The 'Gatchaman' Cometh

Four episodes at the Alamo

The 'Gatchaman' Cometh

Before the Strategic Defense Initiative, before NASA became mired in bureaucratic infighting, before even James Tiberius Kirk was reborn via Robert Wise, there was the seminal Japanese animé series Gatchaman, aka G-Force, aka Battle of the Planets, a wildly popular but poorly dubbed import that nonetheless commanded the attention of every gaijin kid under the age of 16 circa 1978.

Now, Houston-based animé powerhouse ADV Films and series producer Charles Campbell are bringing four of the best – or goofiest, depending on your sense of retro-kitsch – Gatchamans to the Alamo with their own voice talent live in the theatre.

Granted, the American voice cast includes legendary Texas Chain Saw hitchhiker Ed Neil as the villainous Berg Katse, but can watching these disco-suited and strikingly coiffed far-out space nuts as an adult even approach your own kidhood cool factor?

According to Campbell, the answer is a resounding yes:

"For me and for a lot of people I talk to, Gatchaman is just so cool because it was always a real solid superhero show," he says. "There wasn't anything you really had to know before you began watching it and, of course, it's got that Seventies retro appeal nowadays. Speaking of which, I think we'll be showing this one episode where they're fighting on roller-skates."

Oh, dude, sock it to us. Seriously, though, for its time – the original episodes were produced in Japan in 1972 – the Gatchaman series was, if not light years ahead, then at the very least years. Before George Lucas and his ilk hijacked the whole notion of outer-spatial derring-do, this humble little import tuner opened the adrenal floodgates of an entire generation of soon-to-be-young men and set teenage girls' hearts aflutter oceans away from its Nipponese homeland.

"In our dubbing at ADV, we've tried to use as much of the Seventies-era slang as possible," Campbell adds, "by having characters say things like 'groovy' and 'dynamite.' I think of shows I used to watch back then, like What's Happening!!, and I try not to overdo it, but, you know, that sort of thing is half the fun. Really though, I'm doing 105 episodes of this show, and I'm nowhere near tired of it, even though as the producer I have to watch each volume three or four times to make sure the audio's right and so on. I mean, it's just a really cool show, you know?"

We know. It's like, far out, right? Right.

Alamo Drafthouse Downtown

Wednesday, Feb. 22, 9:45pm

Free admission

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Gatchaman, Charles Campbell, Alamo Drafthouse Downtown

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