Anime Reporter brings you Science Ninja Team Gatchaman version 5.0, or, to use its actual name, Gatchaman Crowds. Gatchaman Crowds is perfectly watchable as a separate entity to any of its predecessors and is comprised of just 12 episodes, making it a nicely concise viewing experience. The original Science Ninja Team Gatchaman hails all the way back from 1972 and might be more familiar to fans under its English release title, Battle of the Planets.
Gatchaman Crowds (G.C.) is based very much in the here and now, in a world familiar with the concept of Gatchaman, but where their existence is not something believed by the general public. Like the older series, Crowds deals with a team of youths using high-tech gadgetry to fight off alien threats to Earth. The main differences between the team in G.C. and the original are that not all of the current team hail from Earth and the delightfully upgraded level of tech to play with. Far from the bird caped garb of the seventies, today’s Gatchaman team, affectionately referred to as the G-Crew, is a fully mechanized special-effects laden extravaganza, a la Tiger & Bunny.
The series is focused primarily on Hajime Ichinose, (voiced by Maaya Uchida in Japanese and Attack on Titan’s Jessica Calvello in English). Hajime is the latest addition to the G-Crew and boasts a fiercely, overwhelmingly positive attitude, something not always shared by the veteran alien-fighters on the team.
Slightly less bird-themed than some of the other teams to fight with the name Gatchaman, the G-Crew communicates using odd notebooks which transmit messages instantly with each other and which they can also use for a whole bunch of nifty effects like wiping the minds of any civilians present or even bursting out in their own personalised super shiny robo-battles suits. Also, if you feel like it, you can put stickers on the front cover, though this isn’t necessarily recommended.
The main recurring theme throughout the miniseries is technology and how it connects and empowers people. This idea is explored from both positive and negative vantage points throughout most of the key episodes, though it manages to feel organic and well-rounded where it could have easily felt forced and heavy-handed.
The G-Crew itself is comprised of a variety of characters, each conforming in some way to the staples, (or stereotypes if you’re in a negative mood), from the pure-hearted leader, to the enigmatic loner and the hard-as-nails gruff member, (with a mild-mannered, bespectacled secret identity for good measure). Naturally, no anime super team would be complete without an adorable mascot. In this instance, the mascot looks like a baby panda, though it’s actually a heavy-drinking, aggressive and somewhat cowardly alien.
Gatchaman Crowds covers a lot of ground for such a short series; there’s humour, action, mystery, drama and an impressive level of character and plot development. It’s not quite Tiger & Bunny, but I like it!
Gatchaman Crowds is available on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK and Ireland from Monday, April 27th 2015 from Animatsu Entertainment. For more information on upcoming releases, check out the Animatsu website, Facebook page and Twitter.
78%- “A Worthy Update” – Gatchaman Crowds boasts a rejuvenated take on the superteam genre, blending good old fashioned superheroics and themes of alienation and technology plucked right from today’s culture.