OP Sequence

OP: 「Crowds」 by White Ash


Going into this new season, there were two shows I was especially excited for: Uchouten Kazoku and Gatchaman Crowds. It wasn’t just in the fact that both shows had incredible pedigrees to their names, with certifiable A-listers involved in the production of these shows. No, it was that everything we knew about the shows suggested that both would surprise with incredibly imaginative and fresh experiences, especially given the dearth of variety in this season. (Nothing on respective quality, rest assured.) And true enough, both shows surprised in that exact manner; but where Uchouten Kazoku served up a nuanced tale reaching for those transcendent-like Ghibli qualities, Gatchaman Crowds was a literal explosion of kaleidoscopic colors and ideas.

Nonetheless, that “I didn’t expect this”……is probably not that surprising a thing to say about Gatchaman Crowds. It’s the story of pre-Tsuritama repeated yet again; this is a Nakamura (Tsuritama, Mononoke, [C]) anime after all, and expecting something unique has practically become a tradition of his shows by this point.

Let’s make it clear; I have little to no knowledge about the 1970s classic sentai series back when it was known in Western parts of the world as G-Force. I’m the last person you’d want making the judgment on whether this is foremost a Gatchaman anime, or a Nakamura anime with Gatchaman slapped onto it. (But really, the show seems to give no inclination to either.) That said I love seeing the reimaginings of these classic franchises. I might never have been there when their originals were around, but I was always captivated by that incredible burst of creative energy in the reinvention of these works; nevermind what the end results were. (The recent Re;Cyborg 009 being a prime example of how these good ideas can just as easily fall apart.) So it’s awfully fitting that Nakamura of all people was chosen to helm Gatchaman’s modernization; for better (Tsuritama) or for worse ([C]) the man has never been involved with an uninteresting watch.

So far at least, Gatchaman Crowds lives up to that notion. If I’m to get more specific, this first episode was in many ways a very, very crowded episode. Almost as if every element of the show, from its presentation to characters, was fighting for your attention. Nakamura’s visual signature in Crowds feels louder than ever, and brings to all-new levels his mix of vibrant surrealism, an eye-popping palette of colors, and an incredible art variety in the stylized cityscape. The score by Iwasaki (TTGL, Katanagatari) riffs on classic sentai cheese and throws in his own obnoxiously catchy sense of rhythm and beats, resulting in what just might be the single most catchy track I’ve heard this whole season, that campy as hell “GATCHA-MAAAAN!” tune.

The narrative itself is equally loaded, so much so that the whole episode felt like it passed in a blur. We start with Ichinose Hajime’s (Uchida Maaya) induction to the Gatchamans by the Zordon-esque JJ. Robinson (Mori Katsuji), and quickly move onward to the first fight with the MESS. No sooner was it over than Crowds bring us through an orientation of the Gatchamans. Here are what I imagine to be the classic sentai callouts; the unassuming entrance leading to the secret underground base, and the meeting chamber where the Gatchamans convene and receive orders. The G-team themselves are about as far-placed a bunch as you’d expect to see in any kind of action team-up show, much less a reimagining of a classic sentai. First off the bat is the innocuous enough Tachibana Sugane (Ohsaka Royata) who’s the most straight-laced of them all. Then there’s the unmotivated veteran in Hibiki Joe (Namikawa Daisuke), the fabulously metrosexual O.D (Hosomi Daisuke), swimwear-donning introvert Utsu-tsu (Koiwai Kotori) and the alien Not-Panda that leads the G-Team, the middle aged-acting Paiman (Hirano Aya – in what must be the first role I’ve heard from her in eons. No, Fairy Tail doesn’t count.).

The entire cast is headlined by the show-stealing, insanely genki-eccentric Hajime. She’s an oddball in her own little world like you’ve never seen, with an unhealthy obsession for planners. (even her VA describes this quirk as “hentai-moe”) She bounces all over with her “Cute!” catchphrase and “-ssu” suffix. It’s not unreasonable to say that the show basically moves at her pace, and it’s a fairly random one. Her scatter-minded personality has the show’s attention jumping around fairly often in an attempt to follow her, something I was less than thrilled about. So in all fairness, I’m surprised by how amazingly fun a character she is to watch, bobbling about the screen; nothing fazes the girl, whether it’s the first time she sees the MESS (Cute!) gets her welcome deflected by Joe (shakes her own hand) or gets into the fight for the first time (BIIIIIIRD……go?). But already opinions are highly divided on the character; some like me took to her personality immediately, others found her impossibly obnoxious. I have to wonder if it is writer Oono Toshiya’s influence at work here; there’s an incredible resemblance to Tsuritama’s Haru, whose overly energetic personality divided opinions as greatly as Hajime is currently doing. Granted, I don’t think Haru in all his bubbly naivety was ever quite this excitable, but then again, Crowds is by and large a more outrageous show than Tsuritama ever was.

