Eagle Riders is one of about six different adaptations of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. This version is by Saban Entertainment.Only 13 episodes of 65 were aired in the United States in fall 1996, but the series apparently enjoyed some more success in Europe and Australia and got to air its entire run.This adaptation is unfortunately very hard to find, with one troper having searched even amongst torrents and coming up empty-handed. It is largely overshadowed by Battle of the Planets among the various Gatchaman adaptations. Regardless, there has been an attempt to summarize the series.This page is a stub.
Composite Character: Gel Sadra and Count Egobossler, two separate villains, were merged into the one "Mallanox", later known as "Happy Boy" after their second transformation note All they really had to do was change the dialogue of Gel Sadra's death scene, and cut the part where her spirit rises to join her mother.
Cut-and-Paste Translation: It starts off as a generally straight adaptation of Gatchaman II, aside from the censorship to hide violence and death. However, Saban quickly began skipping episodes and cherry-picking whichever ones felt "safest" for them to translate, as well as airing others out of ordernote Although, according to the producer Rita Acosta, Tatsunoko was partly to blame in sending Saban some of the episodes out of order to begin with. The cutting and pasting only increased once they got to adapting Gatchaman Fighter, with episodes spliced together and some scenes from later episodes being put into earlier ones with rewritten context. They did not bother to adapt any of the episodes in Fighter's climax and ending, and instead halted the plot at an episode that was originally the fifteenth in Fighter.
In particular, the final episode of II and the first episode of Fighter were spliced into one episode, after having suffered heavy censorship. This was an attempt to tie the plot of both series even closer, with dialogue explaining that the next villain was actually Mallanox in a new form. The rest of Fighter#1 was merged with the following episode, while the remnants of Fighter#2 were merged with episode 27.
In Gatchaman Fighter, Ken experiences a cellular breakdown that gradually kills him as he uses the "Hypershoot" sword technique. He goes for a cure, but it proves to be temporary and he suffers the disease again towards the end of the series. In this adaptation, Hunter winds up ill, but is cured and experiences no further negative effects.
Episode 6 was originally episode 21 of II, and was significantly changed up to change it from being a complete Downer Ending: In the original, both of Ken's flight school friends (Karl and Lisa) die due to one being a traitor to Galactor. In the dubbed adaptation, Lisa's death is presented as a nightmare sequence and is otherwise removed, along with her fiance Karl's death. Instead, Karl mysteriously "escapes" and is never seen again, while earlier footage of Lisa is pasted in at the end to provide closure, with her telling Hunter they can never be together due to his secretive nature. In this version, Lisa had also been changed from a friend to an ex-girlfriend, providing awkwardness for Hunter over her engagement to Karl.
In the original, Joe never gets the bomb removed from his heart and it plays a key point in the end of the Fighter series. In Eagle Riders, it's said to be removed from him in the episode that bridges the II and Fighter footage.
The flashback to Ken meeting Red Impulse as his father for the first time was changed to Hunter having an argument with his father over him trying to control the Eagle Riders' training (with Hunter apparently having lacked the parental abandonment that Ken had). However, the rest of the flashback remains generally the same, with Harley Harris sacrificing his life to stop a band of radiation from reaching Earth.
In an attempt to tone down the idea of Joe being a cyborg, Saban's scripts had the habit of referring to him as a "half-cyborg" in order to not mix him up with the more robotic cyborgs and "androids" (originally flesh-and-blood mooks) that were cannon fodder.
Dub-Induced Plot Hole: Mallanox is originally stated to have been created from scratch by Cybercon. Later on, we learn that he's the child of an unspecified human woman and the alien invader Lukan (aka Berg Katse in the original Gatchaman). Then later on, we learn Mallanox is actually a woman, that she's the long-lost daughter of Dr. Aikens, that she was artificially aged into being an adult, and that her father had died in the shipwreck she was abducted from. Saban tried to keep a little consistency with what they already had by still having the character have a male voice while in costume, although (unlike the original) she'd suddenly be voiced by a woman when unmasked.
Gel Sadra/ Sammy Pandora -> Mallanox/ Nancy Aikens
Leader X -> Cybercon
Dr. Raphael -> Professor Andro
Count Egobossler -> Happy Boy
Berg Katse -> Lukan
Kentaro Washio/Red Impulse -> Harley Harris
Galactor -> The Vorak
Kamo -> Avery
Pilmer -> Auto
Three of the five birdstyle names were also changed in the adaptation: Hunter became a "Hawk" (as opposed to Eagle), Joe is a "Falcon" (instead of Condor), and Kelly is a "Dove" (instead of Swan).
Inconsistent Dub: Dr.Aikens' deceased husband is first referred to as "Frank", but then later called "Herb". The trope also applies to the inconsistency and backpedaling involving Mallanox's origin and gender.
The Mole: Early on in the series, the team is infiltrated by a Vorak android named Zarnec. Thankfully due to a certain feather shuriken, he winds up deactivated and unable to harm them.
Never Say "Die": Dr. Aikens is sent blasting off to space in a rocket. The Eagle Riders never manage to find a way to rescue her from her predicament, and no further mention is made of her beyond Keane trying to search for her. That's because in the original, her rocket exploded.
Mallanox is shown to collapse, as she expresses regret about trying to destroy the Earth. In the original, Gel Sadra dies peacefully on a hilltop and is reunited with her mother in death. In the dub? The voiceover from the clouds is changed from her mother's voice to that of Cybercon, informing Mallanox that she'll be transformed into a new creature: Happy Boy.
Other character deaths were censored and explained away with voiceovers stating that they escaped, or that they were androids that had been "deactivated" (see Zarnec).
No Ending: The series cuts off at episode 65 (adapted from episode 15 of Fighter) without any real resolution to the plot, and the Vorak still going forward with their plans. Of course, as Gatchaman Fighter got excessively grim, it would have been difficult for Saban to try to adapt the actual final episodes.
She's a Man in Japan: The first big villain in this adaptation is Mallanox, a rather effeminate looking man. In the original Gatchaman II, the villain is named Gel Sadra and is a woman (masculine voice aside). When Saban writers realized the massive plotholes they created by removing Mallanox's origin and by changing their gender, they attempted to backtrack and later referred to the villain as a woman (though she was still voiced by R. Martin Klein when dressed in her villain garb). They attempted to explain away the gender difference by stating that Cybercon brainwashed Mallanox into believing she was a man for her own protection.
Of course, when it came time for them to adapt Gatchaman Fighter, they claimed Happy Boy (Count Egobossler) was simply Mallanox in a new form. It seems Cybercon really loves his gender-bending.
Statuesque Stunner: Aside from the wild hair, Mallanox is shown to be an attractive, yet very tall blonde woman when not wearing her goofy costume.