Genuine as opposed to what?

gatchaman crowds, gatchaman crowds episode 8, gatchaman, rui ninomiya, rui rui, berg katze

Gatchaman Crowds‘ eighth episode was my personal favorite offering thus far, as it begins to weave previously solitary threads of the series together.

In one way, it’s easy to identify how the episode title, “Genuine,” ties in to the events that occurred within episode eight. As others had predicted, Berg Katze, having farmed his ideal army thanks to GALAX and Rui Ninomiya’s desire to change the world, kisses Rui to take his form therefore taking over GALAX and begins recruiting those whom Rui had discarded with promises of a new revolution. The genuine article in this forgery is Rui himself, with Berg making up the counterfeit copy; however, GALAX recognizes Berg as authentic over Rui. In the art world, genuineness or authenticity is highly valued, but also highly contested. One has to identify the truly authentic piece before making the comparison which is when the titular question of this post comes in to play, borrowed from Denis Dutton and the Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics: “Genuine as opposed to what?”

Although Berg Katze is in Rui’s physical form, he is indubitably Berg Katze, displayed to us through his Berg-like actions. What he is doing is not the will of Rui, but a genuine path that Berg wants to travel down, towards the destruction of Earth. He is an inauthentic Rui but an authentic Berg, just as a Han van Meegeren forgery of a Vermeer painting is still a genuine van Meegeren painting (but not a genuine Vermeer).

Simply throwing around the idea of authenticity can be treacherous. Like many words – including one that I purposefully avoid – it is highly contested as to what it truly means, with the definition being somewhat fluid based on one’s own biases and context. There are those who believe that a truly authentic experience can never be achieved in present times. One listening to a piece by Mozart now will supposedly never have authenticity of experience due to the piece being played on a different piano in a different setting by a different performer.

Something tells me that Gatchaman Crowds‘ protagonist, Hajime Ichinose, would take issue with this train of thought.

“Here, names and titles don’t mean anything. But that’s how it used to be for everyone. There were many different kinds of people all jostling for space, but things somehow worked out…”

-Sugune Tachibana, Gatchaman Crowds, episode eight.

In more traditional superhero or super sentai series, like the original Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, the heroes are placed above the general populace. They are tasked with protecting the earth because of a special “something” that they possess or inherent super powers that other humans don’t have. These superheroes become the authentic article, placed on a higher figurative pedestal than the rest of humanity. It’s no coincidence that the episode titled “Genuine” involves the removal, once and for all, of this new G-Crew’s masks at a local preschool. Hajime is closing this gap in the best way possible, by introducing the Gatchaman as superheroes and then de-masking them, showing them as people first and foremost, on a level playing field with children.

“When kids are out of control it might be because they want something.”

“Something? What’s this something?”

“Love! It’s love!”

“What!? I’ve never heard of such a convoluted life form!”

-A conversation between Hajime Ichinose and Paiman, Gatchaman Crowds, episode eight

You know what kids (and Hajime) are really terrible at? Communicating on adult terms. Their emotions are far more reactionary and viscerally expressed, through actions rather than concisely constructed words. As Hajime alludes to Paiman above, the preschoolers aren’t actually trying to hurt him, they’re attempting to express their desire to be loved, or paid attention to. O.D. connects the dots further by planting the seed in Sugune’s head that Berg may possibly be a spoiled child, wanting to be loved. Additionally, Sugune himself shows how much he has grown through his musings at how everything seemed to work out as a child, even with everyone vying for attention at the same time. I’d like to think that it’s not necessarily because children don’t see the same social strata that we do, but that they’re willing to eschew it in favor of reaching out and communicating with each other anyway. Returning to the idea of authenticity and the genuine, although she lacks specific superpowers, Hajime possesses an inherent ability to give others the benefit of the doubt and attempt to communicate with them, dissolving the idea that one person or thing has priority over another, much like a child.

Whether anyone or anything else, including X of GALAX will be able to recognize the genuine Rui Ninomiya, Hajime immediately will, just as she was able to pinpoint J.J.’s location in the first episode, as a prelude to her being chosen as a Gatchaman. By devaluing the superhero’s superiority over others, she wants to get everyone talking to each other, regardless of social station, so they in turn can make an effort to communicate with Berg.

9 comments

  1. Very different from what I got out of this episode. I read everything as being a total change in priorities for Hajime, with her publicizing the Gatchamen being a declaration that the public has heroes they can depend on — something not genuine by her own standards. I’m probably wrong, though; after reading this, my opinion is changing. I hope this week’s episode explores this in more detail.

