My first run in with the Gatchaman series came in the form of G-Force, the edited US version of the show that I saw on Cartoon Network back in the day, while others might remember it from the edited film known as 1978’s Battle of the Planets. It was also edited into Eagle Riders in the mid-90s by Haim Saban who was trying to cash in on his claim to Power Rangers and other similar shows.
After all these edited versions, thank goodness we can finally see the series unedited thanks to Sentai releasing the Gatchaman: Complete Collection Blu-ray set. Featuring all 105 episodes and a ton of extras, this is easily the best way to experience this classic series that old school fans will love while also making a new generation of fans.
Paving the way for future Japanese shows that would feature heroes dressed in tight costumes and fighting enemies with high-flying martial art moves, as well as riding high off successful anime shows such as Mach GoGoGo aka Speed Racer, Tatsunoko Productions released Science Ninja Team Gatchaman in 1972 that gave us five heroes that could transform into their avian-themed costumes to fight off the evil organization known as Galactor.
Our heroes, Ken the Eagle, Jo the Condor, Jun the Swan, Jinpei the Swallow, and Ryu the Owl do their best to preserve the Earth’s natural resources while Galactor is always trying to steal or use them for evil purposes. Thankfully our heroes are well trained in fighting with martial arts as well as high-tech gadgets they use (well if you count a boomerang and yo-yos with blades in them high-tech).
They also get around in their cool vehicles and their main ship, the phoenix that carries them on their many adventures and is armed with weapons and the ability to transform into a bird made of fire to burn through enemies as well as give a super speed boost. The show proved to be popular as it went on for 105 episodes and would continue to spinoff numerous sequels, reboots, OVAs and more which thankfully some are included in this set.
For an anime series that’s over 50 years-old, Sentai did a great job cleaning it up just enough to make it look and sound as good as it possibly can without overdoing it. As with most classic anime shows, the artwork and the animation tends to suffer at times, but that’s all part of the charm of 70s era shows.
When you’re done watching the series, you can dive into the special features such as clean opening and closing scenes, some character bios, art sketches and galleries, some music clips, loads of interviews, audio commentaries on a few of the episodes, and more. I also loved how they included the classic late 70s movie that’s edited from some of the series along with some new footage added.
My favorite bonus in this set are the three OVAs from the 1990s which I loved when I had the old DVD of them and found out the late and forever great Maurice White of Earth, Wind, and Fire fame helped create some of the music for, namely the awesome ending song “Let’s Fly” that clearly has EWF vibes written all over it.
If you’re a fan of Gatchaman, young or old, or just enjoy classic anime shows, you’ll want to fly high and soar to the nearest store to pick up the Gatchaman: Complete Collection Blu-ray set. The show holds up nicely with plenty of action and adventure, and comes packed with special features that will keep you high above the clouds.