Gatchaman Crowds – 11

gatcha111

In the first half, one by one, the Gatchamen look back on their experiences with Hajime thus far, and comment on how much their opinions of her changed with time (except for O.D., who always thought highly of her). All of them are grateful to her for bringing our their better selves. In the second half, they put those selves to use protecting the city. Rui gets X back, and with control over GALAX returned, they can better coordinate the city’s evacuation. Hajime gives the Prime Minister online screen time to rally his citizens and implore them to join GALAX as free smartphones are distributed. In the middle of his speech he’s replaced on the screen by Katze disguised as him. He offers Crowds to all of the new GALAX users, most of whom take it, adding to the chaos.

O.D. may have been perceptive enough to see something in Hajime when she first joined the ranks of the Gatchamen, but the others don’t have the luxury of three centuries of sizing people up, so they first saw her as a ditzy, pushy, flippant, useless newbie. Of course, it was Hajime who got them out of their “caged bird” rut, forcing them out of HQ and onto the streets and on camera. Everyone had personal problems that were holding them back, but Hajime accepted them for what they were and gave them the chance to prove to themselves and others that they could still be great. This isn’t limited to the Gatchamen; her efforts also rouse Rui from his funk, and even gets the Prime Minister to believe in himself and step up. Hajime is fine with Rui’s dream of everyone being a hero, but sometimes even heroes need heroes; enter the Gatchamen.

And in a way, she’s the Gatchamen’s hero(ine), but can she save Tachikawa and the world from Katze? Rui, Umeda, and some of the Neo Hundred may have learned the hard way that accepting Crowds from Katze is a raw deal, but his Faustian tactics are ruinously effective on anyone scared or angry amongst the new Galax members, which is probably most of them. With all that stuff about becoming their own heroes, who wouldn’t press the red button and gain a superpower to use however one pleased? Katze is able to do a lot of damage with minimal effort, but if the world is destroyed, it won’t be by his hands directly; it will be by mankind, proving him right. Here’s hoping Hajime, Rui, O.D., and the gang can turn things around.

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)

 

Advertisements

Gatchaman Crowds – 10

gatcha10

After destroying Kasumigaseki, the Neo Hundred are mostly dormant until Katze gives them the location of Prime Minister Sugayama in Tachikawa, and offers a bounty of an improved “Crowds 2.0” to whoever captures him. The Gatchamen work with the local government to evacutate the city’s 180,000 people, while disabling the swarming Crowds with nonlethal blows. Jou snaps out of his funk, and Paiman protects the Kindergarten. When Umeda pleads with Katze to disable the Crowds to spare his city, Katze exposes Umeda and his family online.

Umeda didn’t think things through properly. After gaining the power of Crowds, he cast away his former leader, accusing him of lacking the “backbone” to do “what was necessary” to update the world. When Katze gave Umeda back his power, he quickly used it for his little coup, without so much as a query about the price. Well, now he knows the price: even if thousands of people have Crowds, trying to organize them is like herding cats. Worse still, his rash actions have gotten him, his wife, and his daughter into mortal peril as the Crowds, eager for a reward from Katze, ransack Tachikawa. Fortunately for him there are people who don’t only care about themselves willing to protect the city and even him, despite what he’s done.

With Hajime and Sugane leading the way, the Gatchamen act selflessly and work together effectively to keep the Crowds at bay. They secure the prime minister and convince him to put resources into battling the crisis. It’s an episode in which he’s not the only one who crawls out of his safe little cave of self-doubt and rises to the occasion. Like him, Paiman fears losing everything, but doing nothing could well lead to just that; seeing the little ones in danger is the last straw, and he springs into action. Sugane, who was saved by Jou years ago, returns the favor by inspiring him to rejoin the fray rather than continue wallowing in self-pity. Katze has made a huge mess, but for the moment, it’s under control.

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)

Gatchaman Crowds – 08

gatcha8

Berg-Katze kisses Rui and transforms into his doppelganger, depriving him of access to X. Hajime implements a PR campaign to out the Gatchamen, starting at a preschool where she and Sugane transform for both the kids and the press. While on camera she invites Rui join them. Berg-Katze-Rui tracks down Umeda, one of the recently exiled hundred, and invites him to join the “Neo-hundred”, while the real Rui comes across a child making a grave for her father, who collapsed while using GALAX.

