Retro-cool seventies style animation, with the cheesiest dialogue, loopiest characters, and, frankly, weirdest bad guys ever. This is Gatchaman in a nutshell. Reminiscent of the original Space Ghost, Gatchaman is, to say the least, entertaining as hell. I received a preview copy which is not quite in its final form, so keep that in mind. But here’s the basic idea.

Gatchaman is a team of science ninjas. “Sometimes we are five, sometimes only one. We are the mysterious white shadow that steals close to its prey. Shadow warriors of justice, we are the Science Ninja Team!” They are modeled after birds, which I can’t say I quite understand, but let us leave that for future discussion. The villain is Gallactor, which is less of a traditional villain, and more of a James Bond style evil global organization. They are stealing the world’s energy resources, from oil to uranium, in order to further their own greedy ambitions.

Gatchaman vs. Turtle King
The organization known as Gallactor has stolen the Uranium that was gathered for world peace. It is up to Gatchaman, and his team of Science ninjas to locate the secret Gallactor Bases throughout the world. They are ordered not to fight, but only to reconnoiter the locations and report back. But they are soon dragged into combat against their orders and must overcome the odds and defeat Turtle King and his minions.

The Monstrous Aircraft Carrier Appears
When a space pod is stolen after splash down, the Science Ninja Team is assembled to investigate. They discover the insidious Gallactor’s secret underwater aircraft carrier which is responsible for the missing pod. The earth compact device is aboard, and it is up to Gotchaman to rescue the astronauts and recover the device before Gallactor can use it to unearth the rich uranium deposits nearby.

The Giant Mummy That Summons Storms
When a Giant Mummy begins to terrorize airplanes, the Science Ninja Team must take action. When a pilot seemingly returns from the grave, his brother, a renowned scientist, recognizes the imposter, and it is up to Gatchaman to unravel the mystery, and reveal the truth of the Giant Mummy, and the imposter’s ambitions. (This episode is most memorable for the line “If you don’t behave like you should, your father will never come home.” If that’s not wrong, well I don’t know what is.)

This is a reissue of an early seventies cartoon, so the animation isn’t exactly sharp. For the period, I’m sure it was spectacular, but by any modern standards it’s fairly mediocre. This is part of the charm of the show though, you don’t redraw a 70’s cartoon, it’s just not meant to be. The audio was as old school as the animation. The music was super cheesy, the acting was way over the top, the sound effects were strange, to say the least. All around the audio-visual aspects of the dvd measure up to exactly what you would expect.

The story itself is just peculiar. These science ninjas dressing up like birds for no apparent reason, and the evil Gallactor organization with armies of fodder, and an abundance of strange schemes. A giant underwater aircraft carrier? I would understand if it were a submersible ship, but this thing was stationed at the bottom of the ocean. What the heck do you expect to do with an aircraft carrier at the bottom of the ocean? Then a giant robotic mummy? Honestly, if you want a giant robot, make it a giant freakin’ robot. They’re scary by their own right. But as soon as you dress a giant robot up like a mummy the obvious question springs to mind “Where did you find a giant corpse to mummify?” Then the next question “If you have a giant corpse, then there must be other giants that actually mummified this one. So why not get a living giant?”

Overall, the show itself is highly entertaining. It’s not something you should try to take seriously, but I haven’t laughed like this in quite some time. I can abide any show where the main ‘hero’ character torments a child with statements like “We need that badge to get your papa back.” Of course the child’s father is dead and the hero knows this.

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