Battle of the Planets was the first English-language adaptation of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, and debuted on TV on September 1, 1978. It is a loose adaptation of the source material, edited to better appeal to the sci-fi trend of the late 1970s (in the wake of Star Wars), as well as remove content deemed to be inappropriate for younger viewers.
This version was produced by Sandy Frank Entertainment, known for their dubs of Japanese kaiju films as well as producing "Name That Tune".
Sandy Frank first acquired the Gatchaman license in 1977, and their license gave them international rights to the original series for thirty years, with various foreign-language dubs of their version airing in various countries. Upon the expiration of the license in early 2007, "Battle of the Planets" and "G-Force: Guardians of Space" (the second English adaptation of Gatchaman) reverted back to Tatsunoko Productions.
The dubbing of the series was done in North Hollywood, California, and featured voice talent that had been famous in various Hanna-Barbera productions.
Key Changes in the Adaptation
Gatchaman underwent a heavy reversioning in order to become "Battle of the Planets". What follows are some of the changes made.
- Ken Washio became "Mark".
- Joe Asakura became "Jason".
- Jun became "Princess".
- Jinpei became "Keyop".
- Ryu Nakanishi became "Tiny Harper".
- Dr. Kozaburo Nambu became "Chief Anderson".
- Oddly, in turn, Director Anderson was renamed "President Kane".
- Berg Katse was renamed "Zoltar", and stated to be an alien from the planet Spectra. X was renamed "The Spirit" or "The Great Spirit" (among various nicknames) and was said to be the alien ruler of Spectra.
- Red Impulse was renamed "Colonel Cronus".
- The Science Ninja Team was renamed "G-Force". The Bird Style names were left out, along with the G- designations.
- The Galactor organization was renamed "Spectra", after the planet they are said to come from.
Additions by Sandy Frank
The first three mentioned changes were portions animated by a studio called Gallerie International.
- A super-intelligent robot named 7-Zark-7 was added, to fill in the gaps left behind by edits and provide exposition for the viewers. Zark also was given a dog, 1-Rover-1, and an unseen love interest named "Susan" who was stationed on planet Pluto (she was named after a secretary of Sandy Frank).
- Newly-created outer space stock footage was utilized for sequences where the Phoenix would travel through outer space.
- Gallerie also created a sequence known as "The Ready Room", where the G-Force members would hang out.
- A number of sequences within episodes were rescored with a soundtrack by Hoyt Curtin, for a few different reasons: to replace music that was deemed not as dynamic, to provide seamless background music where cuts had to be made to footage, and to fill in gaps of silence.
Excluded elements and other changes
- Civilian deaths were edited out, usually with Zark explaining that a place was evacuated.
- Joe's backstory was excluded. All viewers know of Jason is that he is an orphan.
- As "Keyop", the youngest member of the team was rewritten into a genetically-engineered child with a strange speech impediment.
- Tiny Harper is stated to be an orphan like the rest of the team, while Ryu had a living family. His father was rewritten into an acquaintance named "Captain Jack" and his brother also became an unrelated character.
- Katse's female self was adapted into four separate named characters; first as a spy named "Hannah", then as a reporter named "Ms. Ostric", then as another spy known as "Agent S-9", and finally as Zoltar's sister "Mala". However, before the appearance of any of these characters, the episode where Katse was partially unmasked was adapted first, and the implication was kept that "Zoltar" could be a woman.
- Some of Dr. Nambu's early scenes were dropped or his importance was generally downplayed, in order to give Zark more focus.
- Red Impulse is rewritten into Colonel Cronus, a mentor and "old friend" of Mark's, and is first stated to have been killed and impersonated by Zoltar (the episode originally took place after the death of Red Impulse in Gatchaman), though he later turns up alive. Later, Mark's father is referenced as having been killed by an assassin on the planet Riga, leading to Mark seeking vengeance for his death (this episode also originally happened after the death of Red Impulse). However, later on, Mark learns that Colonel Cronus is his father, having disappeared when Mark was a young boy. It is stated that Mark had never believed his father to have died. Rather than dying in a sacrifice to stop the V2 plan, Cronus is said to have ejected at the last minute.
