Joe Asakura (originally George Asakura) also known as Joe the Condor is the team's second-in-command, marksman and weapons expert. His birdstyle is based off the condor. He usually lives alone in a camping trailer.
Joe was originally named George Asakura (Rendered as 'Joji' in Japanese) and was the son of two Sicilian scientists of Japanese descent, Giuseppe & Katarina. The Asakuras were actually members of Galactor that were planning to defect, but they were killed when they tried to escape the organization, with only George surviving. He was found by Dr. Nambu (who certified to the government that the child was dead and arranged a formal burial filled with rocks) and was placed under his wing with the name Joe Asakura so that Galactor would not recognize him. However, not even Dr. Nambu was aware of the significant details of why Joe's parents were under attack from Galactor.
Joe has shoulder-length brown hair and eyes that either appear as blue or gray, depending on the cel colorist. His facial features are much more harsh and rough when compared to Ken, although earlier episodes were not as consistent with his face.
His civilian clothing usually consists of a red-and-blue t-shirt with the number "2" on it, blue bellbottom jeans, and occasionally a pair of black driving gloves. In the sequels, he wears a navy blue crew-neck T-shirt with lighter blue sleeves, as well straight-legged jeans.
In his Gatchaman Bird Style, the condor-based suit is colored mainly burgundy with dark blue gloves & boots. The outside of his feather cape is colored a deeper blue, with a lighter shade of blue on the inside. His helmet is black, with red markings patterned after eyes and a condor's beak. His visor is colored a gray-lavender shade.
Joe was redesigned heavily for this remake, and was depicted with slightly darker skin, reddish-brown hair, and much more narrow facial features. He wears a leather jacket and jeans as part of his civilian outfit, with no shirt. The "2" symbol is relegated to being on a necklace that he wears. This version of Joe also sports a crucifix, as well as a skull tattoo on his left arm.
His Bird Style's color scheme is changed to be primarily navy blue, with burgundy accents on the suit. The "G" symbol is also relegated to being by itself and not attached to any belt.
Cancelled Imagi Film Project
Joe's civilian look would have taken heavy inspiration from the OVA, with him having a more overt "bad boy" appearance. His Bird Style, as seen in an early trailer, was to be an armored gray-and-black uniform.
Other pieces of concept art mostly had the Bird Style patterned after the OVA version, although with the coloring changed back to being primarily burgundy (as in the original series).
Joe is more headstrong compared to the rest of his teammates, and is always ready for a fight rather than negotiate. He is willing to fight against overwhelming odds and even launch the God Phoenix's missiles at the first sign of a threat. However, despite his cynical first look and loner appearance, Joe is actually quite friendly and likes being on the team.
Joe's favorite hobbies are racing and gardening.
Joe dedicates himself to be willing to die while destroying Galactor. When the physician from the hospital examined Joe, the physician later called Dr. Nambu. Nambu ordered Joe to further examinations before making a decision whether or not Joe should be discharged from the Science Ninja Team. Not willing to risk the chance of being discharged, Joe escaped.
Joe usually goes to talk to Dr. Nambu, especially when it concerns his parents and advice for the field. He was rescued by Dr. Nambu and faked Joe's death. He is tolerant of Joe's temper because he knew Joe's parents were killed by Galactor. However, he did not realize that Joe's parents were escaping from Galactor because they used to work for Galactor.
Joe and Ken tend to butt heads with each other over courses of action due to their differing personalities. However, Joe never wants to betray Ken or the rest of the team no matter how much they bicker. They became closer in episode "Murder Music", and Ken began to understand Joe's temper when Ken himself developed a temper after the loss of his father. It was not long before Ken became more aggressive that even Joe did not agree with him. Ken helped Joe awaken his memories surrounding the death of his parents. Ken and Joe found more common ground each time their fight against Galactor became more strenuous. Ken and Joe demonstrated their hate for Galactor in episode "Leona III, The Space Ship With No Tomorrow" while fighting over each other to launch the doomsday missile and trying to overcome the difficult decision. Ken eventually learned that Joe was trying to hide a terminal illness.
Joe goes missing in the final episode. His body was never found but since there was no cure for his illness, he is presumed dead. He is later discovered by Dr. Ralphael who basically turns Joe into a cyborg due to the number of devices implanted inside him. He secretly resumes fighting Galactor by himself yet again before rejoining The Science Ninja Team.
