Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Battle Of The Planets Ep10: A Swarm Of Robot Ants

"Let's spread out and search the area. Remember, we don't know what to expect from these freaky things."
-Mark, of the science ninja team, skipping the technobabble and actual science surrounding the enemy-

The latest episode begins with 7-Zark-7 which is often the case. He complains that dirt on a computer screen monitor can set off an alert. Clearly computers don't quite work that way or Center Neptune is so advanced they have computers we've never dreamed of. More importantly, Battle Of The Planets, Episode 10, A Swarm Of Robot Ants (honestly is there any other kind of ant?), begins with a slice of G-Force life. Keyop and Princess are on the town at a disco. No ABBA playing there, but Princess is moving those hips and thighs like the best of the gorgeous shojo of anime proving once again why she was such a sexy heartthrob for young boys everywhere once upon a time. She's simply gorgeous.

A swarm of robot ants is wreaking havoc. Chief Anderson assembles the team and G-Force is on the job to handle this mysterious alien enemy.

Command decisions are made after Jason suggests flooding out the robot ants from a reactor station by firing a bird missile into a nearby aqua duct. It's a destructive decision, but command decisions were made back in the 1970s.

A robot ant is recovered and examined by Chief Anderson determining the enemy resides on a planet called Tramulus - not Spectra! Battle Of The Planets actually does a good job of subtly introducing other villains, or at least villains that work in cooperation or lock step with Spectra. It isn't always Zoltar or is it?

After making their way to planet Tramulus Mark puts the ant back on its home turf with plans to have it lead them straight to the enemy base. Princes inquires what then? Mark tells her they will cross that bridge when they reach it. You might think a dangerous mission might call for at least a cursory, rough sketch of a plan, but not for Mark apparently. Jason pokes barbs at Mark a bit later when they locate the ant hill base. "Time to cross that bridge Mark, you know, the one we're always going to come to later."

Mark provides the latest kid-friendly message when it's suggested they go inside. Mark commands the team to hold their position. Mark advises, "sometimes force is counter-productive." He plans on waiting the enemy out. Of course, then we'll use some force.

After the ants depart, G-Force plans to make their move but the ground gives way forcing the quartet of Mark, Jason, Princess and Keyop to transmute from civilian garb to bird uniform.

Two things. First, funny they are in civilian clothes on a distant planet with a barren surface. Like it would matter if they were in their respective bird uniforms. I mean, does a low profile really matter on a barren alien planet?

Still, despite this, I do love seeing some of the new animation here, which is markedly improved over the lack luster Jupiter Moon Menace. It's always fantastic to see the team in civilian garb, dancing at a disco, sitting on a beach or any number of normal everyday activities. This is how we identify with this super team.

What is also noteworthy is that their shirts, numbered one through five, denote a hierarchy or chain of command. There's nothing wrong with that, but in today's politically correct, politically sensitive world I'm not so sure an effort wouldn't have been made to stamp out such inequality, put everyone in charge, or make Princess the leader. There's no question there would be an opinion on even something as trivial as G-Force today. Life doesn't work that way and command decisions must be made. People understood this once upon a time. You cross a red line and you were going to meet the G-Force hammer. No idle threats were ever given by Mark or Jason.

Second, we never actually see how the team is able to magically transform into their uniforms. What kind of molecular transformation has to happen? We don't really ever know, but we accept it. Further, it's handled in such a simple way that the mechanism of transmute is rather clever. It's understood. It's believed. It's simply unnecessary to explain away the magic as the work of some organic Midichlorians (Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace). You cringe at the thought.

Of course once again this new enemy is supported by Spectran Goons. This is handled by the suggestion the enemy has struck a bargain with Spectra. That will work. Otherwise, why are all the new bad guys using Spectran Goons?

Trapped inside a seemingly unbreakable glass bubble Keyop loads his bolos with powder to create an explosion. The group takes cover under their seemingly impenetrable uniform capes. Keyop saves the day. It's yet another illustration of the familial, genuine team effort of G-Force.

Things get a little trippy when they discover a giant cocooned ant. It's a queen. These bad guys take the whole ant allusion thing pretty literally and to serious new heights. Speaking of allusions, there is a bit of an homage here to Them! (1954) complete with a tunnel.

When the ant begins its attack we witness the fire power of a number of red impulse like craft normally led by Colonel Cronos, but no mention is made of Cronos here and we are to believe they are simply government controlled fighter craft. Earth is under siege.

Efforts are made to melt the ant with a solar refractor screen, the first we've seen of it, as it automatically assembles at the nose of the Phoenix. Cloud cover foils their plans and the now winged ant attacks the Phoenix. Sunshine saves the day and it's curtains for the alien robot ant and evil Commander Antoff.

Chief Anderson applauds the team. "Thanks to you G-Force the Earth is safe from the raiding robot ants." Princess thanks their "old friend the sun."

All's well that ends well.

On a quirky note of innuendo. Battle Of The Planets was notorious for sliding these innocent sext bits in between Susan and 7-Zark-7. Susan asks 7-Zark-7 if he would like to disco dance. He suggests the "funky FOSDIC." It's the first we've heard of it. Film Optical Sensing Device for Input to Computers. "That really turns me on." Okay then.

On the whole, as far as editing goes, this was a much more acceptable outcome over the hatchet job received on Jupiter Moon Menace and any flaws aside a relatively solid entry in the Battle Of The Planets series.

Science Ninja Team Gatchaman title: The Great Undergound Monster War.
Up Next: Space Rocket Escort.

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