Quick Thoughts: Gatchaman Crowds 09

Gatchaman - 09 -1 Gatchaman - 09 -14 Gatchaman - 09 -16

I’m pretty much rooting for Berg-Katze at this point.

  • If O.D. spreads his wings and “everything disappears” as Utsutsu says, I still don’t think it would be enough to shut Hajime up.  But I can always hope.
  • I give credit to Oono and Nakamura for acknowledging on-screen that Hajime is incredibly annoying – that might have been my biggest laugh of the series.
  • I can only say it so many times, but Miyano Mamoru really is eating the role of Berg-Katze for breakfast.  He’s coming close to single-handedly keeping the series watchable at this point.
  • In comparing Gatchaman to Tsuritama, it’s hard to escape the idea that going for earnestness as the dominant tone of a series is really high-risk.  If it comes off as contrived in any way, you end up with Crowds.
  • What really strikes me about this series is how astonishingly sloppy and half-assed the writing is.  With the exception of Rui and Jou, we basically have no character arcs (and Rui’s is pretty formulaic).  No one every does anything for reasons that are earned over time – shit just happens and we’re supposed to accept it.  The villain is evil, the hero is never wrong, and JJ sits there playing with scissors and writing greeting cards.  But we’re given no good reason to care about any of it.
  • Paired with the sloppy and half-assed visuals – which made an unwelcome return this week – the impression is that this was a series that was rushed from the start of the writing process (it plays like a first draft that was never edited) and never recovered.  Given the lack of pre-airing information, it seems likely that pre-production time was considerably less than normal.
  • At this point I desperately long to see O.D. finally stop vamping and reveal his true powers, because it appears as if it would be a giant reset button.  And at this point, I really want to see this deck reshuffled – if it so happens to be a cool development in its own right, so much the better.
Gatchaman - 09 -2 Gatchaman - 09 -3 Gatchaman - 09 -4
Gatchaman - 09 -5 Gatchaman - 09 -6 Gatchaman - 09 -7
Gatchaman - 09 -8 Gatchaman - 09 -9 Gatchaman - 09 -10
Gatchaman - 09 -11 Gatchaman - 09 -12 Gatchaman - 09 -13
Gatchaman - 09 -15 Gatchaman - 09 -17 Gatchaman - 09 -18


  1. 4

    Eh, I still think Gatchaman is among the best of this season…

    Maybe because I really like Hajime, she quickly became one of my favourite characters 😀

  2. If she were my only or even biggest problem with GC, I'd rank it pretty highly. But she's much less an issue than that the show as a whole seems like a mess, at least to me. Lots of interesting stuff but it all feels thrown-together and lazy. It's still an interesting watch, because watching really talented writers and directors screw up is almost always more interesting than watching mediocre ones do anything at all.

  3. k

    There's nothing lazy about this show. Not even the animation, which is at times pretty bad due to scheduling reasons, not lack of effort from the staff. If it feels that it's all over the place, it's because that's the sort of feeling they're aiming for. Yet, if you pay attention to what's going on under the hood, you'll find out the show's pretty cohesive and coherent in the way it deals with its themes.

    Overall, I think the main reason you can't enjoy the show is because of misplaced expectations. What you want from the show is something it isn't even remotely interested in dealing with. The fact that you keep comparing this to Tsuritama is pretty telling. Tsuritama is the story of a character in his journey to self-actualization; Crowds is the story of a self-actualized character who teaches her peers to communicate while teaching herself. No wonder you think Crowds' a mess when you keep trying to see it through Tsuritama lenses.

    Lastly, there's nothing lazy about the way Hajime's written. Again, her story is not a coming of age story or anything like that. She's already self-actualized, so she doesn't need to change much, and there's nothing wrong with that. There are tons of main character like this. What's new about Hajime is that Nakamura made her like this, in part, because he wanted the viewer to feel unnerved and even challenged by her presence (to hummer the themes of the show). And he's pretty much succeeding in that department. This comes to the forefront in this episode, when Hajime pretty much gives the finger to her online haters, who represent the viewers who are unable to think outside the box and can't understand what Hajime symbolizes.

