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GATCHAMAN Crowds – 06 »« GATCHAMAN Crowds – 02, 03

GATCHAMAN Crowds – 04, 05

Episode 04

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「Kitsch」

No more playing around with MESSY-chan and GALAX; the prelude to Gatchaman Crowds is over, and with the steady escalation of Berg Katze’s activities, the plot seems to be kicking into its high. But if that’s really the case, then there’s cause for me to start getting worried about the long-term prospects for Gatchaman Crowds.

If anything, the anime deserve some credit solely for what it’s trying to do in tackling a fittingly modern themes for its modern audience. I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, that the broad themes of the show really are the show’s best aspects; alongside the core study on how social networking technology has impacted the traditional facets of society, there’s that generational theme of how the concept of heroism has changed. Unlike most other shows airing this season (or indeed in many of the previous seasons) this story was made with our times in mind, and I always liked it when the story can be made this relevant.

This episode prods at these themes all over; we see GALAX being credited for the successful cable car rescue, not the civil workers and rescuers who actually did the work. Later on in the episode, the narrative repeatedly (albeit rather simplistically) tries addressing the generational theme, centering on an argument that galaxters could response to a situation faster than any traditional civil institution. The second half was when it gets really interesting; a hit-and-run perpetuated by Berg Katze show the very limitations of GALAX when a SOS by Rui fails to achieve anything. And then there’s Joe; portrayed at the start to be cynical and uncaring, likely due to the fading relevance of the Gatchamans. (the show makes a point on how the Gatchamans are but a myth in the city as well.) With Berg ramping up his disastrous activities, we’re starting to see a renewed and determined Joe wanting to take up the mantle of beating Berg, a foe that only the “old world” heroes might defeat. I don’t believe the mirroring of Joe’s change in attitude is a coincidence, but I wonder what Nakamura intends to say with it, especially with the forboding notion of JJ’s red paper bird (symbolizing Joe) going up flames.

The immediate storyline is also being taken in some really interesting directions; Berg Katze seems to be a former Gatchaman (likely the mad bird J.J. talks about) who made a 180 and now destroys worlds for the heck of it. It’s strongly implied that this forms his history with Paimon and O.D, who lost a former comrade to him.

It is unfortunate that what is bogging Gatchaman Crowds down the most is its execution, something I didn’t expect given the brilliant pedigree of its production team. That’s not to say the show doesn’t its moment of brilliance of course; any moment with Miyano pushing his flamboyance as Berg is a brilliant one, and you can tell that he is completely in the zone with this role. But the narrative is full of odd juxtapositions; I get the sense that Nakamura had too many ideas for this series to cover within some 13 episodes, and not all seem to go entirely well together. Character arcs transit oddly between world-setting scenes, among others, and these make watching Gatchaman Crowds is like staring at a jigsaw puzzle; you know what it’s supposed to look like, but the pieces don’t quite line up, hence an indescribably messy feeling one gets from the show.

Where does that leave us? Well, for one, if they show were to slow down its hyperactive and twitchy storytelling, that would certainly help a ton in letting Gatchaman Crowds themes come across better. I’ve yet to seen these ideas form enough of the connection with the characters of the show as well; outside of Hajime, the Gatchamans really have had little chance to stand out in this over-stuffed show. It’s a shame, because what little the show’s doing with the characters have been really interesting; Joe’s especially, in the way it mirrors the themes of the show.

Let the characters carry the themes instead of just letting the world do so, and we might just end up with a show that’s more deliberate, but all the better for it. The silver lining so far is that a lot of the groundwork for the show seemed have already been covered in these first four episodes, and it’s entirely possible for the show to make a narrative shift in some manner, away from this current, overtly dense nature of the story.

Episode 05

GATCHAMAN Crowds   05   01 GATCHAMAN Crowds   05   02 GATCHAMAN Crowds   05   03
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GATCHAMAN Crowds   05   31 GATCHAMAN Crowds   05   32 GATCHAMAN Crowds   05   33
GATCHAMAN Crowds   05   34 GATCHAMAN Crowds   05   35 GATCHAMAN Crowds   05   36

「Collaboration」

Oh Gatchaman Crowds, even if you have your problems, I can’t help but love what you keep trying to do. Where else am I going to get that show this season that opens with a 3 minutes grilling of the very fundamentals of its super hero genre? Which also then proceeds with social commentary in an overly dramatic and theatric monologue for nearly half the episode? Okay fine, I guess there’s always Monogatari for that.

I have to admit though, this episode was more than a little hard to swallow. It’s easy to get lost in the dense, overextending dialogue of Gatchaman Crowds. Up till now, the scattered storytelling has been making it even harder to try and work the many ideas thrown at you into a coherent picture. That we’re already at episode five and I’m still saying these same things should clue you in to some degree of the problem here, and I’m not feeling the same singular storytelling vision that Toshiya and Nakamura previously showed in Tsuritama. In fact, this is starting to feel like a familiar case of [C], a Nakamura story that got too wrapped up in its many themes and ideas to deliver a consistent story by its end.

