Gatchaman Crowds – Episode 4

Where is this show going? Last week we switched from generally “grounded” genre satire to a full-on exploration of social media and critique of traditional modes of societal organization and leadership. How did this happen? I amloving this so far – the visual and aural design are great, the pacing and writing are snappy, and Hajime is almost too good of a protagonist. That might actually become a problem, if she continues to be smart and authoritative and empathetic and grounded without any push-back to give her a little more believable humanity, but hopefully her philosophy will end up clashing in some satisfying way with the equally fascinating and seemingly high-minded (asexplained in awesome detail by the irrepressible /u/SohumB [+1]) Rui.

So! This show’s always exciting, but things are now actually building to some ridiculously interesting points. And the Crowds! The Crowds are loose! No more talking time for gatcha

Episode 4

1:13 – Not surprising – the Crowds seem to give the diffused crowdsourcing of talents a physical form. I like that he activates them with that “Play the Game” of the gamification, as well. I can’t wait to see how this all goes wrong

1:47 – “Have faith and wait – GALAX will not abandon us.” Also interesting. Relying on authority figures can be considered a way of shuffling responsibility upwards, whereas crowdsourcing diffuses that responsibility – but both could be considered methods of relinquishing personal responsibility. Not that these people are currently able to take charge of their situation, but too much reliance on this system has already been admitted to be its’ own problem. Hajime seems to understand this very well, and has already personally taken great initiative in a variety of situations – I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop on her unflappability

3:54 – Goddamn that OP is great. Easily my favorite of the season – vivid visuals, great mix of animation and actual footage, and the song is perfect for the show. Also, there has never been a more perfect casting than Aya Hirano as a hard-drinking alien panda. So glad she’s getting work again

5:17 – “I wasn’t the one who saved them. It was Crowds.” No sooner does this show raise an idea than it questions and possibly discards it. Crowds gets exactly one scene as an unquestioned good before Rui ties it in to that point of relying on an outer framework versus being self-reliant.

5:35 – “Gatchamaaaan…” And four episodes in, we’re already messing with our electronic networks  to show how reliant we are on our experience-mediators. Robotics;Notes took like fifteen!

6:05 – Their hideout design sure does allow for some lovely shots 

7:01 – “I didn’t manage to finish it off this time… but I will for sure next time.” See, in a normal version of this show, I’d figure Joe or at the very least Sugane would be the protagonist. But nope, this show’s got too much actual shit to get to, so we get Hajime

7:20 – Hajime’s deep concentration face 

8:05 – “Listen, do not get involved!” Yeah, that’ll work. Hajime’s super good at following orders 

9:16 – “That bad Gatchaman said it was our fault, right? That’s super bad!” “I’ll settle the score with it.” “That’s not what I’m talking about!” I wonder how long her silly mannerisms will keep her teammates from realizing she’s always thinking at least a couple steps ahead of them. Who cares if they can stop the thing, the important thing is what it said, and what their leaders’ reactions to that information implied

10:14 – “Exposition exposition , I also lost my best friend because of it…” This scene, eh. This show’s normally much better about implying information than this, and generally assumes the viewer can make intelligent assumptions based on the least necessary information. This conversation’s plenty efficient and written naturally enough, but I feel they could have implied all the salient stuff through two well-chosen sentences and a pointed look between the pair of them

10:45 – “A trigger to cause the humans to destroy each other.” Well, that’s kind of a big clue

11:24 – “You’re the only reason I became a Gatchaman.” “Who knows how long you can have fun drinking?” Yeah,these two  are such an intentionally standard hero pair it makes me wince. The show isn’t letting the social media ideas keep it from having fun with this genre

11:59 – “Look at all these sources of traditional authority! Our town is so safe!” Please don’t bait the narrative, Hajime

14:40 – Aaand there’s Rui’s backstory in about fifteen seconds. Efficient storytelling!

15:21 – “If everyone found out their hero was in a contract with someone like me…” That’s too easy. The system’s failure should come from its’ own inherent qualities, not from an outside negative element. Not that I think this show is dumb enough to muddle its’ own ideas like that – but many shows introduce a really compelling “What if?” scenario, only to resolve it in a meaningless way when A MONSTER ATTACKS RAAA

16:36 – “Humanity’s black heart…” What’s the angle here?

16:42 – “We won’t ask for help from any heroes.” Who thought that it’d be a good idea to make a show ostensibly focused on individual superheroes instead focus on the power of collective intelligence and collective action? All the raises

17:33 – “If it’s that amazing, shouldn’t GALAX handle politics and police work?” And the conceit rears forward again

17:55 – “GALAX is amazing, but it’s not good.” That is an incredibly well-chosen sentence, Hajime!

18:12 – “Even if the world went up in a big, red blaze, you’d save people, right?” I like how Hajime is working out the kinks of a philosophical argument no-one but herself is actually having

18:38 – So, the mother acts angrily/selfishly, she is copied into a destructive doppelganger. What was the prelude to the other takeovers?

Also, Rui is looking lovely tonight . Between him (I’m guessing, he/she hasn’t straight-up said what he/she identifies as) and Yasaburou , this is clearly the summer of confused boners

19:42 – It’s finally begun, Rui-Rui!  Finally! I was getting kinda bored, what with it being all of seven minutes since these two were established as having a contract.

God this show’s pacing is awesome. So few shows have the glut of plot, characters, and ideas necessary to move events forward this quickly

20:46 – “It’s like our disaster prevention department might as well not exist.” They sure are setting up a lot of dominoes here. I’m just hoping GALAX fails for a satisfying reason

And Done

What a crazy world we live in! Good thing GALAX is there to protect us, eh?

Yeah, probably didn’t need to hear that rephrased by every single citizen. Still, this episode moved at breakneck speed as always, establishing and destroying the link between Rui and the destructive alien, setting up the outside world for its’ coming reliance upon and subsequent betrayal by GALAX, and even sparing a little time to characterize virtually every single member of the central cast. Hajime still has yet to make an actual misstep, and I still have that lingering fear that GALAX’s downfall won’t be indicative of anything beyond the bad guy controlling it (there are plenty of reasons to question an age of crowdsourced responsibility beyond the fear of evil aliens taking it over), but this episode was still fast and exciting and obsessed with its’ central ideas. It is incredibly rare to find a show this thematically focused that’s also this propulsive and watchable – normally you either get the rollercoaster or you get the lecture, and combining them this gracefully is a goddamn impressive feat.