Bring all this, the presentation, the music, the premise and the characters together, and Gatchaman Crowds becomes, ahem, overcrowded: At once wacky, vibrant, obnoxious, loud, campy, surreal, and more. You’d think that too many cooks is a recipe for disaster, but this smorgasbord has to it an incredibly energetic tone across every moment, and makes Gatchaman Crowds crazy fun to watch. As I’ve first said, this is a literal, unadulterated explosion of ideas. Wrapped up in a very consistent visual identity, the seeming lack of creative and artistic restrain in the show is captivating.

Of course, there’s no way this makes for a good story; somewhere down the line, everything’s got to come together in a cohesive direction, which as twitchy and overstuffed as this first episode was, is the worrying part. Already, the overemphasis on the eccentricity and energy of this first episode might not appeal to everyone. Add that to the fact that beyond introducing to us to the characters and premise, there’s little to no clue on what kind of story is being developed. But ever the visual storyteller, Nakamura’s already planted some very intriguing seeds into the show with the variety of technological details. There’s always been more to his shows than what we take at face value, and likewise for Crowds, there’s a strong undercurrent of the social networking theme that he plans to address. It’s a topic that interest me greatly (Marketing major, so sue me) and not something I get to see acknowledged all that often. And knowing Toshiya’s work on Tsuritama, I’m hopeful that the characters have more depth to them than the eccentricity that so characterizes them at this point.

Needless to say, I liked this first episode a lot. It was crazy fun, it was outrageously wild, and I got exactly what I wanted to see; that crazy burst of creative energy from a classic reboot. My question now lies in where Gatchaman Crowds intends to channel this energy towards, and if it can build something meaningful out of it.


ED Sequence

ED: 「INNOCENT NOTE」 by 内田真礼 (Uchida Maaya)


      1. Whats better, generic uninteresting, most normal you can find school boy/girl who got most boring life ever, who suddenly gets caught up, forced int supernatural world then slowly “climbs the ladder”, gets hurt, almost gives up, gets supported by friends, then eventually overcomes difficult tasks that prepare him for a big fight, at the last episode, where he saves everyone.

        Or over energetic, super enthusiastic girl/boy, who sees his/her daily life as exciting time for new things, person that accepts everything, no matter how bizzare it might be, who dares to go where normal person would simply avoid, do most unusually things.

        I would go for the latter no matter how many times i look at it. First option has been rehashed way too many times that it needed to be, just being frank here.

      1. She voiced Alisa, the radio operator from Saunders High School. Garupan is a really enjoyable series though. Highly recommended! (and recommended for you to move it up on your backlog list)

    1. It seems that Hirano is finally rebuilding her career. Since that scandal, she had only minor roles, but was allowed to retain her previous main roles, just like in “Zettai Karen Children:Unlimted” when she returned as Kaoru.

      Tarnished reputation or not, at least I hope they will not commit the heresy of replacing her should they decide to do more Haruhi or Lucky Star for example.

    1. Same here. I think it has something to do with her being the main character.
      As a side character she would probably be just another annoying genki girl.
      However as the main character, her generally positive “everything is awesome”-look at the world makes for a good contrast with the typical angsty teenager protagonist.
      If a fight breaks out, she doesn’t mull over her misfortune of being dragged into a dangerous situation, but instead wonders how to join it.

    2. i think it’s simply that her outrageous character just fits in perfectly to the outrageous art style and story that this anime has. she maybe me ridiculously over-the-top, but so is the rest of the anime. she’s not out of place at all.

    1. I thought the many comments about the female MC being annoying was just haters. But wow she really is fucking annoying. In every serious situation she’s as happy, loud, and out of place as can be. They messed up when making her character. They were trying to make her weird in a moe way but just made her weird in an annoying way.

  1. That was absolutely fantastic. It paid homage to the original while being able to stand on its own. The colors, the animation, the eccentric cast of characters, the music, everything about the premiere was great… I’m usually not a fan of bubbly and optimistic characters, but Hajime’s personality is kinda contagious, and it’s nice to see her just jump right into the fray without any hesitation or doubt- can’t wait to see her in action.
    I really hope this show doesn’t disappoint, looking forward to it!

