70's space ninjas with boomerangs! What's not to love?
Publisher: AV Channel
Tue, 11 January 2005
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Mark is the fearless leader with the very familiar voice. Princess is the kick-arse chick with the distractingly short pink dress. The ironically named Tiny is the dopey strong man with a big beer gut. Jason is the hot-headed rebel who cracks the shits all the time. Keyop is the freaky little dude with the really annoying speech impediment. Together they are G-Force; a special team dedicated to protecting the galaxy from evil aliens while wearing funky bird helmets!
I absolutely loved this show as a kid and I still enjoy watching it today. The artwork and the character designs are just so friggin’ stylish and cool. What I didn’t know back in my blissfully ignorant childhood years is that the versions (there were two different variations made: Battle of the Planets and later G-Force) of the cartoons that we westerners got on our televisions were severely altered and censored translations of the original Japanese series known as Gatchaman. In fact, 7-Zark-7 (the crappy “R2D2 rip-off” looking robot that watches over the team and narrates parts of the episodes) was actually added into the American version of the show, both to help appeal to kids and the Star Wars/Sci-Fi nerds and to make up time due to all the violence and (supposedly) mature content that was cut out from the Japanese version. I was under the impression that this 3 disc box set contained both the American and the original uncut versions of each episode. Unfortunately I was wrong about that. There are two uncut versions included though and, it must be said, once you’ve seen them it does make the censored ones seem a bit lame by comparison.
Nevertheless, the seventeen episodes included on this set are the ones that I grew up with and therefore they have a certain nostalgic sense of familiarity to them. Besides, the extra cheesiness of the US adaptations gives them a kind of special charm all of their own. Once you get over the fact they’ve been all messed with you can just relax and enjoy these shows for the awesome cartoons they still are.
The first thing that grabbed my attention with this collection was the beautiful packaging. On the front and inside cover are some fantastic paintings of the G-Force team done by the mega-talented Alex Ross. These paintings prove one again that Ross is the man and we should all bow to him.
The next thing I noticed was how funny the names of the episodes are. The first two are titled “Attack of the Space Terrapin” and “Siege of the Squids” and all the other names are just as ridiculous as those. You’ve got to love that.
The show itself has aged extremely well. Considering the age of the cartoons they look very sharp and the 70’s appearance (check out the flares some of the characters get around in for instance) only adds more appeal to the heavily stylized visuals, giving things that groovy retro edge.
Those who’ve never seen Battle of the Planets might be wondering what the show is all about. Well, here is some of what is written on the back of the box to help explain: “Planet Spectra’s evil leaders have targeted earth along with all of the members of the Federation of Peaceful Planets. Their goal? Nothing short of enslaving these planets and capturing their natural resources for their own dying world! The Luminous One and Zoltar will stop at nothing to cause as much fear and destruction as possible…”
So there you go. What this boils down to is that in each half hour instalment some kind of evil henchmen or giant space monster attacks Earth or another planet. It is up to Mark and his crew to save the day, which they do using martial arts, boomerangs, a space ship that turns into a flaming phoenix and stuff like that. It is all very strange and silly, but it is also all very cool indeed.
The characters are simple enough to appeal to children, but they do have some depth to them for us older viewers if we choose to pay attention. There’s the little romantic side story with Mark and Princess (although Mark is hopeless, just make a move doofus!), Jason’s constant need to be a complete dick and plenty more going on. At the end of the day though watching Battle of the Planets is all about having a good time and enjoying the great art and goofy action.
As you’d expect there are some extras included with the set as well. One extra is an all too short Casey Kasem interview. Casey did the voice of Mark and is well known to cartoon fans for his extensive voice work as the likes of Shaggy from Scooby Doo and Batman’s sidekick Robin amongst many others. There’s also a commentary track for one of the episodes, which isn’t all that interesting to be honest. Probably the best bonus feature is the Gatchaman/G-Force episode 1 comparison which shows and explains all the differences between the three versions of the show.
All up this is a great collection. I absolutely love it. The second season is already available, so I’ll be reviewing that one soon. Then there is the third season to come… damn, a geek’s work is never done! Anyway, this review is for the first season and I say if you ever liked the show you should go ahead and buy it. If you’ve never seen it before and you like cartoons, it is about time you took a look at it. The other handy thing is that if you have kids, particularly young boys (insert Michael Jackson joke here), I reckon Battle of the Planets would probably be quite appropriate to watch with them too. Go G-Force!
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An extra half button added for all the Princess panty shots