- Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Super Hero, Voting,
- Episodes s1: 12
- OVA inbound: 1
- Episodes s2 insight: 12
- Studio: Tatsunoko Production
I think we each have a quintessential superhero in our minds. An image of what a hero is supposed to be. And for a lot of us, it depends on what we grew up with. For some, it’s going to be a muscle-bound tall attractive person in a leotard that can do one magic thing, for others maybe a uniformed fighter that’s almost unnaturally skilled, and for others still, it could be the pilot of some fantastic fighting robot. But what does actually make a hero? And can it be a problem for us mere mortals to rely too much on them? Is it better to have heroes to look up to or to become a hero yourself? Is humanity even ready for such responsibility? These are all questions Haj8me is going to have to answer for herself when she suddenly finds herself part of the Gatchaman team. An assortment of heroic men and women blessed with a powerful biomechanical Gatchaman alter ego granted by a mysterious alien power. But are the aliens truly friends or foes. It can be tricky to figure out who the actual enemy is.
Lately, I’ve been on a streak of reviewing multiple seasons at once. It’s tricky to write up summaries for shows that have distinct seasons and Gatchaman Crowds falls into that category. Fortunately, although the arcs are separate, they recall the same themes and messages. And it’s a lofty message indeed. Can a classic superhero show really handle that?
Before I answer that question let me talk a bit about the look of the show. I’ll be honest with you guys, when I watched the first episode I almost dropped it right then and there. I really wasn’t very impressed. But I decided to stick with it for one or two more episodes, or potentially an entire season, solely for the visuals.
I love the art style. It’s likely to be a point of disagreement. The style is slightly naive with rougher lines and more blunt details. In season 2, certain backgrounds recall watercolour paintings which adds another bit of interest to the visual element. Moreover, the colour palette is… electric! I mean these colours are striking and can be seen clear across the room. By far one of the most vibrant series I have watched. I couldn’t get enough of it. As far as I was concerned this was a revel for the eyes!
Sadly, there is really not much visual story weaved into the narrative. Those amazing colours don’t have much significance or codding and visual elements are only used in the most obvious ways and usually reinforced by text. Things don’t look a certain way because of the events of the story or the nature of the characters, they look a certain way cause it’s cool or pretty. And cool they did look. Those character designs were awesome! The only narratively significant visual element I can think of are JJs paper birds.
The animation was also great, which is an action superhero show that is a must. But the voice acting and soundtrack were so so in my opinion. Not bad just not my thing. Actually, I know why the vice acting was like that. And by that, I mean overly earnest and very expositional. It’s a clear choice that goes hand in hand with the storytelling. One that isn’t exactly my cup of tea.
Still, I am a fan of these images and it was enough to keep me combings back…and back.. and back again.
As you can see, even though I almost dropped it immediately, I ended up watching both seasons and a bridging OVA without even taking a break. At some point, I got wrapped into the momentum of the story and started really enjoying it. A lot. And I can tell you right off the bat, Gatchaman Crowds is not a very good show.
Actually, that’s not fair. It’s a well-produced show with a decent story and premise. Nothing too out of the ordinary but you can make an excellent story out of that premise. In fact, I’ll go one further, the plot itself, what did happen, was pretty good as well. Aside from the ending of the second season which was pretty silly and contrived but hey, that happens a lot with superhero stories.
The problem with Gatchaman Crowds is actually the characters. More specifically, how the characters are written.
Ok, let me try to elaborate. I said the themes and thesis of the show are recurring throughout the seasons. Those larger themes are the extent of individual responsibility within a society, the differences between morality and justice, and the actual ideological basis for shared morality. I’m not kidding, that’s what the big themes are. There are smaller ones of course but these are the questions that get asked over and over again. And for the most part, I agree with the answers Gatchaman Crowds seems to give. Generally, morality is an individual responsibility that has to be established each while accounting for the society in which they live. That’s a very mature stance and it’s a pretty great message to bring across with fighting robots.
But that very mature message seems to have been meant for children. Small children. Like below 10. at least that’s who the characters felt like they were written for. Each of them has one and only one defining trait and they push that trait to the extreme. As you would for an audience that gets bored or confused by complex personalities. All of them have simple straight forwards reasoning to questions that are presented and subtle and without an absolute answer.
For me the worst was Hajime. She’s the main protagonist of season 1 and who we spend the most time with and one of the main characters of season 2. I would describe her as a super hyperactive manic pixie mary sue. Yes, that is just as annoying as it sounds. At least it was to me. And she’s the point of view character so as you can imagine we get the simplest and most obvious take on the story. And also a bit of a headache…
There’s not that much redeeming value in the rest either. I mean aside from fantastic designs which are worth a lot and the few of them that happen to be quiet!
Mercifully, Gatchaman Crowds is clearly a plot-driven story and like I said, once I got into it, I found that I really wanted to know what happens next. Heck, I even got attached to some of the characters. But for the life of me, I have no idea why.
And this is where things get a little sticky. I ended up really enjoying Gatchaman Crowds. There are a lot of solid elements. Yet I can’t really recommend it either. I would understand if you didn’t like it much. There are a lot of not great elements as well. So let’s all just pretend this review never happened….
Oh wait, there is a scene in the OVA where a Gatchaman does a sword attack from the ground which slices in half high-velocity jets flying at high altitude! You should probably see the show just for that!
Favourite character: Rui and Utsutsu are both adorable and really quiet! OD ended up growing on me a lot but like most things about this series, I’m not sure why.
What this anime taught me: A lot about the history of Gatchaman but only because I looked it up after the show. Also to live in constant anxiety during election season.
Forget all the half full, half empty nonsense. Just do shots!
Suggested drink: Rainbow Paradise Cocktail
- Every time we see a notebook – take a sip
- Every time Paiman gets mad – take a sip
- Every time Rui sits in an odd manner – hmmm
- Every time UUtsu-tsu is cheerful – take a good sip
- Every time it works out for Hajime – roll your eyes
- Every time Rui has a new wig – cheers
- Every time Sugane blushes – awww
- Every time they get a message from JJ – take a sip
- Every time OD giggles for no reason – be suspicious
- Every time Joe lights up – take a sip
- Every time we see the cat – cute!
- Every time anyone speaks in English – take a sip
- Every time Joe plays darts – switch too beer
- Every time the Gatchaman are on TV – who TVception
- Every time X speaks – pay attention
- Every time anyone sings – take a sip, it’s the only way to enjoy it
You know the drill, tons of pics on Pinterest…