Battle of the Planets


Five orphans with a spacecraft battle a lipsticked maniac from the Crab Nebula and his unlikely big flying robots. No one gets hurt. Well nobody gets hurt in the American version that we watched as kids.

Battle of the Planets came to the UK in 1978, but it started out life in 1972 as a Japanese anime known as 'Kagaku ninja tai Gatchaman' or (Science Ninja Team Gatchaman). Generally following the the plot and character development of the original, Battle of the Planets edited out large sections that included graphic violence or anything else that might be deemed as inappropriate for the more junior market BotP was targeted at. In order to explain the plot (and to fill the missing airtime) new footage was mixed into the original animation, 7-Zark-7 in the undersea monitoring station Center Neptune. In later shows he was joined by "adorable" robot, 1-Rover-1, to add more of a comic element to the shwo. but there is a clear difference in quality between the "Zark" and the "Gatchaman" animation.

Battle of the Planets

G-Force was made up of Mark, Jason, Princess, Keyop, and Tinyand each week they would battle against some new and improbable robot menace unleashed by the evil Zoltar from planet Spectra in the "Crab Nebulae". G-Force would use their super-human agility and demonstrations of power such as the whirlwind pyramid and could also transform their spaceship into a fiery burning phoenix in moments of extreme peril, but only as a last resort (even though this happened roughly every week).

Battle of the Planets - Zoltar

It was Mighty Morphin Power Rangers before Mighty Morphin Power Rangers! They both 'transmute' via wristwatch, wear colour coded costumes, the dialogue and plot mean very little, and the combined use of their special powers saves the day.

I wasn't sophisticated enough to realise how much the Americans hacked about with Kagaku Ninja Tai Gatchaman, but when I was in short trousers, this was gripping stuff - edge of the seat space opera on an epic scale. The merging of American cartoon and Manga made for a uniquely stylised product. Nowadays, It's still enjoyable, but it just looks a bit badly stitched together.