Gatchaman vs. Turtle King

Kagaku Ninjatai GatchamanAn enormous mechanical turtle rises from the ocean, attacking a uranium storage facility and stealing the radioactive material stored there. At a meeting of heads of state, Dr. Nambu of the International Science Organization reveals the identity of the culprit: the evil Galactor organization, bent on world domination. But it took the best intelligence agents in the world to discover even that morsel of information, so Nambu has assembled a team of young fighters and scientists to track down Galactor: Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. Each armed with incredible powers and specialized vehicles, these young warriors are all that stand between Galactor and control of the entire Earth. Aboard their powerful aircraft, the GodPhoenix, the team is dispatched to observe the huge machine without interfering, in the hopes that it can be tracked back to Galactor’s base. Team leader Ken intends to stick to Dr. Nambu’s orders, but his hot-headed second-in-command, Joe, is enraged by the huge loss of life that he is forced to helplessly watch during this surveillance mission. Joe intends to destroy the machine – alone if he has to, whether it contravenes his orders or not.

written by Jinzo Toriumi
directed by Hisayuki Toriumi
music by Bob Sakuma

Voice Cast: Katsuji Mori (Ken Washio), Isao Sasaki (Joe Asakura), Kazuko Sugiyama (Jun), Yoku Shioya (Jinpei), Shingo Kanemoto (Ryu), Toru Ohira (Dr. Kozaburo Nambu), Mikio Terashima (Berg Katse), Nobuo Tanaka (Sosai X), Teiji Omiya (Director Anderson)

Note: This synopsis is for the original Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman episode, and appears under its original Japanese premiere date. For the corresponding episode of Battle Of The Planets, click here.

GatchamanNot really a proper “origin” story for Gatchaman, this premiere episode raises some interesting questions. It seems that no one but Nambu is aware of Galactor’s existence until he reveals that information. It’s possible that seemingly random terrorist attacks had been carried out prior to these events, but no one had attributed them to a single group. In any case, given that the Science Ninja Team has practically been raised to fight Galactor, it seems likely that Dr. Nambu has been sitting on this information for quite some time. The plot setup of this and other early episodes owes a lot to Godzilla – with just a dash of James Bond in the mad scheme to steal uranium – but the characters and their relationships would take center stage in later episodes (but not at the expense of the mayhem and destruction which Tatsunoko Studios’ animators were so adept at depicting). Near the episode’s end, during the destruction of the Turtle King, an obviously non-animated, live-action scene of colorful smoke is seen for a few seconds.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Monstrous Aircraft Carrier Appears

Kagaku Ninjatai GatchamanA space mission returning with orbital surveys of the world’s uranium and other precious minerals is snagged by a Galactor submarine moments after it splashes down in the Pacific. The Science Ninja Team is summoned by Dr. Nambu to battle Galactor’s latest scheme and rescue the two astronauts. Taking the God Phoenix underwater, the team discovers a huge undersea base of operations. Ken goes for a solo swim to infiltrate the Galactor base, discovering that the secret orbital mineral surveys have already been accessed – and the astronaut hostages have already been murdered by the same commander who piloted the Turtle King. Outnumbered and outgunned, Ken is captured by Galactor forces, and his only hope may be that one of his crew has disobeyed his strict orders to remain aboard the God Phoenix.

written by Jinzo Toriumi
directed by Hisayuki Toriumi
music by Bob Sakuma

Voice Cast: Katsuji Mori (Ken Washio), Isao Sasaki (Joe Asakura), Kazuko Sugiyama (Jun), Yoku Shioya (Jinpei), Shingo Kanemoto (Ryu), Toru Ohira (Kozaburo Nambu), Mikio Terashima (Berg Katse), Nobuo Tanaka (Sosai X)

GatchamanNote: With the last of the Apollo moon shots only two months away, this episode’s depictions of space travel circa 1972 is startlingly accurate from a visual standpoint – with the possible exception of the space capsule’s impossibly large interior (perhaps it doubles as a TARDIS). This synopsis is for the original Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman episode, and appears under its original Japanese premiere date. For the corresponding episode of Battle Of The Planets, click here.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Giant Mummy That Summons Storms

