work better with the same run time, but as six, 24 minute episodes. That would allow some more focus on what’s really important and what needs to be put into episodes to make them cohesive wholes. These OAVs are an entertaining 145 minutes, for sure, but they could be more and that’s frustrating.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: C+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Running Time: 145 minutes
Radeon 7850, 24 in. Vizio 1080p HDTV, Creative GigaWorks T20 Series II