For most of the series Joe argued with Ken over the course of action to be taken in dealing with Galactor, with Joe considering brute force and overly-impulsive weaponry over strategy. But he later begins to warm up to Ken as a friend and as someone he can count on for the battle against Galactor.
Near the end of the series, he discovers that he has incurable brain damage - sustained in an unspecified explosion - that will kill him in less than a week. With his body deteriorating, Joe attempts to locate Galactor's base and call the others. However when he does so, his communicator bracelet is destroyed. Unbeknownst to him, it is then picked up by the surviving members of Red Impulse who have infiltrated Galactor, who proceed to repair it and message the rest of the team to give them Joe's location.
He fights the Galactor goons, but is eventually overpowered and shot several times due to being so weak by this point. A member of the Galactor scientist group gives Joe a drug that spikes his adrenaline, keeping him alive to watch Katse unfold his final plan. However, this drug also allows Joe to briefly fight Katse, but with great difficulty. Joe manages to escape and save Jun from some Galactor goons, as well as give the team the location of the headquarters. Ken reluctantly makes the decision to leave Joe behind to die, as they can't spare any time to take him back for medical attention. He leaves his boomerang with Joe as a promise.
The rest of the team manage to get into the base, but learn that there is no way to stop the Earth's destruction. However, after Katse commits suicide and X departs, Joe's feather shuriken from the earlier fight with Katse is revealed to have interfered with a gear in the detonation machine, causing it to malfunction and destroy itself. The countdown is stuck at "002"- Joe's number. After departing from the base, the team discover Joe's body gone, and see Ken's boomerang stuck in a rock.
Joe, who was thought to be dead, turned up two years after his supposed death- first acting from the shadows before fully revealing himself. It is eventually revealed that he was revived through cybernetics by an ex-Galactor member, Dr. Raphael, who repaired the brain damage that way along with upgrading Joe's body to the point of him having super-strength and endurance. However, it is revealed that Joe must also recharge his cybernetics, as they only provide him with enough power for a limited amount of time.
Joe is later forced to receive a second cybernetic upgrade, and it is revealed that Raphael had implanted a bomb inside his heart, that will go off in the presence of X.
Weapons and Arsenal
Joe's position is in the back of the control room of The Godphoenix. He is usually the one to fire Bird Missiles and Super Bird Missiles. Also, he has learned how to fly The Godphoenix whenever Ryu and Ken are absent.
Joe's Condor style of Kagaku Ninpo involves acrobatic movement while using projectile weaponry like his trademark feather shuriken, pistol fire, and thin wires.
Feather Shuriken: Joe's signature weapon, a white feather dart with a razor sharp tip. In Gatchaman Fighter, he was given an upgraded version of his shurikens with metal bladed tips that had rocket propulsion and could release concentrated knockout gas.
G-2-The Condor Machine: This is a high speed race car in the original series. It is based on a 1970's Nissan Skyline when its in civilian mode. The Condor Machine has a 16mm Gatling gun as its main weapon as well as armoured bulletproof shielding & incredible speed has the shape of a 1970's racing car; long & low with large tyres.Condor Attacker: A high performance race car used in Gatchaman II. Armed with a Type 2 Bird Missile and equipment for subterranean missions. The Condor Attacker also had a hover mode for traveling on water and rough terrain. The Mecha was destroyed along with the New God Phoenix in Gatchaman Fighter
Gatcha Two: Joe's mecha in Gatchaman Fighter. A blue and white racecar armed with a gatling gun on the front, a concealed Bird Missile launcher and equipped with flight capability. The car is one of the five mechas that form the Gatchaspartan, forming the vertical stabilizer of the ship.
Appearances In Other Media
Joe briefly appears walking down the street in episode 7, depicted in his civilian clothes from the original series and with a feather shuriken hanging out of his mouth. However, the "2" on his shirt was drawn backwards.
Joe then appears in Bird Style, along with the rest of the team, in the hour-long special "Episode 12.5". He is later depicted as part of a crowd scene in episode 24, though his shirt is depicted with a "G" on it rather than the 2.
Time Bokan: Royal Revival (1994)
Joe shows up with the rest of the team and Nambu in the flashback at Boyacky's restaurant. He is depicted in his Gatchaman II/Fighter clothing.
He later appears in-costume in the battle against Sailor Mun Mun, but leaves with Jinpei and Ryu due to all three being bored and having no dialogue.
Wonderful Tatsunoko Land (1999)
Joe showed up with the rest of the Science Ninja Team in their brief cameo in the special.
Joe is a playable character in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom.
