Anime Meta-Review




By Date




Title Info

  • seen: 1-3 of 3
  • type: OAV
  • grade: watchable
  • made: 1994
  • Review created: Recently, but I didn't record the date.
  • mod: none

Strange stuff, this is a revised version of an archaic anime, which may help explain why the story feels so retro. It appears that millions of years ago a mysterious `something' fell to earth. The effects of which appear to be coming to fruition in a future version of our world. A united mankind is putting its energy into the `mantle' plan to provide safe energy for the future. But a shadowy conspiracy has no intention of letting any other organisation possess such power. And given that this shadowy organisation appears to have immense power plus access to super-advanced technology (as well as no scruples about using either) they are worth taking seriously. Fortunately the chief scientist of the mantle project has a trick up his own sleeve, the science ninja team Gatchaman!

This screened in America (and Australia) as battle of the planets. As such it was heavily edited from the Japanese originals. Of course being of that era the enemy relied on giant robots, while the good guys had individual vehicles, plus a ship that held them all and could convert into the `god phoenix'. This, and the rather campy design of the original, has been retained. At the same time the technology has had a makeover, looking much more detailed and deadly. Likewise the characters have been given a more serious and mature appearance, and their personalities have been intensified (along with a major sex-appeal over-haul for the sole female). So is it any good? well, yes and no. It's actually pretty well done, with some of the tech being cool, the people interesting and the action suprisingly good fun. At the same time the retro-feel and campy appearance of the hero and villain, as well as the whole giant robot thing, make it a very strange mixture. This is complicated by having to do so much in the first OAV, which ups the pressure with which things are introduced, including the characters newly rejuvenated personalities. In general I can't help feeling that the decision to retain so much of the original limits how far this one can go. It would have been better if all elements had been upgraded, effectively creating a new series. Still, those who like modern animation with a retro feel, or who were fans of the original (probably the target audience) might well find something to treasure here. For those not in this category you'll probably still find it an enjoyable, if confusing, watch.

As I mentioned the action is pretty cool. The team all have various high tech gadget weapons, and these are very well animated. In addition this anime emphasises that they are at the `ninja' level so there are lots of impressive physical moves. This is aided by the `bird' theme, which means they have some flight ability allowing lots of aerial work. The design of the vehicles is also good, with someone clearly having enjoyed doing the redesign. On the negative side the animation is not quite as sharp as I expected, some of the characters look pretty weird, and there are some moments of really, really bad computer graphics. The teams voices are fairly strong and exotic, but the pace of the action reduces the chance to have too much dialog.

The young-un's at THEM provide an excellent example of the confusion felt by people who don't know the original. On the other hand they do find some of the tech quite entertaining in this review


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:18 WST 2009