  4. It's fine if you feel that way, but I've seen enough slack work and razor-sharp work slyly passing itself off as slack to tell the difference to my satisfaction. I've been watching Nakamura series since long before Tsuritama, and this is not entirely atypical for him – sometimes he's locked in, and sometimes his work is an interesting mess. This is the latter, and by a comfortable margin.

    As for Oono's side of things – which is really the only reason to directly compare this to Tsuritama (which is something I've rarely done despite your claim to the contrary – I've mentioned Tsuritama exactly twice since the First Impressions, once in reference to the visual style) – this is only his third anime that I'm aware of so there's not much that one might call a trend. But it seems very clear that he's less committed to what he's doing here than he was with Tsuritama. That felt very much like a personal story – this feels like the back of a cocktail napkin padded out to 262 minutes.

  5. k

    That's right, Tsuritama feels like a personal story, because that's what it is. It's a coming of age story, after all. Crowds isn't that sort of story. It doesn't even aim to be like that. Misplaced expectations, like I said before.

    But if you really can't see why the series is written the way it is, and how well it works at dealing with its themes, especially the theme of communication, which is the main point of the series… well, I suppose we'll have agree to disagree.

  6. Again, I've mentioned Tsuritama exactly twice since the First Impressions post, and this week was the first time in reference to content. You're reaching. And if you have to resort to telling me what I'm thinking rather than making a substantive case, we're not likely to find any middle ground.

  7. U

    But it's fun trying to figure out why you think the way you do Enzo. It's inevitable that a blogger will eventually become as much of a topic as the content he's blogging.

  8. U

    Returning to the topic of the series itself, where you find the writing to be sloppy and half-assed, I find something that has been meticulously planned and balanced to a degree I seldom see in any work of fiction. It's Oono rather than Nakamura who's the more interesting part of the creative team here. What makes this show exceptional is the way all the elements have been constructed as counterpoints of each other: public discussion vs. flesh-and-blood "face-time," altruism vs. reward and recognition, central control vs. crowd-sourcing, anxiety vs. nonochalance, covert activities vs. public relations, deference to official titles & protocal vs. ad-hoc action, combat vs. dialogue, exceptional individuals vs. mass public behaviour, faith-in-humanity vs. cynicism. And the amazing thing about this balancing act is that the writing does not take the easy way out. The message is not dumbed down. The internet is shown not to be a force of evil or good, but to be either, depending on the circumstances. And the visual metaphors! This series has so much! Hajime as light, with her room filled with light, inviting Utsutsu in from the dark hallway. Berg Katse with his candies and Hajime with her sweets. Hajime, Rui and Katse all speaking of being hungry. Everything feels like they are contributing to the whole. The pacing is brisk. The story-telling and the symbolism are all coming at you from many different angles. It all seems unusually efficient yet surprisingly nuanced. And if this story was so full of clichés, why can I not see how this will all end? Because this is breaking fresh new ground. This is innovation, at least for a late-night anime.

  9. i

    It sounds like GC has some kind of nonsensical cult following. I say nonsensical not because the arguments for and against are such but because usually a show with such a following is just full or moe/harem/ecchi/GAR crap.

    Can I make the point that those for GC, that symbolism is a subjective matter and not everyone sees the symbols you do, i.e. some see the work of god where others see science. The point should also be made that nothing in symbolism is a fact but dependent on the viewer's perspective (personally of the 1/2 an episode I saw of GC I thought it was crap and that Hajime was the nutter from Gothica). If you people see symbolism where other don't, good and take whatever meaning you've contrived but don't go into psycho babble preaching mode because others disagree; that's the job of religious people.

  10. U

    So which 1/2 episode did you watch? How are you seeing a religion vs. science dynamic as it applies to this show?

  11. Z

    I think he meant science vs religion as an analogy for viewers subjective interpretation of symbolic elements. Not literally.

