Life is an adventure. You know, the thing from all those sayings, the thin that happens when you’re making plans. Of course, those sayings don’t take into account the presence of aliens, or heroes that fight aliens. Which they should, it’d make for some more interesting sayings. Anyway, aliens, champions of earth and one heck of a job orientation. Enjoy.
Hajime is just your average, hyper energetic, stationary obsessed high school girl, living her life and singing about it on the regular. And so it was, until some alien God analogy rocked up and tore a book out of her soul. It’s ok though, that gave her superpowers. Why? Because reasons that’s why. Anywho, Hajime takes to her new post with gusto and happily meets all of her new co-workers. The quiet stern guy, the quiet cool guy, the quiet shy girl, the not quiet flamboyant guy and the yelly space panda. Who is also her boss. Though, believe it or not, Hajime is still the weirder of the crew. Partly due to her immediate acceptance of the bizarre situation placed before her and partly because her free-as-a-bird attitude has her completely ignore any sense of protocol regarding heroism…or anything else really. In fact, Hajime may just be the first character to actually completely practice the equality that good guys preach. She honestly does not care about anyone’s rank or reputation, be it a random child or the chief of the Fire Department, she treats everyone exactly the same and gives all the benefit of the doubt. Of course this rubs some people the wrong way, but there’s something refreshing and innocent about her approach to life. And damn if she isn’t one of the most infectiously happy characters ever. Seriously, it’s weird how not annoying her attitude is.
However, as always, darkness lurks on planet Earth. Flamboyant, sadistic darkness in the form of Berg Katze, yet another alien visitor. As the Gatchamen do their Gatchathing, Katze spends his time corrupting a prodigious programmer full of good intentions and questionable execution. By doing so, this less-than-good alien intends to utilise one of Earth’s most inescapable elements for evil. Of course there is only one thing I could be talking about: Social Media *dun dun dun* Within the world of Gatchaman Crowds exists a program known as Galax, which is essentially the Frankensteinesque conglomeration of Second Life and Twitter. Through Rui, its creator intends to reach the longest standing goal of humanity: World Peace. But, as we all know, peace isn’t easy, so it’s a slow burning plan. Of course the series wouldn’t be terribly exciting if conflict was abolished, so we focus on the uncontrollable, watching as they slowly take over. Amidst being a method through which evil can flourish, Galax also serves as a nice little commentary of the online world. Sure there’s benefits and bonuses to connectivity, but there is also a danger there. Relying too heavily on anything can cause one to lose sight of the larger picture, no matter their intentions. It’s a fine line between convenience and conformity, a fact that some may take advantage of. Especially if they’re evil aliens.
So, in a word, this series is vibrant…good lord is it vibrant. Colours are not shy in this world and the word subtle was lost somewhere in time. Not that this is a bad thing, in fact it gives the series a powerful visual presence, even during the non-action segments. That being said, colours and designs are definitely at their most chaotic when the Gatchamen are involved. Honestly, their HQ looks like a scrapbook exploded. The Gatcha Suits themselves are also rather stylish and possess uniquely intricate designs. The fact that they are presented in 3D serves to further separate them from the world around them, just as it does with the alien Mess. Ultimately, the series’ style also strongly supports Hajime’s overall attitude towards life. I mean, it’s hard to disagree with her “the world is beautiful” idealism when the world is, well, beautiful.
One sound you will certainly come to expect as you watch the series is the Gatcha catch-call that sounds during every character’s transformation. Fitting in with the poppy visuals and overall upbeat vibe, the tune serves as a little extra push to amp you up when the Gatchamen leap into the fray. Stepping away from the action for a minute, the English dub does a fantastic job at keeping up with the rapid fire dialogue that permeates this series. Hajime is a chatterbox of the highest calibre and never ceases to blast out her sporadic musings, compliments and general observations regarding everything that happens or is said by anybody else. I also have to throw a special mention out their to David Wald for capturing the mania that is Berg Katze. A poor dub really would’ve killed the characterisation, but it isn’t, so it didn’t. Yay. Though I have to admit that some moments in the dubs seem to lack the flow of a natural conversation, with just a touch too long between lines of dialogue. It’s not a tremendous setback, but it is noticeable. So not-so-yay to that.
Gatchaman Crowds is an unique series. It takes a well established franchise, crosses it with a powerhouse of a fictional social app and watches what happens. It’s quite interesting to see two different forms of heroism clash, when the old school knights in shining armour are shown to be far more restricted in their practice than the civilian masses. That being said, Crowds also explores the fragility that can arise from placing all of your trust in something…as well as the strength that can arise from placing your trust in everything. See? Interesting. Admittedly however, the series kinda feels a little rushed towards the end and rounds off with a stinger that just sort of…happens. It just puts a dampener on the progress of the story and comes across as rather unsatisfying. Which is unfortunate. The G Crew’s reminiscence of Hajime in the penultimate episode also feel a little too long, taking up half of the runtime. So essentially, Gatchaman Crowds is a good series that suffers from an oddly paced conclusion and one big question that’ll leave you pretty darn confused. Though, even with all that considered, it was still one heck of an enjoyable experience. Gatcha!
Open up your Notes and find out what it means to be a hero over at Hanabee