Kagaku Ninjatai GatchamanA trans-Pacific jetliner returning to Japan encounters a strange cloud, blinding its instruments and buffeting the plane with severe turbulence. The pilot sends out an SOS and reports sighting something huge before the plane goes down. It’s not the only sighting, which means the Science Ninja Team is called into action. On this occasion, however, Ken takes it upon himself to investigate since he’s a skilled solo pilot with his own plane. Sure enough, Ken has his own sighting – a huge mummified hand that tries to swat his plane out of the sky. The sensors built into his plane (which also doubles as the G-1 jet fighter, part of the God Phoenix) detect a form of plutonium whose use is forbidden around the world – meaning that Galactor has acquired some of it. But when the downed plane’s pilot mysteriously reappears, Ken knows something is amiss – especially when he learns that the pilot’s brother helped Dr. Nambu develop the dangerous form of plutonium. When an enormous robotic mummy lands at the airport and begins wreaking havoc, there’s no question what Galactor wants the Gatchaman team to surrender.

written by Jinzo Toriumi
directed by Hisayuki Toriumi
music by Bob Sakuma

GatchamanVoice Cast: Katsuji Mori (Ken Washio), Isao Sasaki (Joe Asakura), Kazuko Sugiyama (Jun), Yoku Shioya (Jinpei), Shingo Kanemoto (Ryu), Toru Ohira (Kozaburo Nambu), Mikio Terashima (Berg Katse), Nobuo Tanaka (Sosai X), Teiji Omiya (Director Anderson)

Note: This synopsis is for the original Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman episode, and appears under its original Japanese premiere date. For the corresponding episode of Battle Of The Planets, click here. Makoto can sleep through anything.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Revenge Of The Mechadegon

Kagaku Ninjatai GatchamanThe world is plagued by earthquakes that accompany the sudden loss of precious resources from beneath the Earth, and Dr. Nambu is certain that Galactor is behind each incident. After another strike puts most of the world’s oil supplies in Galactor’s hands, Ken assembles the team, but seems determined to go this one alone after failing to save the life of one of the country’s leading seismologists. When the God Phoenix is finally called into action, Ken wants the seismologist’s orphaned daughter to have the honor of firing the bird missile that destroys Galactor’s “iron centipede”… but bringing her aboard compromises the secret identities of the Gatchaman team.

Gatchamanwritten by Jinzo Toriumi
directed by Hisayuki Toriumi
music by Bob Sakuma

Voice Cast: Katsuji Mori (Ken Washio), Isao Sasaki (Joe Asakura), Kazuko Sugiyama (Jun), Yoku Shioya (Jinpei), Shingo Kanemoto (Ryu), Toru Ohira (Kozaburo Nambu), Mikio Terashima (Berg Katse), Nobuo Tanaka (Sosai X), Teiji Omiya (Director Anderson)

Note: This synopsis is for the original Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman episode, and appears under its original Japanese premiere date. For the corresponding episode of Battle Of The Planets, click here.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Ghost Fleet From Hell

Kagaku Ninjatai GatchamanOne of the International Science Organization’s oceanfaring research chips is torpedoed by a “ghost ship” emerging from a thick fog near a fabled ship graveyard; there’s barely time to sent an SOS to the ISO before the ship sinks. Dr. Nambu deduces that the real target is the ISO’s “underwater farm,” an enormous manned oil refinery that’s been designed to withstand any kind of natural disaster that could possibly leak oil into the ocean. Nambu’s guess is correct: the farm is the next target, and an enormous oil spill is the result. The Gatchaman team is dispatched to investigate. They track a Galactor sub back to the ship graveyard, and then surface to find a huge fog-generating buoy deployed by Galactor. Joe’s immediate response is to fire Bird Missiles at every target within sight, but Ken insists on getting Nambu’s permission to do so. When he’s cleared to use the God Phoenix’s most formidable artillery, Joe goes overboard, emptying the ship of every bird missile on board – a bit of a miscalculation, since there are still plenty of Galactor fighters left. Only a miracle can save the team from Joe’s overzealous attack…

written by Jinzo Toriumi
directed by Hisayuki Toriumi
music by Bob Sakuma

GatchamanVoice Cast: Katsuji Mori (Ken Washio), Isao Sasaki (Joe Asakura), Kazuko Sugiyama (Jun), Yoku Shioya (Jinpei), Shingo Kanemoto (Ryu), Toru Ohira (Kozaburo Nambu), Mikio Terashima (Berg Katse), Nobuo Tanaka (Sosai X), Teiji Omiya (Director Anderson)

Note: This episode marks the first appearance of Red Impulse and his wingmen; only their fighters are seen here. And good thing too. This synopsis is for the original Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman episode, and appears under its original Japanese premiere date. For the corresponding episode of Battle Of The Planets, click here.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Great Mini-Robot Operation

