“The most terrifying thing in this world is atmosphere. You don’t remember at all how it’s made, but little by little, it was being forged with certainty. For our country, for peace, and to protect our livelihood let’s all become one and do our best.”
-Yuru-jii, Gatchaman Crowds insight, Episode 10
In an atmosphere where the Kuu are primarily born of people’s innermost fears, Rhythm Suzuki is given the perfect environment to sow his seeds of doubt and gathered influence.
Rhythm is well aware of how marketing works. This is how he initially garnered attention and spread his anti-CROWDS message to the masses. Start small, working one’s way up by relying on social media penetration, inbound marketing, and the likes of Millio Toriyama and his popular variety show.
Similar to beta-testing of a piece of software, network infrastructure, or video game, seed trialing introduces a specific product to a presumably accepting audience. The ultimate goal is not to test the product further – as it would be in most software or video game contexts – but to release and market a product to those who can then speak on its behalf as trusted members of the larger community.
In this way, it’s a bit like influencer marketing, where a notable individual who already has community backing or commands a large fanbase supports a specific product in front of their adoring fans. Earlier in Gatchaman Crowds insight, Tsubasa could have been seen as an influencer – she was a member of the G-Crew, a prominent and influential group, while appearing and speaking on behalf of Gel Sadra.
Relying on word-of-mouth and wooing opinion leaders is how an emotional atmosphere builds and grows. Tsubasa’s great-grandfather knows this all too well, and finally shares his thoughts on the matter with Tsubasa. Previously, the two were at-odds due to Tsubasa’s stubbornness – her great-grandfather didn’t open up to her, and she persistently plowed forward without thinking. Now he admits that, in spite of her oft-rash behavior, her rush to act on behalf of others is one of her more admirable qualities.
Their conversation delves again into prevailing scars on the Japanese psyche from World War II and prior, something that the first series touched upon a bit through Rui’s disgust at the traditional Japanese vertical society. Rather than focusing solely on the larger, murky picture, Gatchaman Crowds insight brings these thoughts to a deeply personal level as Tsubasa’s great-grandfather finally opens up about his younger brother and the war.
In the first episode of insight, Tsubasa is asked to explain the word “atmosphere” to Gel Sadra. She falters and uses general terms like “it’s fun when everyone comes together.” Her conversation with her great-grandfather bookends this nicely, with him explaining how a prevailing atmosphere can be so dangerous.
One of the more tragic figures in all of this is Gel Sadra. Gel knew nothing of Earth when he landed, and found himself just as swept up in the groupthink as Tsubasa. Together, the two influenced each other, creating a perfect storm that swept over the Japanese people. Finally challenged to think about what he wants, Gel simply replies that he wants to spend time with Tsubasa, releasing all of the thoughts and emotions of others that had been weighing him down for so long.
The Kuu aren’t Gel Sadra’s any more than the thought bubbles were, and quickly turn against him once the prevailing atmosphere changes. As Hajime so astutely pointed out in the series’ eighth episode, the nature of the Kuu implies that the general populace is inherently worried about what’s happening, and is trying to hide away from their own thoughts by simply going with the flow.
It’s this key difference – going along with what is happening as opposed to deliberately choosing it – that separates CROWDS from Kuu. The Kuu are dispatched quickly by the G-Crew, once they’re allowed to fight them, vanishing into puffs of cartoon-ish smoke. Born of the atmosphere itself, and reflections of said atmosphere, they’re not tied to any individual as the CROWDS were.