There are many cases where bringing about something new means doing away with something old. With their new foe Berg-Katze, Hajime is convinced that the Gatchamen have to do things in a new way, out in the open, gaining the trust of the people. Shrewdly, she starts with innocent little kids; “if the Gatchamen are okay with them,” people will think to themselves, “they can’t be all bad!” And not only does it effectively promote the Gatchamen as the good guys, playing with the kids also cheers up Paiman, Sugane, Utsutsu and OD (Jou, still disgusted with himself, is a no-show).

Even though it’s Rui Hajime invites, it turns out to be a challenge to Berg-Katze to “come and play”, only he’s already busy continuing to torture Rui, who has lost his security blanket in X. His CROWDs are gone, his power is gone, and his control is gone; all he has is the last outfit he left his place in and his wits. Berg has stripped it all away, destroying everything Rui was, because Berg has fun doing it and screwing with the world. Rui will have to find a way to come back without those things he’s lost, because someone having that much fun won’t stop all on his own.

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)

Gatchaman Crowds – 07

gatcha7

Rui summons the Hundred as Crowds in order to eliminate Katze by the waterfront as Jou and Sugane watch. Katze resists by using his note to transform, destroying the Crowds and beating Rui bloody. Jou transforms and intervenes while Sugane gets Rui to safety, but he too is defeated. Hajime and Utsutsu are hell-bent on going to their aid, and OD offers to go with them, but Paiman goes instead, transforming into a vehicle to transport them there quickly. As Utsutsu heals Jou and Sugane, Hajime talks with an invisible Katze, who gives her a parting riddle before letting them leave.

Berg-Katze is one sick, powerful alien, and while he is whimsical and impulsive, he’s not dumb enough to have given Rui powers he himself could not defeat. Thus, Rui’s offensive against him is almost a desperate play; the Crowds are the only trump card he has in the struggle to fix everything on his own, without “heroes.” But even though he’s not a girl, Rui becomes the damsel in distress tied to the railroad tracks, with Berg looming over him from on high, twirling his mustache. In the end, the two knights in shining armor who rescue him need rescuing.

Jou’s futile brute force gives way to Utsutsu’s healing and Hajime’s powers of socialization. He has a placid chitchat with Katze that simultaneously helps her understand him a bit more while buying time for her allies. It’s here where we realized more than ever how similarly bubbly Hajime and Katze are, even though one is an unquestionably good person and the other a vicious, murderous villain. Hajime’s charms disarm him enough to enable her, the other Gatchamen and Rui to live another day. Now bereft of his Hundred, Rui will probably have to reluctantly lean on his heroes more than ever.

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Speaking of trump cards, the Gatchamen may have one in OD, though it seems his powers are either a one-time deal, or too powerful for the earth to survive. We can’t imagine he won’t at some point show them off before all’s said and done.
  • One power OD has for certain: the power to nudge his roomie Utsutsu into spending more time with Hajime to make origami.
  • When Utsutsu put the blue bow Hajime made her last week, it dawned on us: there was only ever one, she used her power to replicate it across her hair!
  • Pai-Pai’s bitchin’ transformer vehicle was as awesome as his retreat was pathetic.
  • Katze pulls no punches delving into Jou’s psyche and using his own self-doubt as a weapon.

Gatchaman Crowds – 06

gatcha6

Hajime reveals her face to Rui in the tunnel, and she’s caught on camera, outing her as a Gatchaman. Paiman is furious, but JJ has no response, so Paiman orders all Gatchaman to cease operations until further notice. When Hajime goes out in public she is hounded by the press. Monitoring Hajime, Rui sends GALAXters to serve as her bodyguards as General X guides her and Utsutsu safely to a restaurant where he’s waiting to meet with her. Sugane also shows up, and Rui asks them if they’d be willing to give up being Gatchamen; they decline.

Hajime didn’t take off her mask to get attention (she thought it important to talk to Rui face-to-face), but that’s what she gets, and handles it precisely as we expected: with no drama whatsoever. She just goes with it, and were it not for Sugane and later Rui and GALAX intervening, she’d have probably earnestly answered every question the press asked her without batting an eye, regardless of how many of Paiman’s rules she was breaking. This isn’t how an ordinary girl acts, but we all know that Hajime is special.

