Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman (Science Ninja Team Birdmen)
Membership: Ken, Jo, Jun, Jinpei, Ryu, Getz
Purpose: To defend the Earth against the forces of Gallacter
Affiliations: Doctor Kozaburo Nambu, International Space Organization, Professor Pandora, Director Anderson
G-Force only (BotP) Witchblade, Thundercats
Enemies: Gallacter, Katse, Gel Sadra, Count Egobossler, Sosai X, Devil Stars
Base of Operations: Utoland
First Appearance: Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman (October 1972)
History: The Kagaku Ninjatai (Science Ninjas) were a team of young heroes assembled to defend the Earth against the forces of an alien organisation bent on seizing control of the planet. Each of the five members was given superhuman powers through unspecified technology (BotP says they have "cerebonic implants"), along with high tech weaponry suited to their personalities. Given their orders by Dr.Nambu, their liaison with the International Space Organization whom they worked for, they battled valiantly to keep their planet free, led by their leader, Ken, a.k.a Gatchaman
As time passed they won victories, eliminating a number of the leaders of the invaders, but they also suffered terrible losses, seeing one of their own team killed (then resurrected as a cyborg), and the death of Dr.Nambu at the hands of the enemy. During the period Jo was dead, they were briefly brought back to full strength by the addition of Getz, but he proved to have been replaced by a traitor who led the team into a trap, only to be killed by the returning Jo.
Several years after first taking on the evil organisation, the entire team appeared to perish destroying once and for all the alien overlord behind Gallacter.
Comments: Made by Tatsunoko Productions, Gatchaman is the show that introduced the concept of a five person team distinguished by different coloured costumes, which would become a dominant feature in the Sentai Tokusatsu series which followed. The first show lasted two seasons and 105 episodes, ending in 1974 with the death of one of the team and the defeat of their foe Katse. Its success saw a second series commissioned in 1978, Gatchaman II, which lasted 52 episodes, and then a third and final one, Gatchaman Fighter, 48 episodes in 1979. In 1994, during a nostalgia boom in the anime industry, a new trilogy of OAV's was made, updating the character's look for the nineties. Rumours are now starting that the show is once more to be revived sometime soon.
Gatchaman was also one of the first shows to introduce Anime to the West, in the renamed and recut form of "Battle of the Planets". Although this was a watered down version aimed at children, and introduced the aggravating 7-Zark-7 (not to mention 1-Rover-1, the only animated character more annoying than Jar Jar Binks), it still caught the imagination of a generation of viewers. A few years later other versions of Gatchaman would air in the occident - "G-Force: Guardians of Space" and "Eagle Riders". Since every version had new names for the characters, this means virtually everyone on the show has a dazzling array of alternate names.
Battle of the Planets was made into a comic by Gold Key in 1979, with Whitman taking over publication as of the sixth issue - the entire run only lasted ten issues. They have recently returned to comics with Image's Top Cow imprint, seeing the group teamed up with both Witchblade and the Thundercats.
The team's name proper name appears to be Kagaku Ninjatai (Science Ninjas, or Science Ninja Team), and it is only when Ken, codenamed Gatchaman, is with them, that they are referred to as Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman.
For a very detailed look at Gatchaman and its western versions (Battle of the Planets, G-Force, Eagle Riders), check out www.vacuform.com/Gatchaman/
Thanks to Steven for finishing the translation of the team's name.
Most images on this page courtesy of Anime Cel.Com. Used with their kind permission.
Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.
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