- One scene of Ken at Red Impulse's grave was dubbed as Mark visiting the grave of an older brother that died. The first episode in the Red Impulse arc was also adapted separately from the V2 two-parter, and had a scene of Red Impulse thinking about his wife and a younger Ken rewritten to have Cronus missing a wife and a young son named "Timmy". Another episode had Masaki (one of Red Impulse's subordinates) mistakenly dubbed as Cronus, despite the differences in their appearances.
- Deaths of Galactor henchmen were entirely cut, or Zark would claim that they were simply knocked out. Similarly, fight scenes tended to be heavily edited, especially portions where Joe was involved.
- Scenes of Jun panicking or being unsure of what to do were rewritten to have her come off more capable to female viewers. However, Princess is also said to only work part-time at a snack bar for her friend Jill (explaining the "J" in the name), while Jun had owned the snack bar in the original.
- While Ken rebuffed or was oblivious to Jun's feelings and more concerned with the mission, Mark openly reciprocated Princess' feelings and the two had rewritten dialogue suggesting a much closer relationship.
As Sandy Frank held the worldwide license outside of Japan, most foreign adaptations were sourced from this version.
- A Dutch version titled "Strijd der Planeten" ran around 1980, for 26 episodes. It utilized the Gatchaman order for its broadcast.
- A French version titled "La Bataille des planetes" covered 59 of the 85 episodes, and aired on TF1 in the early '80s. While some characters retained the English names, others were further localized into French. Jason became "Thierry", Tiny was renamed "Allumette", Chief Anderson changed to "Mr. Cavalier", and Susan was "5-Cibel-5". Hoyt Curtin's opening theme was also given lyrics by Michel Gatineau, who titled it "The Archangels".
- The Italian version was titled "Gatchaman: La Battaglia dei Pianeti" and retained the team's original Japanese names, save for Jun who became "Pretty Jane"/"Pretty Jun". The first 85 episodes followed Sandy Frank's adaptation, but it also utilized the 20 missing Gatchaman episodes. These episodes broke the continuity by using different title cards, as well as having no 7-Zark-7. The Italian version was able to purchase all episodes due to the fact that Italy had licensed Gatchaman before Sandy Frank's deal. However, due to the delays in adaptation, they were made to utilize Sandy Frank's scripts and reels for 85 of the episodes.
- It was aired in Greece under the name "I Machi Ton Planiton", and all 85 episodes aired. The characters' names were mostly translated into Greek cognates, although Susan became "5-Susan-5" to match up with Zark's name.
- The Spanish version was titled "La Batalla de los Planetas", but was also known as "Comando G" (due to the team's name). It ran for 59 episodes, and was known for its opening theme by the group Parchis. This version also utilized the Gatchaman airing order.
- It was titled "Wojna Planet" when it aired in Poland.
- An Arabic version titled "Harb Al-Kawakib" aired in various Middle Eastern countries (Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Kuwait, Libya, Lebanon, and Qatar) through 1979 to around 1985. Israel aired its own dub of the series, titled "Milchamah Hakochavim".
When adapting Gatchaman, Sandy Frank originally planned to keep the episode order intact. However, as Tatsunoko had sent them the film reels out of order, this lead to the dubbing team translating the episodes in the order that they were received in. Thus, some episodes that originally kept continuity from the previous stories have had said references written out, and watching some episodes in the Gatchaman order will wind up spoiling developments that had yet to actually happen in the original. This lead to a different order being created.
While Sandy Frank last reverted to the Gatchaman order as the official viewing order, there were a few different variations created for Battle's release in 1978, along with the translation order.
All in all, at least 85 episodes of Gatchaman were utilized, with #101 ("The Sniper Group Heavy-Cobra") being the latest to be covered. However, in Sandy Frank's translation/airing order, their "Invasion of Space Center" two-parter is actually supposed to end the series.
The creative team originally wanted to utilize all 105 episodes, but Tatsunoko had only offered to send their last 20 reels relatively late into the production of the English version, and Sandy Frank had already decided that 85 episodes were adequate for syndication.
