Gatchaman Crowds insight – Episode 9

SHIT IS FUCKED. Things are a total mess in Gatchamanland, and it will take more than Hajime wearing cute pigtails to sort all of this out. This was another solid episode in a very impressive sequel, and one that made me feel frankly a little awkward to cover, considering how charged the topics it’s dealing with are. Gatchaman is hot-off-the-presses commentary, its thoughts on the dangers of groupthink in more harmony-focused Japan equally relevant to modern online discourse. These conversations have essentially been turned radioactive by recent controversies – there are people looking to start witch hunts all over, and gamergate lurking in the background, eager to either pounce on targets or seize on comments as vindication of their pet issues. It is awesome that Gatchaman Crowds is so relevant to what’s going on this very second, but I sure hope writing these posts doesn’t get me killed.

You can check out my megasized writeup over at ANN, or my notes below!

Gatchaman Crowds insight

“Is Kuu-sama the iron hammer of justice?” Kuu-sama is now swallowing people who disrupt the social order

Tsubasa is upset about this. This is the endpoint of her idea of justice, but she never considered it. She’s reached a hard wall of her hypocrisy, and will hopefully finally readjust, and realize you need to compromise with people

Meanwhile, Pai Pai and Jou both think they should detain Gelsadra. Pai rushing into the most obvious action, and Jou, who never trusted Gelsadra in the first place, and hates what’s happening

But Hajime urges caution, saying the Kuu-sama aren’t necessarily Gel’s responsibility. She’s the one thinking not in terms of vengeance and blame, but in terms of fairness – even as they try to “punish” evildoers, the others easily fall into their too-broad patterns of justice. As this show continuously insists, these are fundamental human issues, not issues of one or another “bad” group

Hajime: “The Kuu-samas are… the atmosphere!” The representation of people’s thoughts. They are our collective will given too much power

They’re not even an exaggeration, either. After this many people have lost or almost lost their careers over bad tweets, it’s clear that there’s a vast, vindictive instinct online ready to pounce on anyone who places a foot wrong

This episode’s called “opt-out.” As in “the natural state is to agree to this society, and opting out is an aggressive action”

“If the people who can’t become one disappear, it’ll help everyone else become one”

Gelsadra is happy, Tsubasa horrified. Gel has inhuman ideals, Tsubasa very simple ones

“Becoming one like that is meaningless.” “I don’t understand what you’re saying, Tsubasa-chan.”

If Tsubasa’s partner in crime doesn’t agree with her, how could her actions have ever had meaning

Paiman comes to arrest Gelsadra, but the people defend him. “The people who get swallowed deserve it!” Paiman’s always assumed he’d have the public on his side, and he’s almost never been right

And people take their children out of Paiman’s clinic. “Who knows what people will say if they hear we’re associated with the Gatchaman?” They’re outsiders now, untouchables

Sugane’s friends abandon him. One insists to the Kuu-sama that she agrees with the decision

Sugane: “Is the atmosphere such a bad thing? I’d just been going with the flow for a while now.” Nice! Some self-reflection on his part – like Tsubasa, he only realizes he’d fallen into easy patterns once he’s challenged on them

And it’s that challenging which is important, and which allows us to grow, and which Gelsadra is working again. Conflict is necessary

“Isn’t it amazing to be able to have fun without thinking?”

“When you’re surrounded by the atmosphere you feel warm and relaxed. But what happens when you go outside of it?”

Jou says he’s responsible, and he’s going to go settle this. GO JOU

Hajime goes to meet Rui, Jou goes to beat Gelsadra

“You shouldn’t have come to this country. To this country where everyone is so easily swayed.” The idea of social harmony is critical in Japan. Going with the flow

“Even if people are momentarily happy, society will fail to grow!” Jou points out what Sugane and Tsubasa made clear, which is true on both an individual and a societal level

The Kuu-sama are also the enemy of personal ambition

Great fight between Jou and Gelsadra

Hajime tells X to figure out what Rui needs, and Tsubasa to talk to her grandfather. She doesn’t give them solutions, she tells them to engage with the people they care about

X goes to meet with Rizumu

“You are probably the last person Rui would want to see in his current state”

JJ’s says that when Gelsadra changes his message, people will attack those who do not shift with the atmosphere

Mana, the daughter of the member of Rui’s Hundred, thinks for herself

Rizumu breaks out, and Hajime says they have to go protect Gelsada???

5 thoughts on “Gatchaman Crowds insight – Episode 9

  1. Interesting how you read this episode’s commentary as something that applies to online arguments and trolls. While I do think what the episode points out is something that every modern culture suffers from, I think what this episode is attacking is the kind of groupthink that’s prevalent in Japanese culture. This news report ( on teen suicides in Japan exemplifies it: Japanese culture values group thinking so much that the nail that sticks out is immediately hammered down (a Japanese proverb: 出る釘は打たれる), usually through bullying or ostracizing. It stuck out to me because I’ve observed that a bunch of other Japanese works I’ve seen have had characters get bullied because “they can’t read the atmosphere”. I realize that it’s not an attitude unique to Japan, but it appears to be a significant cultural problem there, if enough media care enough to have characters who get bullied specifically because they can’t read the atmosphere (空気が読めない).

    • Yea I also feel like they are more addressing current society instead of the internet. And yea its definitely not just a Japanese problem (though they do have the stricter culture). I think we all constantly feel the pressure from the atmosphere, afraid of committing a social faux-pas.

    • Yeah, it’s definitely something that’s particularly relevant in Japan, and shows up all over the place in other anime. I just think it still makes just as strong an argument about online discourse as the first season, even if it’s less directly linked.

    • Definitely. This sort of behavior isn’t specific to Japan or internet communities – it’s just human behavior.

      Also, you have Bernkastel as your profile picture so I already like you.

  2. I though Hajime’s last line about protecting Gel made sense. You have question marks after it, so here’s one perspective on it.

    Part of JJ’s prophecy was that “the people will lose their own colors, and bear their fangs in err at the colorless wind.” The colorless wind most explicitly means Gelsadra, whose original form is a grey spirit-thing that names its attacks after air phenomena, like Storm or Tornado. “Colorless wind” also makes for an apt description of the emotional atmosphere (and I doubt it was an accident that Gel uses literally atmospheric attacks — a cute detail); the atmosphere is a naturally colorless force which carries whatever mood fills it. So, the “people will lose their own colors” meaning they will lose their own individual natures, and “bear their fangs in err at the colorless wind,” which in this case means attacking both Gelsadra and the idea of a dominating atmosphere in general. Towards the end of the episode, people were becoming more and more fed up with and angry about the Kuu-sama enforcement, so we were already getting an indication of that turning.

    Hajime needs to stop what’s going to follow, which initially sounds weird. Really, though, she’s still standing up for what she’s always valued, which is people and their varied individuality. The same faceless violence that Gel originally lead in an attempt to unite the people will turn on him, and potentially destroy him, and Hajime wants to stop that. They’ll also reject and hate the idea of a majority atmosphere. The “colorless wind” and the atmosphere aren’t inherently evil though, it all depends on how people use it, much like Crowds and the internet from S1. Hajime wants to protect Gel to stop him from being hurt by the same thing that’s been hurting everyone else: crazy groupthink. She’s still sticking up for the underdogs, the little guys, even if they were once the big guys. She’s trying to protect a different
    opinion even if that opinion is completely at odds with her own, even if that opinion is that there should be no different opinions. It’s probably my favorite narrative turn out of all Gatchaman so far, S1 or S2.

    That’s the way I saw it at least, after some puzzling out.

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