Are You Not Entertained? Gatchaman Crowds insight Episode 11

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Trade offs occur frequently in everyday life – more often than not when money or resources are concerned. In a business sense, trading off usually weighs a more immediate solution against a long-term one, leaving the company or individual to calculated the benefits and risks involved before making a decision.

Regardless of the end result, trading off requires a choice. Something must be given, and with every decision something is lost.

All too often – especially if one is going with the flow – one might not realize just how much has been lost, or what one lost in the first place. As Sugune Tachibana, previously the most buttoned-up of the G-Crew members, said, sometimes the allure of the atmosphere is so strong, one welcomes it because it’s pleasant and easy. When swept up in the groupthink, one doesn’t forget the opportunity cost, but is often too lulled by the coziness of the prevailing atmosphere, conveniently forgetting the trade-off: they sacrifice their own personal thoughts and the process of thinking for one’s self.

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Following Gel Sadra’s “death,” the reaction on GALAX is mixed. The most telling reaction is the last one shown – “Isn’t there something more funny on the news?” Until the G-Crew comes clean, their actions will be swept away in favor of another passing fad or atmospheric shift.

The G-Crew put on the performance of a lifetime in this episode, one that includes traditional sentai and superhero action, transitions over many different settings, involves every single gatchaman showcasing their individual abilities, and even ends with a staged cliché showdown of Tsubasa – previously Gel’s staunchest supporter – telling Sugune that enough is enough. It’s a scene more obvious than Maximus’ “Are you not entertained?” speech in Gladiator, and prods both insight‘s in-universe and outside audience. Is this what you wanted? Are you willing to deal with the consequences of trading away your own thoughts and placing the decision in the hands of someone else?

It’s telling that the Kuu, a product and symbol of the groupthink, vanish one by one as people watch Gel Sadra’s televised defeat. In pressing the button that voted to leave it up to the G-Crew, people presumed that they once again wouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of their actions. When Gel created that button, Gel attempted to take on all of Japan’s issues, leaving the public blissfully unaware of their own responsibility. Hajime Ichinose’s plan takes advantage of this as a teaching tool. Once people are directly faced with the real-life consequences of pressing that button and letting the G-Crew clean up after their own mess, they begin to realize their individual contributions towards the larger machinations of the atmosphere. The outcome isn’t nearly as entertaining as they had thought.

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“I believe in all of you.”

-Rui Ninomiya, Gatchaman Crowds, Episode 9

In order to fully step back and take a look at the cycle – not break it, because this still requires a lot of time, effort, and individual participation – another step is required. Tsubasa Misudachi appears, alongside Rui Ninomiya and former Prime Minister Suguyama, and reveals the truth. Her apology mirrors a comparable admission of responsibility expressed by Rui in Gatchaman Crowds‘ first season, where Rui reveals the true nature of CROWDS and Berg Katze. There, Rui takes the blame for CROWDS and urges the public not to use them, apologizing for the CROWDS users that are comotose. Rui then expresses belief in humanity, that they will do the right thing.

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“This is a chance. For all of us to know who we really are.”

-Hajime Ichinose, Gatchaman Crowds insight, Episode 11

Tsubasa apologizes for deceiving the public, but not for the actions of the G-Crew or Hajime’s plan, which she subsequently explains. Hajime’s words in insight echo a similar sentiment to her reaction in Gatchaman Crowds when asked if the G-Crew could beat Berg Katze. In that moment, Hajime truthfully answers that she doesn’t know. Likewise, when explaining her plan to Tsubasa and company, Hajime admits that they might not be able to defeat the atmosphere completely, but that they can at least spread awareness. An entity like Berg Katze – who preys on our innermost fears – or something as nebulous as an atmosphere cannot be defeated by a superhero. That’s too easy of a solution, and only provides a false panacea, preventing people from weighing the cost of their own actions. The trade-off of Hajime’s plan is that it eschews an immediate way out for a more permanent and introspective solution, recognizing that it will fail if the public are not yet ready.


  1. Really good post that parses out what happens here! Great job as usual ^^

    I think one of my slight issues with Gatchaman Crowds Insight (which has been in the background for the most part, but revealed itself here) is how the show seems to treat violence? For the first season, it seemed appropriate to combat Berg Katze’s malicious tactics with constructive group efforts. Here, the enemy, as you very well state, is ‘atmosphere’ or the overwhelming power of a crowd’s united opinion, which isn’t easy to defeat, as it stems from the ever-changing perceptions of the crowd and the context of those opinions/experiences. So in that sense, violence won’t give answers; it’ll only breed more negative opinions and give society yet another face to target as the stem of everyone’s problems. The only way to really ‘wake’ up society is to show the consequences of their beliefs and give individual responsibility of their thought.

    My problem is how they did it I think? By taking violence ‘too far’ they cater to the moral center and unsettle the audience. It’s, as you point out, a neat take on the usual heroic tropes that we see in shows (one that comes to mind being Kirito’s violent death sentence to the villain in the second half of the first season of SAO) but it feels somewhat out of place especially considering how the previous episode seemed to be extending the conversation to Japan’s post WWII atmosphere? Tsubasa converses with her grandfather about how people are desperate toe be placated to the point of giving up individual control just to make things easy, and that can lead to unforeseen consequences, but this seems to be out of a heavy need to create peace at any costs. I would assume then, that her grandfather’s response was that anti-war is not the same as pacifism. This kind of jars with what Crowds did this week, where they use explicit violence to make their point, which kind of points back to ‘violence is bad, and never solves anything.’ I personally disagree with this; I think war should be avoided at almost any costs, but I also believe that to say that violence in itself is wrong (especially in a show that says that conflict is often necessary for progress) is a little naive? This is my take on it, though, and I may be missing something larger here ^^;

    1. Thank you for this comment. ^ ^

      I wanted to wait and see how the final episode ended before responding in whole, and I also went back and rewatched both this episode and Episode 10 (where Tsubasa talks to her great-grandfather finally).