Missing Episode: "Zark Double Zark"
However, evidence does suggest that early in the translation project, the creative team did draft a few scripts for entirely original "Battle of the Planets" stories that would be fully animated by Gallerie. One episode, with the production code 106, was titled "Zark Double Zark" and involved Spectra creating an evil duplicate of 7-Zark-7.
Copies of the scripts show that they were marked, suggesting that the voice reel was at least completed, and Janet Waldo had attested to having recorded the episode. However, the tapes seem to have been lost or destroyed.
Sandy Frank ultimately did not go through with these episodes, as they would have been more expensive to produce.
Alternative Versions of Episodes
At least four of the episodes are known to have earlier, alternate takes that were not broadcast on TV, although one ("Rescue of the Astronauts") is included as an extra on the Australian "Battle of the Planets" DVD release.
Differences include the absence of Hoyt Curtin's replacement score (with the original Bob Sakuma music retained), scenes of violence or death retained, missing or different Zark scenes, and different opening credit sequences. The episodes that these alternate takes exist for are "Attack of the Space Terrapin", "Siege of the Squids", "Mad New Ruler of Spectra", and "Rescue of the Astronauts".
This list is the intended viewing order of the episodes, from how they were adapted. Original Gatchaman episode numbers are in parentheses.
- "Attack of the Space Terrapin" (#1, "Gatchaman Versus Turtle King")
- "Siege of the Squids" (#36, "Little Gatchamans")
- "Decoys of Doom" (#62, "The Snow Demon King, Blizzarder")
- "Mad New Ruler of Spectra" (#21, "Who is Leader X?")
- "Peril of the Preying Mantis" (#75, "Jumbo Shakora, the Ocean Devil King")
- "Giant from Planet Zyr" (#58, "Hell's Mecha-Buttha")
- "The Thing with 1,000 Eyes" (#15, "The Fearsome Jellyfish Lens")
- "Fastest Gun in the Galaxy" (#57, "The Evil White Sea")
- "Panic of the Peacock" (#80, "Come Back! Boomerang")
- "Raid of the Space Octopus (#67, "Mortal Blow! Gatchaman Fire")
- "The Space Rock Concert (#41, "Murder Music")
- "Mammoth Shark Menace" (#55, "The Daring Mini-Submarine")
- "The Fiery Lava Giant" (#25, "The Magma Giant, Emperor of Hell")
- "Race Against Disaster" (#27, "Galactor's Witch Racer")
- "A Whale Joins G-Force" (#18, "Revenge! The Whale Operation")
- "Rescue of the Astronauts" (#2, "The Monstrous Aircraft Carrier Appears")
- "Big Robot Gold Grab" (#6, "The Great Mini-Robot Operation")
- "The Musical Mummy" (#24, "The Neon Giant that Smiles in the Dark")
- "Attack of the Alien Wasp" (#61, "The Phantom Red Impulse")
- "The Space Safari" (#73, "Pursue Katse!")
- "Raid on a Nearby Planet" (#48, "The Camera Iron Beast, Shutterkiller")
- "The Ghostly Grasshopper" (#30, "Kamisoral, the Guillotine Iron Beast")
- "Space Rocket Escort" (#11, "The Mysterious Red Impulse")
- "Museum of Mystery" (#74, "Secret of the Birdstyles")
- "Silent City" (#68, "The Particle Iron Beast Micro-Saturn")
- "Microfilm Mystery" (#16, "The Indestructible Machine Mechanika")
- "Mission to Inner Space" (#83, "A Deadly Ring of Fire!")
- "A Swarm of Robot Ants" (#10, "The Great Underground Monster War")
- "Cupid Does it to Keyop" (#87, "Patogiller, the Triple Combined Iron Beast")
- "Raid of the Red Scorpion" (#54, "Gatchaman Burns with Rage")
- "Spectra Space Spider" (#84, "Smog Fiber, The Spiderweb Iron Beast!")
