One of the early successful anime shows to be brought to the United States was Battle of the Planets, which debuted in the United States in 1978. The show was originally known in Japan as Science Ninja Team Gatchaman and originally was produced by Tatsunoko Productions in 1972. Though Battle of the Planets used footage from the original Gatchaman, the two can almost be considered separate series entirely due to the localization process.

The original Gatchaman series focused on a group of five superhero ninjas that are employed to fight an international terrorist organization; it involved themes of environmentalism and the responsible use of technology. The members of the team symbolized different birds, which played into the environmentalist themes, and could perform abilities based on their avian counterparts, such as flight and silent attacks. The members of the team were: Ken (the eagle), Joe (the condor), Jun (the swan), Jinpei (the swallow), and Ryu (the owl).

In Battle of the Planets, not only were the characters names changed (to Mark, Jason, Princess, Keyop, and Tiny), but the focus of the series also shifted. The original Gatchaman had 105 episodes and the 85 Battle of the Planets episodes pulled from these to create an almost entirely new series. What was originally a darker, somewhat politically-focused show turned into a kid-friendly space battle series.

Changes included toning down the violence in the originally series, though often there were explanatory voiceovers that would tell the audience that the area had already been evacuated before the battle began to not worry children with the idea that innocent bystanders would be hurt. Keyop (originally Jinpei) was also changed from a human to an artificial life form and gained a notable verbal tic during his speech. The main villain, known as Zoltar in Battle of the Planets, was originally known as Berg Katse and in Gatchaman could change genders at will. Due to the controversial nature of this idea at the time, when Zoltar would have otherwise been female, the character was instead introduced as a separate entity, Zoltar’s sister.

While Battle of the Planets was successful at the time, it was reworked in 1986 as G-Force: Guardians of Space; this version added back in a lot of the original Gatchaman content that had been edited out of the initial run. However, G-Force never reached the same popularity as Battle of the Planets. In Japan, there were two sequels to the original series – Gatchaman II and Gatchaman Fighter – that became Eagle Riders in the United States, produced by Saban (known for other English version of Japanese shows, such as Power Rangers).

Hake's Auctions currently has a number of Battle of the Planets items, including a series of prototype glasses by Pepsi featuring a number of the main characters from the series. The glasses never reached full production, making them desirable collectibles for Battle of the Planets fans.