Created: 12-03-2005
Last update: 15-01-2022


Previous Next

Ethnicity in Gatch Part III

On a totally unrelated note: rewatching Gatchaman II, I noticed once again how inferior its animation is compared to the first season (which itself doesn't win prizes for artistic content), how doll-like the female extras are, and how stupid Joe looks - with his face permanently crinkled up in a manly scowl, each time he looks downwards he has the expression of having stepped in something nasty. Both he and Ken are often drawn piggy-nosed, and the episode plots, which usually have them get involved with some "pretty" girl, are downright idiotic. There's a lesson in this: don't keep a series going after its natural end. The third Gatchaman series is even worse... shudder...

Latin doll

The carryovers from the first season being such a disappointment, attention naturally goes to the newcomers who - spoiler - are related: the clownesque villain Gel Sadra and the scientist and South American belle Doctor Pandora, introduced halfway through the series applying lipstick. I suppose she was meant to be a feminist statement, as she chides the team: "Can't a pretty women be a scientist?" but these days feminism has overshot its aim and every female, scientists included, is again under obligation to be a pretty woman. I've heard of Pandora's pendant in real life: a programmer from Brazil who let colleagues know how much she enjoyed being boinked by her boyfriend, and who trotted up obediently when a male colleague snapped his fingers. (Sylvia Pandora does not behave in this way in the series, in fact, she's a brilliant scientist with ninja abilities to shame the Gatchamen; but this character is so "superwoman", so obviously created to please, that she irritates me just as much.) Whether the Pandoras were from Brazil I don't know; they were at any rate from South America, which does have fair and red hair in the population due to the Spanish/Portuguese influx which itself owed these colours to Gothic and other barbarian tribes roaming southwards to be absorbed in the local population. The occasional blue eyes come from the same source, although blue eyes in Gatchaman are just a compulsory attribute of "pretty".

And here is the happy family of Sammy, Sylvie and the regulation Handsome Husband (name: Domingo) enacting their happy family life before an anonymous fourth person with a vidcam, so that Gel Sadra can rewatch these moments just after her mother's death. She, as only member of the family, does have brown eyes.

01 - From all over the world

The series itself starts multinationally with Nambu the new president of something or other, addressing world representatives from, er, the first one is your standard Caucasian VIP-in-suit, the second one might be Indira Ghandhi, the third is possibly from Mongolia, the fourth just has to be French (it's the monocle).

06 - Egypt, but not really

Considering the first-season scriptwriters applied the name "Shosken" to what was clearly Egypt, how did they come up with "Egypt II" for the pyramid-power dream town constructed by someone who, of course, turns out to be a tool of Galactor? The names of both this creep and his daughter are Japanese and I assume they are too, although the daughter, like this ep's Galactor captain, dresses to fit the culture being aped. Although her apparel is that of Bedouin children, as the children of ancient Egypt wore either white cloth tunics or loincloths, or, if they were very young, nothing at all.

10 - A small tropical island

Yes, a small tropical island near the equator, that's all the info given. The peaceful inhabitants, looking very Polynesian and clearly living off fishing (the kind of natives to turn up in documentaries about the Komodo dragon, one of the largest living reptiles) are enjoying life on their paradise island while waiting to be killed in yet another Galactor-induced calamity. In this case it's a snowstorm, and the old man dying on the woven mats of his home shows that old people look pretty much the same anywhere in the world.

(Factlet: the kind of boat the islanders use is an outrigger paddling canoe. The outrigger stops the canoe from capsizing.)

15 - Another small tropical island

Checking for damage after the crash of some Galactor contraption, Ryu finds a partially destroyed village where a young girl of the trailer trash type is being chased by three other locals for supposedly having something to do with the damage. (If she could cause that sort of destruction single-handedly, how safe is it to chase her?) This is just another pseudo-Polynesian island, the local belle equipped with the Gatch regulation blue eyes (totally out of place here) while the men behind her express: "You know, we were pretty poor and shabby even before Galactor came along and trashed our homes."

20 - Yet another small tropical island

What a contrast to both the shabby place above and the genuine paradise island above that. This is clearly the Gatch equivalent of Hawaii, with surfers, sunburned tourists in flower shirts and bands playing "beach" music - all Caucasian.

Although something odd does happen when disaster strikes: the tourists separate into two lines of suits and shirts!

21 - The Romans

That's their name: Carl and Lisa Roman. They own a lovely estate in Europe. And I assume Carl's little private army, including the big beefy guy who grabs Ken, are hired labour from a banana republic.

31 - The Alps

"Way to go, sis! Just a few more logs and the roof will be done!" Okay, that's probably not what the little kid sitting on the Swiss chalet was saying to his big sister "Michi" ("Mitzi"?) in the tranquil alpine haven of natural beauty which of course harbours a Galactor base. The natives' costumes are utilitarian rather than folkloristic: no dirndls, joy.