- "Beast With a Sweet Tooth" (#12, "The Gluttonous Monster Ibukron")
- "Raid on Riga" (#44, "Galactor's Challenge")
- "Prisoners in Space" (#42, "The Great Breakout Trick Operation")
- "Capture of the Galaxy Code" (#47, "The Devil's Airline")
- "Orion, Wonder Dog of Space" (#37, "Renzilla, the Electric Monster")
- "Secret Island" (#59, "The Secret of the Monster Mecha Factory")
- "The Jupiter Moon Menace" (#9, "The Devil from the Moon")
- "Seals of Sytron" (#45, "The Sea Lion Ninja Team in the Night Fog")
- "Ghost Ship of Planet Mir" (#5, "The Ghost Fleet From Hell")
- "The Alien Bigfoot" (#71, "The Invincible Leader X")
- "Super Space Spies" (#86, "Galactor's Monopoly Operation")
- "Vacation on Venus" (#96, "Storm Galactor's Headquarters!")
- "Keyop Does it All" (#49, "The Fearsome Mechadokuga")
- "Demons of the Desert" (#35, "Burn, Desert Fires")
- "The Space Serpent" (#4, "Revenge on the Iron Beast Mechadegon")
- "Rockets Out of Control" (#97, "Leona 3, the Spaceship With No Tomorrow")
- "The Space Mummy" (#3, "The Giant Mummy that Summons Storms")
- "The Sea Dragon" (#22, "The Firebird Versus The Fire-Breathing Dragon")
- "Perilous Pleasure Cruise" (#14, "The Fearsome Ice-Kander")
- "G-Force in the Future" (#100, "Gatchaman, 20 Years Later")
- "The Awesome Armadillo" (#90, "Matangar, the Armored Iron Beast")
- "Tentacles from Space" (#88, "Iron Beast Snake 828")
- "Ace from Outer Space" (#7, "Galactor's Giant Airshow")
- "Giant Space Bat" (#60, "Science Ninja Team, Number G-6")
- "The Great Brain Robbery" (#65, "Super Bem, the Synthetic Iron Beast")
- "Giant Gila Monster" (#46, "Gatchaman in the Valley of Death")
- "The Duplicate King" (#77, "The Successful Berg Katse")
- "Curse of the Cuttlefish (Part 1)" (#32, "The Grand Gezora Operation (Part 1)")
- "Curse of the Cuttlefish (Part 2)" (#33, "The Grand Gezora Operation (Part 2)")
- "Peril in the Pyramids" (#69, "The Cemetery in the Moonlight")
- "Save the Space Colony" (#93, "Counterattack! The Underground Torpedo Operation")
- "Zoltar Strikes Out" (#63, "Massacre of the Mecha Curve Ball")
- "Magnetic Attraction" ("23, "The Mecha Ball Runs Wild")
- "Peaks of Planet Odin" (#51, "Cata-Roller, the Revolving Beast")
- "G-Force Defector" (#98, "Grape Bomber, the Spherical Iron Beast")
- "Invasion of the Locusts" (#72, "Swarm! A Plague of Mini Iron Beasts")
- "Victims of the Hawk" (#43, "A Romance Destroyed By Evil")
- "Island of Fear" (#89, "Lay a Trap in the Crescent Base!")
- "Strike at Spectra" (#99, "The Wounded G-2")
- "The Galaxy Girls" (#31, "The Plan to Assassinate Dr. Nambu"
- "The Conway Tape Tap" (#101, "The Sniper Group Heavy-Cobra")
- "The Awesome Ray Force" (#76, "The Bracelets Exposed")
- "Fearful Sea Anemone" (#8, "The Secret of the Crescent Coral Reef")
- "The Alien Beetles" (#17, "The Grand Insect Operation")
- "Defector to Spectra" (#79, "The Stolen Gatchaman Information")
- "The Bat-Ray Bombers" (#26, "The God Phoenix Reborn")
- "Rage of the Robotoids" (#70, "Death Girls Unite!")
