Gatchaman Crowds – 10

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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.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Gatchaman Crowds – 09

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The Gatchamen take Rui in, clean him up and heal him. As hate and doubt pervades GALAX, Katze bestows the power of Crowds on 29,533 users. Umeda quickly uses his new power to stage a coup d’état against the Japanese government. Hajime stages another PR campaign for both Rui and the Gatchamen, in which Rui apologizes vows to make things right, and Hajime urges everyone not to use Crowds. X begins to doubt Katze’s disguise. Sugane tells off JJ.

In his own chaotic, insidious way, Katze is carefully building a fire in which to burn the entire world, using its own human inhabitants are the kindling. Meanwhile Hajime, with the help of her friends (both close and digital), is filling a bucket of water big enough to douse that fire before it becomes unmanageable. She plucked Rui from the abyss and restored his confidence and determination to right the wrongs he is partially responsible for. But neither he nor Hajime and the Gatchamen are enough to keep Katze’s fire at bay, and the god-like JJ isn’t in the direct intervention business.

As Hajime says, it’s everyone’s fault that they’re in this mess, so everyone has a responsibility to fix it, and Crowds aren’t the answer. Umeda would use them as a weapon, but that’s precisely what Katze wants and what will doom mankind, as sure as a brace of nukes in the wrong hands. There’s also the last-resort of OD “spreading his wings”, but that would apparently end “everything.” No, mankind’s salvation hinges on their ability to fight the temptation to use the Crowds for any reason. If the flames don’t catch, maybe Katze will get bored, and even angry, and make a mistake.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • We’ve enjoyed Hajime’s intricate strategy of avoiding directly confronting or provoking Katze, choosing instead to “play” with him both through PR and GALAX.
  • Sugane’s decision to confront JJ and essentially tell him to piss off was no doubt inspired by Hajime’s independent spirit.
  • It’s interesting that he and the Gatchamen are choosing not to rely on a “higher power”, while Umeda and the “Neo Hundred” are totally dependent (on and thus beholden to) Katze.

Gatchaman Crowds – 08

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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.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Gatchaman Crowds – 07

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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.

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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.