Post Reply Gatchaman Crowds
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Posted 9/5/13
Written by KamenRiderData

Gatchaman Crowds... a series where a team of plucky superheroes go out and save the world from the faceless and motive-lacking forces of evil! ...Or is it....

See, Gatchaman Crowds actually breaks the mold of almost any superhero show out there. Of course, the introductory scenes are things that we’ve seen before: An enigmatic god-like being named J.J Robinson awakens the powers of the cast by drawing out their soul in a transformation trinket known as a “note”, with the most recent person being the happy-go-lucky and optimistic protagonist Hajime Ichinose. Other team members include the overly serious and stoic Sugane Tachibana, the cool, mature and cynical older male Joe Hibiki, the effeminate and flamboyantly homosexual yet secretive O.D. and the mysterious, adorable and lonely Utsu-tsu. This team, led by the alien known as "Paiman", has been protecting the earth from extraterrestrial invaders known as "Mess" and another alien known as “Berg Katse.”

However, that’s where the generic bits of the show end. Sure, you’ve got the protagonist who instantly trusts an elderly and honestly, not very human-looking god to unlock her powers, typical personalities in the characters and so on, but there is no “faceless evil.” The “mess” that the Gatchamen have been fighting are, in fact, revealed to be sentient beings as confused and terrified of humans as humans are of them. Rather than taking the route of making the “mess” generic alien invaders, the show has opted to do something different and illustrate the fact that “alien” is an incredibly relative term. The cast actually manage to make peace with the “mess” and regain all the humans the “mess” had previously captured out of fear, and all looks well...

Except for two more things that make this particular series stand out amongst generic superhero series: The GALAX system and Berg Katse.

The GALAX system is essentially a powerful social media tool created by the resident genius, Rui Ninomiya in order to, in his words, “help upgrade society.” Bystanders are notified by the system if there’s an incident nearby and should they choose to accept to help, are given information about the situation by the A.I. running GALAX, “President X.” After GALAX has a couple successful runs however, the public’s beliefs towards existing safety measures like the Police or other Emergency Services quickly erode, believing that GALAX can do anything... Of course, nothing catastrophic has happened just yet, but it’s quite clear that the director, Kenji Nakamura, is giving us a view of a what would happen if our society took beliefs such as the ability to use Twitter to spark a revolution to it’s logical extreme by disregarding the importance of things such as trained professionals, experience in dealing with incidents and so on. This social commentary makes for both an interesting world and addresses far more in-depth themes than the generic “good vs. evil” dynamic of most superhero shows.

As for Berg Katse, he or she or it is the main villain of Gatchaman Crowds. Unlike most other superhero villains, it thrives not on directly harming human beings, but by making the inhabitants of the world destroy one another through paranoia and fear. For instance, one of it’s favourite activities is to kiss a civilian, thus stealing their appearance, and going on a murdering spree throughout the city to plant seeds of paranoia. Berg is also actually responsible for helping to create the GALAX system, which, combined with it’s desire to destroy humanity through paranoia, gives the audience some clues as to it’s overall goal. Perhaps it wishes to make humanity reliant upon the GALAX system, and then use it to target certain groups of people to slowly crumble the population? Considering the power of online groups such as "Anonymous" and the proven chances of them slipping up and ruining people's lives, such a scheme is entirely possible. I don’t know just yet, but just imagining the potential of this villain makes me excited to see what it does next.

Gatchaman Crowds stands out due to it’s unique approach to the “generic faceless villains” that we’ve grown accustomed to in hero fiction, the powerful social commentary interlaced throughout the show and it’s fantastic main villain, whose actions, while incredibly suspicious, are still shrouded in uncertainty. These elements combine to create a unique series that is worth the time of anyone who’s interested in something a little more engaging than hot-blooded teens in spandex.
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