I’ve had this series on my radar for a long while. It may not have ever appeared on my Plan to Watch list, but it was a series that intrigued me, as it had that sort of “appeal” to it that makes it both intrinsically interesting and hard to ignore. I hadn’t heard a lot of bad things about it, either, so I went into it with mixed expectations. Upon finishing both its first and second seasons, that mix of expectations evolved and slanted to one side, as all of you reading will soon find out.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty, a few little fun tidbits about this anime that I found intriguing while watching it:
- It has one of the simplest and most effective ways of tackling cyber-bullying I have ever seen. If you’d like a little clarity on this, go and watch the first thirty seconds of episode seven of the first season. Even without any knowledge of the series, it’s worth a quick peek. And it’s funny. (They also do it again in episode ten, I believe.)
- The main cast of Tsuritama appear in one of the later episodes of the second season. They don’t do anything and only their backsides are shown, but I recognized them immediately. GoGoAnime.com’s comment section didn’t seem to notice.
Now that I got that out of my system, let’s move on with the anime analysis.
HOLY FUCK IS THIS ANIME ANNOYING. THE FIRST COUPLE EPISODES ARE NOTHING BUT PLOT DUMPING, FLASHY-ARBITRARY FIGHT SCENES, AND CHARACTERS GAPING AT THE ABSURDITY OF ONE HAJIME ICHINOSE!
Sorry. I don’t know what came over me. Still, the rage banner above is my honest impressions. I wanted to drop this series really badly upon trying to trek through the atrocity of the first few episodes. My pride wouldn’t allow it, as this is only the second title of the Summer. Fortunately, the anime began to pick up a little when the plot started to get off the ground. Quite frankly, the plot of Gatchaman Crowds is the only thing that keeps the entire experience watchable. It has a lot of deeper meaning and underlying political undertones that encourage deeper thought and meaning, which I appreciate. I kinda wish they began to incorporate it a little earlier, but what’s done is done.
I’m not kidding about the plot being the only thing keeping this series afloat, either. In terms of characters, I like exactly zero of them. None are likable, most are annoying in some way, and while they get a little development as the story continues, it’s cluttered together awkwardly with trying to keep up the suspense of the plot and the dazzle of the fight scenes. The MVP award goes to the main pair of busts herself: Hajime, for most obnoxiously one-dimensional (and almost blatant self-insert) character of the entire bunch. She single-handedly brings the group together by… being weird and optimistic, has the most ear-grating voice of the entire cast (and she never shuts up), is almost so contrarian that she has to be self-aware of how the script is going to play out, like a Goddess of some sort, and the characters play her up as the second-coming of Christ. I’m not joking. Half of episode eleven is literally recaps of the events that happened up to that point with each other member of the Gatchaman organization talking about how she changed their lives for the better. What. The. Fuck.
But it’s called Gatchaman Crowds and not Hajime Praise for a reason. A secret organization called the “Gatchaman” are a group of crime-fighters who are tasked by the mysterious prophet, JJ, to protect Earth (or seeing as there’s only one setting in this series: Japan) from any otherworldly threat. JJ doesn’t do shit but provide cryptic riddles for the members of Gatchaman to solve, which they use to guide their actions. The Gatchaman are comprised of six members: Hajime, Jou, Utsutsu, OD, Paiman, and Sugane. One will primarily see Hajime and Sugane doing all the work because… something, while the others go on stand-by and only aid in certain situations.
Each of these characters receive some tidbits of development—primarily through Hajime, but whatever—but by that point, it seems to slip through one ear and right out the other. The characters don’t seem important in terms of the scale of the plot points that arise throughout the series. To top it off, these characters, to put it bluntly, are boring. None of the characters really stand out except for Hajime, who is intentionally painted to stand out and be special. Sugane is inexperienced and follows a strict code of honor. Jou is Sugane’s role-model, but is self-conscious of his own worth and dreams of world peace. Utsutsu is a standard kuudere. OD is gay. Paiman has a self-righteous ego and is quick to anger, but struggles under pressure. Despite this, he proclaims himself the “leader” of the group. There are two more characters that appear later on that become major characters as well: Berg-Katze and Rui. Berg-Katze serves as the main antagonist and is a stereotype “troll,” or whatever people who don’t understand the term think one is. lololololol. Rui also serves as a major plot focus as well, and is probably the most thought-provoking character, but is otherwise just a young kid who wants to change the world to something better. When the characters that make up a series aren’t giving any reason to care, it makes it harder to even care what happens in the story, which is a shame, because I feel the story genuinely tries to be interesting.
The art is something to note, too. It has a strange style of blending similar colors together to make a “dreamy” effect of sorts. It makes the characters look intriguing, but I think it all sort of blends together to make a goopy mess. Nothing really stands out except for the bright hues of certain characters’ hair colors, such as Sugane’s or Berg-Katze’s. Though, I will say that the supernatural effects of the show are done wonderfully. I found myself enamored with the design of the CROWDS, a system Rui created to embody the consciousness of individual people into physical form. I also thought the fight scenes were pretty intense, and suited the razzle-dazzle that the show aimed to create. The only major complaint I have is with the Gatchaman transformations. CGI is CGI. It looks gross to me and doesn’t blend well with the hand-drawn imagery all around them. I will admit that Jou’s transformation looks pretty cool, but aside from him, everyone else’s looked like a mess of colors, metal, and the intention of making everyone as pretty as possible; especially the women’s transformations. Hajime’s and Utsutsu’s in particular. They just look off to me. Do I even need to mention sound? Hajime’s voice is annoying. That’s the only sound that ever stuck out to me. A lot of people say that the soundtrack to this anime is awesome, but all I remember is some autotune rendition of people going “GAT-CHA-MAAAAAAAAAAAN!”