  12. U

    Well, to be honest, I tried to look at it that way, but it still wasn't clear. It seemed as though ishruns was claiming that if one sees symbolism that others do not, one shouldn't advocate for the show because that would be akin to religious "psycho babble preaching." Yet such an argument makes no sense, so I thought ishruns might have meant something else. Hence, I asked for a clarification.

  13. I won't speak for him, but it seems completely clear that Ishruns was referring to the reaction to the show and not religious themes in the show itself.

  14. U

    Well, I always fear that I'm coming across as being a bit too antagonistic in print. But ishruns seems complaining about preaching what should be a subjective matter like a religious zealot, and it did seem addressed to my post in particular. The fact is that there are both objective and subjective issues in the analysis of a work of fiction, and whether certain examples of symbolism exists or not in a work is an objective issue, not a subjective one. (Whether such symbolism is effective or not is a more subjective matter.)

  15. Z

    While I could probably enjoy the thematic elements of Crowds, the general tone and art style (to an extent) were significant barriers to my enjoyment. That’s all subjective. Although I didn't really enjoy Tsuritama as much as most people on this site either, on account of the coming of age genre not being a particular favourite, but I do concede that it was fairly well constructed affair. It’s probably fair to say that I’m not particularly enamoured with the Nakamura/Ono duo thus far.

  16. E

    We are at stage where most people have dropped the shows that they deemed unworthy, and Gatchaman is one of the few that got to stay, in my case.
    That makes me agree that Gatchaman is one among the best this season, but not because of the characters. The characters are, without a doubt, suck. Genki girl, bland boy, cool guy, sad girl, transvestite, coward panda/ leader, crossdresser, uncaring 'God', and least but not last, a crazy villain who is evil just for the sake of being evil.
    What makes this anime interesting is, the setting. Most of us must have watched 'Kamen Rider' shows at some point. And this anime is a deconstruction of that genre. Or rather, a realistic take of it. Rather than hiding their identity, our heroes appear openly in live webcam. Rather than charging blindly at an impossibly strong enemy (and win by convenient shounen power up), we are presented clash of ideals (as described by Robert). And this is seriously interesting, and original, and I can't picture how it will end yet. This shows the talent of the writer, unlike what GE think of.

  17. k


    I don't agree with you about the characters sucking, but I definitely agree with the rest of your comment. There's some very good and clever writing going on in this anime, it's definitely not lazy or shoddy.

  18. There's some very good and clever writing going on in this anime, it's definitely not lazy or shoddy.

    I would just point out that those two things are by no means mutually exclusive.

  19. k

    I don't know, for me if something is "good and clever" it's not "lazy or shoddy"… To be honest I'm one of those who don't really understand most of your criticism of this series. I can understand being annoyed by Hajime and not being interested in the characters, but I don't get your complaints about the writing, the lack of character arcs, etc. (It's not like dedicated character arcs are necessary for character development.)

    Anyway, I'll withhold general judgement of this show and how successful it is at what it's trying to do until I see the whole picture, which probably means the last episode. But even so the way I see it this anime has a lot to offer, and does it in a well-designed, well thought out, very enjoyable way. From subverting the conventions of its genre to social commentary and a bunch of other themes, and as much as it's not a character driven show, it doesn't skimp on the characters either. But then, people's tastes differ, etc.

  20. L

    well after watching this far i dont think i can judge the anime, it has shown surprising developments from what seemed random occurences (the alien cube for example) so i trust the writers are just expanding horizontally and not vertically right now story wise meaning they are nto advancing so much as expanding and setting the stage for a big tie up, i like shows liek this, normally i get bored and can predict pretty acurately what animes do, but this one is just genius, and if some people dont get it dont rush to judge, and enjoy the ride, and of course if you dont like it then why waste time watching? with regard to the art style i love thats its so different and colorful, the animation is top notch (one of the best 3d ive seen in an anime) but of course with limitations, the music and audio are also top notch (watch the anime with a set of proper speakers/headphones youll be amazed)
    i dont see anything not to love, its not perfect of course but its by no means boring or sloppy, just wait and see :)

  21. M

    A note: Music was FANTASTIC.

