Gatchaman II (Japan 1978)

Rating: **
Review Date: 1/14/18

52 episodes

Six years after the original "Gatchaman" series aired, Galactor and Leader X return to Earth with a plan to move the sun to a different solar system. To help him in this quest, Leader X captures a 3-year old girl and turns her into his top lieutenant named Gel Sadra. Thankfully, the Science Ninja Team is still around to keep the planet safe, with Joe The Condor mysteriously resurrected. The Gatchaman team also gets a new ship called the New God Phoenix (how original), which extends the team's bird motif and looks totally ridiculous. However, the original God Phoenix happens to be parked in Dr. Nambu's garage and makes a guest appearance late in the series. The show also gets some much needed female representation in the form of Dr. Sylvie Pandora, who has a special relationship with both Joe and Gel Sadra. Much like Berg Katse from the original series, Gel Sadra's gender identification is complicated. Physically, she's clearly a woman, but she speaks with a man's voice and is always referred to as "he." Her end is equally as tragic as Berg Katse's, as late breaking revelations awaken her heart and make her mind snap.

The animation and character design are nearly identical to the original series (minus the bell bottoms) and the voice actors are the same, which creates a nice continuity bridge. Jun sees a little more action this time around, and Jinpei matures a bit. The New God Phoenix has a robot pilot named Pima, so Ryu doesn't have to complain about being left behind in the ship all the time. Gel Sadra has little in common with the cold and calculating Berg Katse, except for her uncanny ability to elude capture and escape certain destruction at the end of every episode. She's mostly played for laughs, and her emphatic shrieking resembles that of a spoiled and petulant child. While the show is still incredibly violent, it seems toned down from the original and there's not nearly as much blood. Numerous production shortcuts are evident, with overly recycled animation and music. Having been created after "Star Wars," it borrows some sound effects from the movie and even features a lightsaber duel with Gel Sadra. The writing is fairly juvenile, and not as environmentally centered as the original. Galactor's mecha are uninteresting and don't pose much of a threat, unless a given script demands it. What I found most amusing was that Galactor unleashes a new attack on Earth in nearly every episode, and the team seems genuinely surprised and shocked every time. "Galactor? No way! Do you really think it could be them?" Seriously? What's the likelihood of it being a different alien attack force? That's another plot point that bothered me. On numerous occasions, the International Science Organization (ISO) refuses to believe in space aliens or life on other planets, and yet Leader X is a known space alien who attacks Earth with alien technology in nearly every episode. That's a serious case of denial. It's like Donald Trump is on the advisory board or something. The general population thinks little of Galactor and tends to dismiss the fact that they try to destroy the planet on a regular basis. In fact, quite a few humans are on their side, opposing the ISO in exchange for empty promises of wealth and power. "Once the Earth is destroyed and Mankind is wiped out, we'll be in charge!" Dare I make another comparison to the Trump Administration?