[Spoiler alert for the ending of Gatchaman Crowds]
I really wasn’t expecting all that much from Gatchaman Crowds. All I really knew for sure was that I was liking the art style and color pallet. I certainly didn’t expect the story to rely more on showing than telling, a rarity in anime these days. Nor did I expect Hajime. I really and truly did not expect her at all.
Hajime is one of those characters I doubt anyone really expected to see. She’s endlessly cheerful, but unlike so many heroines in anime, her endless joy is not dependent on a male character (aka love connection) or her situation. She loves life itself, fully and without restraint. This isn’t to say she doesn’t feel anger or frustration, but those feelings never completely take over. Instead, even when faced with the worst possibilities, the darkest dangers, she smiles and looks on the bright side.
Before that sounds too forced, here’s a disclaimer: It doesn’t come without a price. At the very end, Hajime intentionally dodges Katze’s more violent and harsh comments and questions, changing the subject without even looking at him (it?) at first. Compared with her face-to-face interactions with Katze in the past, this is a subtle, though important difference. Hajime is upset. She’s upset so many people are scared. That so many are hurt. That anyone, anything, could possibly find joy in others’ pain. Yet she calms herself, focuses on something else, doing something no other Gatchaman was able to do. She seeks Katze’s redemption, wishing him to see joy in life itself and to seek others’ happiness as she does. Despite all his evil (and he is truly a work of twisted art, let me tell ya), she forces herself to look at him and say, “After all this, can we go on a date?”
I’ve talked about heroes before on this blog and for good reason. So often we get caught up in that idea where the hero is a hero simply because he beats up the villain. And while that can be entertaining to see when a villain gets on our last nerve one too many times, it’s not really what a hero truly is. Being a hero is overcoming fear, doubt and selfish desires to better the world around you. It means looking out for others before yourself. Even your enemies. In fact, in a true hero’s mind, an absolute enemy doesn’t really exist. Only lost, scared, sad people that need redemption. And while these people need to be held accountable for their actions, they aren’t monsters either. Understanding that the villain isn’t all that different from themselves is a strong quality in a hero and often overlooked these days.
Hajime was able to do something really amazing in Gatachman Crowds. She looked into an alien’s eyes, one that had murdered countless millions of lives throughout the galaxy, and she still saw it as a living creature in need of something, a thing needing salvation. She believed that fully. So much so that she even took his future in her hands, sealing it within the only safe prison she had: herself. She did not reject the enemy, the reality, before her in disgust, but accepted it with open arms and a smile. And while she does have a natural fear of her current situation (“No matter what happens, I’m just me”), she refuses to give up. She loves life. And she wants others to have that love, too. Even bloodthirsty aliens. She may not be the most popular heroine out there in anime, but she sure has earned a place in my list of heroes, right alongside Relena Darlian and the Elric brothers. Not a small feat, I assure you.