      I honestly never saw the series’ use of violence in the same way that you did, but I also think my perception of the conversation between Tsubasa and her great-grandfather was also a bit jaded. He admits that he only snapped out of it when he saw his younger brother die, and that death was what made him reevaluate his own perspective. Presumably, he had seen a large amount of violence before that – and may have been unsettled by it – however, he was only truly moved when it hit closer to home. Additionally, I didn’t feel like he was necessarily speaking out against violence, but rather against enacting it without conviction, although you may disagree.

      In hindsight, I felt that Yuru-jii knew that Tsubasa wouldn’t listen to him until she herself experienced something similar (in her case it was people being devoured by the Kuu) that made her feel culpable for the violence taking place, and therefore her part in creating the atmosphere. It’s a cynical point of view, because it means that a lot of the times when someone more informed, older, experienced, etc. talks to someone younger, full of ideas, and caught up in the prevailing atmosphere, like Tsubasa, that message isn’t going to get through to them until they’re ready to hear it. Similarly, Hajime makes it a point to use Gel’s “death” to see if she can force this kind of guilt or responsibility on the general public by using violence.

      This brings me to something unsettling about the finale though, and that’s Hajime’s overall masochistic attitude. I got the sense that she was also punishing herself, through violence, as she was part of the reason why the atmosphere spiraled out of control – either due to her inaction, inability to communicate, or simply being human – and that really didn’t sit right with me. I think she’s been through a lot this season, what with housing Berg Katze, etc., and this seemed like a weird form of self-harm to make up for her own guilt.

      Sorry for taking so long to respond. I really wanted to take my time. ^ ^;

    2. Just to butt in as a student of Japanese history. But the totalitarian ideology of WWII Japan was largely justified on the idea that Japan was one big happy family with the Emperor as the father, and as a result was a uniquely peaceful nation. This made democracy and the conflict it necessities between parties and individuals supposedly un-Japanese. Unlike in European Fascism, where one party banned all the others, in the Japanese “New Order” all the parties joined together into one big group, leaders who were once liberals or socialists becoming subservient to the flow of events and public opinion, which really did nothing more than make them stooges to the army. Many intellectuals who should have been the staunchest critics of what was going on did something called Tenkō, where they’d write a letter or article apologising for their actions and announcing their intention to embrace the Emperor. Political prisoners were often encouraged to do this by their guards sitting them down with a warm cup of tea and telling them how much their mother missed them. Ironically, one of the most euthasatic proponents of totalitarianism in Japan found himself a victim of this, when he tired to take on the military he found that the “unity” he’d advocated for meant he was now utterly powerless. Secondly, again unlike their allies in Europe, the Japanese government presented its military aggression as continually presented as actually being in the cause of “World Peace,” i.e. world peace via Japanese global dominion. The motto of the Japanese Empire was “Hakkō ichiu”, which translates roughly as “the world as one.” Many of the most fanatical generals, who pressed ahead with the invasion and exploitation of China, were devout Buddhists who really did think what they were building some fuzzy, happy utopia.

      Therefore, this theme about “being one” is something that speaks very deeply to the problematic history of the Japanese nation.

  2. Gatchaman Crowds came at a very important time for me and for my country as I learned first hand how the so-called “atmosphere” can become something really scary.

    With social media as the catalyst, the people began by requesting the resignation of the vice-president after some evidence of her involvement in organised crime. There was no violence, just pure social pressure and she eventually gave in. The next target for the public anger was the president himself, and he also presented his own resignation after more than 10 weeks of public protests. It turns out this was also the time for presidential elections and we had a strongly populist candidate. This means, of course, a lot of symbolism and a lot of public opinion swaying (which in itself had a lot of parallelism with the first episodes of Gatchaman, but I’ll just stick to the atmosphere for now). Surprisingly, in spite of this candidate’s extremely strong marketing tactics, he was chosen as the next “evil” and he also resigned when he lost the first presidential ballot.

    After three victories one would think that the atmosphere in my country would turn to joy and patriotism, but in reality it turned to apathy and remorse; not very different from what we could see in this episode. The issue of whether this people where guilty of their crimes is not even relevant. We didn’t even need the flashy superhero performance. The sole realisation we all had, that some well timed facebook posts can change the future of an entire country, was more than enough to make everyone reflect on the recent events.

    I’m sure I’ll never forget this well-timed season of Gatchaman, and your posts at the end of every episode where a fine complement as always ^.^

      1. Such a hard question… Let’s see. At the moment it felt really good. Like if we the people really had the power to bring change. Right now it’s not clear if it was a good thing or a bad thing, just like how the people in Gatchaman didn’t knew how to reach after watching Gel-chan getting beat up. Time will probably tell.

    1. I don’t really know how to respond to this aside from thanking you so much for sharing. This was a really interesting and heartfelt read, and yet another example of how media can affect or frame things in incredible ways. ^ ^

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