But even so, I still can’t help but love it when a show tackles a topic this close to heart, and does so with the breadth of scope this topic rightfully deserves. (Even if this scope is not entirely warranted. I can already see the overstuffed show tearing at the seams.) Every episode seems to bring something new to the table, and Rui’s half-episode long monologue was an intriguing look at the fundamentals of social networks. We finally get to see the full picture of Rui’s vision, and suffice to say, the show doesn’t quite hide from the idealism of it. No, in fact, the theatrics seem to make it as though they were reveling in it; he illustrates an ideal world where the singular notions of the individual are absent, and where the world cooperates and improves itself through a single, connected network. It also explains his refusal to use the CROWDS power given to him by Berg; his ideal solution is through the cooperation brought about by GALAX.

The key here is that core idea of CROWDS shown here isn’t one that is particularly new. Not all people share that same altruistic and exceedingly idealistic vision that Rui has. To some like Umeda, they see CROWDS as the force needed to enact the improvements to the world, as opposed to Rui’s maneuverings to extend the influence of GALAX. These are broad ponderings that are so often seen in storylines, but it’s in the modern themes this is being painted in that feels refreshingly imaginative. Rui monologue centered around the fundamental aspect of the connectivity in the social network, of bringing people together with similar purposes, reflecting his altruistic perspective on human nature as a result. What’s notable is that the show also gives strong aspect to its counterpoint, and the second fundamental draw of social network; a space to be heard and an avenue for recognition. As much as I believe the Galaxters and were helping out of the good of their heart, it’s also about being involved, about recognition (as Umeda went on a rant about) and for the Hundred, it’s about playing the hero Rui is so dismissive about. Hajime’s grilling at the start of the episode makes some bit of sense in retrospect; such as questioning why they were playing the hero in secret.

One wonders what Rui will make of Hajime when the concept of heroism he always disregarded finally appears before him; suffice to say, I’m looking forward to the exchange between the two characters in the next episode.

Author’s Notes

-Sorry about the erratic Gatchaman postings these past few weeks, many things to deal with recently since coming back to my home country. Posting schedule will return to normal this week on.

August 15, 2013 at 3:06 pm
29 comments »
  • August 15, 2013 at 4:28 pmCybersteel

    I love the outro after the end of each episode…

  • August 15, 2013 at 4:58 pmMagoiichi

  • August 15, 2013 at 5:11 pm†Croos†

    So who is excited with the next episode!? o/

  • August 15, 2013 at 6:00 pmMieu

    I can’t shake the feeling that the payoff for this show is going to be lame at the end. It really feels directionless, and none of the characters have really grown on me at this point in the show.

  • August 15, 2013 at 9:27 pmAsmalti

    I think the biggest question to me is will this show ever explain why does Rui love to crossdress so much?

  • August 15, 2013 at 10:48 pmThe Truth is in the Axe

    If Umeda really wanted recognition, he should’ve just introduced himself if he was helping someone. “Hey, I’m Umeda and from my GALAX it looks like you’re in trouble!” Instead, he just wanted to attach himself to a group so that it’d look like he’s somehow the “face” of GALAX or whatever. Carrying on the coattails of others, methinks, and trying to get some sort of credit by being peripherally associated with someone and something.

    I feel like this is different from what Hajime is going for, because it’s going for the idealistic side, in which she wants the whole of Gatchaman to be a source of inspiration and role model for others. They’re an actual group with rules of conducts and stuff. GALAX is like super micromanaged twitter and facebook where Rui could’ve just used a mod ban hammer to root out the assholes.

  • August 15, 2013 at 11:29 pmEH2

    It’s funny how the 2 bloggers I read that talk about Gatchaman Crowds mention the show has flaws I’m not actually seeing.

    One says the whole thing sounds farcical – well yes. Of course! But the farce seems to come from in-universe, not from the actual show; most characters are being obtuse, opaque, and dishonest even with themselves (a good example would be Rui). There’s no reason why you need to take what a character says at face value, especially if it feels odd. Chances are there’s a reason for it.

    Then Asobi here says it’s overstuffed… I don’t see it really. The show is indeed going too fast, and I feel this idea would be better suited for at least 2-cour; but I don’t see it tearing at the seams. The show focuses on what it needs to focus, and we’re not even halfway there yet.

    • August 16, 2013 at 12:11 amKF

      Personally, I think it has pacing problems. It may be smooth but it’s not as smooth as I like it to be.

      TQ

  • August 16, 2013 at 12:06 amzztop

    Sure the animation’s a bit spotty, but I feel the themes, colours and vibrancy make up for it.
    And the background music is techno-mazing. When OST mp3s come out, that music’s going stright on my Galaxy S4!!