  22. R

    ok, the series still doesn't make any sense. i understand what message the series is trying to convey, but it just really doesn't blend in well the story (if there is) crowds is trying to create. but i must say Mamoru Miyano as Berg Katze is just glorious.

    oh and yeah, the music is indeed FANTASTIC!

  23. a

    Sugane and Utsutsu have also had their own developments and arcs, which was pretty obvious this episode.

    "No one every does anything for reasons that are earned over time – shit just happens and we're supposed to accept it." – What events do you mean, specifically?

  24. K

    We can agree to disagree Enzo dear. Sure the plot is kinda loose but this is fresh. I can't recall anyhing that is similiar to this story.


  25. A

    Hm… While I don't understand what makes Jou so special in the character development department, I do agree that Rui is the one who got the most attention throughout the series. Everyone else's self-realization mechanics so far really just amount to "Hajime's right! I need to do this!". I really like that she's the unlikely mentor character of the series, but she might have taken the role a little too far, to the point of making all the decisions in the show by herself instead of letting the cast make a name for themselves.

    With that said, though, I seriously don't think the characters are distracting enough when there are always a bunch of interesting ideas and an unpredictable plot to follow with every episode. Besides, if anything, that only turns the idea of watching Hajime finally break into the number one thing to look forward the most in the series.

  26. C

    Miyano Mamoru never fails me when he says words in English.

    Notable English mentioned for this episode was "Yes, my friends~"

  27. D

    I fully agree with you, Enzo. To be honest I'm bewildered why so many fans like it. It reminds me of a worse Eden of the East, with the whole "subvert a typical series into an issue one." The social media thing is even the same. But Eden of the East at least had some characterization and story in it, Crowds is a big WTF.

    Like how you said all JJ does is make birds and greeting cards. Or the earnestness; the scene in the past episode where Rui pours his heart out on the phone to the 100 member who disagrees with him while uplifting music played felt forced. And I'm a soft touch for earnestness.

    And to be honest WHY should Hajime be so competent? Before JJ picked her, she was a normal high school girl with an obsession with planners.Like how you said with the character arcs, there's no explanation why she should suddenly become magically right all the time given that there's no real specialness to her and that people who are closer to every bit of the situation, like the Gatchamen and Rui have even less wisdom.

    I think you're also right about good creative teams making the best trainwrecks. Amazing that Sentai is bringing it over to the US.

  28. J

    "Before JJ picked her, she was a normal high school girl"

    considering that she's able to make friend with the major and chief fire officer way before that, I doubt she's anything normal. She clearly showed a great interpersonal skills and high charisma, so there's no question why she's able to achieve many other stuff as well.

  29. S

    As Jeroz mentioned, Hajime has never been normal. Prior to JJ she had a huge network of very influential people. To be honest she is more alien than the aliens. I still like her though, especially her nature in not accepting things at face value.

  30. D

    It's never really explained why they would listen to her or befriend her though, just they magically show up during the collage thing on the train despite the fact that you'd think neither a mayor or fire chief would have time to do so. It's not really established she has this charisma though, or shes unusual. She's just perfect, and the universe warps around her to make her perfect.

  31. M

    ^Because so many fans seem to like it, Sentai would consider releasing it. Of course whether it deserves it is a discussion for another day.

    Judging by reactions to this episode, I think it's safe to assume that Hajime is an interesting character in regards of what she brings out of the anime community.

  32. I

    I actually totally agree with you about this series. I was disappointed by episode 1 and almost dropped it, but episode 2 made me more interested. The rest of the show has been up and down, the ones with Hajime featured prominently like this one were the weakest, while the ones having Rui and BK as a larger presence were some of the best. So far episode 7 was probably the best. At this point, I too am pretty much only watching this for Berg Katze, and perhaps OD getting to go against him. Sometimes, I really actually want BK to win and destroy this whole miserable world, and for him to take Hajime out last, just so she can see that all the happy, happy plans in the world aren't going to save her. Man, I cannot stand that girl…

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