Gatchaman the Movie

Older anime fans in North America will likely remember Gatchaman, the classic 1972 series created by Tatsuo Yoshida, as Battle of the Planets (1978). Battle of the Planets was a tamed-down version of Gatchaman that removed elements of graphic violence and profanity and changed plot points related to the transgenderisim of the villain in order to avoid controversy with parents. It also rode the wave of Star Wars’ success by adding in scenes reminiscent of the space opera to mask deficiencies introduced by the changes and eliminations (only 85 of 105 episodes were used). Slightly younger audiences may be even more familiar with a subsequent mid-’80s adaptation, G-Force: Guardians of Space, which more closely followed the original series.

Gatchaman the Movie is a bridge between the first and second series, Gatchaman II, taking almost all of its footage from a few episodes of the first series. It introduces the teen superhero team. After destroying the mechanical monster Turtle King, the team must fight terrorist group Galactor—led by villain Berge Katse—who is trying to destroy the Earth with a superweapon. For fans and completists, the movie serves as a fun (and gorgeous) synopsis of the lengthy series.

Gatchaman the Movie is vintage anime done on film. As such, it doesn’t have the pristine look of modern anime productions that are mainly created digitally. This 1978 film arrives on Blu-ray from Sentai Filmworks in an AVC 1080p transfer that still shows some wear. Don’t expect the scrubbed-clean look of a Disney restoration. That said, it is very natural and mostly pleasing, detailed, and colorful, and the limited specks of source damage do not overwhelm the image.

This Blu-ray release comes with both a Japanese audio track and an English dub. Unfortunately for purists, both are offered in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; there’s no monaural mix. The mix for both tracks sounds the same; the only difference is that the English-dubbed dialogue sounds slightly clearer. As far as the overall mix, the dynamics are superb, and the low end is deep and powerful. There’s also fantastic stereo imaging for the musical score and sound effects. Things break down with the atmospherics. There aren’t any strong, discrete effects in the surround channels, and what sounds do appear there are somewhat reprocessed.

No extras are included on this release.

Studio: Sentai Filmworks, 1978
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 110 mins.
MPAA Rating: TV-PG
Director: Hisayuki Toriyumi
Starring: Isao Sasaki, Katsuji Mori, Kazuko Sugiyama