Posted on 28 September 2013 with categories: Gatchaman Crowds

Oh, what a wonderfully glorious mess this was! Kenji Nakamura once again proves that he really knows how to create an ending with impact. And don’t get me wrong: things in these four episodes… did not make any sense when you start thinking logically about them. But as a thought experiment they were amazing. And ridiculously fun as well.

I mean who cares if in the real world you’d never get a prime minister yelling to all of the negative twitter reactions that he gets while making a speech: Gatchaman celebrates the internet unlike any other series has done so before, while also acknowledging the incredible mess that it can turn out to be. It uses these “Crowds” as a took to ask the question of how society would look like if everyone had the power to become a hero. The urge that we all probably have once in a while.

Kenji Nakamura: for god’s sake have your next series be a 2-cour one. Your series are always incredibly original, but with Gatchaman Crowds I feel like you could have done so much more .And with such a length there would have been much more time to explore such a great setting and allow for even more episodes dedicated to interesting ideas, or with creative set-ups.

Heck, episode eleven was half a recap, and yet it worked incredibly well because of how it was set up. At the start of this series I noted that the success of this series entirely depended on the female lead: regardless of the quality of the rest of the series, her annoyance would contribute greatly to whether or not this would become an enjoyable watch. And they actually did it, and that recap examplified it. At the start you’d indeed wonder if the creators didn’t go too far with glorifying her, but that was the entire point of the series: they wanted to turn society completely upside down with these last four episodes. In the end, the Gatchaman just came blatantly out of hiding, and a huge power was given to every single person.

What I also really liked: do you know what lately has been one of the most commonly used motivations for villains beyond just “being evil”? It’s the villain who wants to evolve the world (and in the process doesn’t really care about making a few sacrifices in the process). It’s common because it’s not entirely evil, but it has started to become a bit lazy, and usually I find that these guys are often unfairly demonized or that the sacrifices that they make are just used as plot devices to make them the bad guys. Gatchaman Crowds has turned that trope completely upside down: this time everyone is just evolving society, with Rui and Hajime at the frontline. The bad guy’s aim is just to have fun and create chaos. Perhaps not the most complex of all, but he’s the perfect embodiment of the internet troll, and I think that that served as the inspiration for this guy.

Overall: messy series, but a great watch. Looking forward to Kenji Nakamura’s next work.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 2 September 2013 with categories: Gatchaman Crowds

So far, Gatchaman Crowds has been… interesting. Things are getting action-packed now and to me, they’ve delivered. I quite enjoyed these three episodes.

Episode 06: here Hajime really showed that she’s different from the usual ditzy female, in that she does everything consciously, with a clear purpose behind it. At the start of the series, I worried that she might get too annoying, but for me she didn’t, and this was one of the biggest reasons for that. She’s also doing another very interesting thing here: she completely disregards any sort of bias. If someone sounds like it could be fishy, she doesn’t care. She just does it, and somehow this show manages to stay away from the usual themes about naivety. She’s basically telling the rest of the cast to lighten up.

Rui has a very good point that the focus lies way too much with single heroes, and I can get behind trying to want to create a world in which everyone is a hero. But if there are people with special powers, then why not make use of that by cooperating? The villain wanting to update the world is a common trope that is used often, and therefore really needs to put in something special to stand out. This one isn’t quite there yet, but she’s on her way. There are definitely some fresh parts about her.

In episode 07 she starts acting like this big hypocrite when she deletes those three members who made jokes about dropping out, which goes completely against what she’s trying to do… Lots of hints for character-development on her side. That indeed gets used really well in the subsequent awesome action scene. Holy crap that is well directed! I still don’t get Pai Pai and JJ in this series though. What is their role? What’s their point? Why is the former so fidgety, and why is the latter not doing anything? Though Paipai’s transformation was great.

