After watching finishing Natsume’s Book of Friends a few months ago, I seem to have a pattern of going from weakness to strength to weakness and so on. Spoiler alert, I consider Gatchaman Crowds and the sequel Inisghts as the strength and weakness respectively. Looking at Crowd’s themes and concepts, there was everything that usually attracts me to shows all over it. For one thing, Gatchaman Crowds’ premise looked like it had a very interesting look at society which just says me. For another, it was a reboot or a reimagining of an older franchise which I’ve also liked to watch recently. Should I mention how all the super hero suits look like suits from Tiger and Bunny? Should I mention how much I love Tiger and Bunny? (I guess I should because I haven’t mentioned it anywhere on this blog.) There we have it, an anime series that seemed like it was created for me on so many levels. You know what they say about wishes? You might get it. This a double review of the strength and the weakness.
Before I talk about either show in more detail, I just want to say how gorgeous this show looks. Even the CG effects and Gatchaman suits look pretty good. I love every person’s suits and the powers because Crowds does a good job of showing everyone’s personalities through them. The character designs themselves are also incredibly distinct and unique from a lot of anime that comes out recently. Even the faces of every character looks different, which is also another thing that I love about everything. Every background of Tachikawa looks gorgeous and has a very good life style quality to it. There is so much expressiveness shown through this show’s art and animation, so I can’t say anything bad at this aspect at all.
(I will spoil some aspects from both shows/seasons so beware!)
Gatchaman Crowds starts off with what I would like to call the ultimate millennial paradise. In a word were invisible super heroes called Gatchaman fight against an invisible alien species, a young girl named Hajime has just selected to be a new Gatchaman. The millennial part that I am talking about comes from Hajime herself. With her infinitely bubbly personality, she questions why the Gatchaman are fighting the Mess aliens and is constantly on social media trying to find a way to help someone. No matter what, she questioned the status quo, makes friends with their current alien nemesis, and helped pushed the boundaries of how the Gatchaman crew view the world. After that, we get into the drama with the creator of the social network they are using, Galax, by the name of Rui who I am not sure how Rui defines themselves from a gender perspective, and the alien that originally helped him by the name of Berg-Katze. Rui’s mission is to update the world which is cool. The end result is we dig into the first season’s social network concepts and questions about whether the public should get ultimate power of helping people whenever and wherever or not.
The first season’s commentary of social media and society was interesting. The reason why I say that is because Galax seemed like quite a believable and unique social media platform for me. For starters, it really attached people like a more grounded version of the social media platform in Summer Wars where you can move your avatar in virtual in environments. What was more interesting was how people interact if person needed any kind of help. I am not only talking about summoning some one with medical training if they are close by. The user can also get legal advice from people that work in the business of the law when they are near you. There are also moments when a major things like piosoned milk spreading throughout a city or a natural disaster occurs and there is an automatic call to action to help resolve this problem by getting people involved to solve it. The part that Rui has been wondering about whether or not they should give people are Crowds or a person’s sense of self they can send anywhere to help anyone at anytime. The implementation of the Crowds is the main focus of the first season which is why this show is called Gatchaman Crowds.
So all of that is good, right? Well it is for the most part. The first season of Crowds has a lot of good things going on with some good character growth. Besides how boring the show can be for me when not much happens and the filler aspect of the last few episodes, my biggest problem that I had were the protagonist Hajime and the antagonist Berg-Katze. If you have read my Kakekurui review, I have a problem with not knowing how my protagonist think and what their inner voices is like. Hajime is just the always cheerful and questioning person. She does a lot of things throughout the show for the good and we know that she likes crafting and stuff, but she never felt like a character to me. Hajime is there to push the plot along and develop other characters in some directions like a chaotic force of good. That wouldn’t be a bad thing if she wasn’t always the focus of the show. Berg-Katze is her evil opposite who pushes people in what the show defines as the negative direction. There is nothing wrong with characters who are just pure forces of something going at odds with each other, I just wish they were definable people or at least felt more like people. Still an alright watch though.
