Extra: A new kind of heroine

[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.


Gatchaman Crowds Review

Ichinose Hajime is strange by anyone’s standards. But you can’t deny that she loves life and is one very happy young lady. But when she’s chosen to be the newest addition to the Gatchaman hero team, no one is quite prepared for all the changes that come with her. She sees enemies from a completely different light, shaking up the old tried a true Gatchaman ways and questioning everything they’ve ever done.
With a smile, of course.

Pretty close to Fullmetal Alchemist level violence in this one. There is stabbing, blood, cuts, slices, screaming in pain and the main villain is completely insane. This is not a show for people queasy about violence.

Sh-t is the favorite in this show, happening semi-regularly near the end. At all other times it’s normal YA fare of d-mn, sh-t and a few b-words. Nothing overly frequent though.

More than a few shots focus on our heroine’s large bust, though it’s always clothed. One other female character, however, likes to wear lingerie around for no reason. She’s not busty, so we’re spared anything… hanging out… But it’s still kinda awkward. Also, one male character makes a few leading comments now and again while another dresses as a woman most of the time.

You’ll find some pretty stereotypical explanations for the Gatchamans’ powers. Such as their transformation/communication devices being attached to their souls and life force and such. If that kind of thing bugs you, you can pretty much shrug it off though as it doesn’t really mess with the plot too much (aside from it being a weak point in battle). Also God is mentioned in passing, usually to represent something else. At one point the heroine says that if another character is “like God, then he probably won’t do anything.” This may be insulting to some people, but as I’ve said before, Japan has a very different idea about God than Westerners do, so take it with a bit of rock salt.

Personal impression:
This was a pretty enjoyable ride for me, to be honest. It’s usually hard for me to get into transformation superhero shows do to way too much tell and very little show. This series was a very nice counter to that. Most of the time, things will not be explained for viewers. You just have to watch, pay attention and figure it out. Especially the end, which kinda reminded me of Beyond the Boundary in terms of how ambiguous it is about the fates of a few characters.
The art was bright, yet also tastefully pastel-ed here and there, similar to Tsuritama‘s style. It was a nice break from the typical color schemes in shows, even if the CG used for some of the fight scenes was on and off clunky. The music is decent as well, just slightly above average though not quite enough to get stuck in your head for long.
If you like superhero anime, this is a wonderful, though short, show to try out. Just don’t expect the end to be spelled out for you.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 12
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre(s): Action, fantasy
Company: Sentai Filmworks
Legal streaming: Crunchyroll 
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Extra: Wrapping up some streams

As fall comes ever closer, I’m finding myself nearing the end of a few streaming shows. And I must say that I’m quite surprised by them. They were not what I expected. And seeing as how they’re almost wrapped up, now’s the time to jump on in yourself.

The Eccentric Family
If you like the more artsy/contemplative shows, this one might be for you. It feels laid-back on the surface and its pace largely fits this bill. But what some of the characters face are not black and white issues, but complicated messes of human nature, animal nature and why one might someday transform into a frog and never transform back. It has heart, but it also has quite a bit of philosophical and theoretical discussion, so if you like clear cut stuff, this might not be your cup of tea.
New episodes posted every Sunday on Crunchyroll

Gachaman Crowds
Oh, hey, it’s our Streaming Pick! Well, if you hadn’t noticed, this is quite the classic brought back to us. It seems Hollywood isn’t the only one with the reboot bug. In any case, this kind of show usually isn’t my thing, but thanks to such a refreshing main character, I’ve come to like this show well enough. Only issue is: will it wrap up nicely? I’ve seen far too many shows start with promise and end in a compromise between cliche and attempts of uniqueness cut short by a rush of plot in very little time. I hope the pacing remains consistent and the ending makes sense. As it stands, the enemy may be a bit too strong for a proper conclusion…
New episodes posted every Friday on Crunchyroll

Rozen Maiden Zurückspulen (2013)
This was very unexpected to me. Rozen Maiden? That show that was so big all those years ago and then sunk along with its US company Geneon (formally Pioneer)? It was the biggest illegally downloaded anime of the year and, naturally, sales sucked. And then the series ended on a cliff hanger (although the cliff hanger in the original manga was far worse). Years passed. Everyone assumed it was over. It had been abandoned.
Then, out of the blue, this appeared.
If you didn’t read the manga, I’m afraid such reading is pretty much a requirement to understanding this as the series immediately picks up where the manga left off (the original anime adoption is an unwanted sibling, I suppose). Although episode one is a recap of sorts, it speeds through it so fast that even fans of the manga, such as myself, were dazed. Nevertheless, the beginning was very promising. Twist upon twist. Unfortunately the latest episodes have become quite unruly. The enemy seems to have all strength and no real weakness, making the rules unclear and explanations reek of an excuse for characters to do whatever they want. A real shame as the start was so strong. Oh, well. There’s still time for it to get better. Let’s just hope it does so instead of driving itself into the ground as was the case all those years ago….
New episodes posted every Thursday on Crunchyroll

Streaming Pick of the Month: Gatchaman Crowds!

gatchaman_crowdsSaving the earth from aliens doesn’t sound like the most unique of plots, but Gatachaman Crowds takes a good swing at it by introducing a heroine with a very unique worldview. Suddenly, the enemies they thought they must always fight doesn’t seem to be the issue. Instead, it appears as if humanity itself may be their enemy. But can one girl’s positive worldview possibly be a match for mankind’s tendency to hate?

Gatchaman Crowds is currently being simul-cast via Crunchyroll with new episodes premiering every Friday. Click here to start watching!

Note: Streaming shows are not always available for free viewing. Be sure to watch the shows of your choice before they’re gone!