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Gatchaman Vol 2
As far as classic anime shows go, it doesn't get much more old school than Gatchaman. Having originally aired in 1972 over in Japan, the show saw some scattered releases here in America but was severely edited content and length wise. Up until now the original Japanese track for the show hadn't been heard here and thanks to A.D.V. we get that, the uncut show and all 105 episodes.
The whole premise behind Gatchaman is that in the future the sinister group Galactor rises up to try and take over the world. It's up to Dr. Nambu and his team of five Science Ninjas to stop their diabolical scheme by whatever means necessary. The team consists of Ken the Eagle, Joe the Condor, Jun the Swan, Ryu the Owl and Jinpei the Swallow. While there is some continuity between episodes, you don't have to catch all 105 to know what's going on in the show.
The second volume of Gatchaman continues the adventure of the Science Ninja Team as they do a deadly dance with Galactor. Many of the episodes turn out to be "monster of the week" skits with giant sea anemones, space scorpions that shoot meteorites and swarm of ants that attack nuclear power plants. Yes, this is a show that was aired in a time that paranoia over nuclear power ran rampant and many episodes of the show have that as a main element.
Unlike other anime that feature three or four episodes per disc, Gatchaman packs in a whopping six 25 minute episodes. Volume two houses numbers 7-12 which are: Galactor's Giant Airshow, The Secret of the Crescent Coral Reef, A Demon from the Moon, The Massive Underground Monster War, The Riddle of Red Impulse and The Giant Eating Monster Ibukron
This collection of episodes introduces a mysterious new character named Red Impulse who is unknown at first to be friend or foe. The Science Ninjas also gain a new underwater fortress thanks to Dr. Nambu and must work to keep it secret from the likes of Galactor. As mentioned earlier the team also tackles some giant monsters and in the last episode of the disc they square off against a huge cockroach that is eating all of the world's sugar as part of a ploy to take over the Earth. Thankfully the show is stylish and amusing so it doesn't take itself too seriously, because really who could?
Gatchaman may not be for everyone, but if you have an open mind and are curious where many shows got their inspiration from this one will entertain you. It's a classic right up there with Ultraman, Speed Racer and Star Blazers so that alone should tell you what kind of quality you can look for. If you're like me then this show came out before you were born and maybe you recall snippets of it from your childhood in the form of Battle of the Planets or G-Force. Reminiscing aside, this show is truly timeless and something you should definitely check out if you are open to history.
Quite honestly, this is about as good as Gatchaman has ever looked considering the age of the show and quality of animations for the time period. It is presented with its original 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio and any faults in image quality are attributed to the source material. Seeing as the show was produced in 1972 you can expect to see a lot of grain, choppy animations, lighting issues and occasional shaky image. But I suppose one could argue that just adds to the classic air around the show. Who knows how this series was stored, but given the fact that it is older than I am I have to say that I'm really impressed with the transfer. Many of the colors are solid throughout, though there are a few moments where the quality drops off significantly and becomes muddy. In the end I have to give a pat on the back to A.D.V. for restoring this classic and doing such a wonderful job of it.
Gatchaman Volume 2 includes a new English dubbing and the original Japanese audio tracks. These are presented with a 2.0 mix and depending what you are looking for they each provide different quality. The English features louder and cleaner sound but also some extremely horrible voice acting at times. It's competent enough to watch, but makes for a more laughable experience.
The original Japanese features a softer sound transfer but is the most faithful to the material. I found myself enjoying the Japanese mix more, though sometimes I bounced back and forth to see what some of the differences were. Again, the overall quality for the original is decent considering the fact that it's over thirty years old.
Aside from some A.D.V. previews, the second volume of Gatchaman also features some extras worth mentioning. A creative addition that I haven't seen before is called Gatchaman Karaoke which plays The Giant Eating Monster Ibukron episode with music and sound effects, but no voiceovers. Instead subtitles appear on the bottom so you and a group of friends can be the voice actors. Sure it's pointless, but it's kind of funny and a unique inclusion that I rather enjoyed.
The industry standard clean close animation is included as well as a solo commentary for The Riddle of Red Impulse. The commentary has director Charles Campbell and voice actor for Jun, Kim Prause. It's a pretty entertaining feature, but nothing crucial or very substantial, even though it's worth a look.
By today's anime standards, Gatchaman is a dinosaur but for it's time it was very advanced. Much of what you see in shows today found their inspiration in series like this and despite the fact that it seems cheesy when you go back to watch it, the nostalgic value is extremely high. If you enjoyed Battle of the Planets or G-Force when they came out in the States, you owe it to yourself to see the uncut version of the show.
Many of the fight scenes that were considered too violent and controversial for the time period have been added back in, not to mention we're going to see all 105 episodes. The original Japanese is a treat and the English track is competent enough, although it can be very corny at times. Sure it may not be for everyone, but older anime fans will definitely dig it.
The second volume continues the adventures of the Science Ninja Team faithfully and this batch of episodes is just as entertaining as the first. Recommended