Courtesy of our friends over at Section23 Films, I have been able to spend the last few weeks plowing through almost the entire series of (Science Ninja Team) Gatchaman. For the uninitiated, Gatchaman is the ‘70s anime classic about five bird-uniformed young covert operatives who help defend the earth against the forces (complete with wacky bell-bottomed uniforms and crazy mecha) of the extraterrestrial terrorist group called Galactor.
If the titles sounds unfamiliar, the characters and mecha are likely a part of many Gen X kids’ TV-watching nostalgia, as Gatchaman was heavily edited—for both violent content and US syndicated airtime—and packaged as Battle of the Planets. What’s more the series came from the venerable old Japanese animation studio Tatsunoko, who had previously given the US audience another fan-favorite bit of classic anime, Speed Racer (Mach GoGoGo).
Sentai Filmworks’ transfer of the series onto Blu-Ray is nothing short of magnificent. On all 105 episodes. I have been watching the Japanese originals on sources ranging from graymarket VHS to DVD extras on Rhino Home Video’s Battle of the Planets recent DVD releases, and I have never seen the crisp, vibrant transfer that you get on these BDs. It’s as if the animation cels were scanned one-by-one to make the masters for this set. The sound, which comes from circa-1972 monaural sources, is also mixed really well on this set. I only have a 2.0 setup, but the sound was dynamic and the orchestral bits especially popped. Full disclosure: I only watched the Japanese audio with English subtitles. While I appreciate English-dubbed anime, I prefer the experience of original language + subtitles—your results may vary.
The packaging is also really rad! It features renowned comics artist (and Gatchaman super-fan) Alex Ross’ paintings inside and outside the box, on the face of each slipcover AND on each BD disc. No repeats. An unexpected art gallery is there to meet you each time you pop open a clamshell!
This set also contains the 3 direct-to-video (OVA [original video animation]) re-imagined 1994 episodes of Gatchaman. I like these, but they’re an attempt to contemporize the characters for the extreme ‘90s. These also look great on BD. These episodes feature a mixture of the awesome original 1972 score with the main musical pieces by Maurice White (of Earth, Wind & Fire) and Bill Meyers.
This set is a must-have for Gatchaman fans, and is highly recommended for the fans who are looking to broaden their experience into some legitimately cool “old-school” anime.
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