BATTLE OF THE PLANETS: REDUX
BATTLE OF THE PLANETS (BOTP)was quite possibly one of the greatest animated programs of all time. It was gritty and a bit more serious then much of the cartoons airing on North American television in the 1970’s and 80’s. It was originally a Japanese anime program called SCIENCE NINJA TEAM GATCHAMAN which ran in its original incarnation from 1972 to 1975. Sandy Frank, an American producer, in his efforts to try and capture some of the wild success of STAR WARS, bought the rights to the show and repackaged it with new shot footage as BATTLE OF THE PLANETS.
The video below is the GATCHAMAN (2013) Japanese movie footage that I have edited in the style of the original animated Battle of the Planets cartoon opening intro.
WHO ARE G-FORCE?
BOTP tells the tale of five young extraordinary individuals known as G-Force, consisting of Mark, Jason, Princess, Keyop, and Tiny. The primary goal of G-Force is to protect Earth from the planet Spectra and other attacks from beyond space. The most prominent field commander of the Spectra forces was a villainous, masked individual known as Zoltar. Zoltar would receive his orders directly from a being he would refer to as the “Luminous One”. The Luminous One would appear as a ghost-like, disembodied, floating head. Who, or what, this being actually was, is never explained in any detail throughout the series.
The main ship of the G-Force team was called the Phoenix, which could carry, transport, and deploy four smaller vehicles, each operated by one team member. The four vehicles included a futuristic race car with various hidden weapons driven by Jason; this vehicle was concealed within the Phoenix’s nosecone. The “galacti-cycle”, a futuristic motor cycle Princess rode, was stored within the left wing capsule of the Phoenix. Keyop’s “Space Bubble”, an all-terrain, tank-like vehicle capable of VTOL as well as being a submersible craft, was held in the right storage capsule of the Phoenix. And lastly, a futuristic jet fighter Mark pilots was stored in the top rear section of the Phoenix command island structure, and which used its tail fin to make up the center tail fin of the Phoenix. The fifth crew member, Tiny, was assigned to pilot the Phoenix rather than one of the detachable craft.
A regularly featured plot device was the transformation of the Phoenix into a flaming bird-shaped craft able to handle virtually any exceptional situation by functioning as a sort of giant, super blowtorch called the Fiery Phoenix. The Phoenix’s primary weapon was a supply of rockets called “TBX missiles” in the series. It also occasionally flaunted a powerful solar-powered energy blaster, although the team had the misfortune of choosing very cloudy days to use it.
The G-Force team themselves would use a combination of martial arts skill, ninja-like weapons, and their “cerebonic” powers to dispatch hordes of enemy soldiers and overcome other obstacles. Their bird-like costumes include wing-like capes that could fan out and function nearly identically to parachutes and/or wing suits, enabling the G-Force members to drift or glide down to safety from heights which would otherwise prove fatal.
The G-Force members stay in contact through a wrist-band communicator device which also serves as a way for them to change or “transmute” instantly into their G-Force uniforms or back into their civilian clothes. Other weapons seen displayed by various team members include Mark’s sonic boomerang, a bird-shaped boomerang with razor sharp wings; Jason’s and Tiny’s multi-purpose gadget guns, which can be outfitted with grappling hook and line, drill bits, etc.; and Keyop’s and Princess’s yo-yo bombs, which could be used as bolas, darts, and explosive devices. Other weapons include feathers with a sharpened steel quill that could be used as deadly throwing darts and mini-grenades shaped like ball bearings with spike studs.
The cartoon has since garnered a huge cult following.
In 2013, a live action film called Gatchaman was released in Japan. Im still trying to get my hands on the full Japanese GATCHAMAN (2013) movie, but so far not much luck. BATTLE OF THE PLANETS was hands down my favorite cartoon before G.I. Joe and Transformers came around in 1983 / 1984!
The following video is an excellent history of Gatchaman / Battle of the Planets by Dan Hill from TOY GALAXY:
**Any fans out there? Shout out!!**