  2. Went into the show without seeing any previews. Really enjoyed it up until the moment where the transformation took place and filled my screen with the awful CG imagery that would have no doubt looked gorgeous if animated in traditional methods. It sticks out like such a sore thumb to me, I just can’t get past it.

    Aside from that, I thought it was pretty good.

  3. the only question i have for this show is why the hell this Utsutsu girl wearing a bikini, I don’t think
    i remember seeing any big source of water for her to swim in though

  4. Mind was completely and utterly blown to pieces by the sheer number of crazy things going on in this first episode. Have to say though, I enjoyed every minute of it. Impossible not to love Paiman from the moment he showed up and Utsu-tsu… Well yeah. Enough said.

  5. God, that was so ridiculous…. but it was fucking great. Newbie is kind of jarring at times but its more like an annoyingly lovable sidekick type of deal for me so its alright. But anyway, awesome ridiculous action, great look cheesy yet awesome GATCHA-MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN. Definitely a good dose of this per week wouldn’t hurt.

  6. Haven’t seen this level of quirky crazy in a female lead since FCL or more recently Muromi-san. And while that’s all well and good, you’re rolling the dice severely when you pen such a character. Those who like the archetype will lap it up and those who don’t denounce the former. I believe this will eventually play into whether Hajime finds some middle ground in the viewer base or not, especially once the plot takes the reins.

  7. I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy the show moving at hajime’s pace. I quite enjoyed being thrown around in every direction. I’ve never seen such a scatter brained MC before and it was quite fun for me to watch. I will definitely continue this, I look forward to seeing your reviews every week Asobi!!!

  8. The most appealing of the new debuts this season, in my opinion.

    Though that said, I’m still on the fence about Hajime. I immediately didn’t like her from the initial notebook and JJ meeting scene, but she warmed on me a bit as the episode went on. I think it’s because the rest of the cast, minus Sugane, just takes her personality in stride. If they had made more of a big deal out of it, becoming frustrated, making her actions the focus of the show, I would have grown more annoyed rather than less. But as it is, her quirkiness is just a part of the show rather than the focus of it, and I think that makes it work pretty well.

    We’ll have to see if it keeps up that way, but I have high hopes for this show, and am hoping it can keep up the quality.

  9. it was a blast to watch this. everything is over the top, dazzling, sparkling, and colorful fun. i have no idea what gatchaman is or was besides a famous anime of the past, but now i am definitely interested in everything about it. gatchaman looks to impress me all season.

  10. I would have said: for better ([C]) or for worse (Tsuritama). C was by far more enjoyable for me. I had to say it! X(

    She definitely likes to bully Paiman with the note 😀

    I hope they improve the choreographical (or tactical) part of battles, it’s lacking.

    More scissors?!

  11. most intriguing anime of the summer season for me; i know some are confused as to the direction of this show but I can definitely see where it is going (some dark, wierd stuff is gonna happen im sure of it) and i have faith in oono toshiya and kenji nakumara.

  12. Considering the foreshadowing to the rather dark “X” social media company and the presence of Berg Katze, I’d like to think this 1st episode wanted to get all the exposition (of tried, true, and very overdone tokusatsu-like worldbuilding stuff) out of the way to make space for the plot. Crowds is a 12 episode show, so they gotta breeze through all the cumbersome stuff and get going.

    I like to think that the fact that the episode ended mid-fight, right after Hajime transformed and Katze gleefully announced “THEY’RE ALL HERE!”, instead of going the way tokusatsu-like shows usually go and finish with the enemy being vanquished and a happy resolution, is a sign that this show will be throwing the formula to the trashcan and imposing its own pace. (The formula had already been defied by having 2 separate fights in one episode, even.)

  13. I sincerely hope I’ll grow to like Hajime; right now she’s preventing me from wholeheartedly enjoying this series. Boom-boom-boom pacing is okay but it needs to be balanced with something more mellow, which I think will be left to the foil characters. I do like the non-cliche approach to finding out that one has superpowers. I dislike the cliche of the mascot being very easily pissed off by over-enthusiasm.

    The design, style, and color palette remind me of that fish anime, whatever its name is.

    The ED is super-catchy.

  14. Hajime mannierism reminds me of a bird. The looks, movements, way of speaking… I wonder whether it was intentional on the side of the authors, but overall effect is strangely fitting. Especially considering that it’s Gatchaman after all. Initially I thought that she’s going to be annoying, but after watching whole episode I can’t help but like her.

