In defense of Hajime Ichinose: Gatchaman.

hajime ichinose, hajime, gatchaman, gatchaman crowds, gatchaman crowds OP

“It’s not heroes who will update the world, it’s us.”

-advertisement for GALAX, Gatchaman Crowds, episode 2.

From the moment Sugune Tachibana steps into our view, he represents tradition. He keeps his Gatchaman NOTE in a position of reverence, his apartment his decorated in traditional Japanese style, and as he walks out the door he hears Paiman say the words that he so loves to hear: “Sugune, we’re counting on you.” He is not only a good person but a hero, fighting for justice. He is special, and has been given a super power in order to right the wrongs of the world.

Hajime’s intrusion into Sugune’s life has been disorganized and chaotic, as he desperately tries to cling to his traditions and espoused values, while enlisted into teaching her the group’s superhero ways. Episode three of Gatchaman Crowds throws this proud self-image succinctly back at Sugune, forcing himself to examine why he does things and what, exactly, he is fighting for, through the character of Hajime.

Who has the high ground? I'll give you a hint: it's not the one who visually possesses it.

Sugune may have the high ground visually, but it’s definitely Hajime who has the upper hand.

Hajime’s genuine desire to see others communicate with one another, and help people understand each other is an aura that radiates out from her every action. In her attempt to understand the MESS, she inadvertently makes the previous actions taken by the G-Crew appear silly. In her pleas to Sugune above, she forces him to think about why he would fight to help others, shattering the gravitas that he had assigned to being a hero. She may not be someone whom we would immediately identify as a hero; however, she is one whom the series has chosen with specific care.

Two people with similar ideas, on different paths.

Two people with similar ideas, on different paths.

“Running GALAX has made my enemies clearer than ever to me. They’re the ones who refuse to see people as individuals. The ones who cannot see the joy in helping others if there is no reward or reputation to be gained.”

-Rui Ninomiya, Gatchaman Crowds, episode three.

Similarly chosen with care is Rui Ninomiya, the boy genius behind the social network, GALAX. He offers a homegrown alternative to the G-Crew, exemplified by the slogan, “It’s not heroes who will update the world, it’s us.” Coincidentally, the construction of GALAX, described elsewhere as part social media chat, part Zynga game, runs contrary to his actual thoughts, expressed above. GALAX runs on a point reward system, where users are given kudos for updating the world, which they can then presumably use to purchase other perks within the GALAX universe. Through GALAX, Rui is exploiting the need to be praised and rewarded for doing good things in order to convince strangers to help each other, all the while despising them for needing that figurative pat on the back. Sugune is a fantastic example of this, loving the rush he receives from being a hero, relied on by his superior. This is not to say that he doesn’t like to help others; however, it is not until Hajime challenges him that he is forced to think about why.

Hajime is a compliment to Rui. The two are shown in the opening sequence as two who are traveling simultaneously together on the same plane, but going in opposite directions. This is primarily due to their respective sources of power. Rui has been giving the powers of the CROWDS, and subsequently bestowed it upon one hundred specific GALAX users. These users, the hundred, are denoted by the masks they wear, which resemble masks worn by enemies in the original Gatchaman. Additionally, it is heavily implied that Rui receives these powers from Berg Kattse – similar to the masks, this is also the name of the main villain from the original series – the mysterious purple-haired figure shown causing random havoc by shape-shifting. The key takeaway from Rui’s possession of CROWDS is his reluctance to use the power of it. He refuses to grant the hundred access to CROWDS until the situation cannot be solved by human interaction through GALAX. Running parallel to Rui is Hajime, who has been given the powers of a Gatchaman, but refuses to use them to fight, choosing her own path of attempting to communicate with MESS instead.

It is crucial to Gatchaman Crowds that you know that Hajime Ichinose is a Gatchaman. You can disagree with the choice, in fact, one could argue that the series wants you to. Perhaps sticking one like her in the role of protagonist annoys you, much like it annoys fellow Gatchaman, Sugune Tachibana. If this is the case, then I would additionally suggest that Gatchaman Crowds is working as intended.

11 comments

  1. Hajime’s problem is that she wants people to listen to *her*, but she acts like she wants them to communicate with each other. She’s above them. She doesn’t seem to care what other people think, she just does what she wants without caring to acknowledge other’s opinions or even explain herself (as of episode 2, I’ve yet to find the patience to endure her for another episode).

    This is of course fine, and could lead to a very likable “free spirited” character. But you can’t start from the premise that such an obnoxious character is “just right” and expect me to buy it. I hate it when the boys are portrayed this way, and I’m not going to give it a pass this time just because she’s a girl. Especially when she was literally chosen by a “god”. That’s not just tongue in cheek to me, that’s creatively bankrupt.

    But hey, that’s just me.. I get mad about some things🙂

    1. Hnnnn…where to start?

      I’ll preface this by saying that we are coming from two very different opinions and outlooks on Hajime’s character: you dislike her, I like her, and this will (and has, in your case) affected your ability to watch the series. Even so, in this case I am not defending her likability, but her role in Gatchaman Crowds, and why it *had* to be her specifically.

      Honing in on the “chosen by a ‘god'” statement, before choosing her, J.J. prefaces it by saying that everyone has a hidden power inside them. I think this puts into context the fact that she was chosen in the first place: she could have been anyone. And, as I wrote about in my first article on Gatchaman Crowds, Hajime is in fact, silly, whimsical, and as you note, difficult to understand as she doesn’t communicate well, or rather, in a normal fashion. She would have been no one’s first choice in describing what a superhero *should* be. Hajime was chosen by not J.J. but the series itself for this purpose.

      Returning to the idea of communication, I’d agree that the most frustrating thing about Hajime’s character is her supposed inability to communicate with others. However, and this is going to be difficult for me to explain as you have not seen the third episode, this could also be seen as an inability to communicate by the standards set by others. Now, yes, one can certainly argue that people should learn to adapt to the norms set by society in terms of communication, but that doesn’t mean that one should write off someone like Hajime, who communicates through visuals and actions better than she does words. In that way, she is like MESS, who seemingly attempt to communicate through shifting their shape. Hajime wants people to listen to her, but who doesn’t want people to listen to them? I don’t think that she sees herself as above them as much as she, like everyone, wants to communicate her own ideas.

      As she explains herself through actions and not words, I can see how someone would think that she’s not bothering to explain herself at all; however, I’d certainly argue that this is not the case.

      Additionally, and again since you have yet to see the third episode, you’ll have to take my word for it, but one of the many themes that Gatchaman Crowds is focusing on appears to be the idea of the individual in a vertical society, specifically through the words of Rui Ninomiya (the boy behind GALAX). One such as Hajime would be lost in the traditional structure of Japanese society, but in Gatchaman Crowds, she is specifically chosen to shine. I personally, love that about this series. ^ ^

      Thanks for the comment. ^ ^

  2. Ichinose Hajime redefined the meaning of hero, and the whole “tradition” of all traits surrounding the word “hero”.
    She is indeed insightful and intuitive, calmly analyzes the big picture and quickly grasp the root of the problem. She has the wider perspective than all people in G-crew. Most people, including viewers, sees her as eccentric and annoying, but then they’re the same as everyone else, those people fail to see the main problem, which Hajime could effortlessly. Her approach is unthinkable, but then it’s proven to be the most rational and best way to solve the problem. Alas, viewers could only realize it in the very last second.

    Bravo, for whoever developes her character. Genius.

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