A Delicate Ray of Light: Gel Sadra and Reading the Atmosphere

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“Gel, atmosphere is . . . it’s on this planet and . . . well . . . Anyway! It was really fun when everyone came together right? That’s called a good atmosphere.”

-Tsubasa Misudachi, Gatchaman Crowds insight, Episode 1

Due to recent events in Gatchaman Crowds insight, it’s important to remember how little Gel Sadra knows and, more significantly, who he learns from.

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First appearing as a child, Gel’s introduction to humanity is deftly navigated by Hajime Ichinose, who does nothing more than be herself. Hajime’s innate curiosity and desire to communicate with other beings – be they human or alien – cushions Gel’s landing, allowing Gel time to interact with a small group of people unhindered. Had Hajime and company not been warned of Gel’s arrival and appeared on the spot, it’s very likely that the innate, and understandable, fear of an alien crash-landing in their backyard would have directed Gel’s first contact with humanity to a far more negative end.

“Wow! Everyone’s so different. It’s pretty.”

-Hajime Ichinose, Gatchaman Crowds insight, Episode 1

Instead, Gel’s guides are Hajime and subsequently Tsubasa. Hajime takes the lead in Gel’s initial interactions with humans, but it’s Tsubasa who is left to explain and define things. As shown by Gel’s copying of Hajime and the MESS, Gel quickly learns by copying what others do. When Gel initially creates the insight bubbles, Hajime remarks at how pretty they are because they’re different. However, these words aren’t directed specifically at Gel, and it’s Tsubasa who is left to explain what a good atmosphere is.

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Tsubasa’s inadequate explanation of atmosphere is coupled with a scene of slight discord in Tsubasa’s own house. When her great-grandfather declares that he won’t yet leave the family fireworks business to her, Tsubasa emotionally reacts, causing unrest among others in the room. This information is all translated by the varying colors and shapes of Gel’s insight bubbles.

Gel can’t fully grasp the situation himself, but he can note how the atmosphere now feels bad when everyone’s colors are different. Likewise, he can sense when the atmosphere feels good, and it’s always when everyone’s bubbles are unified. Through his natural capacity for copying – and his insight ability – it’s easy to see how this information, without context, would create a fervent desire to unify humanity. Above all, Gel is well-meaning, much like Tsubasa herself.

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“This planet is in more disarray than I’d thought there’d be no conflict if everyone became united.”

-Gel Sadra, Gatchaman Crowds insight, Episode 4

Possessing front-row tickets to Rhythm Suzuki’s showdown with Rui Ninomiya, Gel witnesses how devastating conflict can be. He additionally aids Tsubasa in rescuing Rui. In the process, he once again acts as a translator for humanity’s thoughts in that moment.

With a more tempered approach and partner, Gel’s ability would have been used differently. However, in the hands of someone like Tsubasa it’s dangerous. Tsubasa is simple and straightforward. Nearly everything is black and white for her as she refuses to see nuance in others’ actions, and Gel is someone who desperately needs someone to explain the nuances of humanity to him because it’s never something that he, as an alien, will inherently understand. Unfortunately, all he is taught is: conflict is bad, unity is good.

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“It might feel nice when you’re surrounded by the atmosphere but, once people go too far in trying to become one, they silently put pressure on those who try to leave that atmosphere.”

“People are happier when they’re all one. Why don’t you understand that, Jou?”

-a conversation between Jou Hibiki and Gel Sadra, Gatchaman Crowds insight, Episode 9

By the time someone does try to explain that nuance to Gel, it’s already too late. In taking another look at Gel’s actions, the way he learns by copying – another example of this is how he makes himself older to run for office – and how simply this is presented to him without context, one has to wonder how many of his thoughts are his own, and how many are simply learned behaviors.

If they are solely learned behaviors, he learned them from humans themselves, just like the Kuu.

7 comments

    1. I’m not sure if it’s “right” per se, but it’s definitely interesting to think about. We know that, in the past, Berg Katze went up against Gel Sadra and lost, so I am wondering what Gel’s actual feelings are. Previously, when Hajime asked him, he said that he didn’t know and just wanted to be like everyone else, which could have also been influenced by his intial interactions with others. Who knows? I’m certainly curious to see if the series will provide any other backstory on him. ^ ^

  1. It also explains why Berg Katze is so afraid of Gel. If most of Gel’s behaviours and thoughts are learned from others, it means he has little to no sense of self, or desires, which Berg can prey on and twist to destroy Gel mentally. And therefore Berg has no way to fight Gel.

    1. Yeah exactly. And that fits in with what Gel told Hajime when she asked him what his own thoughts were. His response was that he didn’t know, but hoped he was like everyone else.

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