Kagaku Ninjatai GatchamanAn underground drill bursts through the floor of the World Bank, unleashing a deadly payload: Micros, knee-high robots armed to the teeth with lasers, sent by Galactor to steal every bar of gold and destabilize the world economy. Team Gatchaman is dispatched to retrieve the stolen gold from an unknown base somewhere in the Barelli Islands. The base is soon found, and Ken, Jun and, Jinpei visit the base’s island out of uniform to ensure that they’re captured and taken inside. Joe is left in charge of retrieving the gold, with strict orders from Dr. Nambu not to exceed those orders. But as he often does, Joe manages to do just that, leaving Ryu in the God Phoenix to doze off at the wheel. Joe’s intent is to rid the world of Galactor once and for all, and retrieve the gold. Again, his overzealous refusal to disobey his exact orders put the rest of the team in danger.

written by Jinzo Toriumi
directed by Hisayuki Toriumi
music by Bob Sakuma

GatchamanVoice Cast: Katsuji Mori (Ken Washio), Isao Sasaki (Joe Asakura), Kazuko Sugiyama (Jun), Yoku Shioya (Jinpei), Shingo Kanemoto (Ryu), Toru Ohira (Kozaburo Nambu), Mikio Terashima (Berg Katse), Nobuo Tanaka (Sosai X), Teiji Omiya (Director Anderson)

Note: It’s implied that Sosai X himself designed the Micros; they do seem a bit more reliable than most Galactor gadgets. This synopsis is for the original Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman episode, and appears under its original Japanese premiere date. For the corresponding episode of Battle Of The Planets, click here.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Galactor’s Giant Air Show

Kagaku Ninjatai GatchamanKen gets ready to take on his “day job” as a test pilot, flying Dr. Nambu’s experimental, non-polluting jet, when he sees an amazing sight. A skeletal figure standing on a biplane intercepts the jet and, with powerful metallic tentacles, takes it out of the sky, forcing Ken to eject. As he splashes down in the ocean, he’s powerless to do anything but watch as the biplane and its deadly pilot wipe out most of the other planes at the air show. The God Phoenix is launched immediately, but even Gatchaman’s ship suffers serious damage when it goes up against the mysterious biplane. Dr. Nambu studies the damage and finds proof that Galactor has perfected the process of making weapons from a stronger-than-steel metal called Whisker – a metal that Nambu himself hasn’t been able to duplicate. If Galactor is already producing weapons based on Whisker, even Gatchaman can’t stop them.

written by Jinzo Toriumi
directed by Hisayuki Toriumi
music by Bob Sakuma

GatchamanVoice Cast: Katsuji Mori (Ken Washio), Isao Sasaki (Joe Asakura), Kazuko Sugiyama (Jun), Yoku Shioya (Jinpei), Shingo Kanemoto (Ryu), Toru Ohira (Kozaburo Nambu), Mikio Terashima (Katsenberg), Kazuya Tatekabe (Captain), Mitsuo Yokoi (Captain), Hideo Kinoshita (Narrator)

Note: This synopsis is for the original Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman episode, and appears under its original Japanese premiere date. For the corresponding episode of Battle Of The Planets, click here.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Secret Of Crescent Coral Reef

Kagaku Ninjatai GatchamanThe sinking of a World Science Organization sub, part of a huge construction effort to build a new underwater base for the Gatchaman team, is the first sign that Galactor is aware of the base. The Gatchaman team is called in to look for signs of Galactor activity on a nearby island, but Dr. Nambu warns Ken and his team not to fight Galactor unless necessary. Stung by a random encounter with a civilian who thinks every other member of the Gatchaman team is more impressive than he is, Jinpei is determined to take on Galactor single-handedly. Unfortunately, in the process of trying to fight them alone, Jinpei also leads Galactor straight to the new underwater base.

written by Jinzo Toriumi
directed by Hisayuki Toriumi
music by Bob Sakuma

GatchamanVoice Cast: Katsuji Mori (Ken Washio), Isao Sasaki (Joe Asakura), Kazuko Sugiyama (Jun), Yoku Shioya (Jinpei), Shingo Kanemoto (Ryu), Toru Ohira (Kozaburo Nambu), Mikio Terashima (Berg Katse), Nobuo Tanaka (Sosai X), Mitsuo Yokoi (Clerk in Charge), Hideo Kinoshita (Narrator)

