Previously, the series had not only introduced us to Rui, the prodigious youth who oversees the social network GALAX, but also established his love/hate relationship with superheroes. The main idea of his revolution, a world where humans automatically help each other without prodding, negates a need for superheroes to protect it because the people would be protecting themselves. Underlying this wish is a somewhat childish turning up of Rui’s nose at the idea of a superhero. At some point in Rui’s past, perhaps in the earthquake, he came to the realization that superheroes did not exist. After all, if they did, then why would they continuously let bad things happen to people? Rui expands upon this idea in his conversation with Hajime, Utsutsu, and Sugune in episode six, saying that if people rely on superheroes it makes them complacent, and presumably less likely to help each other, opting to wait for help to arrive instead of finding a solution themselves.
As Rui further ingratiated himself to us, he seemed the perfect ancillary character to Hajime Ichinose. Hajime, with her blinding optimism, and Rui, with his cynicism, both want similar things: for people to help each other and for the world to improve. However, the more the series chose to showcase Rui, the more I began to suspect his actions, as they did not support his eloquent, impassioned monologues on the whole of humanity helping each other.
“Having special powers is something to be glad about, but sad about as well.”
-O.D., Gatchaman Crowds, episode four
Upon first viewing the series’ opening, I couldn’t help but immediately realize the visual similarity between the supposed villain, Berg Kattse, and O.D. of the G-Crew. It is a very easy visual line to draw from point A to point B. Episode four was quick to de-bunk this similarity – although I haven’t let O.D. off of the hook quite yet – by allowing the audience to be privy to a conversation between O.D. and Paiman that revealed O.D.’s previous history of fighting a “demon.” O.D.’s powers are hinted at being highly volatile, to the point of destroying an entire world, which makes the words he speaks to Utsutsu above especially poignant.
“You have gained the power to materialize a person’s soul. Yes, as long as you have this, all of your wishes can come true.”
– Berg Kattse, Gatchaman Crowds, episode four.
Immediately on the heels of O.D.’s sage advice is a flashback of how Rui received the power of CROWDS. Given how the series has been presenting so much information visually and, like its protagonist Hajime, cutting and purposefully pasting pieces together to make a specific image, I cannot ignore this placement. CROWDS could be a power bestowed upon Rui by the alien, Berg Kattse, or it could be Rui’s own, with the purple-haired being who appears before Jou a Tyler Durden-like projection of Rui’s inherent supernatural, or gatchaman, power. Having long discarded the idea of super powers, possessing one would certainly cause doubt in Rui’s mind. Specifically, if said power involved materializing one’s soul, it wouldn’t be out of the question for Rui to have fractured his own: one piece the cynical idealist that runs GALAX, and the other the roaming “alien” who only sees the negative in others.
There is visual evidence tying Rui to Berg as well. These tidbits could be chalked up to similarities in appearance due to the fact that Berg is presumably the initial supplier of Rui’s power; however, they are still interesting to note. Both characters sport a similar tattoo in the same location. They additionally have similar hands, down to the red nail polish.
The obvious counter to this theory has already been mentioned previously in this post: O.D. and Paiman have both presumably met this alien on other worlds and it has managed to destroy countless numbers of them by turning the hearts of each world’s respective inhabitants against each other. However, what matters, above all, is not necessarily that Rui may physically be Berg – or similarly, be projecting him as a manifestation of his own powers – but whether Rui resonates with Berg on an emotional level which I do, following episode six, believe. Following his loss of faith in the superhero, Rui struggles in a world where people would turn to this false idol while wasting their greatest resource: each other. It may not come to pass that Rui believes in idealism at all. Instead, in his cynicism, he believes that people should help each other out because they are all that they have. His social media network, GALAX, harnesses this power and organizes it, allowing for easier communication.