icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
[personal profile] icarus
I discovered my childhood favorite (and [personal profile] astolat's and [profile] tafkarfanfic's) Battle of the Planets is the American version of the 1972 Japanese anime classic, Gatchaman.

Now I'm marrying the two canons, or trying to.

Gatchaman
Gatchaman is so iconic in Japan, the moves we call "karate" or "kungfu" are called "Gatachaman" moves over there. The Japanese aerial acrobatic flight team is called Blue Impuls, after the team "Red Impulse" on Gatchaman. To this day, if you ask a kid what his favorite anime is, someone will say Gatchaman.

Battle of the Planets
In 1978, the Americans created Battle of the Planets. But they decided to not try to translate it. They just hired writers to watch the shows and make up their own scripts.

I agree fully with their decision to rename the main character ("Ken") Mark. Okay, Ken means "sword" in Japanese, but in America, "Ken" is a Ken doll, he's an effete rich guy. "Mark" is sharp, middle class; "mark my words," pay attention. Likewise, renaming the second in command ("Joe") Jason is a good move. Joe means something in Japanese, but in America, Joe is short for "ordinary fellow," "Joe Blow," "G.I. Joe." Jason, on the other hand, implies Jason and the Argonauts: brilliant, the unpredictable.

However, making up the scripts from watching the series ... Battle of the Planets lost the backstory. As a result we lose the narrative arc, especially in the character growth of Mark/Ken.

So I'm working on marrying Gatchaman's backstory to Battle of the Planets.

What's missing from Battle of the Planet's character arc
In the original series, in the first thirty episodes or so, Mark's learning how to be a leader.

1) First he tries to go it alone like he doesn't have a team. He's only saved because Joe/Jason goes "Yeah, bad plan" and ignores orders.

2) Then he puts the team in too much danger and they barely survive.

3) He splits up the team and it goes badly, because each team member has his or her weakness:
- Tiny/Rhyu is lazy
- Jason/Joe is smarter than Mark/Ken but trigger happy
- Princess/Jun never makes a move without an order
- Keyop/Jinpai is bright but has no common sense

4) He loses control of his team and it goes badly.

5) He starts keeping a tighter rein on them and creates tension with Jason/Joe.

6) He disobeys central command and saves the day.

7) He disobeys another time and he almost gets his whole team killed, while central command has to rescue them.

8) After nearly getting everyone killed, he loses confidence and only a kick in the ass gets him taking risks again.

9) He goes back to his default setting -- to take risks alone -- which succeeds, but puts his team through hell.

Whoever wrote Gatchaman seems to know all about command fuck-ups.

What's driving the problem is Mark/Ken himself: the team's job is infiltration and sabotage, but he's got the mindset of a hero. So he's putting them into direct conflict again and again.

The central command is more than happy to take advantage of this and fling them into situations they're not trained for.

Chief Anderson/Doctor Nambu is the only person protecting the team (and Gatchaman) from their leader.

The bad guy, Zoltar/Kattse, has a similar problem, in that he's also not a good fit for his job.

- He's supposed to be secretive, and second in command. In reality, he's flamboyant and enjoys attention.
- He's supposed to think big: world domination! But he's actually small-minded and petty.

As a result, he fixates on Gatchaman as his Audience(!) and focal point of a growing grudge.

Very different shows. Can the characterizations of BotP be grafted onto the character development and story arc of Gatchaman? With Jason, I think so. At about 60 episodes (of 108) in, I think that it's possible, if we consider Gatchaman to be the story of Mark's early days, and the Battle of the Planet's Mark the more adult version of him, after he's gone through a lot of maturing.

The big character change in Mark comes at around 40 episodes in. More in the next Gatchaman/Battle of the Planets post.

Date: 2015-10-24 10:59 pm (UTC)
killabeez: (kitty is pleased)
From: [personal profile] killabeez
That's fascinating! I loved the American version, too. My BFF and I pretended to be the characters all the time. I always wanted to be Mark (natch) and she alternated between Jason and Princess according to her whim. But I never knew the genesis of the show.

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