"Once again we're on patrol duty."
"Like kissing your sister."
-Tiny (umm, what are you saying Tiny?)-
Earth is building a secret underwater submarine base in Galaxy 30, also to be utilized by G-Force, but with Spectra clued in it's no longer exactly such a "hush hush" secret. In fact, Spectra learns of its existence even before G-Force as it would happen. 7-Zark-7 gets the call and it's another job for the fearless five orphans turned family as G-Force is tasked with responding in Battle Of The Planets, Episode 8, Fearful Sea Anemone. Anemone was clearly a mouthful for a kid in the 1970s proving Battle Of The Planets was not entirely dumbed down for children.
The episode opens with a disappointing moment for Keyop as Mark is cornered by a group of children. Mark asks them all about G-Force and Keyop wonders who their favorite team member is. The boys quickly retort that Mark is their favorite. The girls pipe in that Princess is clearly the second favorite. Then Jason. Then "the fat fellow" Tiny. Then, to Keyop's dismay, "the funny little guy comes in last," he's relegated to the back end as least favorite. Mark chuckles as they walk off and Keyop, incensed, calls the little kids a bunch of "dumb dumbs." The scene is terrific because it echoes the general order of stateside popularity for the members of G-Force and Keyop rarely got the proper respect. It was that simple. But it also echoes how as kids in the 1970s we always had our favorites in any hero-based group and gravitated to emulating any number of them in our imaginary play worlds. It also mirrored another point. It wasn't easy being a kid even if you were in a ninja team of heroes. Keyop spoke to us and we could still relate to him even if he wasn't the one we wanted to be like. The irony of it.
The duo is off and they transmute to respond to their latest mission in Galaxy 30.
Upon arrival the team makes contact underwater with the monstrous anemone or as Jason refers to it, "a real weirdo."
As soon as they are fired upon by the creature the group realizes it's the design of Spectra once again.
ADV lead translator Sarah Lindholm noted some of the unintended humor of the original series and those original character names. Lindholm was handling the translation of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman for an English dub in 2005. She examines one scene in Newtype USA. "There's this sea anemone, and it's terrorizing the planet and destroying everything while standing on its legs underwater. Yes, with legs. So Ken says, 'This is no ordinary sea anemone!' and everyone nods like that hadn't occurred to them before now" (May 2005, p.21) You have to laugh. It's true. Perhaps G-Force was just a little stunned by the outlandishness of their circumstances. But "no ordinary sea anemone?" Do you think?
As the robotic creature fires upon the ocean worthy Phoenix the creators do a splendid job of creating some terrific underwater fireworks and some splendid action scenes involving the Phoenix - a true highlight of the episode.
With the team taking a bit of a catnap beachside on the planet in uniform - strange, but whatever works.
The writers for Battle Of The Planets deliver some nice psychological character drama bits for Keyop. He is haunted by the kids who knowingly teased him about being the Sparrow of the team. These scenes resonate for any kid who watched the series in the 1970s as bullying was prevalent and likely moreso than today, albeit different and non-technological. Despite 7-Zark-7's warnings about "personal heroics," Keyop is nonetheless determined to prove himself as an important cog in the machinery that is this super group G-Force. He is undeterred by childish taunts and fearless. It was a sound message to kids without being blatant. "I'll show them." The earlier scene really sets up the finale of the episode. It also delves a little deeper into the Keyop character which very much echoed the taunting most of us have faced at one time or another while in elementary and middle school. There is indeed real truth in the drama here. Off Keyop goes to prove himself. "Now see who's number one G-Force and who's last."
Back at Center Neptune, 7-Zark-7, the show's appointed narrator worries he has not heard from Susan of Pluto on whether she will attend the annual robot reunion. These were some rather daft animated American additions to the show, but kind of amusing in retrospect.
Back in Galaxy 30, Mark is fully aware Keyop, "wants to do something special and be a big hero." As Keyop pilots the G-4 I'm reminded once again how impressive the secondary mecha designs were and remain for Gatchaman. The ships are stunning and secondary vehicles that were created for the likes of Gaiking simply lack the shading and detail and overall artistry that was applied to this classic series. There was real attention to detail generally.
Keyop locates the Earth secret base. He is also captured by the anemone. Inside the mecha anemone Zoltar implores to Keyop, "come out of your whale little Jonah." Zoltar informs Keyop it is he who has showed Spectra the way to the Earth base. He calls Keyop, "a defiant little fool" and a "dolt." Of course that's not going to help Keyop's self-esteem issues. Gosh, Keyop takes some real punishment in this episode, but we were rooting for him despite the ill-advised attempt at heroism.
The anemone (it's fearful you know) attacks the secret base and the Phoenix intercepts, but not before Zoltar wreaks major havoc on the beautiful base.
The anemone is rendered useless as the Phoenix destroys its laser tentacles, but with the base all but destroyed it's essentially a mission failure.
Mark, Jason, Princess and even Tiny land the Phoenix on top of the anemone and the quartet heads inside to fight and rescue Keyop.
The lesson learned for Keyop is not to go it alone putting self before the team.
Though in a nice twist it turns out the base that was destroyed was a decoy. Lucky. Fortunately this time around its Earth:1 and Spectra:0. Another small battle victory in this endless intergalactic battle of the planets war.
Keyop likens himself a hero, but whilst heroic was rather fortunate to be the recipient of good fortune. One could only hope Keyop's status in the eyes of kids everywhere might rise at least a little bit. No respect, no respect at all.
Science Ninja Team Gatchaman title: The Secret Of The Crescent Coral Reef.
Up next: The Jupiter Moon Menace.