Gatchaman Crowds Insight – 08

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When the strange but gentle beasts arrive, the Gatchamen muster as if they were dealing with another enemy harming the public, but this time, at least at the beginning, is different. Similarly, the people are initially scared of the Dr. Seuss-like creatures, but when they only say supportive, comforting things to their “hosts” and embrace them in warm fuzzy hugs, they quickly accept them as a fact of life.  Well, most of them do.

O.D. warns that while they may be gentle, they’re also beasts, while Hajime remains skeptical of the beasts’ intentions as long as she doesn’t know anything about them besides the fact they came from everyone’s mood bubbles. And she has every right to be suspicious, and not just because she has an anti-conscience in Berg-Katze within her bosom sounding alarm bells, because they seem singularly interested to “making everyone one” even though that’s not possible.

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Softened up by Gel’s gentle I-Know-What’s-Best authoritarianism, 82% of the public votes for him to decide what to do about the Kuu-sama. The remaining 18% voted with their own voice, either yes or no, meaning even after all that’s happened, there’s still “conflict” that Gel can’t figure out how to eradicate. But Tsubasa remains firmly on his side and against Hajime’s inquisitiveness, which she deems negative.

That attitude towards voices of dissent is carried over to the majority, who start to single out and oppress the dissenters. An “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” mentality sets in, and the people’s disgust of those not of like mind breeds wishes for those people to “disappear”, so everyone can become one that much sooner. It’s a lot like the Sneetches, only with red mood bubbles instead of stars.

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Even Rui gives up, so comfortable with his new entourage of Kuu-sama that he simply curls up into one of them and sucks his thumb, ignoring his AI X’s pleas for him to snap out of it. I for one didn’t think Rui would fall so easily, but he’s always been a lonely person, and the Kuus are a quick and powerful remedy.

Fortunately, in addition to Hajime, most of the other Gatchamen are not okay with the Kuu-sama, and are simply waiting for something bad to happen as a result of their presence. True enough, Joe is about to go out for darts with a non-red friend who suddenly gets slurped up and absorbed into a Kuu-sama. Yikes!

This is what Hajime, Berg-Katze, Suzuki Rizumu, and others have dreaded. The Kuu-sama are now so numerous and so accepted, getting rid of them will be a titanic task. In addition, they themselves are at risk of being gobbled up and added to “The One” if they continue to oppose the order of things.

It’s a most insidious and efficient alien invasion—and if Gel is to be believed, he didn’t even see it coming. But he did want everyone to be one—which is exactly what’s happening.

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Gatchaman Crowds Insight – 07

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Gelsadra gave everyone the choice of “yes” or “no” for smartphone votes, but he is increasingly frustrated he’s unable to “unite all hearts as one”, as there’s almost always an opposing minority of around 20%, and no matter how hard the other 80% work, that ~20% won’t be convinced. Meanwhile, Gel-san is growing paler, and JJ prophesies that the “scarlet angel” will soon “transform”, and “gentle beasts” will appear “whose names are many.”

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Things have also taken a turn for the dark with regards to Tsubasa, who grows ever more militant and unyielding in her belief Gel-san is humanity’s savior, and anyone who questions her is both wrong and “thinking about too much difficult stuff.” Most outwardly guilty of that is, of course, Rui, but a part of Sugane also thinks things aren’t quite right, as does Hajime. Tsubasa forceably changing Hajime’s scissor sign to a Gel-sign is part-in-parcel of the troubling “with us or against us” atmosphere.

Berg-Katze, who has insight few others do, tells Hajime that Gel is a “piece of shit” who can “go die in a fire.” His usual manic hyperbole aside, it’s a pretty clear warning to watch out; humanity has yet to see Gelsadra’s other form(s) yet, and when Berg first met him, he didn’t fight him, he ran.

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Tsubasa’s fanaticism reaches its peak when Rui begs Gel-san to reconsider the implementation of a third choice for the phone voting: “leave it to Gel-san,” warning it will cause people to stop thinking for themselves, or at all. When faced with the choice of standing by an increasingly fat and unwell-looking Gelsadra and sticking with the Gatchamen, Tsubasa resigns, tossing her book away.

Finally, when Rui is visits Suzuki for advice, Suzuki says it’s too late, he’s just another ape, and very soon—in a flash—everyone will turn into apes for real. Gel-san vomits out all of the thoughts he’d devoured, and they all infect everyone’s present moods, changing color and ejecting the strange, oddly-shaped and colored “gentle beasts” JJ spoke of. Gel seems scared and unaware such a thing could happen, so perhaps he isn’t doing anything with malaice of forethought.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the prime minister of Japan just unleashed a potential storm of pestilence that will devolve humanity rather than save it. How will Gel’s right-hand-woman Tsubasa spin this new development, I wonder?

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Gatchaman Crowds – 02

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Hajime interferes in Sugane’s mission, and is able to coax the MESS into taking a scissors-like form. She moves into new digs with Sugane and Paiman, and after moving all her stuff in she brings Sugane along on a collage community get-together on a monorail, arranged by the social media network GALAX. Shortly after returning to HQ, they are summoned by JJ, whom Hajime approaches directly. He sends her and Sugane to the site of the next MESS, which Hajime is able to tame. Meanwhile, some unsavory shape-shifting fellow injures several bystanders, but thanks to GALAX they are tended to quickly.

This episode was very encouraging not only for looking just as good if not better than the first, but continuing to throw a whole lot of ideas and themes around at once, piquing our interest and entertaining without explicitly nailing anything down. The straight-as-an-arrow Sugane is immediately swept up in Hajime’s vibrant life, along with many other Gatchamen (Gatchamans?). We’re relieved that while Hajime is incredibly peppy and gregarious, she never descents into annoying-ness, and this week proves quite perceptive. Unlike the others, she’s not just going to kill MESSes just because she’s told to. It may look random to Sugane and others like him, but she does live by a code, that won’t let her take action against a party without knowing that party.

The MESS, just an abstract foe to be destroyed, becomes something else entirely under Hajime’s tutelage. We have a feeling this was part of JJ’s reasoning for bringing Hajime into the fold. Add to that her use of GALAX (kind a Facebook/LinkedIn with miis) to bring together people to make collages to comfort victims of a recent unnamed disaster, and she’s a busy girl. Her and Sugane’s exploits could easily fill the episode, but we also got a sneak peek at the series’ potential villain, who seems to take pleasure in making humans suffer, and a new character who wears a disguise outdoors and may be the mastermind behind the very popular and useful GALAX. One thing’s for sure: Gatchaman offers ample bang for the buck.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • A Collage Community Chartered Monorail Ride? THAT SOUNDS AWESOME.
  • Hajime’s Collage friends include both the fire chief and mayor of Tachikana, plus many other people of all ages and walks, lending instant credibility to her skill as a networker.
  • We like how Hajime can so utterly dominate a conversation with the well-spoken Sugane. We also like how often her hand gestures resemble scissors.
  • Hajime bedazzled the physical manifestation of her soul. Sounds about right!
  • Walking across that steep drop and sitting down next to JJ, that was pretty cheeky!
  • This was the second straght episode that was so immersive we were surprised when it suddenly ended.