Episode 08 had the characters reveal themselves in front of kindergarteners in the midst of dubstep. I have to hand it to the creators that that was creative. The same goes for how they used that one former member of GALAX who rightfully believes that Rui screwed up. However, I do feel like his character is overreacting. Overall that is one of the big flaws of this series: characters have this tendency to overreact (yes, REact, I don’t mind the over the top acting, but characters end up drawing conclusions a little too biasedly).
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 12 August 2013 with categories: Gatchaman Crowds

The thing with the writing of this series is that it’s sloppy: it simplifies some things for the sake of telling its story, and it makes most of its characters simple-minded for that purpose as well. Overall it makes sense, but it needs some idiocy to make everything fit, not to mention that it hops from one scene to the other really fast.

With these three episodes though, I’m starting to see what this show is trying to do.Old superhero series were characterized by the fact that the main character usually is the one who does all the work. He’s aided by his side characters, who sometimes get to stand in the spotlights, but when you look at the random passers-by: all they do is run away. They’re just cardboard cut-outs in the backgrounds, not doing anything at all and having no other significance than showing that the city that’s getting destroyed is not a ghost town. Gatchaman plays with this really well.

Whenever there’s an accident, people react to it. They cooperate in order to solve their problems and become a bit of a hero. Gatchaman is a decidedly modern series that really touches upon relatively modern themes, and shows like it are really rare. The last show that did it as well was Eden of the East, I believe.

Social media is a really big theme in this series: it’s how we’re all connected, and how we’re all trying to be the center of the world, and all trying to be heroes. We want to feel part of this whole important network that connects millions, and play as the hero. And yet, this series does not forget the “social” part of social media: everyone is cooperating. Everyone with similar purposes is connected so much more easily.

The strange thing is that the most interesting part of the show only has to do with the main characters because of the main female lead. The other members there hardly use social media. I mean the lead female was built up to be the new girl and all, but in a sense, the other Gatchamen are also new here.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 26 July 2013 with categories: Gatchaman Crowds

Regarding the argument that this isn’t Gatchaman: I’d like to disagree, slightly. I have not seen the original Gatchaman or anything, but I’d personally like to see this as a modern rendition of Gatchaman with a lot of creative liberties taken to it. For those who say that it shouldn’t use the name “Gatchaman”, but instead just go with its own story, let me ask you this: would this show have gotten enough sponsorship deals if that were the case? I mean, this could have easily been away from Gatchaman and all, but sometimes compromises have to be made, and to me it’s the kind of compromise that doesn’t really bother me. Plus, this series contains a TON of homages anyway.

Anyway, Gatchaman Crowds. You can really see that this comes from the director and writer of Tsuritama: a bright and colourful world, combined with characters that are this really strange combination between idiot and straight-faced. I mean that lead girl at first reminded me a lot about Haru, but she moves more and more away from him. Haru only had his powers. This girl actually accomplished stuff, and she doesn’t take things at straight value. She doesn’t just attack stuff just because people tell her to. Not to be rebellious, but because she uses her head and observes.

In this episode Gatchaman also showed its themes: it’s about social media, quite a modern topic when you compare that to other series (a lot of series could take place in the year 2000 just as easily), hence the “Crowds”-part of the title. It’s about how social media continues to make a larger and larger part of our lives and most bizarre of all, they seem to be making the equivalent of Mark Zuckerberg the ultimate villain. Okay.

Having said that, I do hope that after this, Kenji Nakamura is going to work with another writer than Toshiya Ono. I mean, Toshiya Ono is a good writer who knows his build-up, but he’s also very childish and I do feel that Kenji Nakamura is at his best when he tackles mature topics and storylines. But yeah, with the two series that really set him apart (Bake Neko and Mononoke), he really was aided by a set of excellent writers, among others Chiaki J Konaka and Tomoko Konparu, who really know how to oo original plots like no other. The part where this immaturity was the most annoying was near the end of the episode, where that one person seemed to suggest that ambulances weren’t necessary with the use of that social network. And yeah, that is looking down on real paramedics. A lot.

Also, that one scene where the people fell from the stairs. What happened there? The animation was really clunky and it was hard to make out what on earth that alien-thingy did there.
Rating: 4.5/8 (Good)

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