Review: Gatchaman Crowds


Heroes living amongst us with the secret power to transform and protect the world from aliens. No doubt the premise for many children’s favourite tv shows now and in the past. Surely though, such a genre couldn’t be successfully taken and plied to (slightly!) more mature audience? That is the task the Gatchaman Crowds gives itself, and here is what I think of it.

Everyone's a hero.
Everyone’s a hero.

Background and plot

The world we all live in is constantly under threat from aliens who would destroy the planet or otherwise use it and humanity as their playground. This is the world presented to us in Gatchaman Crowds along with it’s faithful protectorate, the Gatchaman. Super heroes that, by using the god given NOTE, transform and secretly protect society.

Alongside Gatchaman in a far more public domain is GALAX, the newest social networking phenomenon, connecting people from all corners of society to help others and generally make the world a better place.

GALAX brings people in society together to complete events to better the world. Or something.
GALAX brings people in society together to complete events to better the world. Or something.

The show focuses on the Gatchaman, as the main character Hajime joins their ranks, fighting one of the biggest threats humanity has ever encountered.

Across the 12 episode first season the story holds together really well and it isn’t until the last couple of episodes that things get a little confusing as more and more happens at once.

The ending is largely satisfactory, but does suggest a second season (which is currently airing as of August 2015). There are questions that need answering, but we’ve not been left hanging from a Tokyo Ghoul-esque cliff.

CROWDS aren't literally crowds of people. No they're blue fuzzy things that appear from nowhere.
CROWDS aren’t literally crowds of people. No they’re blue fuzzy things that appear from nowhere.

Characters

Though the show does well to develop a lot of different characters, there are primarily two main characters: the aforementioned Hajime and the creator of GALAX, Rui.

Hajime is possibly what many people outside the anime community would consider the typical anime female. She’s loud, eccentric, very happy and the undisputed hero. Though all of that is true, and although usually that might make for a pretty bland character, Hajime breaks the trend in many respects. She is very perceptive of other characters and as such is essential for the progression of other characters as well as the main storyline. What I would say about her that is less than positive is that I don’t really feel like I know all that much about who she is and how she got to being her (an interest in scissors and collage doesn’t constitute a back story in my book I’m afraid).

Hajime doesn't really look like a hero should. But then, not all heroes do.
Hajime doesn’t really look like a hero should. But then, not all heroes do.

Rui is a completely different character altogether. A young boy with an interest in cross dressing, he is the creator (with the help of the show’s serial bad guy) of GALAX. Rui wants to create a revolution across society using GALAX and, if necessary, CROWDS. Despite his obviously good intentions, Rui is ultimately used for ulterior purposes becoming a pawn and then an outcast before returning in the end to be the real hero. For someone that wanted a mass revolution across society, Rui’s eventual decision to take the position of a hero is questionable – no matter how you want to interpret the events of the final episode.

Besides these two characters, there are plenty of others involved and developed within Gatchaman Crowds. The rest of the Gatchaman get time and I felt as if by the end I understood them, even if it was only in relation to Hajime. The alien enemy, Berg Katze, is also fairly well developed (given that most of the time he is pretending to be someone else): there’s a real motivation as to why he’s doing what he’s doing, even if that motivation is pretty questionable one.

gatchamancrowds_6

Sound, Animation and Artwork

This is a section where Gatchaman Crowds really excels. I’ll start with the artwork which because of it’s style is arguably the weakest of the three: it’s not what you’d call a traditional style of anime. That doesn’t by any means make it bad and after a few episodes it had grown on me, however it should be said that there are a lot of unnatural straight lines, lots of bright colours and generally things you might not really expect. Each to their own though, of course.

The animation is brilliant. The show is based around some really big action scenes which it does very well (albeit they can be a little short – I’m thinking O.D). Plus the CROWDS, which make up a significant part of the final few episodes look and are animated brilliantly.

Heroes are powerful. Heroes are dramatic.
Heroes are powerful. Heroes are dramatic.

As for the sound I can’t give the score enough praise. There were times in the show when I thought, I could just listen to the background noise for the next 20 minutes. The ending was a little weak, but in truth it didn’t matter because the opening was so good (it makes it into my top 20 openings which you can watch on the top right of the page).

Favourite Episode:

Episode 6: Originality

I didn’t really know which episode to choose as my favourite from this show. That’s not because all of the episodes were particularly great or bad, but just because none of them really stood out.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Heroes stand on tables.
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Heroes stand on tables.

I went for episode 6 because this is the episode when things all started coming together. Up to this point we had two separate stories with CROWDS and Gatchaman. After this episode, everything comes together and the story really gets going.

Favourite piece of music:

Again, I’ve gone for the opening. There were a few times when I thought that’s a good track, but listening to the opening each episode got me hooked, so here it is: Crowds by White Ash.

(You only need to see the first 1:20 or so of this before it’s starts replaying)

Overall:

After watching the first episode of Gatchaman Crowds I was initially unsure of whether this was worth my time. Even 10 years ago I thought I’d had enough of the transforming super hero genre, so why go back to it now? After a couple of weeks when I eventually came back to it, I knew I had made the right decision. I got some great characters and a well thought out story that defies the stereotypes of the genre.

I can’t say I’m sure on Rui as a character throughout the show and some of the earlier episodes weren’t particularly gripping but nonetheless, a show that would definitely be worth your time.

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