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TV: B is for...

Battle of the Planets

IN SOME vague future, Earth was defended from aliens by a kerazee team of helmet-and-cape sporting animated types calling themselves G-Force. In full: bland leader Mark, love interest Princess, shady Avonesque Jason, ironically-named Tiny (he was fat!) and “delightfully politically incorrect” chinless stuttering kid, Keyop. Floaty, be-caped control robot computer (at “Centre Neptune”) was called 7 Zark 7 for no reason, and there was also an R2D2 comic relief robot dog, 1 Rover 1. The ship was the Phoenix, which could “transmute!” into a…spaceship on fire. What use this was was anyone’s guess, but such is the way of this sort of caper. The aliens were headed by pointy-helmeted (and slightly camp) Zoltar, who in turn reported to a weird floating blue blob known only as “O, Luminous one”. Needless to say, well-nigh impenetrable to the casual viewer. The show was actually a heavily edited and sanitised version of “Science Ninja Gatchaman”, one of the first adult orientated Japanese cartoons. Zoltar was actually a hermademphorite who kept on changing sex, explained in the kiddie edit by pretending Zoltar’s female body was his “sister”. Also, Jason swore a lot and punched everybody, including Princess – gasp! The last few episodes were never translated as they were too violent and miserable (ie, good): Jason got a bad brain injury, started losing control of his body, was captured by Zoltar and shot in the head many times with a machine gun. Zoltar then got depressed and commited suicide, by hurling his/herself into a pit of lava when the rest of the team confonted him (“Die,everybody! DIE!”) Also 7-Zark-7 wasn’t in the original, he was animated by the company who dubbed it and slipped in at bits of the show for sappy moral puke.



  1. paulus

    May 22, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Princess used to give me the horn. After reading this I suddenly realised it is probably part of the factor why I am now living in Asia with an Asian wife. Thank you early, crappy anime!

  2. Richard Davies

    November 3, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Yet another show that was mostly seen on BBC1 in the summer holidays in the first half of the 1980s.

    Me & brother really liked it, even with the Sandy Frank reworking some stories could be fairly chilling, like the other Japanese sci-fi epic Star Fleet.

  3. johnnyboy

    February 3, 2011 at 1:02 am

    I bought a soft cover ‘book’ from a Sci Fi store which cronicled the full history of how it began, was heavily mutilated for our western eyes and contains tonnes of original sketches etc of the gang, And the Princess WAS hot too!

  4. SimonC

    March 16, 2011 at 2:43 am

    “Hermademphorite”? O RLY?

  5. Tony

    July 5, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    This was a great series and had one of the best theme tunes ever!!

  6. Droogie

    November 25, 2020 at 11:01 pm

    The scene when evil baddie Zoltar had his weird pointy mask pulled off by G-Force to reveal long girly hair and make-up to suggest that he might be transgender was one of the strangest TV moments I saw as a kid.

    • George White

      November 27, 2020 at 8:20 am

      The trans-Zoltar thing was retconned in BotP as being his sister temping him, but in the original Gatchaman, berg Katse, as the character is called, is a hermaphrodite who randomly switches gender. japan were ahead of the game by years, even having a teen comedy anime with a trans-girl lead – Stop, Hibari-Kun! as early as 1984.

      • Richardpd

        November 27, 2020 at 11:25 am

        The top manga and anime series Ranma 1/2 came along in 1986, about a boy who would turn into a girl when he got wet, with plenty of hi-jinx related to this.

  7. Sidney Balmoral James

    November 26, 2020 at 7:26 pm

    Ye Gods! Was there every a mightier sounding theme tune than this? Actual programme which followed it was something of a let down. I don’t ever remember playing at this when a child, whereas we were always doing James Bond, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, even the Banana Splits.

    • Richardpd

      November 26, 2020 at 11:27 pm

      The theme is great, especially with that voiceover.

      I can remember my Brother making basic versions the Phoenix and the other vehicles out of Lego.

  8. Droogie

    May 29, 2021 at 3:13 pm

    I remember Princess making a cameo appearance out of costume in civilian clothes in one of the closing 7-Zark-7 bits. But because this bit wasn’t animated by the original Japanese studio, she looked all wrong. Even as a kid, I smelt bullshit about this.

  9. Suzy quatro

    June 25, 2023 at 3:47 pm

    The term hermaphrodite regarding humans is a Very very out dated awful and terribly insulting and totally erronious term.
    “Intersex” is thoroughly correct and totally acceptable.
    Hermaphrodite only refers to actual living non humam hermaphroditic creatures with the full ability to deliberately impregnate themselves.
    As theres no case in human history of this biology, the non insulting Respectful ahd absolutely Correct terminology for humans who biologically display both sex characteristics Minus any ability to self impregnate as that cannot ever happen in humans.
    Is Intersexed. Beware that Hermaphrodite Is a deliberately used Derogatory and very Outdated nasty term used to hurt affected individuals whom after all Did not create themselves to be Intersexed deliberately to spite the human race as current thinking erroniously insists.

    Zoltar it seems was Intersexed or simply with molecular abilitys to metamorphose into which ever gender needed at any give time, therefore transgender is also incorrect as trans people are not like Maya from space 1999 and dont just have immediate metamorphic abilitys to upgrade their bodys but it would be great if we all could then maybe we’d All learn something about the otherness in all or us.

    Thank you peeps for upgrading and updating your knowledge.

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