Anime: Battle of the Planets
The first American version of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman
. Heavily Macekred
by the infamous Sandy Frank Productions. You know, the guy who dubbed the Gamera
movies, Fugitive Alien
, and Time of the Apes
.Battle of the Planets
was one of the few anime that meets Alex Ross's approval, and some illustrations that he did for the series led to both him doing the cover illustrations of ADV Films
release of Gatchaman
and to a short-lived Revival
comic series published by Top Cow Productions from 2003-2004, which tried to combine elements from both the original and the adaptation into a whole
This series contains examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: The Top Cow comics.
- All There in the Manual: Many minor characters' names and some other details were only given in the scripts. This site attempts to compile all this extra information.
- Amusing Alien: 7-Zark-7.
- Anachronic Order: The episodes were sent to Sandy Frank out of order, leading them to wind up produced in a much different order than what was used for Gatchaman (and what Frank had initially intended for production of this version). Although the episodes are arranged in the Gatchaman order on DVD, the completed episodes wound up intended to be broadcasted and viewed in a completely different way. Watching them in the original Gatchaman order can create some confusion for new viewers, such as some episodes referring to events that have yet to happen, or 1-Rover-1 mysteriously coming and going. The suggested broadcast order by Sandy Frank fixes a few plotholes, yet also creates some of its own.
- Big Eater: Tiny, arguably Keyop.
- Bowdlerize: Most of the reason for 7-Zark-7's presence was filler for the violent scenes edited out. For example...
- The final episode note "The Conway Tape Tap" was a loose adaptation of Gatchaman #101 ("The Sniper Group Heavy-Cobra"), with a significant amount of footage edited out and replaced by Zark sequences, as well as footage spliced from a previous episode, "Decoys of Doom" (original title: "The Snow Demon King, Blizzarder").
- "The Galaxy Girls" (originally "The Plan To Assassinate Dr. Nambu") was severely edited due to its content, with Jason seeming to just vanish partway through the episode and not showing up at the end. The character of Devil Star 2 was split into two "Galaxy Girl" characters; "Yana" (in the scene where she attempted to rose-bomb Chief Anderson and Jason) and "Lani" (all other scenes). The female commander was given the name of "Mala" and was identified as Zoltar's sister (see below tropes), while the Galaxy Girls' eventual fates were excised.
- Celibate Hero: Mark.
- Compilation Movie: In 2002, Sandy Frank recut five episodesnote and merged them together as a 68-minute feature film, titled "Battle of the Planets: The Movie" as a test to see how a compilation film would work. The intergalactic references added to a few of the original scripts were excised, and scenes showing death and destruction had been spliced back in. Although the episodic footage was not redubbed otherwise, the Zark segments were, removing Alan Young's vocals in favor of a modern actor, David Bret Egen.
- The Complainer Is Always Wrong: A good chunk of 7-Zark-7's dialogue was centered around what a "hothead" Jason was.
- Cut-and-Paste Translation: This adaptation also falls under this trope, due to the severe amount of editing it took to transform Gatchaman into it. The producers were only given rough English versions of the scripts, so they just rewrote the plots and dialogue as they saw fit.
- Due to an oversight and the gap in production between translating Gatchaman episodes 1 and 2 (the latter was translated as the sixteenth for BOTP), the green Turtle King/Terrapin commander basically became two different men, with completely different voice actors.
- The anachronic order of translating the scripts lead to other holes in the plot (such as Mark's father's fate being one notable inconsistency) or oddities, such as there being four eerily similar blonde women affiliated with Spectra (Mala, S-9, Hannah, and "Ms. Ostric") that were stated to be different characters.
- New animation was produced by Gallerie for not only Zark's scenes, but shots where Mark and Princess would visit him, or where the G-Force team would be shown hanging out in their Ready Room. There would also be stock footage of outer space shown, with voice overs describing G-Force's trips to other planets (along with a shot of a planet).
- Designer Babies: Keyop is said to have been specifically engineered for the G-Force team by being cloned from a "single embryonic cell". note
- Dub Name Change: Pretty much all the characters had their names (and personalities) altered for this version. In the French dub of this adaptation, however, 7-Zark-7's love interest Susan became "5-Cibel-5", for her name to match up better to his.
- Friendly, Playful Dolphin: Keyop befriends one.
- Heartbroken Badass: Jason is this trope.
- Human Aliens: The Spectrans are completely humanoid. —This is because, in Gatchaman, they were human!— The Top Cow comic lampshades this and claims Zoltar's boss the Luminous One grew them from human DNA, to replace the extinct original Spectran race.
- Ironic Nickname: The Big Guy is named Tiny.
- Leader Wannabe: Jason, who is annoyed that Mark is the leader instead of him.
- Mecha-Mooks: Retconned in through Bowdlerization.
- Mr. Exposition: 7-Zark-7.