  15. Hajime is a little too bubbly for my taste but that didn’t change the following fact:

    I absolutely LOVE the scene where Hajime transforms for the first time (replayed it many times in fact ^_^;; ). I’ve seen plenty of transformation sequences before (TV trope) … but I really liked this one:

    – The clumsily said “power words” (well, it’s her first time)
    – The colourful mental-scape rush that comes with understanding the new power.
    – The high-beat music with back vocals
    – The Costume/Character design — love the shape, the colour palette and the neon glow.
    – The quick pose shift.

    Love it!

  16. I’m of two minds on this. The first is the me that is a fan of the classic Gatchaman and sees this as a completely unrelated series that somebody apparently had so little faith in that they felt they had to slap the Gatchaman name and catchphrase on before they would let it get out in the open. This is the me that is going to scrutinize and compare Crowds to its “predecessor” every step of the way and likely never be satisfied.
    The other is the me that wants to see Crowds as a standalone series. The me that wants to consciously ignore all the clumsily shoehorned-in cries of “GATCHAGATCHAGATCHA~” and “BIRD GO!” and enjoy this series on its own merits. This is the me that thoroughly enjoyed this episode and is looking forward to seeing more.

      1. It would have to start all over again from scratch. That’s how wildly different from classic Gatchaman Crowds is. To give some examples of what they could have done to make a legitimate successor, let’s look at a couple of other Tatsunoko-related revivals/successors:
        Tekkaman Blade is probably the closest to what Crowds seems to have been trying for. It was a much more modern (for the time) take on a very old show. It replaced the entire cast and completely changed the nature of Tekkaman himself. However, it did so by converting just about every detail from the original Tekkaman into something more appropriate for the new setting. It kept Tekkaman, the Space Knights, and just about every single piece of the original Tekkaman’s arsenal, but in a new and more modern form that is nonetheless recognizable as being adapted from its predecessor. Crowds on the other hand, only makes the most faint of references to its predecessor. Thus far it has not adapted material from Gatchaman classic so much as it has completely thrown it all out the window and said “HEY LOOK AT US, WE’RE TOTALLY GATCHAMAN BECAUSE WE HAVE THE NAME AND THE LOGO AND THE CATCHPHRASES AND A GUY NAMED JOE!”
        Casshern Sins on the other hand is probably a little closer to what a lot of the irate classic Gatchaman fanbase probably wanted. A modern remake of a beloved classic that takes the source material into darker and more philosophical places. This is the route that the live-action Gatchaman movie appears to be taking, so I wouldn’t expect it from Crowds, but it hasn’t stopped a lot of folks from clamoring that it’s what Crowds should have been.

    1. I suppose the success of a reboot hinges on if you’re a fan who doesn’t want to see their favourite property tampered with too much and is pleased with more of the same, or if you don’t mind seeing it explore new ventures.

  17. As one of the old school, I’ll start with the fact that the remake of most past franchises is all based on quirky characters, out of mind animation and that something that could make it into a worthy successor of its original…
    … something that Crowds isn’t. Much like Gundam 00 and AGE to the Gundam Franchise, this series only have the Gatchaman title for trying to bring back a good name. Way too moe characters, the animation looks like it stole a page of Gankuutsou (what’s with the may constrast lines in the hair?) and having this characters throw the classics prases (Bird, GO!) isn’t enough to think of it as a sequel of sorts. More like a cheesy AU.

  18. Going into this new season, there were two shows I was especially excited for: Uchouten Kazoku and Gatchaman Crowds

    Asobi—I think we have pretty similar tastes, because I was looking forward to Uchouten Kazoku the most as well, with Gatchaman (and Silver Spoon) not far behind. And the fact that you covered my favorite series from the past couple seasons, SSY, must mean you can recognize artistry pretty easily. If only you’d come hang out with us in IRC… but not in the next two weeks, I’ll be gone until August.

  19. Wow, what a ride. I didn’t know what to expect, but this was a great episode and I enjoyed it immensively.

    Normally, I do not like genki characters a lot as they generally feel fake to me. Being genki for genki’s sake so to speak. But Hajime is not genki for genki’s sake. To me, she enjoys live more genuinely then any other genki lead characters. Ofcourse, this is because she is an oddball, but because of that, no matter what happens , she can pull it in as part of her own little world and enjoy it all.

    I love the how her first transformation went “Birdy, GO?” and then “I get it!” in that cute pose of hers. Awesome touche!


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