Brand loyalty is often difficult to come by. If a company can convince their consumer base that a specific positive trait of one of their products extends to their entire merchandise catalogue or message, it often translates into a sales boost across the board. A favorable outlook on one product, or political value often creates a cognitive bias that extends to the entire company or party platform respectively.
This is a halo effect.
More specifically with political candidates, one positive trait can cause potential voters to eschew involving themselves with researching an entire platform if they agree with one specific aspect of it. Their agreement with that one facet will easily give them enough of a reason to vote for a specific person, or in the case of Gatchaman Crowds insight, one specific alien.
Gel Sadra is perceived to be well-meaning, charming, and attractive – all points that aid a political candidate in front of a camera, just ask John F. Kennedy.
“Elections are intended to have each individual think for themselves and choose the candidate they want to trust the future to. This having people choose with the flow is definitely wrong. But still, I can’t let CROWDS roam free. Even if the means are wrong, this will achieve my justice!”
– Jou Hibiki to Hajime Ichinose, Gatchaman Crowds insight, Episode 5
Jou Hibiki is more than well-aware of his own biases, admitting as much to Hajime prior to the election. His backing and subsequent marketing for Gel Sadra is all in support of his own interests, which require the abolishment of CROWDS. Keenly remembering the deaths caused, Jou doesn’t trust humanity with CROWDS, and still shows personal approval of a more traditional, vertical heroism.
However, unlike Tsubasa Misudachi – who is in well over her head at this point – Jou is aware that what he is doing is not necessarily the best or right thing to do. Gel Sadra has no knowledge of humanity, and additionally can only translate others’ thoughts without context. As Rui succinctly puts it, people are currently scared and dismantling CROWDS is an easy solution for them to latch onto. It additionally removes their personal responsibility and funnels their indecision and fear into one value of Gel Sadra’s platform. Jou knows all of this and yet accepts it because he wants CROWDS to be removed from society.
Tsubasa is simple. She fully admits that she’s simple and expresses no desire to understand the nuances of her position or social standing. While this stems from good intentions, her inability to see the negatives of Gel Sadra becoming Prime Minister along with her easily-swayed emotions make Tsubasa a prime marketing target. She’s a poster child for the halo effect, as one minute detail can immediately change her mind on a larger issue.
This makes her a perfect, albeit dangerous, spokesperson for Gel whose main campaign negative is that Gel is not originally from Earth. As a bridge between humanity and Gel, Tsubasa could use their power within specific social contexts; however, she unfortunately refuses to make an effort to understand those context or the social climate. Her simple outlook proves effective in getting Gel elected, and her promises are easily swallowed by the masses.
“On the contrary, planets where Sadra has taken up residence have been relieved of issues such as crime, bullying, or war.”
– Paiman, Gatchaman Crowds insight, Episode 2
As for Gel Sadra, the danger comes from how Gel’s powers are applied more than their actual existence, much like Rui’s CROWDS. Gel lacks context or knowledge to understand how the mined thoughts and emotions are relevant, instead choosing to apply the quickest and easiest answer. For Gel’s political campaign platform, this means the abolishment of CROWDS. JJ’s initial prophecy described Gel as a “delicate ray of light.” Paiman also asserted that Gel was not particularly dangerous in his initial introduction of the alien.
This furthers the idea that Gel is a bit like CROWDS. As a marketing tool for gathering insight on what humanity is thinking, or what they want, Gel is extremely useful. However, translating those thoughts and emotions into what will benefit humanity the most requires a defter touch that neither Tsubasa nor Gel possess. And now this alien has been placed in a considerable position of power.
“Do you think everyone’s personally aggrieved by his gaffes and mistakes? Of course not. Just because that’s how the wind blows, they’ll attack the same things.”
– Rhythm Suzuki, Gatchaman Crowds insight, Episode 5
Where Gel Sadra and Tsubasa find positive results from the halo effect, former Prime Minister Suguyama bears the brunt of the negative effects of a similar phenomenon: a reverse-halo or devil effect. Instead of one aspect reinforcing a greater whole positively, a devil effect is when a specific detail affects a larger outlook or campaign negatively. With his approval of CROWDS already causing his popularity to fall, his on-air gaffes only negatively reinforce his overall campaign. Suddenly everything he does is scrutinized with a less-than-positive framework.
In his explanation, Rhythm Suzuki returns to the 20-60-20 percent principle, saying that most will always trend towards affirming public opinion without thought. As long as public opinion is easily influenced, the rest of the masses will follow.
“It’s a secret! Because it’s an election.”
– Hajime Ichinose, Gatchaman Crowds insight, Episode 5
Most interesting is Hajime’s purported silence. In the first season, Hajime was always the person who dared to explore others’ personal contexts regardless of how others felt, always coming to her own conclusion. This continues in Gatchaman Crowds insight, as she remains uninfluenced with a grey thought bubble.
The series makes a point to show how influential Hajime could be if she wanted to be. Like Tsubasa, she already is given significant social clout due to her status as a gatchaman. However, unlike Tsubasa, Hajime does not use it to affect the election results in any way.