The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Gatchaman Crowds

Title: Gatchaman Crowds
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Tatsunoko Production
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 12 Jul 2013 – 27 Sep 2013

Synopsis: The Gatchaman is a secret organization of super heroes who police extraterrestrial aliens.  Using their power called NOTE, they render themselves and any belligerent alien invisible to the masses, and they don extremely powerful mechanized suits to combat their foes.  Unbeknownst to them, an unfathomable evil has entered the planet who schemes of destroying mankind through social networks.

The Highlights
Visuals: Bright and colorful but highly inconsistent.
Music: All around solid.
Social Commentary: Intriguing, meaningful and quite relevant.

Gatchaman Crowds is one of the most thought provoking and socially relevant anime to come out this year.  It is a show that comments on a world that has entered the era of social networks, and it floats the idea that a trusted social network can supplant the role of government by providing the tools to create a network of people who can effectively work together and protect one another.  However, while the series remains one of the most interesting anime of the season, it presents a highly idyllic and manipulated portrayal of the world to run this social experiment, making the ensuing results feel less than genuine.

Director Nakamura Kenji has taken the bones of the original Gatchaman (better known as Battle of the Planets or G Force: Guardians of Space) and completely thrown them out.  The show is barely Power Ranger-esque sentai, with the whole five man super hero troupe concept serving as a backdrop to the real narrative of the potential effect of social networks on the world. Complete with Nakamura‘s radical visual flair that can be wildly inconsistent but always colorful and some rocking music, Gatchaman Crowds is an odd chimera that in most cases would not go beyond the planning stages but nonetheless exists.

The real meat of the show is in its social commentary. The series has a character suggest that rather than entrusting all the power to one central arbiter (the government), the masses should be empowered with a Facebook-esque website serving as the accountability system. The show then exposes a weakness of the idea through the main antagonist, Berg-Katze, who is the textbook definition of an Internet troll. Instead of empowering the socially responsible people of the world, he basically gives the dissatisfied, disaffected, and downright poisonous people on the Internet real power. What the series does next is rather interesting. Unlike most superhero shows, the show does not respond with Superman zipping in to save the day; instead, it leaves the true heroics to individuals who each do a little to change the world in aggregate.

If you want exotic, the show has it.  If you want meaningful commentaries, the show has them.  If you want gravitas, stay far away. This is a show that has good ideas but can’t portray them in an emotionally compelling manner. The main protagonist is too ungodly happy-go-lucky, and the world feels like it’s manipulated by the writing to force a certain direction. There are too many moments where the story pushes its underlying agenda through its character a tad too hard, destroying the fine subtlety needed to sell the concept.

Unless you can appreciate the wild mishmash of psychedelic Power Rangers fighting tentacle cubes with the antagonist trying to create Facebook to revolutionize the world with a protagonist so hyper that she makes Suzumiya Haruhi look like Ayanami Rei, Gatchaman Crowds actually offers very little in the way of actual enjoyment. While this concoction might seem cool, the anime is very much an acquired taste that requires the viewer to down the bitter with the sweet.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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