Alterations in English Adaptations
Joe's characterization underwent heavy revision in the first English adaptation of the series, titled "Battle of the Planets". His name was changed to "Jason" and the backstory about his parents was excised entirely, leaving him with no apparent personal grudge against the enemy.
Instances of Joe being physically violent and roughing up or outright killing goons were also removed, although 7-Zark-7 describes Jason as a "hothead" and too impulsive. Zark also claims that Jason resents Mark's leader position and wishes to take over command, while Joe respected Ken as leader even if they didn't get along. In addition, dialogue in "The Mecha Ball Runs Wild" was also heavily altered in its BOTP equivalent to have Jason actually suggest wanting to take over the team. Jason also seems to be depicted as more defeatist than the original Joe.
A few of the episodes that initially brought up Joe's illness made it into this adaptation, although it is explained away as Jason being stressed. Sandy Frank only adapted as far as episode 101, and even that story was heavily edited. Due to the anachronical way of adapting episodes, the "Invasion of Space Center" two-parter was also meant as the finale instead of that story.
The second English adaptation titled "G-Force: Guardians of Space" had Joe renamed to "Dirk Daring". His characterization was a little closer to the original, although his backstory was initially toned down, with Dirk stating his parents were almost killed by Galactor and the flashback of their deaths removed. However, the backstory was reinstated in a later episode towards the end of the run. An earlier "G-Force" pitch pilot retained the "Jason" name from "Battle of the Planets", however, this version was passed over and little is known about how his character may have been altered.
Saban's "Eagle Riders" gave him the name of "Joe Thax". As Saban only adapted the sequels and not the original Gatchaman, all viewers know is that Joe went missing in action years earlier and was presumed dead, only to be modified and become "part-cyborg". He is later given a bomb in his heart, but unlike the original Joe, is stated to have had it removed after the defeat of Mallanox (Gel Sadra). Joe's Bird Style in this adaptation is also stated to be a "Falcon", rather than that of the Condor.
Isao Sasaki was Joe's original voice actor, and also provided the voice clips for the Tatsunoko vs. Capcom game. Koji Ishii voiced him in the OVA remake.
- As "Jason", he was first voiced by David Joliffe in the pilot episode of "Battle of the Planets". However, Ronnie Schell provided his voice for the remaining 84 episodes.
- Cam Clarke voiced him in "G-Force: Guardians of Space", except for episodes 39 and 40, where Clarke was unavailable and someone else filled in. An earlier attempt at "G-Force" had an actor named Barry Stoltze providing his voice.
- Bryan Cranston voiced him in "Eagle Riders".
- Richard Cansino voiced him in Harmony Gold's dub of the OVA series.
- Brian Jepson voiced him in both ADV Films' dub of the series, as well as Sentai Filmworks' redub of the OVA.
- Joe's name in the earliest planning materials for the series was given as "Joe Takano", and he was to be the third member of the team (rather than second-in-command). This carried over to a brief blooper in the fourth episode, where his shirt was mistakenly depicted with a "3" on it. Another early detail was for him to be a gardener, but his occupation was quickly modified to be that of a racer. However, the clover flower in Joe's mouth stuck through the model sheets, and he even appears with it in a brief shot in episode 23 ("The Mecha Ball Runs Wild").
- Joe's original name would later inspire the pen name of the manga artist George Asakura.
- When designing Joe, Tatsuo Yoshida opted to model him after the American actor Steve McQueen.
- The earliest plans for a Gatchaman sequel, dated at some time in 1976, had Joe slated to be revived as an enemy to the team and named "The Space Joker". Meanwhile, Nambu would have introduced a new boy named "Jack" to the team who would become G-6/The Hawk. Unbeknownst to the rest of the team, Jack is actually Joe's younger brother (which would have created a bit of a retcon, as no younger child was implied to exist in the original Gatchaman), although he did also resemble a somewhat younger version of Joe. The plans then stated that Joe would eventually be freed from his brainwashing and the brothers' connection would be revealed, although it was not decided if Joe would rejoin the team, only act as an ally, or even sacrifice himself in the end.
- An earlier outline of the greenlit "Gatchaman II" (then titled "New Gatchaman") had planned to have the "Joe" on the team be an android copy created by Dr. Raphael (then named "Dr. Einstein") to mimic the actual deceased Joe Asakura. The android would then learn of his true nature, and sacrifice himself to destroy X at the end.
- An alternative character design of Joe made for the original series had him wearing long boots and a racing jacket.