I have to be honest with how surprised I am with the insightful depth that Gatchaman Crowds offered up with its premise. While appearing to be a loose take and spinoff of the 70s costumed hero series, Gatchaman Crowds' plot revolves around aspects of communication, mainly involving social networking as the series takes place in a near-future setting where a social networking craze called GALAX is popular among the masses and an alien threat exploits GALAX for his own heinous goals. The series explores both the positive and negative aspects of social networking as it highlights how it can benefit the public at large and how said system can be abused for one's personal gains. There are parallels between our female lead Hajime and the alien antagonist Katse as both have similar energetic personalities yet go for the opposite sides that social networking can bring about with Hajime using it to befriend others and the alien exploiting it to manipulate the masses into growing hateful and murderous towards one another, being the deadly equivalent of a network troll.
For a female lead, Hajime's character type subverts the typical elements of the "genki gal" character archetype as she is surprisingly perceptive of the various situations that occur throughout the series and understanding the flaws of the Gatchaman team's modus operandi and their characters. Her character's modus operandi revolves around trying to get others to understand differing points of view instead of resorting to confrontation, which drive much of the character changes and plot advancements that take place throughout the series and make a great fit for Crowd's focus on exploring social networking and communication. These aspects to Hajime's character help to balance out and tone down on the more obnoxious elements to the genki gal archetype that are portrayed in other anime titles.
While the plot to Gatchaman Crowds is surprisingly engaging and well developed, its characterization is a mixed bag. While Hajime and the enemy threat have engaging personalities, the other characters are not as engaging in personality as they mostly fall under the typical archetypes found of their characters and are not as memorable of a presence in the series. In addition, elements of the Gatchaman group are also left unexplored as we never get to learn of the group's origins and what role that the so-called leader JJ has to fulfill for the group as he seems to contribute little for the team.
Also depending on how you viewed the series, you may find the ending to Gatchaman Crowds a bit sloppy as the TV airing was notable in cutting out 12 minutes of animated footage for its final episode because it was too long to fit for its timeslot, mainly for what was the second half of the televised episode. A "director's cut" version of the second half for episode 12 was released to video that restores the lost animated footage and helps to tie up ends that the televised airing never had a chance to explore in its finale. Unfortunately, Sentai Filmworks, the American licensor for Crowds, never picked up rights to the director's cut version to episode 12 as the rights for it apparently belong to a different Japanese media company. This is one of those rare cases where you would be better off hunting down a fansub if you want to see the extended take on episode 12's second half.
Visually, Gatchaman Crowds sports a bright-colored avant-garde animation style that give the scenery and characters a sketchbook-like appearance that allowed it to stick out from most anime offerings from 2013. CG animation is used in the rendering of the Gatchaman costumes, some aliens and computer-generated monsters that make for the animated highlight of the series when they move about and engage in combat with one another. The soundtrack to the series is also memorable with energetic and catchy techno/ rock scores that are really addictive to listen to and do very well in complimenting the carefree, engaging developments offered with its plot.
While some of its elements are flawed, Gatchaman Crowds is still a surprisingly engaging title with some relevant things to say on the pros and cons of social networking and having an engaging lead hero and villain in the form of Hajime and Katse. While associated with the Gatchaman franchise very loosely, Crowds offers enough with its premise to have its own identity and be accessible to fans unfamiliar with the nearly 40 year old anime franchise.
Last updated Friday, August 29 2014. Created Friday, August 29 2014.
(One episode watched):
Although I've never watched any of it's previous incarnations, I had heard of the Gatchaman franchise many times. It appears to be one of the most popular animes of all time in Japan, and thus I was expecting something pretty good from Gatchaman Crowds. What I got, however, left me unexcited. A ditsy girl is recruited as the new member of the elite Gatchaman team. But she was more annoying than funny, and I couldn't get to like her or care what happened to her. She's enthusiastic but other than that I cannot for the life of me see how she could be anything but a hindrance to the team. What exactly the team does is unclear; something about defending earth from alien criminals. There's lots of fancy terminology and gadgetry, but the enemy seems like deformed Rubik's Cubes with tentacles—they seemed as laughable as dangerous. I had no idea what to think while combat was underway, except perhaps let's get it over with and move on. In the end, episode one of this show seemed garbled and completely uninteresting. I hear that this version of Gatchaman in fact has little in common with the standard one. If I am genuinely curious about this franchise, Crowds is definitely not the place to start.
Last updated Sunday, July 21 2013. Created Sunday, July 21 2013.