BATTLE OF THE PLANETS (Kagaku Ninja Tai Gatchaman)

We’re not talking about the second-rate latter-day attempts to bring Gatchaman to the States as either G-FORCE or EAGLE RIDERS here. Sure, BATTLE OF THE PLANETS was sloppily edited, with the background music skipping all over the place wherever something had been cut for standards. And sure, the addition of cure robot 7-Zark-7 was annoying, a necessity due to the sheer amount of material it was necessary to prune from the show to bring it in line with American broadcasting standards of the era. It was still the best super hero cartoon to hit the airwaves during the castrated 70s.

BATTLE OF THE PLANETS (Science Ninja Team Gatchaman) related the adventures of a crack team of bird-attired warriors who did battle with the extraterrestrial terrorist organization Spectra (Galactor in the original). Imported in the wake of the Star Wars space-craze of the day, producer Sandy Frank rejiggered the shows so that most of the action occurred on alien worlds. (In the original, everything took place on Earth.) The voice cast was earnest and believable, the soundtrack rich and rousing (if hacked to pieces), and the drama of the series, though watered down, was still strong and compelling. 

It was a show I made it a point never to miss every day, from the moment I first saw it in 1978. And the most immediate influence that it had on me was that from this point on, all of my home-grown super-teams possessed Phoenix-like skyships to carry them into battle

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