- "The Sky is Falling! (Part 1)" (#52, "Red Impulse's Secret")
- "The Sky is Falling! (Part 2)" (#53, "Farewell Red Impulse")
- "The Fierce Flowers (Part 1)" (#39, "Jigokillers, the People-Eating Flowers (Part 1)")
- "The Fierce Flowers (Part 2)" (#40, "Jigokillers, the People-Eating Flowers (Part 2)")
- "Charioteers of Changu" (#95, "The Combined Ninjas, Giant Demon Man")
- "Invasion of Space Center (Part 1)" (#91, "Completion of the Plan to Destroy the Crescent Base")
- "Invasion of Space Center (Part 2)" (#92, "The End of the Crescent Base")
In 2004, Sandy Frank made plans for a new version of "Battle of the Planets", titled "Battle of the Planets: The New Adventures of G-Force". It was to use the 20 episodes of Gatchaman that they originally didn't get to utilize, as well as redubs of at least 32 other episodes. A series of "Battle of the Planets" films were also announced by Sandy Frank.
It was decided that the Vancouver-based Ocean Studios would handle the ADR production, as the original actors had either passed away or were considered too old to reprise their roles. One pilot was dubbed, which was an updated version of "The Sea Dragon".
However, Sandy Frank ultimately opted to not go ahead with the series, believing it would be too expensive to produce and not wanting to risk it flopping.
In the little that is known of this version, Keyop would have reverted to Jinpei's original origin of being an average kid, and the 7-Zark-7 segments would be done in CGI. There would also have been somewhat relaxed standards on violence and carnage.
Battle of the Planets: The Movie
A 70-minute compilation film was created by Sandy Frank in 2002, to test the water for their eventual redub plan. It utilized footage from several different episodes and had a new voice actor named David Bret Egen dubbing over Alan Young's dialogue for the 7-Zark-7 sequences. Scenes of civilian violence and death were included.
However, while the Zark segments were redubbed and the credits were modified to include Egen's name, the rest of the footage contains the original voice actors' audio (making for some sound discrepancy).
Produced by: Sandy Frank Film Syndication, Gallerie International Films Ltd.
Executive Producers: Jameson Brewer, Sandy Frank
Associate Producer: Warner E. Leighton
Producer-Directors: David E. Hanson, Alan Dinehart
Writers: Jameson Brewer, Peter B. Germano, William Bloom, Jack Paritz, Harry Winkler, Helen Sosin, Muriel Germano, Dick Shaw, Kevin Coates, Howard Post, Sid Morse
Supervising Film Editor: Franklin Cofod
Assistant Editor: Pam Bentkowski
Voice Director: Alan Dinehart
Assistant Voice Director: Mason Alan Dinehart (credited as "Alan Dinehart, Jr.")
Creative Consultant: David Levy
Standards and Practices: Winifred Treimer
Program Consultants: Leonard Reeg, George Serban, M.D.
Production Executives: Irving Klein, Tom Swafford
Production Assistant: Bob Robinson
Production Manager: Emil Carle
Animation Supervisor: Harold Johns
Design Consultant: Alex Toth
Music Composers: Hoyt Curtin, Dennis Dreith, Richard Greene
Music Supervisors: Paul DeKorte, Igo Kantor
ADR Recording: TV-R Hollywood
Camera: Take One
Ink and Paint: C&D Productions, Hollywood
Titles: Thomas Wogatzke
- Mark: Casey Kasem
- Jason: Ronnie Schell, David Joliffe ("Attack of the Space Terrapin" pilot only)
- Princess, Susan: Janet Waldo
- Keyop, 7-Zark-7: Alan Young
- Tiny, Chief Anderson: Alan Dinehart, Ronnie Schell (Tiny, pilot only)
- Zoltar, The Spirit, Colonel Cronus: Keye Luke
- Opening Credits Announcer: William Woodson
- Additional voices (uncredited): Alan Oppenheimer, David Joliffe, William Woodson, Takayo Fischer, Wendy Young, Alan Dinehart, Jr.
- The Dineharts are occasionally mixed up on fan sites, as the elder Alan Dinehart was actually the second in line in the family, while Mason Alan Dinehart was actually the third but usually credited as "Jr."
