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Friday, July 11, 2008

From 'Speed' to outer space

Staff Writer

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G-Force fete: Artwork from the 1972 animated television series "Science Ninja Team Gatchaman," known in the West as "Battle of the Planets" TATSUNOKO PRO.
News photo

Zooming up behind the "Speed Racer" film, which opened last week, is an exhibition starting July 18 at Hachioji Yume Art Museum that reveals where all the fast cars, snazzy gadgets and dastardly racer tactics began: on the desks of the animators at Tatsunoko Production Co., Ltd.

"The World of Tatsunoko Productions" consists of 300 original sketches, animation cells and even pilot episodes dating back to the late 1960s. The exhibits cover not just the original "Speed Racer" cartoon from 1967-68, which was known in Japan as "Mahha GoGoGo," but other popular cartoons such as "Science Ninja Team Gatchaman" from 1972-74, which was re-adapted for the American market as "Battle of the Planets" and first aired between 1978-85.

"Planets" fans who remember the American version (and the 7-Zark-7 robot character — added to provide explanatory voice-overs and, it seemed, bad jokes) might want to check out a special screening of the film version, released domestically in 1978, of the original Japanese cartoon. The screening is on Aug. 30 from 2 p.m. (Apply for seats by sending a return postcard to the museum before Aug. 8.)

"The World of Tatsunoko Productions" shows from July 18 to Sept. 15 at the Hachioji Yume Art Museum, Tokyo; open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (9 p.m. on Aug. 2 and 3); admission ¥500. To find out more information, visit www.yumebi.com

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