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Gatchaman

Gatchaman anime live-action

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#1 Virgil Vox

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Posted 20 July 2016 - 09:02 PM

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Once I saw that Attack on Titan had been released as a region free DVD with English subtitles, I went and looked for Gatchaman and lo and behold there was a region free DVD out there.

I didn’t watch the anime growing up so I had never heard of Gatchaman until I stumbled across the trailer for the live action movie. It looked like a lot of fun and I had hopes it would eventually make its way to the States but it never did. Thankfully though this DVD came into existence.

The plot sees a race of evil beings called Galactors appearing on Earth and quickly overpowering standard militaries. They have completely conquered Europe, and are slowly working on conquering the rest of the planet. Japan is one of the last Galactor-free zones. The ISO (International Science Orgaization) discovered 20-some odd stones that, when bonded to the right person, gave them powers that could be used to defeat the Galactors. The ISO went about finding people that would bond with the stones, and when the movie begins there are five that make up the Gatchaman team. They are about to face their biggest challenge yet as the Galactors, led by leader Berg Kattse, are unleashing a plan called Final Suicide which is aimed at defeating the last countries still fighting.

Overall, I liked Gatchaman a lot. It’s a slower movie than I had originally anticipated. It starts out with an amazing action set-piece that sees the five heroes fighting Galactor troops, generals, and a giant wheel of death in Tokyo. It’s a great fight scene that shows off the five heroes and their powers quite well. While it obviously doesn’t have the budget of a Marvel or DC superhero movie, the effects are still good and the fight choreography is superb. The movie slows down until the last twenty or so minutes when another great action set-piece is unleashed.

The rest of the movie is devoted to exploring the characters (mainly team leader Ken and bad boy Joe) and exploring some back story. It’s not all talking though. Ken and Jun infiltrate an event being thrown to raise funds to take back Europe so they can make contact with a Galactor defector known as Iriya. It’s a semi-tense sequence that has Joe, who has reasons for wanting Iriya dead, turn on the team so he can exact his revenge. Later, Iriya breaks free from his ISO cell and easily defeats the youngest Gatchaman, Jinpei, as well as some guards.

I did appreciate the character work though because it does make the final battle all that more personal and engaging because there’s more at stake than just saving the world. There are very personal stakes for Ken and Joe.

Ken is the strict, by the book leader who will sacrifice his team members if it means completing the mission. This basically happens twice, both with Jinpei. The movie takes the time to let viewers know why, though. It gives Ken an arc through the movie and it resonates more when he decides to go save Joe at the end of the movie.

Joe is more the black sheep, who because of an event in the past, hates Ken and had to be moved to Europe to keep them from killing each other. He has come back to Japan because he learned that Iriya was going to be brought in.
Jun is the sole female on the team, but she’s an accomplished fighter and is the one who stops the wheel of death and the bomb it was carrying. She’s in love with Ken, but he doesn’t return the feelings basically because of what happened to him in the past. She’s also apparently a bad cook.

Ryu is the muscle of the group and he takes an older brother role in regards to Jinpei. The two bicker like brothers and Ryu is protective of Jinpei, rescuing him after Iriya breaks free and then taking a blast meant for Jinpei in the final battle. His mother is sick and probably dying, and he worries about her throughout the movie.

Jinpei is the youngest on the team and the most inexperienced fighter. However he’s a tech genius and plays a pivotal role in stopping the bad guys in the end.

While they aren’t the most well developed characters, there’s enough here to make you like all of the heroes and the movie does a good job of highlighting the bonds between the team members.

The major theme of the movie is one of free will. The five men and women that make up the team don’t have a say in whether they fight or not. The stones bonded with them so they were conscripted. Several times the heroes question why they fight and if they even have a reason to fight. Berg Kattse tempts Joe over to her side by saying that the Galactors represent freedom. They won’t force Joe to fight and die in a war against his will. Sure, the theme isn’t subtle and it’s not the best developed but I appreciated the movie trying to have a message.

There’s also some decent world building. In the few scenes set in Tokyo and not on the ISO island, we are shown more soldiers on the streets and more non-Japanese people in the background. It’s explained that Tokyo has taken in a lot of refugees which has caused some problems. There’s also mention of high unemployment. It’s not a lot, but it does show that this movie exists in a world different from ours.