    1. Yeah, we had totally different interpretations of this episode. I stand by mine for a few reasons, the first being that Hajime deliberately unmasks herself and shows herself as a human being *first.* Had she wanted to be seen as the traditional hero, I would think that she would leave the mask on, placing herself and the G-Crew above the masses. Secondly, every one of her actions in this episode reinforces what we know of her: she wants to save people because she wants to save people. She consistently chooses to ignore social strata/titles in favor of leveling the playing field by seeing all as people first and foremost. She even poses the riddle to the media, as if asking for the world’s help. This is mother signal that she believes all of them to be in this together, be they Gatchaman or preschooler.

      We’ll see. I’m certainly looking forward to this week’s episode. Thanks for commenting. ^ ^

  2. From my (limited) understanding of Dutton’s piece on authenticity, I am led to interpret this aspect of the show as a transition between authenticity of providence of the sentai “tradition” into an authenticity of expression between the individual characters in the show. While characters like Sugune and the like gradually side towards Hajime’s challenge (on a meta level) of the relationship between gatchaman and the strata of society, each character feels like they’re supporting Hajime’s notion in their own way. That is, having opened their eyes to this particular notion, they shift their attitudes that are most reflective of their natural, respective personalities.

    While the character who I’ve most identified with in previous episodes was Utsutsu, it was Sugune in this week’s episode that truly made me excited for what this show had to say about challenging the system of values that make up the literary identity of a storytelling genre. Sugune, the reddest ranger personality that I’ve seen in the show, still manages to use his perceived leadership skills to entertain the children at the kindergarten, yet manages to open his eyes more to Hajime’s worldview when he makes his speech about children being the common origin of adults who make up the social strata in the show. The way he connects to his past while embracing his present feels so much like himself, it easily resonates emotionally with me and the way I value and look back fondly on my own childhood, and how I similarly relate positively to children.

    Thank you so much for this piece, Em. It’s easily my favourite one in your writing of the series so far, and it’s clearly no coincidence that it’s your favourite episode in the series as well.

    1. I don’t think I need to say who I consistently identify with the most, but I’ll save that for a later post. Sugune was definitely a standout in this episode, as was O.D.. Within the scope of this particular post, I wasn’t able to touch upon either of them, but this episode certainly planted seeds for later.

      Thank you, as always, for your continued support. ^ ^

  3. I should start paying more attention to the titles of each episode:/ I found interesting how an advanced programme like X still had certain limitations. I’d expect from Rui to have taken more precautions with the login process.

    “I’d like to think that it’s not necessarily because children don’t see the same social strata that we do, but that they’re willing to eschew it in favor of reaching out and communicating with each other anyway.”

    Children can only see their immediate social strata, hence the fact that they obey to the school rules and to the teacher. But beyond that, I doubt. Until you enter middle school, perhaps even high school, you may know what job your parents do, but you don’t understand, or better you don’t concern yourself with, the stages they’ve been gone through in life much more what their income is and what this can mean socially. Hm, unless you come from a distinguishable minority, where things dawn on you from an early age:/

    P.S.: Talking about art and inauthenticity, have you watched Gallery Fake? Some episodes are really worth it.

    1. All of the episode titles are art concepts. ^ ^ It’s pretty great.

      You would know better than I in this regard. I’m about to start an elementary psychology class for my masters that I’m very excited about, so perhaps I’ll have some more insight then. The thing that I find most fascinating about children is that they’re constantly reaching out and trying to communicate, where adults would have given up or written each other off.

      As for X, any computer program is only as good, bad, etc. as its human user. Rui had tied X to himself in the most protective way that he could think of: his own DNA. Any limitations in its inability to recognize Rui instead of Berg are based on the idea that a computer program (no matter how “intelligent”) is unable to recognize intangibles, like personality or expression. The one who does excel at this is Hajime, so I’m very curious to see how it all plays out.

      Thank you for commenting! ^ ^

      1. Uhm, not really, I don’t know better and sometimes neither do psychology textbooks. Because children are the product of a society and they don’t grow in a void, although certain behaviors are detectable and the different cases common to an extend. I talk from experience. I remember when a professor had us make a survey to elementary kids and they had blanks to fill in about the education their parents had. Obviously, as once we were, they weren’t sure what to fill in. Also, yes, children may be more accepting as long as their environment is showing such behavior and/or they haven’t gotten a specific input in a certain situation. A classmate of my sister, back when they were 10 or so, told her that friends are to be taken advantage for. I’m pretty sure that she heard this from grown ups.

        Lastly, I believe that kids aren’t trying to communicate consciously. It’s that they haven’t been completely accultured, so they are pretty straightforward and say what they think even when it might hurt others (eg. the accusation that someone stinks). This again debatable because not all kids are extroverts and because theories are theories (there’s the school of thought that believes kids to be inherently good and another that supports the exact opposite; my opinion stands in the middle).

        Thanks for having me!

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