Once upon a time, Berg Katze wanted a revolution as well.
Previously, I had speculated that the androgynous antagonist, Berg Katze, was a projection of Rui Ninomiya’s mind. This was based upon their similar physical appearances, imagery surrounding the two of them, their specific interactions with each other, blocking within the series, and a similar tattoo on each of their necks. However, I have now discarded that theory thanks – or no thanks, depending on whether this bit of speculation comes about in the series – to a particular piece of furniture found within Rui’s apartment.
For weeks now, I have been bothered by this specific imagery in Gatchaman Crowds surrounding Rui. Stationed beside his sofa, Rui possesses an odd-looking geometric lamp. This lamp, although not exactly the same repeating shape, immediately reminded me of Constantin Brâncuși’s Column of the Infinite, one of three sculptures that make up The Sculptural Ensemble at Târgu Jiu in Romania.
Another piece from Brâncuși’s ensemble had already been introduced from the first episode: The Table of Silence (also called, The Apostle’s Table), pictured above in the Gatchaman Cage. The series’ version, located on the right side of the screenshot, features twelve blue stones organized in a circle around the bird in the center, mimicking the original version at Târgu Jiu which features hourglass-shaped seats around a circular table. The Table of Silence represents the moment of time just before the Romanian soldiers were sent in to battle (the entire sculptural ensemble is dedicated, and commissioned, to honor Romanian soldiers of World War One). This can be easily tied in to the purpose of the Gatchaman Cage, preparing its soldiers before sending them nobly off to defend Earth.
Returning to the Column of the Infinite, while the ties to Rui are isolated, its imagery surrounds Berg Kattse, reflected in the weapon he fights with (pictured above). The Column is the most recognizable of Brâncuși’s work – additionally, modern sculpture as a whole – and commemorates the infinite sacrifice by Romania’s soldiers in defending their country. Why then, does its imagery loosely follow Rui and envelope Berg?
The answer, similar to Utsutsu, lies in Berg’s power.
Presumably, Berg was once a Gatchaman, fighting for the greater good. However, his power is not only one of mimicry, but also allows him to see the darkest corners of others’ minds. Imagine if, for the greater good and defense of wherever he originally came from, Berg was called upon to use this power over and over, continuously forcing him to see the worst parts of people daily. We all have our low points, mired in self-doubt and self-loathing, just as we have our shining moments, to steal a turn of phrase from the series’ seventh episode. For the most part, we keep these things hidden, or don’t actually act on them. However, if all one sees constantly are these ugly corners of everyone’s minds, I’d presume that desiring to save the very same people would become infinitely more difficult with each passing day. Additionally, as Berg’s primary power is taking on the image of other people, it would be incredibly easy to loose one’s self in the constant noise of others’ minds.
Hey! Hey, are you guys still doing the same old thing? Like ‘Gotta save Earth’ and ‘I’ve got to do it’? Do you really think you can? Hey, are you stupid? See, you’re stupid!
-Berg Kattse, Gatchaman Crowds, episode seven
This gives Berg’s exclamation during his fight with Jou Hibiki quoted above, his mocking repetition of each of Jou’s attacks all the more poignant. In addition to wearing Jou down, Berg is also crying out as if to say, “Really? You guys don’t understand anything. You never bother to communicate with others, you only try to do the same thing over and over again.” The crux of Gatchaman Crowds‘ message lies in our ability, or inability, to communicate with each other. Earth will not be saved if our protagonists cannot discover a way to communicate and understand Berg instead of fighting him straightforwardly. This is where Hajime Ichinose, whom Berg admits is, “good, for a Gatchaman” comes in. One can draw a line from Berg’s utter disgust with others, to Rui’s distrust and desire for a revolution, to Hajime’s unwavering optimism and belief in other people. Hajime’s view of the world is not one that requires the infinite sacrifice of one like Berg, but instead attempts to find a way to understand him.
Like Rui, Berg once wanted a revolution. In fact, I’d like to think a piece of him still does.