  • August 16, 2013 at 5:21 amigniteous

    I don’t have an issue with the pacing. Personally, I’m enthralled with this show so far. And Hajime is the main reason for it. She is obnoxious, yes, but that’s not a character defect. I think she’s fun to watch… and when she gets excited, so do I. So yeah, enjoying it immensely so far and can’t wait for the next.

  • August 16, 2013 at 5:27 ambolton

    honestly up till these two episodes, i haven’t had much good to say about it. at the very least, now, it’s entertaining and i’m interested to seeing the characters deal with whatever’s going to happen.

    i’m not sure if it will deliver, but things are certainly getting more interesting. how will rui react after learning that the heroes he thought he was taking place of existed all this time? when they were doing nothing for the accident that was occurring right before their eyes?

    i want to see how all of this unfolds. it honestly doesn’t seem like it’ll end so simply, but genkiscissors-chan is really making me scratch my head as to what exactly this show will be. i will not go without saying that watching her get fed up with waiting and deciding to take matters in her own hands gave me chills. i loved that moment, it showed that genkiscissors-chan behind her smile and altogether wacky nature is able to act on her wishes decisively; alongside rui’s desperate plea for confirmation of his ideals to umeda-san.

  • August 16, 2013 at 6:23 amHelvetica Standard

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this show.
    It’s a breath of fresh air among all the stale shit that we see every season.
    What’s with all the snobbish criticism? :|

    • August 16, 2013 at 8:14 amMagoiichi

      They’re upset that no one is blogging Free anymore or any of the rest of the girl focused shows that over saturate this season. People seem to forget the main point of watching anime or any other media and that is entertainment. It’s fine to go in depth with every episode, but did you enjoy watching the episode?

      It’s insane that C3-bu isn’t being blogged though ;p, the best all girl anime of the season hands down.

      • August 16, 2013 at 12:29 pmbolton

        Or maybe- just maybe.. people have different tastes from the two of you? I’m sure that a very few people actually force themselves to watch anime that isn’t entertaining to them.

      • August 16, 2013 at 4:00 pmMagoiichi

        And yet this is the 5th episode and people that supposedly don’t like the anime such as yourself are still watching it. Why is that? Just to criticize it? Who does that? Why watch something you don’t like, it doesn’t make sense. Unless of course, you’re a troll.

      • August 16, 2013 at 4:20 pmbolton

        because i don’t think badly of gatchaman enough to drop it. it’s okay and while there are some parts that i don’t like, i do find at least some entertainment in watching it and interacting with a community that has done the same. also, this blog covers the fourth and the fifth, both episodes that i have enjoyed moreso than any other of this series. honestly, i watched both of them in a row as i wasn’t so excited to see it last week.

        anyway, what is wrong with watching a show to criticize it? it’s not like that’s what i look forward to do, but i do look forward to discussing the show and its merits/faults with a community who’s done the same.

      • August 16, 2013 at 4:56 pmMieu

        I love how you’ve simplified any and all people who watch anime as simply those who must absolutely love everything about a show and those who must absolutely hate it.

        I came into this show as someone who wanted something different than what the rest of the season had (on this end, it certainly delivered). I love the music, I love the artstyle, and the character quirks are quite fun, especially Hajime’s.

        But one of my issues with the show is that it doesn’t really let me invest in anything, whether it’s the story or the character development. The story is still impenetrable, although this latest episode might be a point in the right direction. As for the characters, all I have are quirks, and nothing more. No reason for me to care why they do the things they do; I’m just supposed to accept it.

        Does it make me or anyone else a troll that we came into this show with our own expectations, and we’re simply expressing that it’s not being met? Does it make us a troll that we want more from this show, and keep giving it a chance to deliver by watching an episode?

        But really, does it make us a troll that we happen to have a different opinion than you do?

      • August 16, 2013 at 6:57 pmMagoiichi

        No, it does not make you a troll when you have high expectations for something and complain when they’re not met.

        It means you’re insane when you keep “giving it a chance”, complaining about the same things over and over again expecting the anime to change just so you will like it more. We’re on episode 6 now, gonna make the same complaints when it gets blogged?

        It’s common sense to drop an anime you don’t like. Whatever happened to the 3 episode rule people seem to do whenever there’s a lot of interesting anime to watch in a season? This blog is about episode 4 and 5. It’s not about whether you love or hate the anime, it’s about whether or not you actually enjoyed what you watched.

        Nothing wrong with talking about certain things you didn’t like about the episode, but to continue to complain about the same things over and over every episode is silly.

