Appellate Judge Mike Pinsky roomed with Dr. Nambu in graduate school. That guy mumbles in his sleep about fighting giant animal mecha. And he leaves the bathroom a mess.
Our reviews of Gatchaman: Volumes 1-4 (published November 17th, 2005), Gatchaman: Volumes 5-6 (published December 1st, 2005), Gatchaman, Collection 4 (Volumes 7 And 8) (published January 19th, 2006), Gatchaman, Collection 5 (Volumes 9 And 10) (published March 2nd, 2006), and Gatchaman, Collection 9 (Volumes 17 And 18) (published November 21st, 2006) are also available.
"Don't celebrate too early, everyone. If you think your mission is over, you're mistaken."—Dr. Nambu
Loyal readers of these Science Ninja Team Gatchaman reviews—and I salute both of you—will notice that there is no review available for Collection 6 (Volumes 11 and 12) of this series, and you may wonder what happened to our heroes in the aftermath of Red Impulse's death. But you already know. Think hard. Can you picture it? Yes, that's it. Berg Katse ranting about how the Science Ninjas always defeat his plans? Galactor building another giant robot inspired by an obscure member of the animal kingdom? Science Ninjas saving the day? Yes, yes, and yes. The only real change is that the episodes are becoming more serialized rather than stand-alone, including occasional cliffhangers.
Actually, it does seem that the Science Ninjas are getting fed up with the monotony of their show by Gatchaman Collection 7. The usual drill is to defeat the mecha of the week, then back off chasing Katse. Volume 13 begins with Dr. Nimbus ordering a forced pursuit of Berg Katse after the latest battle. Of course, our heroes do not succeed—otherwise the show would be over (and there are still a few dozen episodes to go).
Overall, there is more tension among the characters these days. By this point, Galactor are pretty much onto the Science Ninjas' secret identities (that's what they get for wearing big numbers on their shirts all the damn time). Ken and Joe argue more. Leader X gripes about Berg Katse's failures more. Ryu screws up and must stay home (instead of staying in the God Phoenix as usual). Galactor even figures out how to short-circuit the Science Ninjas' bird powers for a few episodes, thanks to Jun's lost shoe. Then, in one of the show's best episodes yet, Gatchaman battles a team of bird-themed assassins that turn out to be tougher than the usual Galactor goons, fight a city of zombified citizens, then barely escape a time bomb—and Berg Katse gets away with millions in treasure! Yes, it took 77 episodes for Gatchaman to finally lose a battle, and it was worth it.
The renewed energy level carries over into the next few episodes. Volume 14 starts off promising, as a spy within the ranks of the International Science Organization hands over covert intel on Gatchaman to Galactor, forcing our heroes to infiltrate Galactor's base for the 400th time. Berg Katse should stop leaving the key under that fake rock on the porch. Condor Joe gets a solo adventure. Galactor attacks Gatchaman's secret base. As the show enters its final act, even Berg Katse is revved up. "Let's crank up the violence out there!" he shouts at his minions. It's about time.
It seems so unlikely, but even at this late stage in the series, Gatchaman is actually fun again. Putting our heroes on the defensive for a few episodes is exciting enough to keep the audience's interest between the filler stories. Camp takes over when Berg Katse runs science experiments on Jun's footwear to unlock the Science Ninjas' transformation, then sets up a Cinderella-themed trap involving teenage makeovers. Of course, there are the usual giant robot shrimp and peacocks "spewing confusion rays" and the other goofiness. And Berg Katse telling his minions not to "play grab ass." No, really.
Speaking of minions, the minions speak. Yes, the commentary track for Volume 13 features three voice actors who specialize in playing minions (Josh Grelle, Glenn Fraser, and Chris Ayres). Need somebody to play a cockney-accented speed freak with a stutter? These are the guys to turn to. Volume 14 features a commentary track from Marty Fleck, who plays ISO Director Anderson, who only appears once every dozen or so episodes, so I suppose Fleck has a lot of time on his hands. He does have a great announcer voice, in case you are looking for somebody to host your show.
The bonus disc this time around spotlights Dr. Nambu and "his fearsome intellect." I have to give props to Japanese voice actor Toru Ohira, who is (or was, since he did this show three decades ago) apparently versatile enough to play Dr. Nambu, Homer Simpson, and Darth Vader. Now that's talent. Of course, we hear nothing from him on this bonus disc. We do get an interview with Andy McAvin, audition footage, and an audio gallery spotlighting Battle of the Planets music from various countries (the Italian disco track is laughably awful).
If I am not mistaken, this pretty much closes out the show's major characters (the last collection included a bonus disc revolving around Berg Katse). ADV still has a couple of Gatchaman collections left to go though. Will the Science Ninjas finally defeat Berg Katse once and for all? Will Katse run out of lip gloss before that fateful battle? As the narrator always says during each episode preview, "look forward to it!"
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
• Commentary Tracks
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