It does look like most of the budget went into the suits, the opening action set-piece, and the closing action set-piece. Most of the movie takes place on the ISO island and the sets are pretty minimal. When the team takes off in their Phoenix jet the cockpit is a small area with five chairs and basically white walls. There’s not much to it. The villain’s giant flying base, which looks awesome on the outside, is basically just small tunnels on the inside.

I’m sure I could think of some negatives to say about the movie, apart from the small budget allocated to additional sets, but honestly I just enjoyed the movie a lot. I read some reviews after I watched the movie and they didn’t like the fact that there were only two action scenes and thought the movie was cliché riddled but that didn’t bother me. The two action scenes were great and while the movie does have clichés they weren’t deal breakers. I enjoyed Gatchaman and will probably end up watching it multiple times.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#2 RJDiogenes

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Posted 21 July 2016 - 06:33 PM

I like the idea that the action scenes are few and that there's a lot of focus on characterization.

It's interesting that there are twenty stones, but only five super-characters.  Apparently they're hoping for lots of sequels. Are the stones somehow related to the invasion somehow, or are the ideas entirely separate?

Also, I'm curious about whether all the characters have the same powers, or do the stones affect everyone differently?
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#3 Virgil Vox

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Posted 21 July 2016 - 11:22 PM

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I like the idea that the action scenes are few and that there's a lot of focus on characterization.

I liked it too. The action scenes are great and you can tell they put a lot of time, effort, and money into them. Plus by focusing on the characters they made the final action scene have real stakes, especially as Ken and Joe take on the big bad.

Quote

It's interesting that there are twenty stones, but only five super-characters.  Apparently they're hoping for lots of sequels. Are the stones somehow related to the invasion somehow, or are the ideas entirely separate?

They don't really mention the other stones or if they have activated for anyone else. I'm sure they were hoping for sequels but I don't think they are getting any. It seems like the movie under-performed in Japan. I'm not entirely sure if the stones are related. At first they make it seem as if the Galactors are alien invaders, but then it's revealed that the Galactors are humans that have been infected with Virus X that turns them into Galactors. It's a strange twist that raises more questions than it answers.

Quote

Also, I'm curious about whether all the characters have the same powers, or do the stones affect everyone differently?

They seem to have more or less the same powers. Super strength, near-invulnerability, the power of flight, etc. In the first fight they do show off different weapons and Jinpei has the ability to crate a hologram of himself. Ryu does seem stronger than the others but they're all pretty strong.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#4 G-man

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 02:48 PM

Hmmm.

When I first watched this, I didn't like it.  As you suspected, it had certainly strayed from the source material -- reimaging just about everything, and essentially obscuring the whole bird theme that informed the Gatchaman team.  Still, as I re-watched it last night, I did notice a number of themes that they did retain even as they changed everything else.  Once I got over the initial disappointment, I could now enjoy it a lot more, though I still feel it could have been better.

The original cartoon might be considered a precursor to the Power Rangers, what with a group of teens, I colorful costumes, with special powers and abilities, opposing the monstrous mecha and minions of Galactor, as ruled over by the hermaphroditic Berg Katse and his/her overlord Sosai X.  According to Wikipedia, it was created as a riff on American Super Heroes, but could have served as a model for the later Super Sentai series.

If possible, try to watch the OVA series that came out in the 1990's, it's 3 x 45 minute chapters that captured the spirit of the 105 episodes of the 1972 TV series.  There is also a recent anime series called Gatchaman Crowds that came out in 2013 and reimagines everything while delving into the whole Social Media phenomena. It's very strange but still enjoyable.

/s/

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Edited by G-man, 22 July 2016 - 02:57 PM.

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#5 RJDiogenes

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 05:26 PM

View PostVirgil Vox, on 21 July 2016 - 11:22 PM, said:

They don't really mention the other stones or if they have activated for anyone else. I'm sure they were hoping for sequels but I don't think they are getting any. It seems like the movie under-performed in Japan. I'm not entirely sure if the stones are related. At first they make it seem as if the Galactors are alien invaders, but then it's revealed that the Galactors are humans that have been infected with Virus X that turns them into Galactors. It's a strange twist that raises more questions than it answers.  
Well... that's very Titan-like.  :unsure:
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