In short, I didn’t care for it. It was a chore to watch the first half, while the second half was little more than trying to pick apart the plot for fun. It’s certainly not something I’d recommend, but it has fun little tidbits here and there. If anything, I’d recommend watching thirty-second clips of the show on Youtube or something. That’s really all the series is worth. And now there’s a whole ‘nother season to watch! Oh boy!
IT’S EVEN WORSE. OH, MY GOD!
Every issue I had with this series in the first season is still present in season two. But somehow, SOMEHOW, they made those problems worse! They made Hajime less of a focus in this one, which is nice to see other characters getting some screentime, but instead of showing her, they show… Tsubasa and Gelsadra, two new characters exclusive to this season. And man, are they pretty dumb.
Tsubasa is a silver-haired vixen who is enamored with justice and bringing aid to everyone around her. Great, fantastic, wonderful. She’s basically Hajime without being hyper-exaggerated. I can work with this! For the first couple episodes, they work on giving her some background and giving her some character traits. Good, good! This, in turn, lets JJ come out of nowhere and make her a new Gatchaman. But wait, she can’t transform at will! What a twist! In all seriousness, the development they give her is standard, but at least it’s something. Unfortunately, that’s only the first few episodes of the season, because as the series goes on, it gets worse, and worse, and worse.
Gelsadra is a red-skinned alien who can basically do anything possible because whatever and can read the thoughts and desires of everyone around… it. I say it because it’s a girl at one point, then turns into a boy, then… back into a girl. I don’t know, it! They call it a “her” near the beginning of the series but… eh. It. Anyway, it decides it wants to make everyone happy, so it runs for prime minister of Japan and wins, then tries to make everyone think the exact same way as everyone else, while Tsubasa follows suit because she just loves it oh, so much! It eliminates taxes, gives free healthcare to anyone, gives leniency to alcohol and drug use… DOES ANY OF THIS SOUND REALLY FEASIBLE TO YOU? ‘CAUSE IT SURE DOESN’T TO ME. All in the process of making everyone happy! And if you don’t agree with this?
I just wrapped up the entire plot of the second season. Someone tries to make everyone happy. Not everyone becomes happy. So they try to force them to all think alike to achieve that happy “atmosphere.” It blows up in their face. The moral of the story: think for yourself. Don’t go with the flow. Be yourself. Following trends are bad. Individualism! However, there’s one little problem with this feel good, happy ending mindset that the series seems to believe that it’s accomplished in wrapping up the season:
If people want to follow trends, that’s their own, individual decision to make.
I can understand that people may not find it to be their own decision, since the decision is being made for them by the hive mind, but for those who acknowledge that they’d rather be with the hive mind for the comfort of themselves, why oppose it? As someone who enjoys individual thought, I can understand that we can’t let it get to the point where the majority are so stupid as to think that blowing up Canada would be a good idea or anything. However, the series seems to believe that if one cannot achieve that individual thought for themselves, they’re wrong. They’re wrong and they’re “part of the problem.” Wouldn’t this, in turn, create a hive mind of its own? To have the constant back-and-forth between hive minds going at each other? Is this a happy ending? What the fuck?!
It’s incredibly fallible, to say the least. The intrigue of the plot is gone, replaced with a single, far too dragged out focus that doesn’t really paint anyone or anything in a good light. With that gone, we have the charact—oh. They’re all still shit. Good. Not only that, but they hardly focus on them anymore. Paiman and Sugane may as well not even exist with how little they’re shown in important situations. It’s essentially the Hajime, Tsubasa, and Gelsadra show for a good majority of it, with a cute little attempt at another main antagonist within the first few episodes that only serves to foreshadow future events. Art’s the same. Characters are worse. Plot is worse. Enjoyability is about the same, somewhat surprisingly. Even so, there wasn’t a lot there to begin with.
I apologize if the second season’s analysis is so all over the place, my feelings for the entire series is all over the place, though most notably planted on the “I really should’ve dropped this” feeling. It’s a mess of a series that I can’t help but feel has a superiority complex. Not in the sense that it thinks it’s all high and mighty, but that it feels it has to be 2deep4u and overly-complicated in order to feel good about itself. This is more apparent in the second season, where everything begins to truly fall apart, but with the sense that Hajime could be a self-insert, it gives vibes showing that it may have been there all along. But I’m losing myself in my own mental rambling. Gatchaman Crowds wants to be a powerful, thought-provoking story, and I appreciate its effort, but the lack of any attention given to the characters or anything else makes it hard to swallow. And when one tries too hard to make something, the stress of living up to one’s own standards can ruin the reality of one’s ambitious efforts.
Personal Score: D+
Critical Score: D+
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.