      • August 16, 2013 at 8:31 pmbolton

        it’s not insane to expect characters to develop fully. your example only pertains to people who put themselves through watching Free! and expecting fujoshi pandering and fanservice aimed towards a female crowd to not be in every single episode. character and plot development takes time, and speaking of time, how people choose to spend it is really not anything for you to criticize when all it involves is watching a show that is currently on air. i am actually psyched to see rui’s reaction to the existence of gatchaman, i am looking forward to see hajime go full-blown renegade, i want to see the reasoning as to why the gatchaman are so secretive, and i do want to see OD be forced to murder Berg; but most of all, i want to discuss the good and bad of all these revelations with other members of this community.

        i don’t see a valid reason to act snooty just because someone’s criticized a show you happen to enjoy more than them. if people aren’t enjoying the show as well as you, that doesn’t mean they’re so wildly different from you that they would prefer reading blog entries on Free! or any of the other shoujo-oriented shows airing this season. attacking people by calling them insane or putting on airs and condescending others simply for wanting to be in the know and current events of the anime industry is just plain absurd. i’ve never attacked any of the fans for this show just for having a different taste than mine.

        i’ll state again, i do enjoy this show. it has strengths but they are almost equally numbered by its faults which i will not fail to express when i see there’s a need for it. it was definitely the result of my faulty reasoning for me to expect anything but this sort of backlash responding to your affirmation of Helvetica Standard’s opinion. i’m sorry if the presence of insane individuals watching your show disturbed you, but i won’t make the same mistake in making my presence known to people like you who can’t comprehend why anyone would dislike anything about this show.

        i apologize for being petty and spamming up the comments on this page with irrelevant and pointless drivel that doesn’t fully pertain to this show but this is the last of what i’ll have to say on this matter.

    • August 17, 2013 at 5:02 pmMillineum

      I wonder about this too.

  • August 16, 2013 at 8:52 amname

    I absolutely agree with many of the lovers of this anime that I found nothing really wrong here. People expect way too much in my opinion. Don’t focus on the things you expect out of it. Focus on what it has now. This anime continues to be unique, beautiful, and fun in my opinion.

    Anyway if anything permanently bad happens to any of these Gatchamen, especially Hajime (since I think something bad will most likely happen to her as of now), I will tear up. I love these characters too much for them to suffer.

    • August 16, 2013 at 3:32 pmFlareKnight

      I kind of want to see something bad happen to these characters just to see if it would phase Hajime at all. At this point it seems like nothing at all shakes this character. Can always make a logical decision that appears to be perfect.

      Frankly seems like Jou is going to be the sacrificial lamb to test that. Has put himself out there ready to take another crack at this Berg character.

    • August 17, 2013 at 5:02 pmMillineum

      So do I. Really hope nothing bad happens to anyone.

  • August 16, 2013 at 1:12 pmJ_the_Man

    Good to know that I’m not the only one who sees the pacing problems with this show. It’s just so hard to follow right now. All these random little stories here and there and everywhere and nothing pointing to an ultimate resolution.

  • August 17, 2013 at 4:59 pmMillineum

    I know this is off topic, but I really don’t like how the people that say that there’s really no problem with the anime in their eyes and are basically sick of hearing more criticism than praise are getting so many downvotes. It’s not like they’re saying fanboyish things. I’m actually afraid to say what’s on my mind because of this. I think they deserve more(or for downvoting to be banned) and just because many people see flaws and they don’t in their opinion doesn’t mean they deserve such responses. Downvotes might not be a large matter to many, but it has the potential to make others shy in expressing their honest opinions in the future.

  • August 18, 2013 at 4:23 pmKyosuke

    Bird’o go? GATCHAAAMANNNNNNNN!!! Love it.

  • August 19, 2013 at 1:03 amDavid

    Oddly enough, I *don’t* have an issue with the pacing problems that seems to be the complaint du jour — the odd, somewhat disjointed bits of info combined with only superficial understandings of the people we’re watching. Or rather, while they’re problems when the expectations are that of a traditional story pattern, they’re intrinsic and (I’d posit) intentional in a way that can only be appreciated by viewing it as being on the same level as the social media that it’s basing so much of its story on.

    Take the conversation in the back of the bus. Heads of four important organizations that meet together for their little collage outings, but don’t even have each others’ phone numbers. They know about as much about each other as we do about our heroes. Hang out this week to watch them beat up the latest bad guy, but no intrinsic understanding of each other.

    I’d say that’s the fundamental issue with Rei’s idealism — his hand-picked partners are only understood on the surface, and his desire to have everyone help each other out ignores the full breadth of human interaction. We even got a subtle jab at that from seeing that #26, who in their little argument came off as pretty much an ass, also is a father of a young girl and is hanging out with her at the playground. Why is he so intent on using CROWDS? Is his real motivation something as superficial as recognition, or is it just a cover? Or is the recognition he seeks merely the means to another end altogether?

    Rei’s view of him is on at the level of a social contact on Facebook, and our view of them is just as shallow.