I can’t even begin to explain the level of influence the cannibalized – some would even say wussified – version of the classic Japanese Anime series Gatchaman that producer Sandy Frank brought to the United States in 1978 and re-christened Battle of Planets has had on my life. It’s probably second only to the Star Wars saga in terms of nostalgia, creative inspiration, and pure geek-out value. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it follows the adventures of five genetically enhanced teenage ninja scientists who dress up in bird-themed costumes (it’s cooler than it sounds), and fly around in their awesome ship known as the Phoenix (GodPhoenix in Japan), which can literally transform into an enormous fiery bird and lay waste to giant monsters or other terrors the evil organization SPECTRA (GALACTER in Japan) conjure up.
Sadly, I’ve never seen the uncut Japanese version of the series (The DVDs are ridiculously expensive), but I’m told it’s a very adult saga rife with violence, tragedy and gut-wrenching character deaths that make George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones saga look like a Curious George book. A live-action film was something that I never dared even dream about — after all, how could anyone ever be foolish enough to try to translate the pure batshit insanity of Gatchaman’s colorful beaked bird helmets and their hermaphrodite antagonist (seriously, read up on Berg Katse) to the silver screen? Well, thankfully Japanese filmmakers are very much like honey badgers – they don’t give a shit. In recent years, they’ve daringly translated classic Anime series like Space Battleship Yamato (you’ll know it as Starblazers) into big-budget feature films, and now director Tôya Satô is bringing my boyhood icons to full-color, glorious live-action life! And from the looks of this trailer for the film, it will be a bloody, emotional, adult-oriented epic.
Words cannot describe my desire to see this movie, but who knows when an imported DVD or Blu-ray release will hit American soil? It could be years. Years! An eternity of suffering. I’d willingly forfeit all of this summer’s blockbusters – Man of Steel, Pacific Rim, Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness – all of ‘em, if I could just see the science ninja team execute their signature flying moves in the comfort of an air-conditioned theater…TRAAAAANSSSS-MUTE!
P.S. – As awesome as this new-fangled live-action blockbuster is, no piece of music in it will be able to match one of the greatest cartoon themes of all-time: