The new heroine of Gatchaman Crowds insight is energetic above all else. She springs out of bed in the morning, bounces down the stairs, and never seems to walk anywhere, choosing to run instead. She cannot calm down long enough to do her morning exercises properly, and when chastised by her grandfather, she huffs, “I’m exhaling properly!” rather than changing her own behavior.
All energy, all emotion, and all hot-headed rookie, Tsubasa Misudachi is all Red Ranger.
“I spent a long time as a solo hero, so I can recognize a quality leader immediately.”
“In other words, you ended up scouting a bunch of Red Rangers.”
“Yeah, that didn’t work.”
– a conversation between Hekiru Midorikawa (Flamen Green) and Joji Kaname (Red Axe), Samurai Flamenco, Episode 11
There is a hilarious scene in Samurai Flamenco when the sentai team Flamengers assembles for the first time and every one of their individual members enters as “Flamen Red.” Initially, everyone wants to be the red ranger – codified as the default team leader – and Joji Kaname can only recognize other Red Rangers, being a Red Ranger himself. Red is also typically characterized as one who acts first and thinks later, while being the de facto or first hero of the group.
Gatchaman Crowds eschews the Red Ranger archetype in its first season, giving the viewer Hajime Ichinose instead. A polarizing figure for audiences and in-universe characters alike, Hajime is not a Red but a new kind of Grey – similar to the insight bubble that appears above her head courtesy of Gel Sadra. She communicates with and befriends her supposed enemies, to the initial dismay of her gatchaman compatriots. She wants people to come together, and dabbles in arts and crafts. She’s hardly hot-blooded, she’s neither cold nor calculating, and she refuses to be placed into a preexisting sentai category.
While this is fantastic for those around her, who are either inspired or infuriated enough by her presence to act, Hajime is a bit lost throughout the first season. Her gatchaman journey begins with the exclamation that she’s hungry, and she doesn’t seem truly happy until Berg Katze merges with her at the end of the series. Above all, Hajime is true to what she believes, which makes her difficult to influence – this is why the bubble that appears above her head is grey – however, she still seems lost at times. When Katze tells her that naturally her bubble wouldn’t change color in reaction to others because of who she is, Hajime reflects on it without understanding.
In contrast, Tsubasa Misudachi is easily influenced and quick to act without thinking. Her default is a plucky, energetic girl with a dream, who immediately feels things and acts upon her emotions immediately. Reflected in the color shifts that her insight bubble goes through in the course of the first episode, Tsubasa’s thoughts are affected by the atmosphere around her; however, she is also quickly charmed by the alien Gel Sadra without questioning her. While Tsubasa’s actions are similar to Hajime’s, she is so enchanted by Gel that Hajime appears subdued in comparison. Hajime acts as a mediator between Gel and the people of Nagaoka, but never loses herself to Gel in the same way that Tsubasa does, immediately enthralled once Gel is revealed to be a peaceful presence.
It’s no coincidence that Tsubasa’s first transformation is incited by frustration. She is initially chosen by JJ to become a gatchaman when she instinctively rushes through a crowd of reporters to aid a small boy: a distinct act of generic heroism. Unable to transform on command, Tsubasa turns into a gatchaman only when she can no longer stand the media horde that descended on her doorstep and is about to lash out in anger.
Unlike Hajime, Tsubasa is Red Ranger through and through. Her thought process is simple, while her actions are immediate and without calculation. As the bearer of a more well-worn archetype, Gatchaman Crowds insight places another character next to Hajime for the audience to consider. Tsubasa is a more personal point of comparison than Hajime’s initial matchup with Rui Ninomiya and subsequent worldview clash with Berg Katze, which could make all the difference.