Sugane, Rui, and GALAX do intervene in her day, and when Rui sends out an APB for “knights” to protect the “princess”, a lovely cat-and-mouse ballet ensues, which not only gets Hajime and Utsutsu to Rui without any further trouble, but simultaneously acts as a little preview or taste of the updated world Rui is building towards. It’s some nifty double duty, and when the un-ordinary Hajime and un-ordinary Rui meet and talk once more, they both come away impressed. Sugane and Hajime like the idea of everyone in the world being heroes, but they’re not quite ready to stop being Gatchamen.

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Meanwhile, Hibiki Jou is off to find Katze, the one entity that could undermine all of Rui’s plans.
  • Utsutsu is able to heal many injured people under the tunnel, but at the cost of her own life force. 
  • Jou, being awesome, offers her some of his own, and she splits herself into clones.
  • Hajime really loves a new pair of scissors, and her hobbies tie her to the paper-folding JJ.
  • Hajime cuts fabric off her blue skirt to make a bow for Utsutsu, but she clearly gets carried away, because in the next scene Utsutsu has many bows and Hajime has a different skirt.

Gatchaman Crowds – 05

gatcha55

JJ sends the Gatchamen a strange prophecy. Rui’s ideals are questioned by Umeda, one of his chosen “Hundred” Galaxters who wish to use the CROWDS. Katze also assures Rui that one day he’ll have no choice to use them. Hajime’s GALAX Collage group has an offline bus trip to Fukushima, and the other Gatchamen accompany her. When the bus enters a tunnel it collapses. GALAX is used to coordinate emergency procedures, but they aren’t enough, so Rui summons the CROWDS again. This time, Hajime transforms to do her part…

When a large box has vanished into darkness, the broken child will finally reveal itself to us. The white bird shall bear witness.

One of the things we liked about Valvrave was watching how exactly L-elf’s prophecies came to be in the course of an episode. We’re treated to a similar situation here, where cryptic words by JJ come to pass. The large box is the bus, the darkness is the collapsed tunnel, the broken child is Rui, and the white bird is Hajime. But before that prophecy comes true, we learn more about just how difficult and unenviable a position Rui is in.

Sure, he’s smart, rich, powerful, possesses above average fashion sense, and can run in heels. But his dream for a world in which everyone looks after each other; a world that doesn’t need heroes or leaders, is under constant threat, not just from the evil alien Katze, but from his own handpicked followers who have grown disillusioned (if they were ever illusioned to begin with) and impatient with Rui’s progress in updating the world. They’d just as well conquer it using the power at his command, and don’t know why he won’t pull the trigger. With Katze in his shadow and malcontents poisoning his beloved GALAX, Rui’s enemies are everywhere – but we suspect Hajime isn’t one of them.

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)

Gatchaman Crowds – 04

gatcha5

Rui summons the CROWDS to asist Galaxters, and the ropeway incident is resolved with zero casualties. Meanwhile Jou encounters a strange alien who he isn’t able to immediately defeat. Returning to base, Paiman orders everyone to do nothing, but he and O.D. are hiding the fact that the alien, one Berg Katze, is capable of destroying the world. Berg is also in direct contact with Rui. One day, Berg possesses a woman who hijacks a car and injures numerous people, all while Rui is watching helplessly.

Gatchaman’s big bad finally gets a name and considerable screen time, and proves to be a most unpleasant and devious individual. Of those who see and hear of him, everyone reacts to him in different ways. Jou simply wants to beat him down after letting him go earlier; Sugane and Hajime want to help people; O.D. and Paiman cower in HQ, one afraid of unleashing apocalyptic power, and the other afraid of losing more friends. Hajime also focuses on Berg’s claim humanity’s undoing will be their own fault, and if nothing else, she wants to find out what he(she?) meant.

What Berg probably meant was that he’s only able to enter the bodies of humans and wreak havoc because those humans let him. Everyone has a dark side within their hearts, and it would appear he uses that as an access hatch, and then it’s off to the races. Even toying around, he causes quite a bit of damage, while simultaneously pointing out the limitations of GALAX right in front of its fragile developer Rui, who is already dissatisfied with his progress with “updating the world” via a “bloodless revolution” fueled by altruism. It also seems like Rui’s unaware of other Gatchamen like him, but that’s sure to change.

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)