Thursday, August 20, 2015

Battle Of The Planets Ep13: Perilous Pleasure Cruise

"You just don't run into icebergs. I'd say there's been foul play. And I'm betting the happiness boys from Spectra are behind it."
"That's what I like about Spectra always picking the nice tourist spots."

Despite the occasional return of previously implemented animation cels utilized in previous episodes, Battle Of The Planets, and thus Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, still makes an impressive effort to include an abundance of new animation with each succeeding episode. There is a plethora of new images with each entry and a much greater percentage of original images to be sure up to this point.

We return to Battle Of The Planets, Episode 13, Perilous Pleasure Cruise. For those interested in keeping track, this is the first episode that actually translates Episode 14 of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. Until now Battle Of The Planets had been paralleling its original Japanese source material episode to episode. But now, for the first time, Battle Of The Planets has skipped and jumped over Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, Episode 13, The Mysterious Red Sand, an episode that would never make it to an American translation by Sandy Frank. Why? Go figure. Perhaps one day, a separate analysis of each episode of the 105 episode Science Ninja Team Gatchaman will be in order.

For now, Perilous Pleasure Cruise draws considerably from its original Japanese counterpart Episode 14, The Fearsome Ice-Kander.

Deep in Center Neptune 7-Zark-7 keeps watch over the Crab Nebula, home of Planet Spectra and Zoltar. As it happens a missile has been launched from the villains and is headed toward the Milky Way and set to make waterfall somewhere in the North Pacific.

Cut to the pleasure cruise ship, Starfire, soon to be in perilous danger.

On board the pleasure ship is wheelchair bound scientist Professor Wild, and his granddaughter, Angie. Angie, quite frankly, may have the biggest eyes in anime. Well, not really, but Tatsunoko delivers all the cute of the little girl by amping up her eyeball size. The juxtaposition is fairly stark against the reasonable eyeball sizes of Battle Of The Planets' many characters. It also would seem the eyeballs decrease in size the older the characters get. But adorable little Angie is indeed Tatsunoko's homage to the cute that was brought to anime by the likes of legendary animator Osamu Tezuka. The parallels of Angie's character design to the likes of Tezuka's work in Metropolis (1949), Mighty Atom (1952-1968; a.k.a. Astro Boy), or even Jungle Emperor (1950-1954; a.k.a. Kimba The White Lion) are indeed notable.

Aside from the constant barrage of mecha attacks, Battle Of The Planets often gets things right with simple character moments by adding a small layer of emotional depth. In Perilous Pleasure Cruise the professor plays football with Angie just moments before all hell breaks loose.

Inevitably, the ship is met by a fearsome mechanical walrus, a nod perhaps to director Ishiro Honda's Gorath (1962). The mechanical monstrosity even has the crazy ability of generating an icy wind storm.

The team is notified to rendezvous with the Phoenix. Each team member is picked up in their respective solo vehicles. G1, G2, G3, and G4. All contact has been lost with the Starfire.

The team heads into "iceberg country."

7-Zark-7 narrates informing us that Spectra has essentially by-passed all scanners once again at Center Neptune. Spectra has established a base on Earth yet again! You begin to wonder about 7-Zark-7 and his respective computer systems. These are not exactly the sharpest tools in the science organization's shed.

Angie asks if her grandfather killed her mother in his cell experiments in the hopes of discovering organ regeneration. He assures her that her mother was merely his lab assistant and things just went horribly wrong.

7-Zark-7 discusses the science of how one could grow a new arm, leg or even a heart keeping in mind the character had nothing to do with the original source material's story. You wonder how much the original story was altered.

With the Earth base discovered, the Phoenix makes a rare water landing. It gives Mark and Princess a chance to enter the Spectran base.

Inside the base, Princess and Mark take a ride on an internal transport system.

The sick Spectran operatives have sweet little Angie on an operating table. Can G-Force make it in time?

The answer is a categorical YES! as the duo proceed to make hay. Mark and Princess send Zoltar and his goons packing. They save Angie. Professor Wild sacrifices his life protecting Angie from a ticking bomb left behind saving her, Princess and Mark all from certain death.

Mark and Princess save the cruise ship and its passengers getting them to safety. The two make quick mince meat of the base. Reunited with their teammates and the Phoenix they are attacked by the nasty Walrus beast.

Given they must counter the creature's icy cold powers, the Phoenix must---you guessed it---transmute into the fiery Phoenix. The beast is destroyed and transformed into a fiery heap.

Oddly Mark and Princess wave goodbye to Angie as she sails away on the cruise ship now clearly without her grandpa. Sadly, there is no time spent on what is clearly a traumatic event. The death of her caregiver would clearly be cause for pause and significant given the loss of her mother. Now, alone, she is simply shuffled off to live with her aunt.

Though, in fairness, little Angie does shed some tears and hold her grandpa's pipe. Still, it's quite likely she would be in major need of a child psychologist for the ride home at this point. Clearly an effort is made to downplay the trauma of the event for the those innocent viewing eyes of the 1970s.

Not only did Professor Wild die but his research of molecular genetics ultimately lands in the hands of Zoltar and not Earth. Score one for Spectra once again underlining the fact that the good guys were indeed waging an ongoing war and were sometimes left on the short end of the victory stick.

In a quick turn of events 7-Zark-7 points out, thanks to the much smarter 1-Rover-1, that the formula given to Zoltar was actually a defective one that sadly put Professor Wild in a wheelchair and accidentally killed his own daughter. This offers a good bit of explanation in the final minutes. It also makes the suggestion that perhaps Wild sacrificed his life and intentionally slipped Zoltar the very formula that might one day bring about his downfall---his very destruction. Cool. I mean that's really cool for a 70s anime adaptation.

7-Zark-7 ends on a positive note with "Even when Zoltar wins he loses." While that's clearly pie-in-the-sky optimism for the kiddies, it's not exactly true.

Though some of the animation feels a little slap dashed or rushed in spots during Perilous Pleasure Cruise, and given the series sometimes had different animators at the helm of a given episode, this in an otherwise decent entry.

Science Ninja Team Gatchaman title: The Fearsome Ice-Kander.
Up Next: The Thing With 1,000 Eyes.

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