We should all do our part to contribute to the next generation. Donating to libraries, volunteering at schools, raising children with proper manners and values – and perhaps most important of all, introducing anime. Last week I began watching Gatchaman with my two sons, ages six and four. It’s been exciting for all of us.
Gatchaman first aired in Japan in 1972 and ran for 105 episodes. I first saw it on American television when I was six as Battle of the Planets. Although it was heavily edited and poorly adapted for American television, the quality of the original show was still visible. Having fond memories of it, I picked up the DVD version from AD Vision as they started appearing on the market. I watched them all through subtitled a few years ago and loved it. Now it’s my sons’ turn.
Gatchaman is a great show for kids. Lots of action, high drama, very little in the way of graphic violence and moral values that are easier for young children to grasp. Anime is often touted for its more sophisticated take on moral situations when compared to western entertainment but younger children struggle when they can’t identify “good guys” and “bad guys”. Adults like myself find it refreshing these days to find a show that has a sense of right and wrong.
Quite aside from its suitability for children, Gatchaman is just a great show. Being made in the 70’s, instead of shades and sports cars, the heroes distinguish their sense of fashion by wearing the Hip Boots of Justice. Not to be outdone, the leader and generals of the evil Galactor wear the Hip Boots of Evil. The show is fast-paced and offers lots of action. The high-tech creations of Galactor make every episode fun for a science-fiction fan and the abilities of the Gatchaman team work well for those of us raised on American super hero comic books. The show also has good pacing. Not only do our heroes defeat the enemy in every episode (well, almost every episode) but there is a continuing story that slowly develops. The heroes progress slowly in their knowledge of Galactor until they are finally ready to confront it head-on at the end of the series.
Gatchaman does not pander to young minds, either. There is moral complexity in the show. Ken, the leader of the Gatchaman team, does nothing to correct a misunderstanding and allows a young boy to hate him as a villain because it allows that boy to hold on to the hope that he’ll see his father again. The Gatchaman team accepts the installation of deadly weapons into their vehicles because otherwise they wouldn’t be able to halt Galactor’s progress. Other examples abound. The moral complexity does not sacrifice the show’s overall sense of right and wrong, however. Galactor is indeed evil and the Gatchaman team has to make tough decisions to fight that evil without imitating it. It is a great vehicle for beginning discussions with younger children about the difficulty sometimes of finding the right decision – without sacrificing the notion that there is a right decision.
Gatchaman’s method of telling the story is old-fashioned – which suits me fine. What I mean by that is Gatchaman focuses on the plot instead of the characters. Although screen time is given to help the audience understand what is going on in the characters’ minds, the focus is not on their inner turmoil but on the turmoil that is happening out in the world. I think you’ll find this a refreshing change from today’s anime that focuses so heavily on character development that it often forgets there is a plot at all.
AD Vision has done a great service for us anime fans by bringing Gatchaman to DVD. They took the original, uncut episodes and remastered them. They also created a dub over and subtitle track that follow the original Japanese version. Jinpei speaks for himself! Extras include a commentary track for one episode that features an interview with the head translator. The English translators are too-often ignored when DVD extras are created.
Gatchaman is a truly great show and a lot of fun to watch. Renting or buying a copy and enjoying the show yourself is a pleasure you shouldn’t miss. I’m confident you’ll find that pleasure heightened if you can watch the show with a son or nephew.
Have you seen Gatchaman yet?
- Yes. It's awesome! (67%, 2 Votes)
- Not yet. I'll pass. (33%, 1 Votes)
- Not yet. Can't wait! (0%, 0 Votes)
- Yes. Not my thing. (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 3