Ryu Nakanishi also known as Ryu the Owl, is the Science Ninja Team's pilot of the God Phoenix, New God Phoenix and Gatchaspartan. Among the team, Ryu is the only member who has living family members, his father and younger brother. A mother is also briefly mentioned in episode 57 of the original series, though it is unknown if Ryu's parents are divorced or if she rarely stays at home.
Little is known about Ryu's history prior to joining the team, although an article in Fantastic Graphics TV Anime volume 3 claims that he was the last member to be enlisted by Dr. Nambu. Ryu had helped save Nambu in a boating accident, and in exchange for Nambu's gratitude, was taken to Utoland City. He somehow found out about the Science Ninja Team soon after, and was made the final member.
Ryu is a large, heavily-built and slightly overweight young man with shoulder length, messy brown hair. It is said that most of his bulk is actually muscle, giving him a build much like that of a sumo wrestler.
His cilivian clothing usually consists of a green-and-yellow t-shirt with the number "5" on it, as well as khaki pants. In the sequels, he wears a green crew-neck t-shirt with the "5" on it, though his pants are still khaki-colored.
His owl-themed Bird Style is colored brown, and he wears black gloves and boots. The feathered cape is colored green, with deep red trim on the inside. Ryu's owl-like helmet is green with yellow eye markings, an orange beak piece, and it has a lavender-colored visor that's flatter and smaller than the ones that can be seen on the other team members.
Ryu was also given a major redesign in the OVA series. His skin is deeply tanned and he wears his hair in an odd sort of ponytailed mohawk, with it being dyed purple on the sides and bleached blond on top. He wears surfer clothing in his civilian outfit, though has a "5" necklace to denote him being the fifth member of the team.
His Bird Style suit is now primarily a deep green with gold accents to it.
The profile for this version of Ryu also states that he is 25 years old and the oldest member of the team, as opposed to the original Ryu, who was only 17.
Cancelled Imagi Film Project
Ryu's designs varied a lot through the animation tests and concept art, with some depicting him as the largest and tallest of the team and being quite heavy yet muscular, while another test depicted him with a much more slender figure (although still noticeably thicker when compared to the other four members). His hair seemed to vary between a style similar to what he had in the original series, or him having short hair.
His Bird Style was primarily depicted as a green armored suit, with his pieces of armor and belt being bulkier compared to the other four team members. Other tests had his suit more in a style like the OVA version, or modeled more after his original Bird Style.
Ryu is much more laid-back than the rest of the Science Ninja Team and at first could not care too much about the fight against Galactor, usually staying at G-5 until ordered to by Dr. Nambu. Sometimes he even complains about it, especially the fact that he initially rarely got to fight and had to stay behind on the God Phoenix. But even then, Ryu never wants to abandon or quit the team, especially when he learns that the team really does not want him to leave in spite of his flaws.
Weapons and Arsenal
Ryu's style of Kagaku Ninpo focuses mainly on brute strength, to which Ryu possesses an incredible amount of, able to pick up an enemy's ship with his bare hands. While he hardly uses weapons, Ryu uses them when necessary.
Ryu, with his maritime background, is the Science Ninja Team's best pilot. He is able to have the God Phoenix use special maneuvers, even underwater. The other team members have only piloted The God Phoenix in air, but he offered to give Joe more practice after Joe piloted The God Phoenix by himself and saved their lives.
Harpoon Gun: A small spear gun that Ryu uses in case his fists are not enough to defeat an enemy.
Gripper: A green elastic rubber rope coated with some unknown form of adhesive. The Gripper is Ryu's primary weapon during Gatchaman II.
Owl Sickle: Ryu's weapon in Gatchaman Fighter. A metal kusarigama with a weight on the
end used for melee attacks.
Horned Tank: An armored amphibious tank equipped with missile turrets, guns and submarine propellers in the rear for undersea travel. Ryu's primary vehicle during Gatchaman II. It was destroyed along with the New God Phoenix in Gatchaman Fighter.
Gatcha Five: Ryu's mecha in Gatchaman Fighter. A yellow and white bulldozer mech with two clawed robot arms and rockets for flight. Armed with lasers and two missile launchers hidden behind the bumper. One of the five mechas that form the Gatchaspartan, it becomes the main engine,rear wheels,and rear wings of the ship.
Appearances in Other Media
Ryu first appears with the rest of the team in "Episode 12.5", but has no dialogue. He and the others fight to stop the Doronbo Gang from stealing a ring.
He later makes a cameo in a crowd scene in episode 24, and appears yet again in another crowd shot in episode 25. Both these cameos use his design from the first series.
Time Bokan: Royal Revival (1994)
Ryu, in his Gatchaman II/Fighter design, appears with the rest of the team and Nambu at Boyacky's restaurant but then leaves without paying (as with the others).
He then shows up for the battle against Sailor Mun Mun, but leaves due to being bored and not getting to have any dialogue. The God Phoenix is shown taking off, leaving Ken and Jun behind.
Wonderful Tatsunoko Land (1999)
Ryu and the other four Science Ninja Team members made a brief appearance in the special.
Alterations in English Adaptations
Ryu was renamed "Tiny Harper" in "Battle of the Planets", being the only member of the team to have a surname. He was also made an orphan, and any appearances of his father were stated to be of a family friend named "Captain Jack". His brother was also changed to an unrelated character named "Tommy".
As with the original, Tiny is portrayed as the comic relief-type of guy, although his weight is explained as being from his love for "Space Burgers", and he is shown constantly eating them in the "Ready Room" filler animation created by Gallerie International.
"G-Force: Guardians of Space" had him renamed "Hoot Owl" ("Hooty" for short), referencing his Bird Style theme. His personality was a little closer to the original Ryu, and his family was retained, although his brother was renamed "Sonny". An earlier pitch pilot of "G-Force" that was not produced by Fred Ladd had given Ryu the name of "Quintin", and his brother was named "Timmy".
In "Eagle Riders", he was renamed "Ollie Keeawani". Rather than a father and younger brother, Ollie has an older brother and nephew that he must keep his secret from. His older brother John has trouble with getting a job due to being constantly fired, while his nephew Benji looks up to him.
The Harmony Gold dub of the OVA changed his name to "Rocky", but otherwise left his characterization the same.
Ryu was voiced by Shingo Kanemoto in the original franchise. However, Kanemoto passed away in 1992, and the OVA series utilized a more modern batch of voice actors. He was voiced by Fumihiko Tachiki in that mini-series.
- Ronnie Schell provided the voice for the character in the pilot of "Battle of the Planets". However, the role was quickly recast and Alan Dinehart voiced him for the remaining 84 episodes.
- His actor in "G-Force: Guardians of Space" alternated between being Gregg Berger or Jan Rabson, depending on who was available. It is undocumented when exactly the switch occurred, as the entirety of the dub is difficult to get ahold of. A rejected pitch version of "G-Force" had this character voiced by Doug Paul.
- Paul Schrier voiced him in "Eagle Riders".
- Richard Epcar voiced him in Harmony Gold's original dub of the OVA.
- Victor Carsrud voiced him in the ADV Films dub of the series and the Sentai Filmworks redub of the OVA.
- Ryu was initially to be the fourth member of the team, and appears with a "4" on his shirt in early concept art. His surname was also originally "Washio" in the earliest plans, suggesting that he was to patterned after an eagle instead of an owl.
- An alternative character design for Ryu for the original series depicts him as wearing a brown jacket and a green beanie hat.
- Tatsuo Yoshida modeled Ryu after the actor Osami Nabe.