Everyone has a favorite show from childhood. Cartoons and sitcoms and action shows littered the landscape of the idiot box ever since it was invented. But for my crew, nothing really held a candle to BATTLE OF THE PLANETS, referred to as G-Force (and no, not the remake of BoTP called G-FORCE which stunk like a burning corpse). It was the holy grail of childhood adventure.
BATTLE OF THE PLANETS (1978) was an Ameircan repackaging of Japanese cartoon SCIENCE NINJA TEAM GATCHAMAN, a henshin anime (stories about transforming into super heroes and other stuff) (1972). The original was a ninja science super hero story with a environmentalist theme, where all the stories were set on earth and revolved around protecting it. But not BATTLE OF THE PLANETS! The series was “fixed up” to be super heroes meets STAR WARS, with the voice over and info dumps revising the story for a galactic backdrop.
Basically, a group of orphans with “cerebonic powers” (which were never explained, but meant they were cyborg ninjas) become a government super hero team to save the earth from Spectra and it’s evil leaders, including the cross dressing Zoltar! There was Mark, the heroic leader; Jason, the second in command and bad ass; Tiny, the big guy who flew the ship; Princess, the gal who held her own with the boys; and Keyop . . . the runt of the litter who was a test tube baby with a speech impediment.
Each had their own killer weapons and vehicles. Each could change into their costumes by “transmuting”, which involved clicking a high tech watch. And for some reason, they all dressed like birds and, when not saving the earth, played in a rock band!
No, I am not kidding!
Add to that tons of action, creepy robot and monster villains, and the best goddamn theme music for a cartoon EVER, and you have yourself the stuff childhood dreams are made of.
In high school, my buddy Neil got his hands on a VHS tape that had about ten BATTLE OF THE PLANETS episodes on it, taped in Calgary in the early 1980s (“Channels 2 and 7! You should see us . . . now!”). The ads for Hardcastle and McCormick alone were awesome. But when we realized childhood memories were also stashed inside, we all went ape shit. There was no youtube. No wikipedia. Hell, sometimes I wondered if I actually just dreamed the show up! I remember having many beers and tons of laughs as we watched it again.
Yeah, anime purists make fun of it. No, it’s not as epic in sweep and scope as Robotech. Right, it pales in comparison to anything a master craftsman like Miyazaki would ever do.
But none of that shit had a bad ass named Jason with a grapple hook gun and a freaking sci fi race car.
And now the greatest theme song of all time!!!