Note: Jinpei is 18th successor to the Iga Ninja; presumably this means she is a practitioner of Iga-ryu ninjutsu, a real discipline which originated in Iga City, in Mie Prefecture, Japan. The existence of the Gatchaman team is apparently public knowledge, enough that children are aware of the individual team members’ “G numbers” and abilities. (Are there trading cards and action figures, one wonders? There should be.) Again, significant violence from this original episode is swapped out for an unusual number of 7-Zark-7 scenes in the Battle Of The Planets dub. Though the Crescent Coral Reef base is seen throughout Battle Of The Planets as “Center Neptune,” this is its first appearance in Gatchaman. This synopsis is for the original Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman episode, and appears under its original Japanese premiere date. For the corresponding episode of Battle Of The Planets, click here.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Devil From The Moon

Kagaku Ninjatai GatchamanMeteorites begin raining down on heavily populated cities on Earth, wrecking havoc, death and destruction. The ISO analyzes samples of the meteorites and discovers that they originated as moon rocks. The God Phoenix is launched toward the moon, where it is discovered that Berg Katse and Sosai X control a huge, scorpion-like vehicle which mines moon rocks and then fires them at Earth. Gatchaman must destroy the mecha before it destroys Earth.

written by Jinzo Toriumi
directed by Hisayuki Toriumi
music by Bob Sakuma

GatchamanVoice Cast: Katsuji Mori (Ken Washio), Isao Sasaki (Joe Asakura), Kazuko Sugiyama (Jun), Yoku Shioya (Jinpei), Shingo Kanemoto (Ryu), Toru Ohira (Kozaburo Nambu), Mikio Terashima (Berg Katse), Nobuo Tanaka (Sosai X), Mitsuo Yokoi (Clerk in Charge), Hideo Kinoshita (Narrator)

Note: This is the first time, in Gatchaman, that we see the God Phoenix lift off into space. (By comparison, the Phoenix in Battle Of The Planets visits an alien world nearly every week.) For the corresponding episode of Battle Of The Planets, click here.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Sosai X Counterattack

Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman IIIn the Pacific Ocean, a glowing ball of energy from space slices through a cruise ship, sinking it and killing all aboard. A little girl is saved from drowning by a mechanical pod, which accelerates her growth and introduces mutations designed by the malevolent entity Sosai X. The girl, now imbued with terrifying powers and an insane devotion to her “savior,” becomes Gel Sadra.

The abduction of a leading scientist gets the immediate attention of the International Science Organization, and Dr. Nambu deduces that Sosai X is preparing to attack again. He calls the Gatchaman team out of semi-retirement and back into action, stunning them with his decision to replace the deceased Joe with a cocky new team member, Getz. The evidence points toward an ancient temple as the source of renewed Galactor activity, and Getz joins the team on his first mission, but his attitude doesn’t endear him to Ken or the others. When Gel Sadra springs her first trap for Gatchaman, they can’t even be sure where Getz’s loyalty lies.

written by Satoshi Suyama and Jinzo Toriumi
directed by Koichi Mashimo
music by Hiroshi Tsutsui / additional music by Bob Sakuma

Voice Cast: Katsuji Mori (Ken Washio), Masayuki Ibu (Getz), Kazuko Sugiyama (Jun), Yoku Shioya (Jinpei), Shingo Kanemoto (Ryu), Toru Ohira (Kozaburo Nambu), Masaru Ikeda (Gel Sadra), Nobuo Tanaka (Sosai X), Teiji Omiya (Director Anderson), Yo Inoue (Pilma)

GatchamanNote: Gatchaman II was translated for English-speaking audiences as part of the dubbed Saban Entertainment series Eagle Riders, though most of the ongoing story threads were lost in that ’90s translation. Eagle Riders’ greatest claim to fame is that it featured the voice talent of actor Bryan Cranston over a decade before he became the star of Breaking Bad.

In addition to a new ship (named the New God Phoenix) and a new crew member, we’re also introduced to new signature weapons for each of the Gatchaman team, though all of them are now seen to be carrying pistols as well. Where the first Gatchaman series always showed Ryu aboard the God Phoenix, here he has his own individual vehicle like his teammates. But who’s flying the New God Phoenix if Ryu’s not on board? The New God Phoenix also has an autopilot robot aboard, named Pilma (apparently designed by Ryu and Jinpei); if only Battle Of The Planets Gatchamancould have carried on into Gatchaman II, 7-Zark-7 could’ve had a pen pal aboard the Phoenix! (Technically speaking, Gatchaman II and Battle Of The Planets were both in production at the same time, and aired almost simultaneously on opposite sides of the world.)

Very strangely, sound effects from Star Wars can be heard here. Pilma is activated with a distinct R2-D2 sound effect, while numerous guns and scientist-kidnapping tractor beams seem to use the lightsaber activation sound effect.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

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