- Mythology Gag: A baby whale in one episode is named "Nambu", after the original Gatchaman name for Chief Anderson. A baseball player in another episode was named "Joe Galactor", referencing the original names for Jason and the Spectra organization.
- In the Top Cow comics continuity, Princess' unseen friend Jill was finally given a face- that of the OVA design for Jun. As Jun owned the snack bar in the original Gatchaman series (while Princess only worked at one part-time) and was the reason behind the bar being the "Snack J", it's a further nod to the original.
- Never Say "Die": 7-Zark-7's main role was to explain to the audience that nobody died.
- Then surprisingly (for its time, at least) subverted when even Sandy Frank couldn't retcon out the death of Colonel Cronus, Mark's father.
- The producers did not receive the episodes in the Gatchaman order, which had led to some interesting reinterpretations. We ended up with Mark's father said to be dead halfway through the series, and an entire episode revolved around his killernote . Then suddenly, Cronus was revealed to be Mark's father, and they did Zark his survival. But yes, they could not get out of admitting that some people died.
- Strangely averted in one episode, where the scriptwriters changed a scene of Ken at his father's grave (the scene having taken place after the above) to Mark mourning an otherwise-unmentioned elder brother that had died.
- No Communities Were Harmed: In "The Fiery Lava Giant", a monument on an asteroid very similar to Mount Rushmore is the center of an episode.
- Notable Original Music: People who have seen both BotP and Gatchaman say the music from BotP is an improvement over the disco soundtrack of the original. Notably Hoyt Curtain's original theme song. There's a reason the picture on this page is from the soundtrack CD.
- Off Model: The "Ready Room" original animated sequences by Gallerie were FILLED with this for all five G-Force members. The sequences with Mark and Princess visiting Zark also combined this with stiff, blocky limited animation to where they were frozen in the same pose with only their mouths moving most of the time.
- Panty Shot: Princess.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: It is very rare, but occasionally the adapters changed an occasional detail to improve story logic. The first episode is an example, whereas in the original Gatchaman script, the lead hero has to argue why their ship should go into their risky Fiery Phoenix mode to escape a certain death trapped in the villain's mecha, the BotP version has the team having no objections of doing the obvious.
- Some of Jun's moments of panicking were cut, allowing the rechristened Princess to come off as a stronger character. Dialogue changes also made the character snarkier and ready to quip, although this at times created conflict that wasn't there in the original script note .
- Rebel Relaxation: Jason can usually be seen holding up the wall of Chief Anderson's office during briefings.
- Robot Buddy: 7-Zark-7.
- Robot Dog: 1-Rover-1.
- Recycled In Space: Dialog changes and newly animated Stock Footage had G-Force traveling through space. This was the major change to the plot; the terrorist Galactor become the alien invaders (aka "happiness boys") from Spectra.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: According to the intro, G-Force are "protecting Earth's entire galaxy" from "surprise attacks by alien galaxies from beyond space".
- She's A Herm In Japan: Zoltar, whose female half was dubbed as his "twin sister" Mala. Although in the original, Berg Katse and the female commander (while hinted to have some strong connection) were not revealed as the same entity until the end of the series, which this version hadn't gotten to. It is unknown how they would have attempted to explain it away, although one of the episodes that were adapted did feature Mark attempting to unmask Zoltar, and long blond hair briefly being shown. Tiny then jokes that Zoltar could be a woman, but nothing more is said on it.
- A later episode (88) that originally followed up on that scene in Gatchaman was entirely rewritten for this version as "Tentacles from Space". Instead of the Science Ninja Team tracking down a possible connection between Katse and the mysterious female commander, the G-Force team is tasked with tracking down a Spectra agent named "Hannah" who Zark tells us was captured and tried for her crimes by the end of the episode (the commander in the original however, managed to get away as usual).
- It's important to note however, that this episode and episodes 32 and 33 of Gatchaman (adapted as "Curse of the Cuttlefish") were actually sent and translated before "The Galaxy Girls" and "Rage of the Robotoids", the latter two which identified the blonde woman as Mala. In said Cuttlefish two-parter, she was referred to as "Agent S-9", and had no apparent familial connection to Zoltar.
- As a clue to her connection to Zoltar, Mala uses the assumed surname "Latroz" in her first appearance.
- Ship Tease: Mark and Princess. All the freakin' time.
- Something Else Also Rises: Zark's antenna tend to stand up whenever he talks with the robot Susan.
- Techno Babble: "Cerebonic powers," based on super-science implants in their brains: the name seemingly derived from "cerebrum". Which means the good guys apparently stuck experimental technology in the heads of orphans.
- Tuckerization: Sandy Frank named the unseen female robot "Susan", after one of his secretaries at the company.
- Verbal Tic: A side effect of Lip Lock. Poor Keyop.
- Vocal Evolution: Janet Waldo voiced Princess in a higher tone in the earlier episodes, while ones produced later in the run have her using a lower voice for the character.