This is not your father’s Gatchaman. I wasn’t even aware there was a caliber of precursor to this series, but that is not necessary to view at all for this one.
“Gatchaman Crowds” takes place kind of now (summer of 2015). For those who may not know, Gatchaman were originally a five-member superhero ninja team, assembled to combat the forces of an international terrorist organization of technologically advanced villains, known as Galactor, from trying to take control of the Earth’s natural resources. (And if this smells like “Captain Planet”, you can be forgiven).
However, almost nothing has been taken over from that series to this one. In our brave new world, the gatchaman are people with abilities who are assigned to protect this planet, initially from these odd creatures called MESS, who look like an assembly of squares and can change their shape within the squares. A new gatchaman is recruited, Hajime Ichinose (dead center), who lives in Tachikawa City, where these G-Men are based.
She is initially an odd person to have as a gatchaman. Definitely a divergent thinker, she is powerful and energetic, has artistic spirit and is a bit strange but in a good way as she is an avid collector of stationery. Forget flowers and candy; some top-notch origami papers will have her weak from desire.
The rest of the team is (from left to right and ignore those two people floating above them for now):
Jou (or Joe) Hibiki. He has been with the team for 10 years. He has feelings of despair and nothingness towards the human race and thinks the time-span of the world is limited. However, after meeting Hajime, his enthusiasm and passion for work revives.
Sugane Tachibana. A five-year veteran, he feels he is like a samurai, but his rigid approach to thinking is challenged when he is assigned to help Hajime, who comes up with approaches to problems that weren’t even considered and ideas that are definitely oblique.
Paiman, that panda person. He has been with the team the longest, over hundreds of years, but owing to both his size and appearance, does not command respect for his position.
That tall dude is JJ Robinson. He is a member of the board of trustees and is a guardian of Earth. He gives the assignments, but is very enigmatic, in that he doesn’t speak, but ‘talks’ through his origami and scissor work.
OD is the effeminate one (he wears yellow lipstick); his main job is to run the base of operations for the G-Team, so he rarely goes out and does battle.
Utsutsu is that near-naked one. She is very quiet and reserve and she can make copies of herself to be in several places at one. She talks about herself in the third person, but I feel that is due to the fact that she doesn’t know who she is at all.
Let’s talk about the floaters:
The one on the left is Rui Ninomiya. Don’t let the garb fool you; that is a boy. He has developed GALAX, which is a massive social network. He believes that the current society is flawed and claims that it is his duty to improve it for the better, thus “upgrading the world”.
Red hair is Berg-Katze, the erstwhile villain of the show. She has the ability to copy anyone by kissing them, thus the cause of the great destruction that she hopes to render in the world, as people will not know who to trust.
That’s a big cast. The gatchaman can transform by using their NOTE (that notebook-looking item that each of them holds) into whatever their final form is to help people and defend the planet. The series tells on how they do their tasks on the planet, but also how Hajimi transforms the member of the G-Team into looking at things like they never have before.
Now, it is a caliber of reboot from the original series, but that will not get in the way of watching this, whether you were a big fan or (like me) a first-timer coming to it. You get the opinion that the G-Team is really full of slackers as they really do not seem to do anything, either with passion or zeal. Then Hajimi shows up and everything is knocked into a cocked hat. She seems to be the only one having real fun, even where there is a caliber of danger. Her hopeless optimism keeps everyone else focused, even when she makes friends (of a sort) with Berg.
If there was one aspect of the show that annoyed me, there were two. The first is the eyes. The eyes are cartoony to the point of being bothersome. It’s a big colored circle with a dot in the middle. Can I have real eyes, please? Even real anime eyes? The second is hair shading. Look at everyone’s hair. It is striped, alternating between the two tones. It kind of distracts from the show. It’s a dramatic moment, and all you see is Hajimi’s brown-and-gray striping. Why this tack was taken is anyone’s guess.
The sets and locations can be just as strange, kind of like if Peter Max and the 60s never faded away, but lived on in outer space. It really is an eye-pop of pattern and color, but befits the team perfectly.
It is a rather breezy series and even the ‘serious’ moments never felt all that terrible. I would consider this a First Anime candidate, a show to let people watch in the hope to get them into anime. There is a good balance between all the elements and it never really gets too down or too repetitive, nor is it that difficult to understand and get with the series. It is well worth your time to watch.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Great sets, strange hair)
Plot 7 (Slowly kicks in)
Pacing 8 (Keeps it on an even keel)
Effectiveness 8 (Plays out quite well)
Conclusion 6 (It ends, but it could go on)
Fan Service 4 (A similar show would “Gurren Lagann”)
Overall 8 (It is a delicate balance that works)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. You’re overdoing it.