32 - Andes Love

This is the title of the episode! <gag> In the land of the condor (there's that South American connection again) where at least one name on the map is a real existing town (the middle one is how the Japanese pronounce "Cusco", I've no idea what place the topmost name corresponds to)...

... the team go sight-seeing, sorry, Galactor-hunting in very folkloristic costumes, three in a jeep, two using a more traditional form of transport. I don't know what Ryu's lama is looking so happy about. I do know that at least one village in Peru has a yearly llama feast where all llamas are dolled up with tassels of wool sewed onto their ears and then chased around town with a heavy load of rocks on their backs to show off their llama muscle. Maybe it's thinking: "hee hee, all that training paid off..."

Ken and Ryu pass some Inca monuments. (That's what they are. Ryu sez so.) Inside the Galactor base, more Inca monuments are used to get rid of unwelcome visitors. That's what I like about Galactors; they're so into preserving cultural heritage!

Friendly natives invite the two for a drink (pulque? something pretty strong even without Galactor's secret ingredient, I bet) and while two of them play the flute, the rest dance around the fire (so what was in that drink, peyote?). They look totally wrong; judging from the Bolivian buskers that turned up en masse in every Dutch city before the turn of the twentieth century (and disappeared as suddenly - did they find the Dutch too stingy an audience?) they should have had sandals, bowler hats, embroidered capes and long black hair in single braids as thick as my wrist. Ken has a more native hairstyle than they do!

Having lost his memory, Ken is rescued by three women of successive generations, the youngest of which falls in love with him. Their home is not only a stark contrast with the old Inca ruins, but too whitewashed; I was expecting something covered with adobe.

34 - Amazonians

Footage that looks recycled from last season's grasshopper plague ep: the scene is the rain forest of Brazil, where Jinpei is flying low over the mighty Amazon river (just before a giant hosepipe knocks him down and into the river where he is chased by piranhas until a local kid throws him a vine to pull him out of the water).

Now the Amazon rain forest, threatened by the logging industry, cattle ranchers and even gold diggers (the gold is extracted from the river bed using nasty polluting chemicals) is home to a number of tribes as threatened as the forest itself (Amnesty International has a pile of dossiers on the situation). I was quite concerned about this until I found out that one such threatened tribe was the Yanömamö, known both locally and internationally for their proud tradition of wife-bashing and infanticide; apparently they prize middle-aged women because hardly any woman in the tribe survives to that age. The bunch of kids who spot Jinpei in trouble don't look like members of any Amazon forest tribe, and neither do the armed men who may seem like Galactors, but are simply concerned parents coming to pick up their kids.

This ethnic incorrectness applies doubly to the girl in the group who is supposed to be pretty and therefore has blue eyes. It is for her sake that the group ventures into the forest to find a patch of her favourite flowers: repulsive blue daffodils, looking as much out of place as the supposed natives themselves.

39 - Looks like Spain to me!

The scene: somewhere near the Strait of Gibraltar. (I happen to know that the inhabitants of Gibraltar are officially British and want to stay that way, and are afraid that Britain will "sell" them to Spain. Crossing the border between Spain and Gibraltar is no light task, and the atmosphere in Gibraltar is hostilely anti-Spanish. Therefore, I conclude that this whole episode takes place in Spain.) After an encounter with Galactor which goes badly for him, a wounded Joe stumbles into a bar where intoxicated locals are watching a flamenco dancer.

And her name isn't even Carmen. This is Chinita, she's a gypsy (my, a flamenco-dancing gypsy - pile on the passion, shall we?) and she's clenching a rose between her teeth, which is actually associated with the tango, another one of those dances buried in romantic cliché. At her feet is the guitarist, who in the real flamenco tradition matters more than the dancer, the important elements being the musician and singer (totally absent here) while the dancing is just to fill up the space between verses. Chinita is not the average pretty-doll female, though. She doesn't have the dark skin and aquiline nose typical of gypsies (who share an ethnic background with Tamils; low-caste Indians who moved out of the country to seek their fortune elsewhere) but she does have unusually strong features, a pronounced chin and soulful dark eyes. An attempt at ethnic representation?

44 - Probably not French, but...

Okay, can't resist (Monty Python reference coming up): "I am French, you silly k-niggets! Why do you think I speak wiz zis outrageous accent?" In fact, this captain of the Galacons (like the Blackbirds, but with sillier outfits) is not speaking with a French accent at all and his message is the usual "Die Gatchaman, bwaahaha, sayonara", but the cape and beret and wussy hand movements strongly suggest ethnic parody - to a Brit, anyway.

That's it for Gatchaman II.

Previous Top Next