Archive for April, 2013

Ooooh boy.

I’m sure many of you don’t know that Japan is working on a live action movie of Gatchaman.
Yeah, if “WTF??!!” just flashed in your mind, then you reacted the same as me. Most of you will then go, “Whatever.”

But maybe one or two of you will say “Oh boy” and you would be right to worry. I can’t go into all that I think can go wrong with the film…that would be a rant by itself. The main problems of this kind of undertaking by any of Japan’s major film studios is pretty much the same across the board:

1) Not enough invested in world-class VFX. If any of you have a chance to see the Space Battleship Yamato film, you’ll see that they gave it a good try. It’s good enough for Japanese audiences, but not at the level a property with fans around the world deserve.

2) Japan does not know how to make a simple action film. Not even on the level of a Michael Bay, that is to say, all flash and no substance. In fact, the problem with Japanese studios is the exact opposite, an attempt at heart-aching substance when there should be more flash. Too much emoting. Too much melodramatics. These days, it’s all about the emotional drama; the touching ending that leaves audiences in tears (mainly targeting women). That was the case even with Yamato.

3) Japanese script writers seemed to be paid by the character count of their scripts. This is more an addendum to the above. There is too much talking when characters and plot should be driven by action (both the figurative and literal kind). And on those occasions when something is done, it is usually preceded and proceeded by talking, the kind that just ruins the tension of the moment. I’ll draw your attention back to (2) and the aforementioned Yamato, the ending of which is so anti-climatic.

And so I present you with Japan’s interpretation of Gatchaman.

Notice something? Yeah, the “bird” motifs in the costumes are pretty much gone and/or minimized. Haven’t we seen these helmet designs in “Rollerball”? Further confirmation can be seen in the main image of the homepage here where you can see the capes don’t end in feather-like shapes and the trademark “G” is now a hybrid of the classic “G” on their belt and the “bird logo” that would be on their chest. Yes, I understand that adaptation of the costumes to suit live-action will result in changes. Colors and some details, yes, but it seems the concept of the Science Ninja Team has also been changed as evidenced by the text in red. Translated it reads:

At the beginning of the 21st century,
a mysterious invader destroyed half the planet in just seventeen days.
In order to avoid extinction, humanity has placed their hopes on one thing.

A strange crystal known as The Stone.

Only 1 person in 8 million can sync with and use its power.
Humanity has gathered these “compatibles,” harbored them in a facility, and forced them to train as special agents.

Now, they have been reborn as Stone wielding ninjas…
…known as Gatchaman.

“Stone”??? “Forced to train???” Well, that seems to explain why there are those “register numbers” on the photos which is also written on their helmets. No more “G1″, “G2″, “G3″, etc., in other words, they aren’t a dedicated group of youths who have taken on the task of battling Galactor. Ken doesn’t seem like he’s going to be a pilot; Joe (excuse me he’s “George” now), a race car driver, etc. So far, all the things that define the image of these characters are gone, replaced by some weird kind of premise. Oh, and those strange, Japanglish phrases on the picture that’s also written on their helmets?? WTF is that? Anyway, with the “Bird” motif seemingly gone, what will that also do to their trademark weaponry, the God-Phoenix, and its Phoenix attack. Not much has been said about Galactor either which has me worried that the filmmakers will do to Galactor what they did with the Gamilas in “Yamato”: turn a human enemy with a distinct point-of-view into some insect-like alien rabble.

I could talk about the casting, but that really won’t matter if the basic concept is being torn apart. Whoever is on those costumes can’t change fundamental problems in the script and production design. I’m sure the movie will look “neat” but as a fan of the show, I know they could do better. ‘Cause remember the sensation this caused?

Even pop-group SMAP gave it a good try and at least showed it could be done. (the live action version of the commercial above)

They should have at least gone for some evolution of this if they want to have a global hit. But that’s not what Japanese studios are after these days, which is sad. End rant.