In the early 80s, my pals and I would congregate in the basement at 3:30 pm to watch the anime series G-Force. With five heroes in silly looking bird costumes (and the girl- you can see her underpanties!), big robots and innumerable shots of gritting teeth and sweating, I think most of us actually cried when Channel 20 unceremoniously jerked it off the air. I hadn’t really heard of it much since.
Apparently, G-Force has seen permutations galore, having been named Gatchaman, Battle of the Planets and Eagle Riders. Gatchaman remains the true iteration of the show and will be the next project tackled by TMNT director Kevin Munroe.
Gatchaman, interestingly, will retain its original flavor (subsequently watered down for its US distribution) and will end up being PG-13 or even R, according to TMNT producer Tom Gray. Gatchaman follows the adventures of five young superheroes working for the International Science Organization as they defend earth’s natural resources from Galactor and its Mecha army.
Anime and Japanese film are somewhat of an oddity in the US. We’ve been receiving a slow and steady drip of its goodness for over half a century, yet making headway into mainstream popularity is always a hit and miss affair, despite the massive influences Japanese arts have in American pop culture. The problem, in part, is that for every Gojira, there’s a Godzilla. For every Ringu, there’s a Grudge 2. And “cartoons” are still considered by many to be for kids.
Does Gatchaman have enough clout outside its niche popularity to make an intriguing (mature and animated, no less) feature that would work for US audiences? Munroe’s handling of TMNT could help tell the tale, but in keeping the film animated, there’s also the native Japanese market and nostalgia/popularity of Gatchaman around the world, US audiences not withstanding.