- The voice actors other than Casey Kasem, Ronnie Schell, Janet Waldo, Alan Young, Alan Dinehart, and Keye Luke were only ever listed in the credits for the pilot. The knowledge of the other actors comes from records at Sandy Frank as well as Jason Hofius' "G-Force: Companion", although most of their roles are officially unlisted.
Gold Key (1979)
Gold Key Comics produced a comic book adaptation of the series, although it took more significant liberties with the material and made more alterations on top of the ones that already existed. In particular, Keyop was explained away as an android to explain his speech impediment, rather than him being a clone. The team also gained the power to "transmute" into different objects or forces to disguise themselves or attack in a different manner.
The artwork in this version is infamous among fans for being inconsistent and off-model, as well as having several coloring errors for the team and other characters.
Top Cow (2002-2004)
Top Cow's comic adaptation was first planned to be a regular series, and debuted in 2002, written by Munier Sharieff and with art by Wilson Tortosa. Alex Ross also collaborated on the project, drawing the covers for the series.
However, due to declining sales, the series was then relabeled a "limited series" and cancelled at issue 12, leaving the storyline on a cliffhanger. A two-issue mini-series titled "Endgame" (or as "Coup de Gras" in some listings) was solicited in 2005 and was intended to wrap up the loose threads from the series, but was cancelled before it could be written, as there were not enough pre-orders to justify producing the comic. Top Cow had also planned a new "G-Force" series to take place after the mini-series (and focusing on another team of G-Force members), but this too was cancelled due to Endgame falling through.
Two one-shots were produced through 2003 as a way to tie into the series, titled "Mark: Heaven" and "Jason: Hell". Princess had also received a mini-series, but Top Cow cut it off at 4 issues rather than its planned 6, citing low pre-orders.
Top Cow had also produced crossovers with Witchblade and Thundercats, a manga-style mini-series titled "Battle of the Planets: The Manga", and a guidebook for their continuity called "Battle Book".
Due to the lapse of the "Battle of the Planets" comic license (and Sandy Frank's rights having expired), it is unlikely for the Top Cow series to be revisited.
The Top Cow version is also known for attempting to blend the Battle of the Planets continuity with that of Gatchaman, with there being no 7-Zark-7 or Susan. Keyop also speaks normally, although he is still mentioned to be a clone. As a nod back to the original series, Jason uses the name "Joe Asakura" as an alias in the Jason one-shot.
DVD Releases and Home Video Availability
As a further note, the US DVD releases of the series use the original Gatchaman order for the episodes
- Twelve episodes of the series were released on the single disk Battle of the Planets volumes by Rhino, with two episodes on each volume. Each disk also contained the original Japanese Gatchaman track.
- "Battle of the Planets: The Ultimate DVD Boxed Set" contained thirteen more episodes, as well as interviews with Casey Kasem, Ronnie Schell, Janet Waldo, Alan Young, and Jameson Brewer (Brewer died not long after the interview was conducted and recorded). It also included an audio commentary for "Race Against Disaster", as it was one of Waldo's favorite episodes.
- "Battle of the Planets: The 25th Anniversary Collection" contained thirteen more episodes, although it lacked the Japanese audio track for Gatchaman and had no extra features. After this collection, Rhino halted their releases.
- "Battle of the Planets : The Complete Collection" was a 15-disc set released in Australia in 2013 by Madman Entertainment, compiling the extras from Rhino's Ultimate DVD Boxed Set along with other extras for the series such as the compilation film and pre-production versions of two "G-Force: Guardians of Space" episodes. This release contains all 85 episodes.
- "Battle of the Planets Mega Box Set" is the same pressing as the above, but done by Playback for a UK release.
- Fred Ladd was originally offered a job on this adaptation. But as Ladd felt hesitance at Sandy Frank wanting to employ an unexperienced lip-synch writer, as well as the distance involved for the production (Ladd lived in New York at the time, while production was handled out in California), he passed on the deal. However, Ladd did get to work on the next English adaptation, G-Force: Guardians of Space.