-Gatchaman Crowds Insights-
After the conflict with Berg-Katze is resolved and the Crowds are unleashed onto the world, we get into the world of Insights. Insights starts off in a small town somewhere ne protagonist where an alien spaceship lands. Also, we meet our spunky new protagonist by the name of Tsubasa. Not knowing anything about the threat, the Gatchaman are called in to figure out what is going on in this situation, but it’s ok. The alien that landed is incredibly kind and just wants to bring people together. Also, Tsubasa is a new Gatchaman who moves the plot even further. Moving back to the city, the crowds are beginning to lose favor with people because they are being used to cause crime throughout Japan. The prime minister of Japan steps down and puts his reelection on his opinion of the Crowds. Through certain circumstances, the alien by the name of Gelsadra, who Tsubasa helps, becomes the prime minister. And that is when everything goes down hill for me.
The worst part of Insights is the character Tsubasa. She is the type of angsty teenager character that refuses to listen to any criticism at all, including constructive criticism, and immediately disassociates with people that don’t follow along with her way of thinking. Now, this wouldn’t be that bad of a thing if this kind of behavior happened for an episode or two. But no, this behavior goes on and on for about eight episodes. In the meantime, the situation in Japan goes more and more downhill. At some point, she finally learns to listen to people and grows. Unlike all the other times I’ve said things like this, this isn’t an exaggeration. This frustrating teenager by the name of Tsubasa takes away screen time from most of the cast that we got to know during the first season. They are just side characters now that might get a line or two every episode and that’s it. All of which saddens me because I’ve learned to like those characters. I don’t want to see them be cardboard cut outs when I know them to be much more than that. Hajime was still Hajime though, so there is that if you like her unless you are like me.
One part of Gatchaman Crowds Insights themes was the exploration of what an ideal government is. In this bizarro world where the government is trying to make voting as easy as possible for its people, which also gives everyone the loosest barrier for candidacy ever considering that the people of Japan voted in an alien as a prime minister, this is the first time I’ve seen such a carrying government. Gelsadra works day and night trying to improve the government in ways that will make people happy. It does this by sensing what everyone is thinking then putting those thoughts into action. I mean, Gesadra lowered the amount he is paid to be more in life with the people of Japan and fired every Diet member so that their pay could go to the people. You guys see where this is going right? Well, everything starts with good intentions. With the appearance of Red, White, and Blue creatures that push people to think the same way in that atmosphere or else you the opposing person will be eaten. It’s scary stuff and decently well done besides Tsubasa not listening to ANYONE.
If there was a huge thing that should have been left behind, it’s the baggage from the first season. Using the crowds as the reason why the re-election happened was alright, but a lot of things happened that feel somewhat recycled. For one thing, the use of the Crowds and whether people should still have the ability is use them is brought into a more pretentious light. You guys ever hear about the 2:6:2 rule? You know, the top 20% of people are smart and instantly learn how to understand things, sixty percent of people are average and might learn how to use something, then the bottom twenty percent are just dumb? Yeah, that gets brought up a lot and it doesn’t add anything to Insight’s story besides meaningless chatter. Especially when there aren’t really any audience surrogates to make these claims with,so the statistic goes on flat ears like Rui’s red haired rival? I only mentioned that guy here because he doesn’t matter much in regards to this show’s story. Insights was trying to be smarter than any of it’s writing was allowing it to be which caused a huge, tonal whiplash. Debating what people think is right or wrong is very character focused and alright, but bringing up statistics that don’t add anything to the story with characters that later on don’t add anything to the anime at large is a bad idea. Should have stuck with one idea like the elections and what makes a perfect government and just have rolled along with it.
So in the end, Insights was just a mess of ideas with some of them working and some of them not while also having the focus on a teenager that is the most frustrating type of teenager to have a focus on. It became even worst for me because the ending of Insights was truly annoying as well, because it revolved around Hajime coming up with the correct idea to solve everything at the right moment kind of writing again which infuriated me further. The very fact that Insights had too much stuff in it was the show’s down fall. A simple narrative centered around Gelsadra’s Prime Minster run and the Gatchaman doing whatever they were doing would have been a much better way for this show to go because it would have allowed more time and development with our Gatchaman people. That being said, I can’t say that Insights is a worthless watch. Some the ideas put into play were pretty good after all and were even more topical for me because I was start Inisghts around the time of the United States midterm elections. I can’t give this particular season a complete recommendation to watch, but do so if you get attached to the first season and you want to see more of it at your own risk.
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